Spin City

John Buchanan’s attempts to spin Australia’s bowling in the Second Test looked even more ineffective then Shane Warne’s leg-spinners.

Admittedly, the pitch offered nothing, and England batted superbly, but you can hardly say Australia have bowled well after taking only six wickets in nearly two full days.

McGrath spent time off the field fixing his boot in the opening session to ease a heel problem. Although he has not been complaining about the injury, his effectiveness was limited and his speed has dropped significantly on the flat surface. “He pounded down 20-plus overs,” Buchanan said, “so, so far so good.” He returned 0 for 103.

Warne gave up 167 runs for the wicket of Geraint Jones while Brett Lee also won praise from Buchanan for his 1 for 139. “I think Brett’s bowled exceptionally well,” he said. “He’s held his pace and bowled good lines. It’s encouraging for the second innings and the rest of the series.

“The measure of Shane’s bowling is how many bad balls there were. He bowled a couple late yesterday when he got tired and maybe a few today. His control has been excellent, he hasn’t got the rub of the green, a bit like Brett.”

Stuart Clark was the only bowler not to win compliments from Buchanan and he was the man who performed the best. Throughout the first two days he troubled England with short and full deliveries and added three victims to continue his strong series.

Excuse me while I roll my eyes at that one. McGrath was clearly not fully fit, and the Australian team heirarchy deserve censure for allowing him to play. Mitchell Johnson probably wouldn’t have fared any better but at least there wouldn’t have been a worry about him worsening an injury.

From an English point of view, the day belonged once again to Collingwood and Pieterson. They were, it has to be admitted, magnificent. They learned their lessons from Brisbane and gave England the whip hand. And it was good to see that Flintoff was prepared, late in the day, to lead aggressively from the front. Fancy declaring, and taking the new ball for himself. Full marks to Freddy on that one!

England can attack on day three. It will be interesting to see how Australia’s batsmen, and England’s bowlers, respond to the challenge.

The plot (and the humidity) thickens

The second Test here in Adelaide has had an interesting prelude with the news that Glenn McGrath will need a fitness test in the morning. It appears that his troublesome heel isn’t getting better and there must be doubts as to whether or not he is fit enough to last five days.

Faster then you can say ‘Mitchell Johnson’, the English writers are reminding us of Edgbaston. Certainly, removing McGrath from the game goes some way to making it an even contest, but that won’t help England’s bowlers take 20 wickets.

What might help though is that about 4pm this afternoon a sudden downpour hit the city of Adelaide. I was about a mile from Adelaide Oval when it struck, and if the pitch was uncovered when it happened, it will have had an effect on it. It was not very long, but it was enough to put a dampener on the Oval (and me).

The recent hot spell that has been engulfing Adelaide will now subside, and players should enjoy almost perfect weather conditions to play in, without the enervating heat of Brisbane, and there might be more humidity then at Brisbane as well. So the fates are turning ever so slightly in England’s favour. The question that remains is, are they good enough to seize the moment?

Treading the catwalk, McGrath style

What the b'jesus?


Stephen Fleming, you should be ashamed. A tough cricketer and respected captain, if only for inspiring New Zealand to up their game against their antipodean neighbours in the late 1990s, you have shamefully let yourself and your country down. We all thought you were the unsmiling, reserved yet determined leader; such figures do not dress as court jesters. And check out those shoes!

I've little to say about Glenn McGrath's appearance here, other than his cheshire-cat grin merely confirms his madness. The bloke's cheese has completely fallen off his cracker; in fact, it's not even on the plate any more. First it was 5 nil, then this. Rumours that he not only owns the gold shoes but designed them too are said to be unfounded gossip.

McGrath v Tendulkar

2.6 McGrath to Dravid, no run, this time it’s the offcutter and it threads the gap between Dravid’s bat and body.
2.5 McGrath to Dravid, no run, left alone outside the off stump
2.5 McGrath to Dravid, 1 wide, wide outside off stump and moves wider after pitching.
2.4 McGrath to Dravid, no run, good length on off stump, Dravid gets forward and plays it back to the bowler
2.4 McGrath to Dravid, 1 no ball, McGrath oversteps, that pitched outside off and moved away from Dravid who lets it go
2.3 McGrath to Tendulkar, 1 run, worked through midwicket for a single
2.2 McGrath to Tendulkar, no run, beaten by a unplayable ball. That pitched on middle, opened up Tendulkar, and moved a touch away to beat the outside edge
2.1 McGrath to Tendulkar, no run, bang on the helmet, McGrath digs it in short and the ball doesn’t get up as much as Tendulkar thought it would. He ducks into it and the ball crashes into the helmet. What a start to the McGrath-Tendulkar battle

The McGrath-Tendulkar battle has resumed. India are chasing 245 to win.

Glenn McGrath (or is that McGarth?)

Good photo from 2004 of Glenn McGrath or, as his shirt says, McGarth

Glenn McGrath (or is that McGarth?)


Are Australia really “twice as good” as last year?

Glenn McGrath is clearly fighting fit once more. More pre-Ashes banter today from the big (and bulkier, apparently) fast bowler:

“I look back on last year’s Ashes with a lot of positive memories,” he said during the team’s camp in Coolum. “You learn the most from the times you get beaten or don’t play well. As a whole, the team learnt so much from that Ashes tour.

“We looked at what we needed to improve on and put that in place. Since then, I think we’re twice the team we were at the start of the last Ashes.”

The “positive memories” bit is clearly utter bullshit. There are none, for Australia, other than the performance of Shane Warne. Even that was too inevitable for it to be a positive, especially as it was in a losing cause.

What do you think? Are Australia a crumbling, ageing side or do they have one last series in them (after which they’ll all retire into cardigans and bungalows)?

I’m a cricketer, get me out of here

John Buchanan, the tireless laptop-addict and innovator-in-chief of Australian cricket (he is also a coach) is sending his troops on a not-so-secret-but-he’s-trying-to-keep-it-close-to-his-chest camping trip to a remote region of Queensland. The Ashes might be several months away, but they’ve effectively already begun. Tomorrow’s third Test against Pakistan will provide yet more speculation as to England’s preparations. And meanwhile, Australia are to venture into the outback – avoiding those very poisonous spiders and snakes, we hope… – for team-building and other such pitiful phrases which masquerade as a jolly old holiday.

Glen McGrath and Stuart Clark

Officials are adamant that it will not be the kind of boot camp that has become the trend for football clubs, at which players have been pushed to their physical limits along the Kokoda Trail, in the case of Hawthorn, or Arizona, in the case of Collingwood.

While the leadership course is a departure from the usual routine of gathering for a cricket training camp at the Centre of Excellence in Brisbane before the summer, Buchanan has a history of overseeing physical and spiritual team-building exercises during his coaching tenure.

No sign of Ant and Dec yet…

McGrath names his batting bunnies already

It wouldn’t be cricket if Glenn McGrath wasn’t mouthing off, and he’s already doing it for the Ashes, naming Strauss and Cook as his ‘batting bunnies’.

I don’t mind him doing it so much, it’s not really taken entirely seriously by anyone now, I would have thought. It has become a tradition. However, it is only the start of August. I wonder what else he is going to say between now and November 23?

BBC can’t keep their minds on the Test Match

I just can’t get you out of my head
Boy your lovin’ is all I think about
I just can’t get you out of my head
Boy it’s more than I dare to think about

I have been reduced to listening to BBC online for my Test match fix, and what’s astonished me about the broadcast is how hard the TMS team are finding it to keep their minds on the job. At the drop of a hat they are musing on the Ashes battles ahead. One darn fool idiot (it could be Foxy Fowler) told CMJ just now that McGrath doesn’t like bowling to left handers. That might be news to Brian Lara, for just one.

It’s noticable because I’ve been used to listen to South African and Asian as well as Australian broadcasters the last nine months, and while the Ashes have been mentioned, it isn’t as noticable as it is with the English media.