Nathan Lyon ploughed through a strong Indian batting line-up, earning three gritty wickets for his toil. The Lyon-hearted offie was impressively resiliant, showing no change of emotion in his face even after reaching a vilestone of 200 runs conceded. He maintained the proud Australian spin tradition – attitude gets wickets – and his wickets can be attributed to his “I’ll keep on bowling with no change of facial expression even though I’m getting pummelled more than a boxing bag in Mike Tyson’s garage” attitude.
Ashwin, however, was an utter disappointment. His 7-fa in the first innings showed promise, but he fell away in the second innings, taking just 5 scalps. When your spinner is getting less wickets in the second innings, there is cause for concern. Journalists scrambled to find Ashwin’s family tree to search for any South African links that could let them attribute his choke to his genes, but the lack of any connections has led experts to believe that he is just a poor spin bowler.
So, as we head into the second Tests, Australia will be pleased with the gritty promise shown by Lyon whilst India may look to replace Ashwin with slow left armer Ojha. You heard it here first. And last.
There is a standard path to international cricket. Club to seconds. Seconds to professional. Professional to Tests. A standard, slight statistical drop when reach the next standard is to be expected, as it is a higher level than that which the player has been playing. Usually, the player makes up the skill difference fairly quickly.
But not always.
I have decided to compile a team of players who, on FC statistics, looked set to have a solid Test career, but somehow managed to stuff it up. Off we go…
1) Wasim Jaffer
Anyone who averages over 50 in FC cricket has to be doing something right. Sure, sub-continental pitches are easier to bat on blah blah blah but 51 is quality by anyone’s standards. In comparison, legendary Indian opener Virender Sehwag averages under 50, as does the young hope of the nation, Virat Kohli.
You’d therefore expect him to be quite a hit on the test scene, right? Wrong. In the 31 Tests he played, he averaged just 34.1 – that including an average of 69 against Bangladesh, and 44 against a weak post-2000 West Indies bowling attack. You’d understand if he was battling after 10 matches, but 31 is a large-enough sample size to prove your worth. Gautam Gambhir was given a go due to Jaffer’s failings, and the rest was history. Rumour has it he could be looking at playing more Tests in the near future, so we’ll have to see what happens although at this point in his career you’d think it’s a bit late. Any batsman whose name means “Great ball, the batsman couldn’t play that” in cricket terms isn’t exactly destined for greatness.
Prolific ODI batsman Knight’s Test failure was a large surprise to many avid followers of English Cricket. Everything pointed towards him having the potential to be a genuine 40+averaging opener. An ODI batting average over 40 showed that his mental game was up to the harsh international stage, and his FC batting average of nearly 45 showed that he wasn’t just a short-format bully.
Alas, 17 Tests at an average of 24 were all his talented frame could churn out. Once you realise that 4 of those were against Zimbabwe, it looks even worse. Some believed he should have got more chances, but the ineptitude of his past performances were too much for the selectors to overlook.
Knight in shining armour? More like Knight impaled on the spears of the opposition.
3) Mark Ramprakash
The XI was made for him, or so you’d believe when you take a look at his statistics. He was the best batsman in the County Championship for a long period, and it ensured that he managed to earn him 52 Test caps despite his consistent failings at international level.
His FC statistics are incredible. A FC average of 53 over 461 matches and nearly 36000 runs is good in any FC league in the world, so in the highly-competitive County Championship it was impossible to ignore. Too bad he had the mentality of a straw when it came to international cricket. Ie, his mentality sucked.
It’s disappointing that someone of such obvious pedigree and ability couldn’t leave his Mark on the international game,
Next edition we will reveal nos 4 to 7.
Herein lie our tactics* for the second Test against South Africa. This information is incredibly top secret. Please don’t let this get into any wrong hands. Particularly not that pesky Cows Corner blogger.
Graeme Smith: You hardly need tactics against Smith when you have a left-armer. Bowl Junaid at him until Smith departs. He shouldn’t last longer than 15 balls against Junaid. As he walks off, get Junaid to rasp at him with a thick Irish accent, “Smitheh baby, have a guiness for meh. Maybe it’ll cancel out your tipsy balance.”
Alviro Petersen: This is a guy that likes to keep a low profile. He’s done very well over the past while, averaging well into the 40s. You’d never guess, though, due to his ability to slip under the radar. Therefore, our best tactic would be to push him into the media limelight. Start with little hints such as “Robin Peterson? He’s not even the best Peterson in the team!” Then progress to “Petersen is a key member of their batting line-up. If we get him early, it gives us a huge advantage.” Finally, end with “Smith is to Petersen as the side-kick usually is to the main villain – Usually looks hilariously idiotic, and not nearly as effective.” That’ll get Smith’s blood boiling too.
Hashim Amla: At this point it’d be best to confirm that there will be a new addition to the squad. Saeed Anwar will be joining the team, and upon Amla’s arrival to the crease, will be placed at short-leg. His job will be to whisper to Amla “Cute stubble, bud,” and “Welcome to the big league.”
Jacques Kallis: We will be paying a hair-growth company to advertise on the big scoreboard. “You think Jacques’ hair growth was amazing? Please. We’ll grow you more hair on your head than Anwar has on his chin!” If that doesn’t get Jakes retiring his innings and running back into the changeroom to fetch his cellphone, we’re screwed.
AB de Villiers: Organise him and his band a few big gigs. After the tasks of keeping, batting, and the built-upon pressure of his ODI captaincy woes of the past, this will be one task too many. Expect more emotional fireworks than you’d find literal ones at an IPL final.
Faf du Plessis: When he walks out to bat, scream “97.20? You’re no Bradman!” Then all fielders should violently beat their chests and shout “Me see ball. Me hit ball with stick.”
Dean Elgar: We don’t really know much about him. We don’t really care, either. Just get Irfan to bowl at his head.
Robin Peterson: Formerly famed as arguably the worst spinner in international cricket, he has since had a spurt of form which has resulted in him thinking he is a test-standard bowler. Smash him for a few sixes and it’ll be back to the good ol’ days. Or else you’ll feel good about yourself, anyway.
Vernon Philander: Plant both feet on your off-stump and sit the bat straight up, directly in line with off. Philander either seams it onto fourth stump or lets it go straight on to off. With the above tactic you’ll have both deliveries covered. Simple, right?
Dale Steyn: Have a wild swing at his first few, and connect one or two of the swings for six. That’ll get him angry and bowling bouncers. Then just get your duck on.Put your bat on your toes and get ready for the short stuff. Any surprise yorkers will be covered by your toe-sitting bat.
Morne Morkel: Partner Anwar with the 7″1 Mohammed Irfan up front with the bat. Rumour has it that Irfan is a decent bat, but struggles against most bowlers because he can’t bend down enough to reach their deliveries. Morkel will provide him with a barrage of half-volleys. Plan B: Duck.
*The above blog post is fictitious. None of the above has actually been leaked. It would be great to see some of it happen, though, don’t ya think?
It’s a bit ironic, isn’t it. An entire article, dedicated to highlighting Kallis’ status as an under-the-radar great.
For a great he is. His status as one of the top two batting all-rounders of all-time is unquestioned, and he is the first name entered onto a South African All-Time Greatest XI. He is bulldozing his way towards becoming the first cricketer ever to score 13000 runs as well as claim 300 wickets in Tests – a feat not even close to being paralleled as of now, and one that seems unlikely to be surpassed in the foreseeable future.
That much is universally accepted, and rightly so. What isn’t quite as convincingly accepted is the claim of his fanboys that he is on a par with Tendulkar, Lara and Ponting on batting alone. Is he?
Kallis has the best batting average of the bunch, but this is often muffled by claims that he is a minnow bully, which has bumped up his batting average. However, after the removal of matches against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, he still sits with the highest test average out of the foursome.
Some would consider New Zealand and Sri Lanka to be easy pickings too, so I tested the stats with them removed. Kallis still easily came out on top.
Of course, Ponting and Lara’s statistics both include their end-of-career slumps, which must be taken into consideration. So too has Tendulkar suffered from an age-induced slump over the past year or so. The gap between the respective averages, though, highlights the leeway Kallis still has during his expected forthcoming slump. That said, his age of 37 combined with his extra responsibility of bowling should means that he should already be suffering from a slump. His maintained ability is something else that should distinguish him as a class act in itself.
Why, then, is Kallis generally seen as being a step below the other three on crickets ladder of batting legends? Well, the answer is quite simple. His X-factor is often seen as a negative when being judged against the X-factors of his competitors. Tendulkar successfully carried the weight of a billion people’s hopes on his shoulders, and did so in arguably the most elegant manner ever witnessed in the history of Test cricket. Lara personified a unique flair that made him an absolute joy to watch, and he managed to maintain this flair despite being in a weak batting line-up. Ponting led one of the greatest teams in history with a hard-nosed, gritty manner.
Kallis? He is the most solid batsman of his generation. Rahul Dravid was nicknamed “the wall,” in comparison, Kallis was and is “the kevlar-coated wall of lead.” He had the ability to stick it out for hours in the most gruelling of circumstances. Noone of his generation could, or can, compete with Kallis in the defensive stakes.
This ability often proved to be his biggest criticism. He was often labelled as “selfish” and “boring,” but what he brought to a fragile South African batting line-up was absolutely invaluable. Even as one of his biggest fans I’ll admit that he sometimes defended too much when the situation needed aggression, but no player is perfect. Even Donald Bradman was only 99.94% perfection.
Another idea often vaunted by Kallis fans is that he could have performed even better, to a point where he would have easily trumped the other big names, had he not had the added responsibility of his heavy-handed pace bowling assaulting his body and mind. It is, however, an alternate story impossible to be authored definitively. All we can base our judgement on is how he actually performed. And that happens to be pretty darn well.
So then, what is my conclusion? Is Kallis on a par with the likes of Tendulkar, Ponting and Lara? Statistically – most certainly. The foursome possess stats similar enough that judgement of their rankings within the group is, and forever will be, incredibly subjective. A boring cricketer like Kallis, therefore, will always get the short end of the stick in these debates.
The man has learnt to embrace it. A more humble cricketer would be hard to find, and it all fits perfectly. Kallis will remain the unsung legend of his generation – for now. His true worth will be realised when he is gone from Test cricket.
He entertains minimal glitz or glamour comments from the majority of fans now while his career is still ongoing. And that’s just how the big man likes it.
The Champions League T20 competition has spluttered to an incredibly meek conclusion. Besides the fact that we can’t rattle on about a South African choke as such (it was a poor display, period) there was nothing at all spectacular about the final.
The match seemed destined to be a display of poor Lions BMT from the moment Gulam Bodi was dismissed. The man had been the standout batsman throughout the tournament, bu today fell prey to the pressure – a blight of South African sport matched only by the disdain us South African fans display at being called out on it.
Jean Symes proved a sole thorn in the side of a dominant Sydney Sixers bowling attack, eking out a maiden T20 fifty. Tsolekile and Pretorius showed some backbone, but beyond that the Lions’ batting display was at best disappointing. The only thing about de Kock that lasted for more than a few minutes was the barrage of dirty jokes being shot around twitter. Neil McKenzie surely put the wrong cricket boot on first as the notoriously superstitious ex Protea and supermodel-dater failed to do anything significant with the willow either. It was just awful.
Save for the foreigners in Dirk Nannes and Sohail Tanvir, the bowlers were toothless. Nannes, in truth, was highly impressive for the most part. At 9/0 off 3 overs an upset still appeared possible (even if unlikely). From that point on, though, the South African bowlers allowed themselves to be carted all over the park with minimal fuss.
Bodi added to his woes by dropping a catch on the fence, whilst Phangiso got carted for around the same amount of fours as he had conceded all tournament. After the first few overs, the bowlers appeared to be unmotivated and physically drained. With the South African cricket season only just beginning, that’s not a good omen.
Our focus now shifts to the high-profile series between the world number 1 Test team South Africa and their greatest rivals, Australia. No love will be lost between the two history-rich nations and you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be some competitive, entertaining cricket on display. Both teams possess aggressive pace bowling attacks, a few swashbuckling batsmen and some gritty ‘uns. Us Test fans essentially have all of the reasons we love Test cricket rolled into one compact series. Bon appetit.
It’s been a while. Why, I don’t know. Much like how I’ve treated the Champions League T20, I just couldn’t find the time to update you with the nonsense you’ve come to expect from this blog. Don’t worry, though. I’m back. (At least pretend you missed me!)
Anyway, today was the day that Pakistan finally hosted an international match again. At least that’s what they’re saying. I say it’s a bit of a stretch to call a team of retirees, unknowns and Andre Nel an international outfit. It’s a team that would have looked much better 5 years ago, whereas 5 years ago the Pakistani team would have looked like a bunch of teenagers. Because that’s what they were.
More than an international match, this match was closer to a fathers vs sons bash-out. The sons came out on top, and have left the fathers in the cold realization that they are no longer better than the young ‘uns. Much like my father did when I outsprinted him for the first time. He proceeded to lock the car doors and drive away without me. I considered outsprinting his driving, but that would have been harsh. His jaw would have dropped to the ground, along with his false teeth.
Still, it was rather nice of Andre Nel to come out of…well, I don’t know what, but it was nice of him to be there. It was also appreciated, I’m sure, that Sanath took a day out of his busy political schedule to play a part in the match. PR for the win.
On a serious note, I’d like to wish strength upon Tony Greig in the midst of the recent announcement that he has cancer. The cricket fraternity is behind you, mate. Although you won’t read this. But you will in spirit. Maybe.
As I conclude, I’d like to shamelessly advertise our new innovation – cowscorner now has a forum! I’ll be linking blog posts from there now, too, so if you want a means of being told when the next blog post has been released, and if you want to chat with others about cricket and whatever else, sign up at http://cowscorner.freeforums.com. I’m looking for Admins and MODs as well, so now’s your chance! Hope to see you there!
For the first time this tournament I actually watched a match today. The thought made me feel quite dirty. Nonetheless, I sucked it up and watched the first innings of the England vs India non-contest.
I bit my lip to avoid an angered outburst when I realised that Irfan “India’s Mitchell Johnson” Pathan was opening the batting. It would have been quite rude of me to express my true feelings as I was watching in the same room that my parents and grandparents were enjoying tea. Thankfully he was dismissed after just 6 balls and I could breathe easily. For a while.
Enter Gautam Gambhir.
I was truly flabbergasted at his ability to turn any delivery into a sight for sore eyes. Chris Martin would be proud to achieve Gambhir levels of batting ugliness. There was a point where Gambhir pull/hook/abused the ball to the boundary only to receive an earful from Kohli. Through the stump mic I caught “SRT called…threatening to gauge his eyes out…world war III.”
The seriousness of matters was multiplied by the fact that Kohli was playing some of the most beautiful T20 cricket ever seen by man, woman or one-eyed-alien. In that I mean that he was playing shots that would have made me feel warm and fuzzy in a Test match. Or an ODI match. Or any match. Ever. It’s like asking a paraplegic to run alongside Usain Bolt, or asking Kevin Pietersen to bowl with Graeme Swann. It’s not fair to embarrass Swann by pitting him against so superior a bowler.
I respect Gautam, though. Anyone who has the guts to defy Virat’s wishes and continue display their inept attempts at beauty is a real man in my books. I certainly wouldn’t mess with Virat – he reminds me of a bollywood version of Dr Evil. It’s a fair metaphor, too, given how immoral it is that he was blessed with talent so far superior to the majority. All he needs is a cat, and rumour has it that Suresh Raina has applied for the role. His CV allegedly states: “I look like a cat. I also like milk…ing bowling attacks!” Simon Katich has denied being interested in the title.