Morning all. Welcome back to the TFT. It’s marvellous to be joining you for the first time today.
Now things are a little bit slow on the cricket news front today. There’s some stuff about Australia showing dissent and behaving aggressively on the field – so nothing new that we haven’t talked about before – but otherwise it’s a snoozefest. Cricinfo have even resorted to doing an article about Neil Foster. I would link to this but I severely doubt anyone’s going to click on it.
I suppose we could get into a discussion about the Aussies becoming the number one test side but it’s all a bit depressing. They’ve had some relatively easy fixtures since the Ashes, and they won two absolutely crucial tosses in New Zealand. Besides, we had plenty of discussion about the inadequacies of the ranking system last week.
The only new thing I’ve learned about the Aussies is that Joe Burns looks reasonably organised and Usman Khawaja finally looks better than he did a couple of years ago – which isn’t exactly hard. Am I worried about them causing England problems in the future? Not really. Do I think they’ll dominate world cricket for the foreseeable future? Not really.
Australia are a good side in my opinion, but they still have the same flaws as they did six months ago – the main one being that they don’t really have that much first class talent coming through. We’ll watch their progress with interest but I’m not particularly intimidated. England have their own problems to focus on of course, so please don’t think I’m being smug.
Anyway, in the absence of any major new talking points, I’d like to point you in the direction of a couple of new articles over at Eat My Sports. In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve found it really hard to keep two sites going simultaneously recently. There’s so much going on in the broader sporting work and there’s only one me.
My plan moving forward is to make TFT my number one priority, as it’s easier to keep up to speed with one sport, but I’ll add articles about other sports (or broader sporting issues) on EMS now and again. I’m hoping to give EMS a little more attention in the future, but it’s hard to find time when you’ve got to juggle work, a five year old boy who’s determined to become a Jedi Knight, and a six month old baby.
Anyway, the two new articles on EMS are:
It’s About Time – Do top managers / coaches really need years to build a successful side, really?
The Eat My Sports Match Day Menu – a fun look at the foods to eat (and those to avoid) before you play sport at the weekend.
I’d also like to point you in the direction of Tregaskis’ blog Drop In Pitch. It’s where you’ll find Maxie’s latest broadside about Kevin Pietersen.
James, how are NZ “relatively easy opposition”? England haven’t beaten them in the last two series – and were rather fortunate to escape with two draws in my view. NZ were on a record unbeaten home run and at full strength with their bowling attack. Australia had some fortune with the toss and a couple of umpiring decisions – but these would soon be forgotten if Australia hadn’t capitalised on them so effectively. Australia had their two best bowlers out injured by the end (and it sounds ominous long-term for Siddle which is a great shame).
I wanted NZ to win and thought it would be close between two evenly matched sides. Australia have thumped them. They weren’t bowled out for under 500 and took twenty wickets in four of the five matches. Ross Taylor had to break a record over a century old to earn one draw.
Sure, there are still some doubts about them in all conditions. They play away series in SL and India soon which will answer some of those questions. But a 4-0 thrashing of a very good side deserves more credit than it’s getting (see Brenkley in today’s Independent for an example – if you dare!).
Australia played the 8th and 6th ranked test teams in the world. I consider that relatively easy opposition, yeah. The West Indies were absolutely terrible.
New Zealand are a decent side, but under performed badly by their own admission. The two tosses in the return games in NZ were absolutely crucial. Many observers have said that the tosses effectively decided the matches.
I’m not saying Australia are a poor side by any means. I just don’t think we need to worry yet. All of the problems with their production line, as highlighted by the likes of Ian Chappell, remain. That just happens to be my opinion too.
Well I think its fair to say that they are a long way from being the great side of 1995-2006/7 at least just yet. Much more to prove although we will have some idea in a years time if they can successively beat SL at home, Pak in Aus, SA in Aus and then the main challenge India at home – where quite frankly it will be hard not to improve on the last effort there.
NZ’s ranking of 6th underrated them I think – the teams from 2nd to 6th were very close in terms of ranking points. They did better against Pakistan in UAE (drawing 1-1) than Australia (lost 2-0) or England (lost 2-0) for example.
There’s a very interesting article by Tim Wigmore at the Guardian about what’s being discussed at the ICC. Some major reforms are on the table.
Yes. While ranking is good for bragging rights the more useful measure of how good teams are is the relative rating. There is currently only 16 points between 1 and 6 – pre the NZ Aus series it was even closer something like 10 points as Aus went up 3-4 and NZ down by a similar amount.
Winning the WI series by comparison really wasn’t an achievement with them rated 76. 34 points below Aus.
Cheers for the heads up Simon.
Not much reaction on Twitter from the MSM that I can see – but regular writers on associate cricket are making some very good points (try the likes of Andrew Nixon, Copernicus Cricket and Bertus a. de Jong).
The two tosses by the way were not quite as crucial as you think. A big difference was that Australia were able to get both conventional and reverse swing which NZ bowlers couldn’t so, even when the pitch flattened, remained dangerous. Nz resorted in the end to employing 7-2 “leg theory” fields and tactics with Wagner which is where most of their wickets came from.
It was mystifying how NZ’s swing bowlers couldn’t swing it at all. NZ also abandoned a balanced attack and unless your seamers are Holding, Marshall, Garner and Croft that’s always a mistake. Lyon didn’t take a stack of wickets but he gave variety and posed a different challenge.
With Santer injured and Craig getting hammered, perhaps NZ should have taken a punt on Ish Sodhi in the last Test (who’d tied Australia in knots in the last ODI)?
I think that’s the thing that perplexed me most. Boult at the very least has been a very awkward customer in the past v England, yet he has tanked rather badly against Australia and barely got the ball off the straight. I appreciate that he’s had two mini series in England with the Duke ball but he was successful against England at home in 2013 when it was Anderson and co who could get much in the way of movement.
Him and Southee were very military medium-fast in these two series v Australia and in such circumstances, without much movement I guess it should have been no surprise the Aussie batsmen cashed in.
While it doesn’t match beating even an injury depleted SA in SA, NZ was a team Eng were happy to draw with at home less than a year ago so I wouldn’t be too dismissive about beating them away so comfortably, a feat no one has achieved in a few years. You can dismiss it as lucky coin tosses but we could say the same about Trent Bridge and the Ashes.
The lack of talent is a strange comment? The fast bowling is ridiculously overstocked. McCullum commented how we were able to lose Johnson, Stark and Harris and still comfortably out bowl them ( southee and Boult are rated top 10).
With batsmen there’s several decent candidates and Sean Marsh also…
This is more or less how we see England. An aging opener (with no established partner) and main bowler with no obvious replacements. Will they make the next ashes? Cook probably will but I doubt Anderson.
For the younger players Root, Stokes and Broad are the only ones that would make the Aus team.
I didn’t say England were better than Australia. We all know Australia have lots of good seam bowlers. I’ve written about it many times (although the best ones are usually injured). It’s the batting that’s the problem. There are very few classy young players coming through. A lot of Australian pundits are very worried about it.
Cook isn’t getting on. He’s only just turned 31. Plenty left in the tank. England have weak spots too, as I mentioned in the article. I certainly don’t think the Aussies would worry if England beat New Zealand and the West Indies at home. Both teams still have much to prove.
I think you will find that they are a lot less worries about the batting now than there was a few years ago. Yes its not as strong as the bowling stocks – but much better than it did look particularly as we don’t seem to have as many places to fill (potentially only Voges in the short term)
Hmm about Cook yes I was wrong. In my mind he was a couple of years older than that. Forgot how young he was when he started.
Lots of interesting news coming out at the moment. 2 year test championship cycle, qualification for the world cup and NWB being split into 2 divisions of 9.
I was looking forward to the NZ series as I wanted to see how this over rated aus batting did on seaming wickets.. Sadly, NZ lost the toss on green tops that lasted 2 sessions and become roads ?
Sadly, boult (who has been poor for a while now) and southee were toothless and players like burns/voges have been able to fill their stats up. Do I think aus are a bad side? No.. However, their batting on anything but a road is very suspect and their current stats massively flatter them.
Players who i don’t think sure actually good enough.
Smith is dodgy on seaming wickets but never plays on them, same with Warner. Test cricket needs some spicy wickets to find out the truth on a few players.
Ps- England are as bad, if not worse tbf!