Saturday, November 16, 2013

Farewell Sachin Tendulkar

Friday, December 21, 2012

Cricket Sadist Hour - A Transcript - Dec 21, 2012

Cricket Sadist Hour – A Transcript

December 21, 2012

Counting Tasmanians and quarantines

Gideon Haigh and Jarrod Kimber number the Hobart crowd, ask for ball "modification" and talk about Shane Watson again

JK: Welcome to this week’s edition of the Cricket Sadist Hour. With me yet again Down Under, although slightly higher than he was if you will on a globe than he was quite recently is Gideon G-Dog Haigh. How are you?

GH: Deliciously, deliciously related J-rod. I am back in Victoria after a very pleasant week in Tasmania.

JK: That’s a shame because it seems like you were the entire crowd at time. There was what seven, eight nine people on some of those days?

GH: The great thing was that, at some stage during the game, the crowd was actually outnumbered by the people in fluorescent jackets who were there to keep them in line. They are obviously a bunch of desperados in Tasmania, you just can’t predict them when they are gonna go wild.

JK: Maybe that’s the problem. They’d employed so many people. There just isn’ta big enough population to employ that many people and actually have them turn up to an event.

GH: They must have been included in the crowd numbers because they seemed bear only the vaguest resemblance to empirical observation.

JK: If Cairns had some sort of lobby group, surely you must be showing clips of this to Cricket Australia and saying we could probably get more people up here, don’t you think?

GH: This would be the moment. I found the recalcitrance and obstinacy of Cricket Tasmania whose Chairman Tony Harrison said if you don’t like Tasmania, don’t come, to be ridiculous when you wouldn’t want to be discouraging anyone from coming into state to this Test Match considering the locals don patronize it.

JK: Also, it maybe the locals don’t like the ground and already have their opinion of the ground. We don’t like it, we’re not gonna go. We know that Hawthorne Football Club play there and people turn up to that and the Hobart Hurricanes play there and people turn up to that. There’s clearly something wrong with Test Cricket down in Hobart at the moment, perhaps the fast pace environment of Hobart can’t deal with the slow nature of Test Cricket.

GH: Curiously, they are actually expanding the capacity of the ground. They’re knocking down one side to add another 5000, to increase to 20000. So this will be an even bigger black hole.

JK: There will be plenty of room for everyone. But let’s talk about the actual Test though. What did you come away with? What’re you thinking? What’s happening inside that magnificent head of yours?

GH: Look, this was a really good Test Match. It’s interesting that even though Sri Lanka lost they extended it into the final hour on the last day. The wicket behaved much better than we were probably entitled to expect considering results leading into the Test Match. It took a lot of hard yakka to bowl the team out on the last day and Australia proved equal to the task. Reward for Michael Clarke’s declaration on the second day. He could sense that this was gonna be a knock ‘em down, drag it out affair and in the end he timed things to a nicety. Getting bowled out in the second innings saved him from the mental calculus necessary for declaration there. But it was a terrific duel. Four down at Tea with a session to play, Australia really needed to lift in that final session, and Siddle found another yard and Mitchell Starc finished off the Test Match beautifully with a really fine spell of reverse-swing bowling at 140 clicks. He really did look a vastly improved artifact rom this time last year.

JK: Even from this time in the first innings. He basically bowled half-volleys in the first innings. It was horrible to watch really. Will the real Mitchell stand up? We’ve seen Mitchells bowl half-volleys quite fast before and get smashed. And then he got on the mine-field. I think that’s what Graham Ford called it on the last day, a mine-field, and suddenly looked very good, mostly against their tail though it had to be said. Although getting that many wickets that quickly is still pretty impressive for him.

GH: It was. I actually predicted a mine-field on the fourth evening because the ball was doing all-sorts, mostly staying down but still some going through the top. But it actually played pretty well on the last day. You just simply had to give the bowlers respect and you had to put away horizontal bat strokes and you had to keep a relatively short back lift for the ball that kept low. The fact that Sangakkara and Samaraweera were able to bat for so long without too many concerns showed that it was possible to apply yourself on this surface. It’s just the fact that the Sri Lankan batting tails away a long way after Prasanna Jayawardane gets out.

JK: It’s quite interesting because a lot of people were complaining about the pitch at the end. I actually thought it was a brilliant Test pitch, bit hard to bat on at the start, quite easy to bat on throughout the middle and then at the end you had to change your game and that’s what Test Cricket should be but what is interesting is that so many of these Australian Test pitches are completely different from what their Shield pitches are. MCG is the only one that’s almost consistently the same. What happened to the nineteen inches of grass? Where’s the pitch that Jackson Bird has just been piling bodies up on.

GH: I guess the change was on the first couple of days because if you look at the second innings score in Tasmania, they haven’t been all that bad. It’s been the carnage on the first couple of days that’s really counted in the Shield. They left nothing to chance here. It didn’t provide very much for the spinners. Herath didn’t get the ball to turn very much. He did it mostly with flight and changes of pace. Unfortunately Lyon looked pretty ordinary again on the last day. He seems to slip into a very mechanical vein when he is faced with the challenge of getting batsmen who are playing defensively out. He seemed to be hurrying through his overs and he got pretty flat. Even Kulasekara was plying him with relative ease playing off the pitch right at the end. If a finger-spinner is doing that then they need to go back to square one I think.

JK: If you are watching it casually and there was time when I was dealing with something else and half-watching it, it was like I thought I’d left it on, you know when you accidentally fast forward something but not quite at double the speed but at one and half times the speed. He was just going through almost Charlie Chaplin like through the crease and coming back out. I think Stuart McGill had a go at him as well. It’s a very interesting thing. He also didn’t seem to try that much. I would have thought that he would have been around the wicket more. I am not even sure what else he could have tried, bowling wide of the off stump or try a bunch of leg slips and firing in from wide of the crease. It was very similar to how Nathan Hauritz used to deal with those sort of situations.

GH: And he only generated the one chance which Clarke put down on the fourth day.

JK: That was unlucky. If you only get one chance and it’s a fairly simple slips catch, you want your captin to be awake when it comes to him.

GH: I think he was awake, I think he was bit sore. And a bit anxious about twanging the twinge that he already had. But he didn’t generate chances on the last day and after a while it felt like he was just trying to relieve the fast bowlers between their spells. He was just trying to do a containing job. It was pretty disappointing. We all know that the reason he is in the team is because 2, 3 and 4 as far as Australian spinners are concerned have a lot of work to do as well.

JK: More importantly, Jon Holland is not around, otherwise …

GH: Jon Holland is looking better and better, isn’t he?

JK: it’s a good injury to have. Maybe Jon Holland wouldn’t be that much better but he’s probably gonna get a slot in playing against India now if he can walk or bowl by that point. Talking about the declaration, that was pretty gutsy and pretty arrogant for a team that have been smashed in their previous Test. What did you think when Clarke tried Wade?

GH: It did look a little bit like he’d been standing at slip and Wade had been in his ear all day and he gave him one over simply to shut him up. I didn’t mind it. It wasn’t the worst over that was bowled in the Test Match by any means. I did think that 132 kmph on the speed gun was kind of optimistic. It seemed to belong to same universe of calculation as the Bellerive Oval crowd figures.

JK: what I liked about Wade bowling, it’s amazing when the wicketkeeper takes the pads off and bowls, but it didn’t seem to be in a moment where Australia had lost hope. They were laughing and smiling and they still needed six wickets. It almost seemed to be like Michel Clarke when I saw him in the nets and he’s not that slow and he’s about two foot high, maybe he will skid one underground. Instead, Wade probably got eh best bouncer of any bowler in Australia at that point. He probably out-bounced Starc.

GH: I didn’t mind it. I thought the Australians had nice energy on the last day. Clarke never looked in a hurry. He never looked as though he was panicked by the Sri Lankan resistance. He must have had in the back of his mind what had happened in Adelaide but he seemed to have the measure of the game. He seemed to have the game under control. You did get the sense that it was easier to stay in then to get it on this pitch. So one wicket would lead to two and three and he had that at the back of his mind. The players were working very hard on the field to gain reverse swing. They did it for the entire game. The outfield was so lush that the ball did take a while to scuff up. As the game went on, the square got more and more abrasive so it was more and more conducive.

JK: Did the square get more like that or did Peter Siddle thumbnail just grow throughout the Test?

GH: We all know they are very hard on the ball these days. Frankly, why not, its bloody difficult for bowlers these days between overs 40 and 80, I reckon anything that is at their disposal, they should be allowed to try.

JK: We’ve come to the point in human existence or Test existence where pitches don’t help bowlers that much. This was a wicket which was slightly different but there are a lot of pitches around the world where you probably need a new ball at 60 over mark or we need to have sand paper put into the trousers so someone can get a good mark on it. Something has to happen occasionally, doesn’t it?

GH: Something has to happen. Cricket does have a conflicted and ambivalent relationship with ball tampering. After all, bowlers since time immemorial have interfered with the balls natural aging by polishing it to a bit for orthodox swing. It can be quite difficult to distinguish between measures like that and those applied in the quest for reverse swing, especially in the decade since it became a wide spread cricket skill. I looked up the statutes during the game. Changing the condition of the ball breach of law 42.3 is a level 2 offense in the ICC Code of Conduct which puts it on par with using language that is obscene, offensive or of a seriously insult nature. But the official penalty for it in the game’s laws is five runs which is on par with when a ball hits an unused helmet. So we are sending out two conflicting messages about how seriously it regards this indiscretion. Basically everything is left to the umpires. The umpires are required to make frequent and regular inspections of the ball in order to establish whether “the deterioration in the condition of the ball is greater than the condition of the use it has received”. It’s very, very subjective and very, very umpire central. So the idea that this can be somehow enforced through television by match referees seems to be nonsensical.

JK: As a Victorian fan, having spent a lot of time at the MCG watching Victoria play and watching them get reverse swing, I am not overly surprised that it’s been accused of Peter Siddle that he has tampered with the ball. Victorians ain’t used to doing it over and over and over again. I think there was a period there when I watched them play for about three years that no one ever threw the ball on the full to Darren Berry. There are so many other ways that you can tamper with the ball that they do all the time. I just wonder if there is any point saying, and maybe it is just all about degrees, but it didn’t look like he was doing anything that bad anyway. He’s been cleared of all charges and Channel 9 don’t have to worry about it anymore.

GH: Maybe we need to come up with a different phrase for it, ball tampering does sound seedy. It sounds like ballot box stuffing or insider trading or something like that. Ball modification perhaps would be an appropriate word to let everyone off the hook.

JK: Ball improvement in some cases I suppose.

GH: The other thing is that, short of vivid footage of a player taking chunks out of a ball with a bottle opener, or sliding a (unintelligible) off one of the quarter seam, ball tampering is very, very difficult to standup from a distance. This really was a bit of a media story. There was a sense among the media that they hadn’t been dealt with in a transparent fashion and that rubbed on the authorities. The media got their backs up and they went in pretty hard, perhaps harder than they would have if the process would have been more out in the open.

JK: Definitely. Let’s talk about Sri Lanka a little bit. They weren’t dreadful in this Test Math but it is hard to see how they improve for the next one. It seems like Matthews, Dilshan, Kumar and Mahela are all in decent form but that’s a massive tail and Herath still looks like their only bowler capable of troubling Australia and he’s not gonna get many pitches that are gonna help him.

GH: One or two reasonable spells, but particularly Welegedera, because he has been out of the game for so long, struggled for his rhythm, struggled for his length and the Australians really sweated on him particularly in the first innings. They could see that he was the vulnerable component. Matthews just never looks to me like he’s gonna get a batsman out. He looks to me like a net bowler. Not sure what is role is in the team. He bats at No. 6 and he rolls the arm over on occasions to soak up some overs. He’s got one Test century in 28 games and everyone regards him as Jayawardane’s successor. To me that’s far from obvious.

JK: He’s as Jayawardane’s successor I suppose because they’ve got a bit of a talent cliff that they’re about to jump off as much as anything. Everything he’s done in his career, Angelo Matthews, has been in Limited Overs Cricket. He really hasn’t stepped up in anyway in Test Cricket. Yet again, in this match, he had the chance to really kick on and put Australia almost behind if not on level playing field but he just never seems to be able to do it. But jeez, he’s so good looking, Gideon, who wouldn’t want him as their captain.

GH: he dropped a demoralizing catch too.

JK: Oh, that catch was shocking. I couldn’t believe it was him because he is one of the best fielders probably in World Cricket. He can’t make a mess of that being that athletic, it impossible to be that bad.

GH: It looked to me that he was half-asleep, like he’d lost track of where the rope was and spooked himself as to how close he was to the boundary. It was the kind of catch drop that takes the wind out of the bowler’s sails even though it was Hussey on 96. It was indicative of a pretty low-intensity fielding effort. I know they’ve never been particularly famous for their fielding but it didn’t seem like they were more committed to the act of retrieving than of interception.

JK: they were like that at times against England, I think they are still probably the best Asian fielding side. Guys like Matthews and Dilshan and obviously Jayawardane and Kumar are also quite good catchers. But they don’t always necessarily look like they want to be in the field which can be a bit of a problem. I want to also talk about the injury crisis of Australian quick bowlers. Someone sent me a link on Twitter. They had a look at the amount of overs that hadn’t been completed in Australian Test Cricket over the years. They actually did it worldwide. And it showed that Australian cricketers aren’t getting injured that much more than before. Now that’s obviously not a perfect way to look at it because a lot of these guys are getting injured before they are even getting in the side. But I wonder if it is just an injury crisis or it literally is what happens every now and again you have a bunch of quick bowlers who all fall apart.

GH: What you have to realize is that it is partly an artifact of how good sports medicine is these days. So many careers now are now being prolonged that would otherwise have naturally expired. A bowler like Ryan Harris wouldn’t be playing Cricket ten years ago because injury would have caught up with him. As it is, it’s good enough for him to play one Test in every three and he can kind of make a career out of that and there is the infrastructure and resources around to keep him on the park intermittent. Players are now closer to the brink of injury than they have ever been before because medical science backs itself to be able to rehabilitate them quickly and the game is more professional anyway so it’s possible these days to play even though you might have a physique that’s more susceptible to injured than ten years ago. It is weird the conflicting signals were sent out about Hilfenhaus this summer or this year. He was sent over to the one-dayers in England when you don’t really think of him as one of Australia’s first-choice one-day bowlers, bit pointless to send him over there. Now he’s started playing in the T20 side. I saw him bowl in a couple Shield games and he looked pretty tired as though he was going through the motions. You thought well he’s just looking after himself before the Test Matches, but then he bowled exactly like that during the Test Matches. Here, even before he got injured, he looked like no threat to anyone.

JK: It’s an amazing thing about Hilfenhaus, his technique is so simple that even Cricket writers can notice when it changes. You can tell when his arm is lower and when he’s not getting through the crease correctly. You can tell by the way the ball swings, if it swings early for him, he’s useless and if it swings late, he’s a God. But, most importantly, as long as he’s fit for all these Champions League games, I think that’s all that really matters at the end of the day. Talking about Sports medicine, I wanna talk about eh man, he’s beyond sports medicine, I think he’s his own personal witch doctor, Shane Watson. Are you comfortable with the fact that you may live in a world where very shortly Shane Watson can be known as the Australian Test Captain.

GH: Strange. He looked pretty anonymous for quite a lot of the Test Match. We’ve spoken about this before J-Rod. He looked a great front-runner as an opener with the ball coming on the bat but when he has time to think about it, when he needs to do something, other than simply blast fours, he’s strangely ambivalent about this whole batting art. As a Test Match No. 4, it’s little bit hard to take him seriously. I thought that he bowled pretty well on the last day and bowled a lot of overs and looed aggressive and looks in the contest. When he’s not happy he can just go through the motions. Sometimes when Shane Watson sets off from the end of his mark, I think he’s only 50-50 to get to the crease.

JK: Sometimes, you can see. It’s almost like it’s all gonna fall apart almost humpty dumpty style. He won’t quite make it to the end whereas in this Test he looked like he was gonna get there, he wasn’t bowling that quickly, but it’s almost like no one’s every told him that he doesn’t bowl that quickly anymore. He believes that and he will glare down a batsman floating up an out swinger at 120 k like no one can.

GH: In the first innings, I thought I had seen more confident men walking in the fields then Watson running up to bowl. But he looked serious in the second innings. Perhaps because he realizes now that he’s gotta make a contribution, a large, general all-round contribution. He can’t rely on his contributions solely with the bat. So perhaps that’s an indication that he feels a little bit vulnerable in this team.

JK: If he doesn’t feel vulnerable then I actually worry. He’s got a batting average of 36, that’s pretty vulnerable. When Eddie Cowan’s batting average was 36, all I heard from the press was how he was inches from being dropped and Watson’s worked his average down. I don’t think its ever been higher than 41, 42. He should be vulnerable because he doesn’t always bowl and quite often he says he not be  able to bowl again.

GH: His average under Clarke is under 25 in 11 Test Matches and yet Ian Chappell goes on and on about how Australia needs David Warner and Shane Watson opening the innings.

JK: As we’ve talked before and I’m actually halfway through an article on Cricinfo about the exact same thing – the myth that he is an attacking batsman. That’s something that we all should be talking about. I think in the 2010-11 Ashes he batted slower than Hussey and Katich and maybe even Cook. He doesn’t bat that aggressively. He hits a couple of fours and then he doesn’t quite know what to do next and then he just sits around there for a while, which is why he struggles to make 100s.

GH: He looks like an attacking batsman because he scores such a high proportion of his run sin boundaries but that’s indicative of the general intertia around his batting when he is not hitting boundaries.

JK: Batting interia , that’s always been my problem.

GH: He does play a lot of dot balls. Even in this Test Match he struggled to turn over the strike. I thought Herath bowled really well to him, made him look like a bit of a mug, certainly didn’t make him look like a player who had played 30-odd Test Matches.

JK: What do you think of Jackson Bird and Usman Khawaja coming in? I’m pretty happy with both of those selections. So many people on Twitter ask me why is Australian Cricket not picking Usman Khawaja and I always say because he averaged about 12 last summer. But this summer he’s come back and he’s done all he can. He’s played some good innings in Country Cricket without being brilliant. And Jackson Bird, if we trust form at all, surely he has to get a game eventually.

GH: To me, day in, day out, he looks like the most consistent and impressive fast bowler outside the Test team. So just on the evidence of my own eyes, I think the selectors have gotten that one right. It’s funny that Khawaja’s Test career came to a semi-colon at Bellerive last year because we saw that he struggled to get off strike, he struggled to keep the game ticking over on that last day when Australia really needed someone to keep feeding the strike to David Warner who was batting so well. The other thing that has been held against Khawaja is his fielding which frankly is poor and probably remains poor. I don’t think it’s gonna change all that much in a year. But he’s got a touch of class about him. He scores in different areas to the rest of the Australian team. He’s versatile. He can bat at any point in the order, he could even open. He’s spent a lot of his career opening the batting. So he’s got a lot to recommend him as a specialist batsman.

JK: Definitely. I am happy with him getting another chance because I didn’t want him kicked away altogether. I do think he’s got some skill but he definitely needed that kick from Inverarity and the selectors of not being picked in the Australia A squad. I like tough love, unless I am on the receiving end of it. The only other thing I wanted to ask you about was the quarantine. I believe that no one’s allowed to have a Test player and a T20 player in the same room at the same time or I’m misreading it and none of the Test players are going to play in the  Big Bash between now and Boxing Day.

GH: That’s interesting considering the bizarre state of affairs that we talked about couple of weeks ago where Khawaja was flown out of the Chairman’s XI game so he could play in the Big Bash League game on Saturday. Yet again it’s a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing in Australian Cricket at the moment. There seem to be different political power bases in Australia trying to assert themselves at the expense of the other. It feels a little bit similar in some respect to 2010-11 where it was not clear whether Cricket Australia was actually a Cricket administration or a marketing organization that occasionally dabbled in Cricket.

JK: I don’t think anyone at Cricket Australia or anyone involved in the Big Bash League will be too happy with the word quarantine. It’s one of those things that Mickey Arthur probably said by accident, probably repeated a word that someone in the press had said to him. But I love that. That should getting cult status among Test Cricket fans. We need to quarantine our players from T20 Cricket.

GH: It is an emotive word and frankly an accurate word considering the way in which the Champions League has interfered with Australia’s preparation coming into this series, the way in which the priorities of franchises seems to take precedence over the long term needs of Australian Cricket, frankly Australian Cricket is at war with itself often enough. It is weird to go back to your hotel room after a day of watching Test Cricket and turn on the television and there is Cricket from somewhere else, you are not sure where it is from, you almost can’t tell the teams apart, this strange evening burlesque cricket going on when you’d actually prefer to be recuperating from the day at the ground.

JK: I hate you for saying burlesque cricket because that will be exactly how it is marketed next year. We’ll leave it there Gideon. Thank you very much.

GH: My pleasure, Jarrod. Glad we got there in the end.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Cricket Sadist Hour - A Transcript - Dec 11, 2012

Cricket Sadist Hour – A Transcript

December 11, 2012

Watching Ricky in the rain

Gideon Haigh joins Jarrod Kimber to wax romantic about Ricky Ponting's retirement, talk sharply about Cricket Australia's entertainment complex and Sri Lanka's talent cliff

JK: Welcome to another episode of the Cricket Sadist Hour. With me I have gargantuan Gideon Haigh. How are you?

GH: Gargantuan, Thanks Jarrod. Nice to be here.

JK: We missed this.  Generally when people are playing cricket, I am obsessing over it and tweeting and all those sorts of things that modern cricket fans do but unfortunately this week, or fortunately, I was at the birth of my child. And while that happened, apparently, South Africa did quite well in a test at Perth, is that right?

GH: Indeed. You were missed Jarrod, your contribution to Cricket folk lore. It was a terrific Test match and this was a wonderful series that grew steadily more intense as the series transpired. A team that looked on its last legs in Adelaide, proved that it’s not just No. 1 because it wins Test matches, its No. 1 because it’s very, very hard to beat. Adelaide was a little bit like Cardiff in 2009. South Africa took much, much more out of it than Australia. It was almost as though Australia knew that they’d blown the opportunity. Once again they had opportunities in Perth but they never looked like seizing them.

JK: That seemed to be almost their story. I didn’t see much of the Test. There was a little bit that I saw, luckily my son decided to wake me up for.  What I was quite interested in was the way that it was rewritten. Australia had done well in the first Test, probably came out of that slightly better. They dominated the second one and maybe without Pattinson’s injury they win that and they lose the third one quite convincingly. And suddenly Australia are rubbish again. It just seemed to snap back in a millisecond.

GH: Yeah, really, it was won and lost on the second day, and maybe even the first hour and after tea on the second day. Australia really needed to get through the first hour of the second day without sustaining too many casualties because the afternoon and overs 40 to 85 in any innings at the WACA are the best time for batting. So they needed quality wickets in hand in the afternoon session. Unfortunately they lost the cream of their batting before noon. Once that had transpired they were never gonna get their way back into the game and of course later on in the afternoon, Amla and Smith just put the pedal to the metal and they left Australia choking on their exhaust fumes.

JK: That was amazing, being that it was those two. I know Smith plays in T20 leagues and Amla is a good one-day player. But, generally in Test Cricket, and that’s been something that’s held South Africa back, at time even did against England. Even though they won, they just never put the foot down and just went, we’re just gonna smash them, which is what really good teams do because otherwise you end up with a lot of draws which they have been. And suddenly, it just exploded.

GH: Interestingly, Amla was asked about it later on whether there was any degree of premeditation in the South African batting. And he said No, it just kind of felt right, it felt this was an opportunity to accelerate and we decided to take it and see what happened. It was no more than that. If that kind of intuition can be harnessed by the South Africans in future then they are gonna be a genuinely formidable side. Of course, they were able to bat that way because Australia batted so poorly and left South Africa with a useful buffer to start off the innings with. In fact, Amla said, it meant that if we lost a wicket by playing that way, it wasn’t a train wreck. I was delighted to hear Amla use train wreck because he seems far too serene to do something like that. But it was because they had that crucial first innings lead and the opportunity to bat during the best part of the day that Australia’s situation worsened in a compound way.

JK: I suppose it’s gonna be remembered, as much as anything, probably for the end of Ponting. What was it like being there? I know he bowled as well which would have been, for me, a highlight. Most people didn’t care but I always loved watching him bowl including that over that went for 20-odd for Tasmania once. What was it like being there right at the end?

GH: Very, very moving. Surprisingly, so, considering that over the last couple of years, Ponting’s retirement has been foreshadowed at regular intervals. When the situation actually transpired, we didn’t know what to do, we didn’t know what to make of it. Our prophecies had come true. I must confess I did get a feeling that something had shifted in Ponting when I saw him give his interview to Mark Taylor the day after he batted in the second innings at Adelaide.

JK: You mentioned that in the other podcast. It was a good spot by you. You should probably do this for a living.

GH: It felt different, because usually he’s been so relentlessly positive where his own form is concerned and in fact I chatted to Mickey Arthur in Perth and I said when did you realize that Ricky might not have much Cricket ahead of him. And he said that when Ricky got out in the second innings, Mickey went to see him and found him sitting with his pads on bent over staring into space and he said is there anything I can do? And Ponting replied in the negative. He said I looked into his eyes and there wasn’t any fight left. So he wasn’t completely surprised when Ricky came to see him and Clarke two days out from the Perth Test Match. I know that the announcement to the team was an extremely emotional occasion for all involved that took place around 9 on the morning before the game but then they went into the nets and then, as often happens, probably about a dozen journalists when to watch the Australians practicing and once again, for reasons I can’t even articulate, I could tell that something was different. Funny enough, after about an hour of training, it started to rain. The other journalists scattered because I thought the press conference was impending but I stayed and I was the last journalist there for about the last 45 minutes of training and watched Ponting, in that Ponting way, being the one who trained the longest and the hardest. I watched him do his throw downs, I watched him do his catches. I can’t really tell you why, there was just a subtly different feeling about it and I had a chat to him briefly about how he was hitting them and he said he was hitting them fine. There was no indication that what was about to happen was going to happen. Then I watched him pick up his bag, put it over his shoulder, take a look around the practice area. I think only Ed Cowan was left, he was doing his short leg catches. And he turned around and strolled off. And about five or ten minutes later, Peter Lalor from the Australian rang me and said have you heard there’s a rumor around that Ponting’s gonna retire. I said No, I’ve just watched him leave the nets, how strange. And then fifteen minutes later we were in a Press Conference and Ponting was announcing it. This first Press Conference was very matter of fact, quite terse in that Ponting way. He didn’t want his decision to over shadow Australia’s preparation for the game. But the Press Conference at the end of the game you could have heard a pin drop in there and you almost didn’t want to interrupt Ponting as he made his remarks. He was warm and whimsical and thoughtful and emotional but not over the top when he talked about his family, when he talked about his club, when he talked about what playing for Australia had meant to him. Then he scooped up his little daughter Emmy and he walked out the door and apparently burst into tears. I didn’t see that but some journalists who were standing outside saw it. He did an incredibly good job of remaining poised and dignified in exactly the way that you would hope from an Australian captain of his distinction.

JK: I do wonder if those tears were acid. It’s so hard that when they hit the ground, it made part of the ground melt away, although at the WACA, I supposed that happens all the time, the way it’s built. It’s a weird one though, trying to write the piece about it which we all had to do. I had such a complicated relationship with Ponting from my own point of view and the one time that I really, really wanted to watch him play in the last game, I virtually saw none of it. It almost felt like that was my way of letting Ponting go, not watching his last game after obsessing over almost every other Test he’d ever played. He definitely feels like such an Australian icon in a flawed and good sense if that makes sense.

GH: I think the thing that has always struck me about Ponting is that he had to lead Allan Border’s career in reverse. All the greats fade away and he was the one common denominator throughout that period. In fact with his retirement we are separated from those great Australian teams of the 90s and early 21st century. The strange thing is that I warmed to Ponting much more in the second half of his career than in the first half. I couldn’t really achieve a simpatico with him merely watching him triumph. You don’t learn very much about a man from the way he deals with success, maybe at the margins. But you do learn something about a person’s character from the way in which they deal with adversity. And I think he was an extremely dignified Australian presence except for a few interludes, on-field incidents, particularly with umpires. But other than that, I scarcely saw him put a foot wrong. And he was defending the indefensible, some terrible things that he had to preside over. And yet I think he never lost faith in his players and he always remained their No. 1 supporter. I think that was what probably kept him going in the last couple of years of his career, a desire to restore Australian Cricket to something like its former days, leave Australian Cricket the way it was two years ago. He atleast had to provide some sort of continuity. He’s done an awful lot to empower Michael Clarke as captain. I think, quite frankly, and I’ve heard it said by others, that Ponting has given much more support than Clarke ever gave Ponting.

JK: It’d be interesting to see how he’s looked back on. It was never his fault really that he was given an ever dwindling talent supply. He didn’t handle it particularly well but that’s what happens.  Let’s talk about his home town or home island. He used to live there. I’m sure he visits every now and again. We’re going down to Tasmania this week where Shane Watson wants to bowl more. We’re not gonna talk anymore about Shane Watson. It’s all about the toss at Bellerive they tell me. Are we expecting 17 inches of grass again?

GH: (unintelligible) off the Bellerive square in an effort to generate it but they didn’t allow it sufficient time to bed down which accounts for some of the appalling scores and some of the ruinous deliveries that have been bowled there. They did actually, for a time, talk about moving the Test match away from Bellerive where everyone tell me that, on a per-capita basis, more Tasmanians attend the Test match than any other state but it still seems like very, very few. And if they didn’t turn up to see what was expected to be Ricky Ponting’s last Test Match last season, I can’t see them patronizing this one.

JK: All this talk about how much grass is on there and how it hasn’t settled and all these sorts of things. Just because when I grew up, and you are obviously about 30 or 40 years older than me, but, when I grew up, it was a batsman-friendly pitch, so much so that I thought to this day, Hills and Cox would still be out there in the middle. Its amazing how much things have changed down there but also how it is automatically the sixth Test venue. I would have thought by now that Cairns and Darwin might have been able to steal a couple more tests.

GH: Yes, I am so old that I can remember Alex Doolan’s father playing Sheffield Shield cricket, the spectacled, wicketkeeper batsman from the late 1970s. Tasmania, of course, has until recently, received 1/6th share of dividends from Cricket Australia, a revolution brought by Dennis Rogers, the Tasmanian chairman of the Board in the late 1990s. They get a lot of money down there. They wanna be able to put on a good Test Match. In domestic cricket, their record is as good as anyone in recent years. It would be nice if the local population were able to put on a better show round about Test Match time. They had a terrific Test Match last year, one of the most thrilling of recent years. In fact, it was free entry on the last day of that Test Match. So, if you took the opportunity you would have seen one of the great Test Match finishes. But it felt like a local club game.

JK: The way I look at it, in England, they have too many Test venues and that causes its own problems. But if they just said at one stage that you have to get this crowd in and if they don’t then we are going to Cairns. I wonder if that would change people down there. I could be wrong but every time you watch a domestic game down in Tasmania does seem to be a decent crowd there, there seems to be quite often a better domestic crowd than you get for some of the other states.

GH: I guess because you are guaranteed local content and guaranteed a measure of success which they’ve enjoyed for the last few years.

JK: The most important thing to hit Bellerive is the return of Phil Hughes who luckily for him can’t be caught Guptill bowled Martin this time. He’s gone back to the place where I always thought he would make runs which would be Adelaide. He’s made a bunch of runs and now he’s been picked in the side to bat in a position that he’s not particularly that good with.

GH: He has at least made most of his runs this season away from Adelaide.

JK: Gideon, he was inspired by Adelaide though.

GH: Frankly, if you’ve seen Adelaide recently, even I could make runs on that. They’ve shortened it straight but fifteen meters and shorten it square by six meters. It is a tiny little roller rink of a ground as Imran Tahir found to his cost. It is strange that, just as a general observation, the idea that we can simply project players into which they are not familiar. Rob Quiney batting at No. 3 for Australia when he hasn’t batted at No. 3 for Victoria for five years. Shane Watson now to bat at No. 4 for Australia, I don’t think he’s ever batted there for any of his states. Now Phil Hughes to go in at No. 3. When you consider the lineage of distinguished Australian No. 3s, stretching back to Bradman and compassing Greg Chappell and David Boon, etc., Ricky Ponting, the idea that we now have to manufacture players to fill that role is a bit of a statement about the lack of depth in Australian Cricket. At one time, you would have had three or four candidates to fill that role who were also fulfilling at role for their states. But now we’ve got four openers, four people who prefer to open batting in the top four slots for Australia.

JK: You’re forgetting No. 6 is also an opener.

GH: Indeed. Not for a while though.

JK: But he was before he came into international Cricket, he was even when he came into international Cricket. It seems that people are just picking where batsmen should bat. I don’t think it’s that simple and I also wonder about the psychology of John Inverarity coming and saying that he was hiding Phil Hughes from a really good bowling attack but then he’s gonna bat him at No. 3 which is the toughest position. Ricky Ponting and Bradman didn’t start their careers at 3.

GH: Yeah, it’s an odd one. I must say that if Phil Hughes doesn’t make runs under these circumstances then we can probably mark his file closed. I think he is in reasonable nick, not the greatest nick of all time, he hasn’t made a stupendous number of runs but he does have those 20 first-class centuries before the age of 24 which does indicate someone who knows at least how to build an innings. They don’t really know who to construct a stroke.

JK: What I do find interesting about Phil Hughes in general, it’s a little bit like Shane Watson. I’m constantly being told he’s changed his technique and he’s fixed everything. But every time in the past I’ve seen him do something, it’s almost become worse. If he’s gonna make runs against Sri Lanka that doesn’t actually tell me he’s gonna be a No. 3 that’s gonna go to India and make runs and then he’s gonna go to England and make runs. It tells me that he can make runs against a fairly flawed Sri Lankan side who we’ve mentioned before and we’ll talk about in a second, really only has one bowler. We’re not really testing him. His best chance would have been to throw him in against South Africa, see if he sunk or not or actually swum away. And then Quiney as the backup. Alex Doolan worried me the most when he wanted to talk everyone else up rather than himself. That’s not Australian, is it?

GH: That’s the kinda guy, Alex, very modest soul. As Ed Cowan says, he doesn’t quite know how good he is. I saw him get runs at the MCG, earlier this season and he looked just a million dollars. He was batting with Ponting and he lost nothing by comparison. To me, because he is a specialist No. 3, he would have been my ideal pick for this Test Match, particularly on his home surface. I don’t make the decisions, it’s well above my pay grade.

JK: I was gonna write that same exact thing and then I read his comments and I lost all belief in him. I haven’t seen him quite as much as you’ve seen, little bits of him, but I just think that this is the time that we pick someone who is actually known for No. 3 or we force Hussey or Clarke to go up the order. I’m not sure why Mike Hussey always gets away with not doing it. If we’re gonna have a make shift we might as well have someone who used to open the batting if Clarke won’t go up the order. And if Watson really wants to bowl more, it would really make sense for him to go lower than 4.

GH: Actually Hussey does bat No. 3 for his state. So he does have experience.

JK: Let’s talk about the Sri Lankans a little bit. They played in Chairman’s game which is a little bit horrible for them. Glen Maxwell batting at 5. Alex Doolan did fail in that game. Maxwell batting at 5 made 91 off 77 balls And Scott Henry made 207 not out. I am trying to read the scorecard while I do this, professional podcasting. The word was that they had Welegedara, Eranga and Randiv in that bowling attack. It’s not exactly their second string attack. I saw Randiv bowl really well for Sri Lanka a bunch of times, especially against India early on in his career. And that’s horrible the way they were treated. I think they went at almost 4.5 an over against a fifth string team for Australia.

GH: Normally, in circumstances like these, you say, well you can’t read too much into tour match form. But I think you actually can read quite a lot into this. Murali was never able to get wickets here. Sri Lanka has always struggled when Murali couldn’t get wickets and now he’s not there at all. It’s a great opportunity for some aspiring Australian batsmen to enhance their Test averages. I don’t want to talk Sri Lanka down too much because it not hospitable but it is a team whose main strengths are aging and depreciating rapidly and whose next generation hasn’t come on as you would have hoped. You can only see their performances tailing off over the next two to three years as Dilshan, Samaraweera, Sangakkara and Jayawardane begin to fade out of the scene.

JK: Even the young talented palyers, I’m gonna put Randiv in that because I really do believe he’s got a lot of talent and Angelo Mathews who I think should be the world’s premier all-rounder but hasn’t stepped up. They’ve also got the other quick bowler whose name I’ve completely forgotten who can slog a little bit. None of them have really taken the next step. Mathews is not much a match-winner now than he was two or three years ago, especially in Test Cricket. Randiv is second choice when you would have though with his talent. Herath is a very smart bowler but he’s not very suited to all conditions. In England, he looked completely out of it. It’s almost like there is talent her but they just haven’t been able to step up. These old guys can’t play forever. I know Kumar Sangakkara and Dilshan come across as younger than they are but are ageing and Samaraweera was a 50 year old man when he was 22. Jayawardane can’t go forever. It just seems like if they all leave they’re gonna fall off the map far more than sides like the West Indies and New Zealand did.

GH: It’s gonna be like the retirements of Chappell, Lillee, Marsh and it might take them a decade to recover. But the worrying thing is that there doesn’t seem to be any pressure from below on players whose selection is more marginal. Lot of players seem to be selected as a reflex. I can’t believe that the first-class scene, when there are so many first class teams in Sri Lanka, is that short of talent. You begin to think of other potential explanations, the rank poor governance of the country, the general shortage of resources, the discontinuity in the coaching staff, the insecurity of tenure for selectors. You get the feeling that this is a team that is an accident waiting to them.

JK: And that is such a shame because when I was in Sri Lanka, the tape ball cricket and that sort of the thing that I saw in Sri Lanka, compared to what I saw in India. The Sri Lankans, it’s probably the best street cricket I’ve ever seen, just natural guys who can do amazing things with the bat and the ball. Yet whether they just don’t get to the next level for whatever reason. The Sri Lankan Cricket Board. It’s quite hard now with New Zealand coming in and the US Cricket Board and Pakistan. The Sri Lankan Cricket Board is as bad as it gets in Cricket administration. That’s not a list you want to be on. You do worry about what they’re gonna do next. They’ve always had that problem, they struggle to find Test Match strike bowlers. They’ve really only had probably Fernando briefly, Malinga briefly and Murali. Even Vaas has never probably been a Test Match strike bowler. And if you don’t have batsmen to back that up, it’s impossible to see how they’re gonna win a Test and they’re already giving up Test series as often as they can. Of all the teams that are gonna disappear from the international landscape it looks like they are the most likely.

GH:  They look vulnerable for sure

JK:  I’m not just saying that because Usman Khawaja got a wicket against them either.

GH: Wasn’t a bad wicket either.

JK: What do you think of this series?  It looks like, from the outside looking in, it’s gonna be one of those series where Australia talk themselves back up again. They might even forget about what happened against South Africa and suddenly go look we’re back in form. Had we played like this against South Africa, we would have beaten them.

GH: I don’t think that Sri Lanka’s attack has the explosive power to rock and roll the Australian top order in a session which is really what it takes to win a Test Match in Australia. I get the feeling that Sri Lanka are as surprised as anyone to be here as the Summer’s main attraction to have been given the Boxing Day Test Match and the Sydney Test Match, those two prestigious gigs. I also get the feeling that maybe Cricket Australia isn’t that disappointed about that since there is no risk of the Test Series overshadowing what really matters which as we all know is the Big Bash League.

JK: My favorite team of the Big Bash. I’ve tried not to follow it as much as possible but I know I will eventually get sucked in and start getting up early in the morning to watch games online, probably illegally, I apologize to Cricket Australia. But what I really like is that they’ve essentially said this week that the fans of the Big Bash are so slow and so drunk that they don’t actually understand when the stumps have exploded. So they have to light them up, Gideon. People need to be shown exactly what Cricket is, we are gonna do it with lights.

GH: At least that’s actually part of the Cricket. I think that the Cricket at the moment is in danger of being completely swallowed up by the entertainment aqua phenomena around it. The Crusty Demons performing in advance. The trained acrobats and boy bands and other surrounding entertainment attractions. Once again, I have said this so many times, I am going blue in the face, but it does seem like the kind of Cricket for people who don’t like Cricket and who probably never will. They don’t care whether they do or not as long as they turn up.

JK: You can’t take that stance because you are part of the Big Bash extravaganza now. You’ve hosting events with Warnie, Murali and Viv Richards.  I can’t think of anyone more Big Bash than Gideon Haigh.

GH: Yes, I did, indeed, participate in last week’s season launch for the Stars and the Renegades at the Crown Entertainment Complex.

JK: That’s a good name. That’s the sort of place that they should be playing these. We’re gonna take the Big Bash away from the Cricket grounds because that’s too crickety and play them at Entertainment Complexes.

GH: They have a bit of a Entertainment Complex, Cricket Australia. To have the opportunity to have those three on stage and an audience that was hanging on their every word, it was a great thing to be part of. I did it because Cricket Victoria made a modest donation to a charity that I’m involved in. It was fascinating to have the three of them together and responding to one another and bantering amongst themselves. Their mutual regard was evident. Their love of Cricket was evident. Richards interestingly is not a confident public performer or so I understand. He doesn’t particularly like a large audience to address. But he was just outstanding. He’s got that passo fundo in his voice and sounds exactly the way that you would want Viv Richards to sound. It was not like W G Grace and his squeaky voice. He really does sound like Harry Belafonte. It was the first time I’d seen Shane since my book about him came out. So that was an interesting encounter. I must say that up close his face is quite still almost in a slightly disconcerting way but under the surface I think he is still the same Shane. I know that he ducked out every five minutes for a cigarette. So that part of him certainly hasn’t changed.

JK: Don’t leave us hanging though? What did he say about your book?

GH: He didn’t say anything at all. We encountered one another on stage and that was as far as our contact went. My questions were cricket-related matters and didn’t traverse the book at all. But I gather from his friendly demeanor that I haven’t offended him. He’s not about to sue me in the way that he once said that you should be able to sue anyone who wrote about your life without permission.

JK: What I found most interesting about that even that you talk about and it almost says everything about the Big Bash is that there wasn’t a person on that stage who was under 40.

GH: Yes, I think that would certainly be true. I get the feeling sometimes that the whole Big Bash enterprise is a middle aged person’s view of what young people are into.

JK: I think that is a 100% correct because every time, even when you go to the stuff in UK, the dancing girls and all that stuff. To be honest, I don’t think most people give a rat’s about dancing girls in England, when you’re watching a T20 game and its 12 degrees outside and she wearing seven jumpers. It seems to be that that’s what they think we want, young people want to be entertained, we gotta flash things at them and all this sort of stuff. Realistically, in the long term, I am not sure that that is gonna help them. It’s gonna die off. Wasn’t it one-day games in New Zealand they used to bring out an elephant at half-time in the change of innings? They don’t do that anymore because people either like the game or they don’t and I worry that they are so fixated on these old guys who one of which got absolutely smashed, another one is not even playing and the other one is a magician but we don’t really get to see him at his best in T20 cricket anyway.

GH: this addiction to gimmickry is governed by the law of diminishing returns. Over time the events gotta stand on its own feet as a Cricket attraction or it’s obsolete almost before it began.

JK: It’s gonna stand on Aaron Finch’s feet.

GH: Frankly the quality of the Cricket is not higher and arguably lower than what we used to see in the old Big Bash and yet it’s costing us 10 or 15 million dollars more. I just don’t see what we’ve gained. The whole rationale for setting up these individual franchises with their cookie cutter websites and their uniform names was to sell them to investors. Now that’s been essentially taken off the table since the Argus review, the rationale for them disappears. I don’t have any objection to watching domestic T20, but I want to feel as though it matters a bit, I want to feel as though there is something at stake apart from the opportunity of participating in the Champions League. I described it as a whole lot of not very much recently. It does seem to be a tournament that is shouting at the top of its voice in order to cover up that the games that they are playing don’t really matter very much in the long term.

JK: I just want there to be a team in the Northern Suburbs of Melbourne so I have someone to support. Unfortunately we’re not going to get what we want, Gideon. But thank you very much for chatting to me this week and I will chat to you after you’ve been down to the Apple Isle. Did I forget Tasmania’s nickname? Apples, Hobart, you know what I mean. You’ll go down there and see yaks and things and it will be a good time for you. I’ll talk to you after that, thanks for chatting.

GH: Thanks, Jarrod.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cricket Sadist Hour - A Transcript - Nov 27, 2012

Cricket Sadist Hour – A Transcript

November 27, 2012

Faf wears an apron

Gideon Haigh joins Jarrod Kimber to discuss the great Faf, Imran's heavy hand, the end for Quiney, fair pitches, Rory's comeback and Josh's free hotel rooms

JK: Welcome to the Cricket Sadist Hour. I’ve got the man who gives us all goose-bumps with me, it’s Gideon Haigh. How are you?

GH: I am great, terrific, euphoric.

JK: You had to think about it. Have you had an Adelaide hangover?

GH: Not as bad as Peter Siddle’s but there is a process of decompression after a Test Match. You return to the normal world. I don’t want to get too normal because I’ve got to go to Perth tomorrow.

JK: You’re going that soon, are you?

GH: Yeah, I am. I’m home literally to give my daughter a cuddle and then it’s back to Skyping her.

JK: The good news is, if I read the situation correctly, and the way that American President’s elections go, is that is the press calls a Test Series, that means it happened. So, according to Malcolm Conn’s column, Australia has won this series already?

GH: Yeah, all through yesterday, in the press box, the uppermost was the back page of the Adelaide Advertiser with the headline, Top of the World. You gotta say, first with the latest, the Adelaide Advertiser, a dreadful paper. We all had it written down as an Australian victory on the last day, even South Africans. But it was a wicket that was fair to batsmen all the way through. The ball continued to play at one height, didn’t give too much assistance to the spinners. And these days, a modern batsman, when he puts his mind to it and puts his body to it, is a pretty formidable fortification to get around. Padded and Armored and equipped with a massive powerful bat. The batsmen don’t often find themselves in that situation or don’t necessarily have the commitment or the temperament to doing it because these days the game privileges spontaneous stroke play and innovation. Funnily, yesterday, it was Faf du Plessis, who is considered a one-day specialist proving that he’s been a Test Match player in the making all along.

JK: I always thought he was a county specialist, so he took a huge step up for me from average, middling first-class English player to at Test player. But that was a phenomenal effort but even more impressive was the fact that Morne Morkel was out there. Had he stuffed up that drive in the end that would have been the end of him. He would have ended up in an asylum; his psyche would never have been able to handle that.

GH: I did have a fantasy early on that it would be Imran Tahir doing the (herocious on the bridge act), in much the same way that Monty had at Cardiff in 2009 but want quite that good.

JK: No. To be fair, when Morne came into Test Cricket, there was talk about him being an all-rounder. He could possibly spell the word all-rounder and that’s about it. But I just like the fact that he decided at the end to unleash some drives. I just love the idea of I am so settled at this point after I’m at 10 balls, just going to start peeling off drives. Just one of those goes to one of the catchers, even if Imran stays out the over, you just fell like you’ve let down everyone at that point.

GH: Yeah, he certainly would have felt devastated to let down du Plessis. That was just a staggering act of adhesion. de Villiers in defense looked like a man playing against his natural brand, but du Plessis still had this propensity for hitting the odd bad ball for four, almost with a hint of self-reproach and never seemed to get bored. He’s probably still playing that front foot defensive prod now, woke up on the middle of the night and jumped to his feet and prodding a prod.

JK: I know. It’s also a shame because I’ve been making lots of jokes about Faf that his best performance before this was in AB de Villiers’ music video. Now, I’m gonna have to retire that joke, at least for a couple of months until people forget about this innings.

GH: They do look uncannily alike. When they batted together briefly in the first innings, I literally could not tell them apart. It was like Twiddle de V and Twiddle de P. And they didn’t bat for long enough for me to be able to distinguish them in the first innings but in the second innings, I learnt that one of them, I forgetten who now, wears one of the Stuart McGill kind of aprons while he bats, so that was very helpful.

JK: They’ve both got this amazing posture at the crease, which I remember looking at a couple of times when I watched Faf play. But it was an amazing innings. What stage does the Australian press start to go – this is gonna be embarrassing if this doesn’t go the way we want.

GH: I know that at about 11:45, the sponsor’s question came up on TV, who will break through for Australia. That’s got a certain plaintive note about it because no one has to break through; it doesn’t have to happen at all. It was interesting to see batsmen playing so defensively. Because these days batsmen are so often encouraged to play their natural game at all times. Both these batsmen were discovering things about themselves that they perhaps didn’t even know that they were capable of. They were formative, defining innings for both of them. So du Plessis isn’t only that semi-anonymous figure who’s gonna play one game for the Melbourne Renegades next month.

JK: He’ll be that as well, hopefully. (I’d like to run into Big Bash’s semi at one point in their career.) Bigger picture, you and I both jumped on Rory Klienveldt, a little bit. He brought himself back, didn’t he? He gave us something with the ball in this match? I know eventually Australia declared anyway but I felt good for him that even if it is his last Test, he did something.

GH: Definitely. He actually improved all the way through. He probably gave Clarke the hardest time on the first day and he was one of the few bowler to get consistent swing for two or three spells in the second innings. It cost a little. The Australians hadn’t begun to undirected by that time.(unintelligible) They could pick off, which meant that he did get a couple of wickets by default, but you could definitely see what the South African journalists have been talking about. There was a word out that he was a good first-class player, at one stage, even Vernon Philander’s superior. Hits the deck hard, gets the ball to do a little bit, can bowl all day. They are valuable adjuncts to any attack.

JK: And amazingly Imran Tahir had the game that Rory Klienveldt was supposed to have in that it all fell apart. And now, people are talking about him never playing again. Probably a bit over the top, but, that was probably the worst game from a frontline bowler since Bryce McGain.

GH: Bryce’s name did come up a few times in the Test Match. The unfortunate thing for Tahir was (a) he didn’t bowl very well but (b) this was a really difficult ground to defend on, with the building work they have reduced the square boundaries by six meters and the traditional long boundaries at the Adelaide Oval have been cut by fifteen meters. And the outfield was absolutely red hot. Balls were being pushed gently down the ground for three and almost everything else went for four. In fact, on the first day, there were only five threes out of 482. It was like everything that was going past the inner ring was going for four. So he may have picked a bad day to lose his length. I also take my hat off to him. He continued to race through his overs as he does in that Imran Tahir way. He was game for it. I don’t think that his captain gave him all that much support at various times. And he continued to bowl good deliveries, wicket-taking deliveries. One of them he did actually take a wicket and had it taken away from him. And he continued to beat the bat every so often. His googly is a good ball. It could be useful potentially against this phalanx of Australian left-handers. It’s just that every single bad ball he bowled got hit for four or six.

JK: it reminded it me of, I was gonna say an off-spinner, but that’s probably being kind to you. But you bowl the other spin occasionally and I bowl leg spin and there’s this thing where when you’re dragging the ball down your hand feels really heavy and it’s like it drags straight down. Then you try and over correct it, it’s like the ball flies out the back of your hand. You can actually see that happening to him. It’d be great to show it to a young leg-spinner and just say this can go wrong for anyone. There’s been a lot of talk about how South Africa tried to change his bowling and that Graeme Smith doesn’t understand leg-spin bowling. All of that is true but I think his biggest problem was he got through to the age of, I don’t know how old he is, but he’s probably older than (he claims to be). But he got through all that part of his life and then suddenly no one ever got him to run off the wicket when he was bowling and now he has to run off the wicket when he’s bowling. I think that’s actually what is causing him all new these problems. He doesn’t feel comfortable in the new run-up.

GH: That’s interesting. He alternated between over and round the wicket like he couldn’t get comfortable doing either. It wasn’t because he was pursuing a particular tactic or plan. It was because he just was improvising. He looked like someone who was struggling to find a method with which he felt comfortable and it was elusive for him. And they were not the circumstances to get comfortable anyway. This is the way that spinners get related these days. It’s the Duncan fletcher axiom that only the very best spinners do you play defensively. You get on top of spinners immediately that they come into the attack. You don’t give them a chance to settle and Mickey Arthur has clearly imbibed that advice from his old mentor and passed it on to the Australia batsmen.

JK: It can be tough as well. I think it was just after lunch, when Australia got that flyer and he bowled two full-tosses, I think to David Warner. One of them was mishit and the other one was smashed. And as Bill Lawry said you’ve still gotta hit them but realistically you and I could probably have hit those two balls for four. He got taken straight out of the attack and they tried to change his end. They did all this stuff and I just thought that’s the worst thing you can do. I remember when Bryce had his problems against South Africa, he bowled two or three overs and Ponting took him out of the attack and he didn’t bowl for another 40 overs. And I thought if you’re gonna do that, then you might as well not bowl him again. I thought on two or three occasions that’s what Graeme Smith did. He didn’t know how to react to a leg-spinner bowling the odd bad ball. Instead of just saying I know you are a leg-spinner and you might bowl a bad ball, for two or three overs but then you’ll get your rhythm. He just kept changing things and he couldn’t quite ever believe in him. If your captain doesn’t believe in you, you’re just road kill on that small ground.

GH: Although, he had to bowl him, because Kallis was unfit. He didn’t really have the third line bowling options that Australia have got. Du Plessis bowled a couple of rather arthritic overs. He was stuck with him and it did look like Smith was bowling him under sufferance.

JK: The funny thing about last summer, I thought Tahir actually bowled quite well at times against England. But the funny thing was that South Africans kept telling me that Faf was a better leg-spinner. He did not look like one. I’ve seen him bowl in one-day games where he can get through quick bowls. But when it actually looked like bowling proper leg-spin, he looked like he was gonna bowl a full-toss pretty much every second ball at times. What about Kallis? There’s gonna be a lot of talk about how Australia dominated this game but you almost get the feeling that if Kallis hadn’t gone off when he did, this Test could’ve looked completely different.

GH: Yeah, although, interestingly, we heard at Brisbane, that Kallis wouldn’t bowl much, that they didn’t want to depend on him for too many overs. I was actually surprised that he bowled as many as he did in Brisbane. And here it was this brief hiatus where the ball actually swung and he bowled the fullest length of all the South Africans on the first day for sure. What was amazing was to watch him bat in both innings. He bats the way that Shane Watson would bat. Stand there and hit fours. But when he and du Plessis were running together, they weren’t running, they were jogging together, it was a little bit like watching a father and sons game on a school oval. This giant, towering, toddling figure of Kallis just ambling through and du Plessis obligingly keeping pace with him. In a sense, Kallis’ ability to bat in this game was the difference between South Africa losing and drawing. You basically counted him out when he was injured in the first day. But I guess maybe he interdicted against his injury early enough that they could treat it. That just implies an incredible degree of self-knowledge from Kallis. Even when he is lame, you see Kallis’ greatness.

JK: You talk about the self-knowledge. It was almost as if his hamstring hadn’t even gone, the way he pulled up. It was amazing, there was no talk to anyone. He just literally went up to the umpire and his hand across to Graeme Smith and left the ground. For all Graeme Smith knew at that point, Kallis had diarrhea. There was no communication at all. Kallis just said Look Lads I’m not quite right and I’ll see you guys later and left the ground. There is something amazing about him and it’ll be very interesting to see how they go if they don’t have him in the next test. Because Rory is clearly not an all-rounder. Whether Peterson comes in as a spinner who can bat a little bit, I don’t know. But they seem to be an attack that almost depends on the fifth bowler. They almost feel awkward or naked without him.

GH: He only actually ran in about two paces too, very unusual kind of strain. Normally a bowler gets towards the crease before they pull out. He almost sensed the injury before it had taken place. I guess when you play as much cricket as Kallis and Smith have together, you have an extrasensory understanding. Smith would know that Kallis wouldn’t do that unless it was serious. Interesting contrast between Watson and Kallis. Watson insists on being 100% fit before he goes into any Test Match. Kallis is prepared to do it at 90%, take a chance and back himself to perform while injured.

JK: That’s always quite a tough one. South Africa are gonna limp into the next test but Australia have decided on Ponting, Watson and perhaps even Mitchell Johnson for the next Test. It’s not exactly a step forward for new Australia.

GH: I think there is a sense of temporary measures and horses for courses selection here. Johnson’s record at Perth. If you were going to pick him on one ground in Australia, you would pick him here. I think he’s got 30 wickets at 18 in four Test Matches here, pays 34 per wicket elsewhere. So, he’s got form on the board as far as the WACA is concerned. Watson has worked quite hard here for Watson. He has been adding to his workload in the nets outside the ground. He doesn’t run between wickets very much anyway so I guess that’s not important.

JK: He bowled, didn’t he, in the nets?

GH: Well, yeah, he’s bowled an increasing number of overs. He has improved a lot compared to the way he looked in the days leading up to the Test Match where he looked like a arthritic granny in slippers, the way he was moving around the outfield. I think they are committed, really, to Ponting. It’s possible that Quiney’s misadventures at No. 3 have done Ponting a bit of a favour. I wouldn’t like to tamper with two positions in the order rather than just one. He goes to Perth knowing that he has to get runs. He did a very interesting interview to Mark Taylor on Sunday morning before the day’s play. He’s a very honest cricketer, he’s a very candid cricketer, he hid absolutely nothing. I just got the feeling that maybe something in Ponting had shifted. The positive responses that were intensely realistic. They countenanced the possibility that he would be dropped. It wasn’t the relentless upbeat, just got to go about the business, kind of quotes. It was a man who had quite a sane appraisal in his position in the world and he could see the end coming, which I guess for every great cricketer is the ultimate test. Some of them don’t see the end coming but Ponting has.

JK: What is interesting is that he has basically just one Test to stay his career a bit longer. If he does make even a fifty or something along those lines, he probably will be kept for Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka have done okay against New Zealand in this series but I think Herath has three five-wicket hauls, so they are pretty much a one-man bowling attack at this point. If he makes it, there is nothing to say, a bit like what he did against India last year, that he won’t make a couple of big hundreds against Sri Lanka and Australia has him around for longer. I wonder, if it isn’t worth doing a gentlemen’s agreement saying would you like to go out at the end of the Summer. Because he doesn’t seem like, at this point of his career, he is beyond having people talk about whether he’s gonna go every minute of the day. It seems like every time you go on Twitter, there are more people talking about Ponting. It would make sense, wouldn’t it, to say to him, look do you want to leave?

GH: It feels different this time to last Summer. Having done it once, there’s room to doubt whether Ponting can do it again. Ponting turns 38 next month. He has pipe dreams of playing in the Ashes. But there’s more in his life these days. Perhaps the hunger isn’t quite there. One of the things that he keeps coming back to is the fact that he had this great preparation going into this Summer. He keeps going back to it. It’s almost as though if I can’t do it now with this ideal preparation behind me then perhaps I’m not gonna be able to do it.

JK: What do you think about Jackson Bird getting overlooked. Like you said, Mitchell Johnson was horses for courses. John Hastings also seems to be horses for courses, bowled really well at the WACA earlier this year. I was wondering what Jackson Bird has to do? Does he have to start taking his wickets at 5 runs?

GH: He probably has to take his wickets away from Bellerive. It’s become difficult for the selectors to make any sort of judgment about the cricket that’s taking place in Tasmania.

JK: He actually does have a very good record away from Bellerive as well. Isn’t he only averaging only 19 away from Bellerive as well?

GH: Yeah, it’s hard to tell, I think the selectors really want to have another look at Johnson. Inverarity is a Johnson fan. He likes the fact that Johnson adds batting talent at No. 8 because Siddle’s probably slightly over promoted. Of course, if Johnson doesn’t succeed, then he can safely be discarded. Jackson Bird is a very good prospect. Perhaps he’s unfortunate in not coming from New South Wales. Josh Hazelwood seems to come with a natural advantage for all those Sydney Boosters behind him.

JK: Josh Hazelwood just seems to be in every squad. Whether he will ever play again, I don’t know but he seems to get a lot of free hotel rooms, so well done to him. We’re pretty sure that Quiney is gonna go the Wayne Phillips way? By Wayne Phillips, I mean, the Victorian, might even have been from Geelong, who played one test against India once.

GH: Poor old Quiney. It was ghastly to watch. In an alternative universe, he plays and misses at those deliveries and he gets a hundred. It’s his misfortune to be living in the same era as Shane Watson, I suspect. They are desperately trying to find a niche for him and No. 3 is the latest prospect. Certainly, in other aspects, he has looked the part. He’s fielded very well, he’s bowled usefully. He looks like an Australian cricketer. And he’s got a well-made nine behind him.

JK: I think you’ll find it’s a polished nine. Let’s not get crazy. I just can’t see him getting back again. I do think he is a more talented cricket than we’ll ever see but you would say that Khawaja and Hughes are much more likely to come in next from here on in.

GH: I think so. They liked Quiney’s experience and his all-round resourcefulness. One of the demerit points against Khawaja and Hughes is that they don’t bring much except their specialist skills. They are poor fielders, they are not particularly deep thinkers about the game, they are not particularly mature individuals. Quiney’s face fitted an identikit portrait of the Australian Cricket character as John Inverarity would like to see it. But I think that it was a temporary measure that if it had come off, everyone would have congratulated themselves. Khawaja and Hughes have made the runs this year that justify having a look at them again.

JK: Definitely. The last thing I wanted to talk about was Michael Clarke’s comment about how he wanted a fair pitch for the WACA. There was a Shield game there that I think he played in, that only went to three days. There’s been a couple of them so far this year. He’s asking for a fairer pitch. Surely, what we need actually is a result pitch. Forget fair, we just need a result in this series, otherwise, we might as well go back to 1960s.

GH: There should have been a result in this game, really. If Australia had held even one of those catches on the last day, then we would be talking about what a fantastic pitch Adelaide was, you get a result in the last hour and isn’t it great that a Test Match runs it’s full course.

JK: It’s also the last pitch in the world we need two bowlers to go down on. Because, Pattison and Kallis, between the two of them, they would have hurried the game up a little bit.

GH: It’s also the last pitch in the world they should be digging out which is what they are gonna do at the end of this Summer. Yet another triumph for football in Australia, they are introducing a drop-in at the Adelaide Oval. That’s just cultural vandalism as far as I’m concerned. I said as much in Adelaide and I got a visit from the South Australian Cricket Association CEO who was looking very, very embarrassed.

JK: Mr. Bradshaw, is it?

GH: Mr. Bradshaw, yes.

JK: I wouldn’t think he’d be the firmest person in the world. I think in a fist-fight you’d get a couple of quick ones into his ribs, at least.

GH: I think he’d been sent around to have a word. He did say it very mildly and very politely, in that Keith Bradshaw way.

JK: What did he say though? Did he say you’ll have to wear a full suit to come into the press box? They can make you wear shirts.

GH: I was wearing a shirt. I did take my collared wardrobe to Adelaide. I’d remembered that from years gone past. But the press call we were invited to, lunch on the last day, I didn’t go. But Malcolm Knox came back from it and quoted David Foster Wallace saying - a supposedly fun thing that I will never do again.

JK: I remember, last year, they had lobster on the last day. I was a very big fan of that.

GH: Only lobster they had at Adelaide was Peter Siddle because he looked like one at the end of yesterday’s play.

JK: Yes he was. Alright, we’ll leave it there and we will chat again after the Perth Test.

GH: Indeed. Pleasure, Jarrod.