John Rogers, proud VG owner and host, regularly regales his dearest, nearest and furthest, with his musings on the cricketing state of play. Here’s his latest on the upcoming Ashes contest.
Can’t see it.
Stats appeared this week to claim the current Aussie fast-bowing trio of Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins are the most potent in history.
Yet last Ashes series Starc and Hazlewood simply weren’t up to it – consistently out-bowled by England’s Broad, Anderson, Wood, Finn and Stokes. Hazlewood was even dropped for the final test and was completely shown up by his replacement Siddle.
Supposedly now they are so much better. Starc is a world-beater we are told with his two hat-tricks of 9, 10 & jack in his last outing. Take off those 6 balls against the tail, and he bowled 34 overs and took 1 for 97 for the match. Meanwhile Cummins has yet to play a test match in Australia.
Flying under the radar is England captain Joe Root, who ranks with Kohli, Steve Smith, Warner and Kane Williamson as the world’s best. And the England lower order of Bairstow, Moeen Ali and Woakes might be England’s key advantage. I say, look out Australia.
And the Aussie team? Bancroft is a good selection given his performances against the trio of quicks above and then a double-hundred. And he’s been playing shield cricket for 5 years. Shaun Marsh just doesn’t inspire confidence – so many chances and so inconsistent. Tim Paine’s selection gets a pass mark – a quality keeper, who has been a good bat and has been on the scene for a long time. But not much keeping behind him at the moment with test incumbent Wade preferred in Tassie. I don’t know why Nevill presents on the field as a little boy/robotic type, but he doesn’t inspire confidence, and Paine put his hand up via the CA XI at precisely the right moment.
I can’t wait for the Ashes to start.
Meanwhile Cricket Australia keeps stumbling along
While announcing an Ashes sell-out, and no doubt in response to a question, its CEO tells us test cricket is in trouble worldwide. Back in May he told us grassroots cricket is in trouble and that the players were taking millions out of the game that should be directed there – and a few weeks later gave in to every one of the players’ demands – who’d got their backs up over what they saw as poor treatment of the state players who they believe (unlike CA) provide the necessary competition to enable ‘cream’ to rise to the top.
A few weeks back when promoting the women’s Ashes he announced CA has adopted a new strategic plan – after wide consultation of course. Women’s cricket is there; so too T20; Big Bash; grassroots as in junior cricket; and its high performance academy. Test cricket gets no mention, nor does ODI cricket, nor does state cricket nor Sheffield Shield in particular, and certainly not premier league/grade/pennant competitions which were once the bedrock of the game.
It smacks of the old East German laboratory hothouse system: find the best kids as early as possible and put them the ‘pathway’ of state and national academies and the game will prosper. My spies tell me that the CA XI of pathway kids playing the England tourists in Perth and Adelaide were all at sea when the ball began to move – “thrown under a bus” was the term used.
England coach Trevor Bayliss made it clear he was unimpressed that England should have agreed to a series of Ashes warm-up fixtures against a CA XI that was clearly the brainchild of the national talent managers in the academies.
But back to the Ashes series, woo-hoo!
I’m predicting Warner, Khawaja and Smith and similarly Root and Bairstow will do wonderful things with the bat, while Woakes will be the best bowler on show – and if he gets a chance, Overton will light up a game with any of bat, ball and in the field. But I’m also fearful one of Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins will be out injured by the Boxing Day Test.
I’m tipping Australia will beat an underdone England in the first test, and under lights either side could win in Adelaide with England’s Broad a big factor if he bowls at dusk when the lights come on. Especially if Stokes is back (as currently seems a chance), England will win in Perth, draw at the MCG and win in Sydney. So depending on Adelaide, England will retain the Ashes either 3-1 or 2-2.
Any of you out there predicting a 5-nil? Any other outrageous predictions, as above?
It’s been flat out at the Village Green.
Cricket, conferences, camps and comps …
Over the last few weeks we’ve hosted a conference, school camps and plenty of cricket teams from far and wide as they get into their Spring training.
We love the different ways people enjoy our grounds. Josh’s recent bucks day (pictured at the top of the page) saw some relaxed social cricketing on a glorious day. Then last weekend, Jaci and her 16 friends stayed in the Bunkhouse and created a gala sports day. In groups of 4 they challenged each other in all sorts of bat and ball games (including cricket), as well as more stressful activities like orienteering and hill-climbing. Competition was very keen!
This week a bus tour from Sydney’s Asquith lunches with us, while Sunday has a cricket team from Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium (Test match venue) playing the Melbourne “Eccentrics”.
… and glamping
Our glamping project is gearing up too. Glamper 2 is just about ready to take bookings, and the roof and deck are built for Glampers 3 and 4. Our nearby sawmill owner has a couple of chippies with him, and watching them a work is great fun. A few people have tested out Glampers 1 and 2, and they loved them! The beauty of our countryside, and the comfort of luxury accommodation. What’s not to love?
The first week of footy finals was also first week of our cricket season – and the Antarctic weather brought some challenges.
The Thursday before, Spring was ‘busting out all over’, and our turf pitch was passing the bounce test very promisingly. But then the squally, wintry weather meant we had to have it covered for much of the time since to ensure a good pitch for our first cricket trainers for the season. It worked – Royal Park Cricket Club, St Bernard’s Old Boys and Deepdene Cricket Club all enjoyed good sessions.
And we’ve got high hopes for the grounds as the weather picks up. The outfield is the best it’s been since our arrival four years ago, and the surrounds as well, though the roses are some weeks away from coming into bloom.
Spring’s unconvincing entrance isn’t stopping weekend visitors from enjoying the surrounds. Our recent bunkhouse guests for Alex’s birthday spent some time taking on a ropes course and mountain-biking at Kinglake Forest Adventures – just half an hour away. They still had time to play cricket and footy on the oval, and enjoyed Saturday evening around our campfire.
As September moves on we’re looking forward to more mild days and fewer wintry remnants. Come back, Spring!
We’re pleased to announce the Chris Rogers Cricket Camp is coming in December!
Chris will take time between commentating on the upcoming Ashes series against England for a fun-filled live-in camp here at his parents’ beautiful cricket ground an hour north of Melbourne.
Chris was voted Australia’s best player in the last Ashes series against England, and is now an Australia A coach. He’ll be joined by another former Bushranger, plus other qualified coaches for 3 days of personalised and group coaching and playing.
Early Saturday morning visitors greeted me with “Do you work here? Do you manage it?”
Carting a small water tank on the back of my Toro buggy for plant watering, I guess I didn’t look too impressive.
When I responded: “In fact we own it…” surprised looks from our visitors gave way to a description of being at Adelaide Oval last week and while tuned in to the ABC, watching Chris Rogers and Gerard Whately doing the roof-climb of the stands to do their broadcast.
Soon I learned they were family of a wedding that afternoon at the nearby Flowerdale Estate – and I told them the bride Sara had sounded us out for a bit of cricket before the 4pm wedding, but in the end couldn’t quite pull it together.
Instead we’ve got a Buck’s day for a different group going on. The 3o-ish groom is getting married in Singapore soon to a long-term girlfriend, so 20 of his mates were sending him off at the VG in style.
“We’d thought of paint-ball, going to the races, and then a cycling tour up the Great Victoria Rail track from Tallarook to Mansfield, but wanted something simpler.
“When the thought of cricket came up, we discovered most guys had played just backyard cricket, but were keen to try it”, Ryan commented.
So they dressed for it, borrowing ‘whites’ from friends, and as the cricket started, so was the spit fired up, the music turned on (not too loud thankfully), and eskies positioned adroitly at square leg.
By the laughter, fielding spills, chat and sledging, they look to be enjoying themselves.