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?
Pretty good pink-ball test, huh? Brought back a few memories for us too..
Just as Ros Rogers would shut her eyes to every ball as son Chris faced up in his test matches, she got the same amount of nervous – and did just the same – for the Queensland youngster Matt Renshaw.
Few debut batsman have ever faced a sterner test – having to bat with just 12 overs to go on Day 1 with the opposition throwing the kitchen sink at the openers; and batting under lights when the new pink ball is supposed to wobble and seam all over the place.
He’s a bit gawky is Renshaw with elbows and knees jutting all over the place, but what a great job he did in surviving to stumps. If Steve Smith had to go in and got out in the gloaming, then a ‘nil-3’ whitewash was a much more likely scenario than the eventual Aussie win.
Ros and I are both pretty uncomfortable with heights, so Chris being conned into commentating from the top of the stand didn’t exactly thrill us. Good pic though.
Back here at the Village Green, the oval and pavilion have never looked better after our best-ever winter and spring rains. We lost just one day’s cricket through wet weather, and the pitch had excellent bounce, pace and carry. We’ve been able to stripe the ground Adelaide Oval –style – and the roses are in full bloom, especially the ‘Greg Chappell’ orange ones and the ‘Sir Donald Bradman’ bank that are the colour of cricket balls. The pink ‘Jane McGrath’s’ are also doing well.
We’ve a “Buck’s Weekend” booking in our bunkhouse this weekend with 16 or so guys extra keen to get out on the Oval.
Our Friday night cafés are increasingly popular with the locals and quite a few people from towns 30-40kms away – Kilmore, Seymour, Broadford Flowerdale and Yea – are coming out to sample Ros’s home-cooking, and sit on the balcony with a cool ale or glass of wine as the sun sets.