#cricket

Langer should tell selectors to keep Warner out

Just do it? There are two options. Aussie cricket coach Justin Langer knows a thing or two about opening batsmen. He was one of our best. Yes, if we want a better chance of winning sooner we could easily insert David Warner post his ban. However at 32 years and 64 days (154 days when the ban ends), isn’t there an argument to develop new talent for the long term? This is merely putting expedience ahead of principle.

We can argue that Warner will have served his punishment but does the team need to risk diluting its rebirth by reintroduction of a toxic force? Are we to believe Warner will return to the team as a reformed choirboy or play his hand at being the same ruffian who believes in his own mind he’s still a rightful veteran? Proof of the pudding was his trademark celebration after scoring a century in local grade cricket. He has changed not a jot.

Yes we lost the 3rd Test today but despite the woeful batting efforts in the 1st innings, Pat Cummins (who deserved man of the match) showed what grit means. 9 wickets and approaching 100 runs with the bat. We deserved to be flogged when bowled out for 151 runs but Cummins took out the top order including India’s highest scoring batters in the 1st innings for zero in the 2nd. He single handedly rallied his team to believe mentally it wasn’t over when they would have otherwise folded. He made Aussies proud.

Justin Langer has worked some miracles with the gutted side after taking the reins from Darren Lehman. Aussie team captain Tim Paine has also been impressive. Stephen Smith has none of Paine’s tenacity. Smith was made captain for being the best batsman in the world. Ability and leadership aren’t axiomatic. Smith’s weakness was evident. He allowed Warner to bully him into burying his judgement. It speaks volumes of why Smith should never captain again. His only real crime was to be a wimp.

It is also questionable whether Smith has the mental side to regain his top spot. He may well succumb to the pressure. He wouldn’t be the first gifted sports star to fall into a deep and prolonged slump post a scandal.

Warner can play 20 over big bash leagues (BBL, IPL) to earn his keep and feed his family but do we really want to send a message to kids that cheaters can prosper in our national side? His actions were disgraceful. Cheating is cheating and no rush of blood to the head is acceptable when earning millions let alone representing one’s country. It is a privilege to wear a baggy green, not a right.

CM would prefer to lose honorably than win with players who were only ever in it for themselves. Matches like today bear out how fighting as a “team” is so much more admirable. The taste of victory will be that much sweeter. No better opportunity to cast the net wide for sleeper talent who would probably have been overlooked otherwise. Make sure current players are kept on their toes to earn their spot.

It should be impressed upon incumbent players as a deterrent that cheating means life long bans. It would also be a stronger signal that the terrible governance of the farcical former Cricket Australia board is over.

Time to start afresh. Langer should take the option of keeping Warner out of the dressing room. It’s the only sensible choice.

The Jester’s Court hands down a verdict on the cheats

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It is a good job that Cricket Australia (CA) doesn’t conduct murder forensics. It would be fascinating to know how the investigations over ball tampering were conducted. The case would appear open and shut. Only three people knew according to CA. Job done. Inside 3 days. All facts have been collected and harsher punishments will be dealt later on. Does this seem like a thorough investigation for the biggest scandal in Australian cricket? Not for a minute.

Was each team member, coaching staff and support crew separately asked and interrogated several times, not only  in front of a panel, but each individual investigator in order to make sure the stories corroborated with post the briefings over several days and weeks? Were follow up meetings conducted in consecutive days to make sure the stories didn’t change? Was evidence of team WhatsApp chats voluntarily offered to exonerate players? By the sounds of it, this looks like a severe containment exercise within a private club. Seemingly no independent investigation and an expedited trial to limit damage.

The tweet from Cricket Australia telling us that the CEO reports Steve Smith is distraught speaks volumes. Apart from being the least valuable information possible, it almost wants fans to feel sympathy for his remorse. It is a joke. A man earning millions a year bet his career on allowing his team to cheat. Whether Warner pressured him and he was too weak to stop him is no excuse. Anyone with half a brain would know better. Still it shows the true light of the investigation – Steve is upset…don’t go too hard on him because he is a nice guy, no really….

The recent reports that staff within the CA can’t stand ring leader David Warner for his “bullsh1t” paint a picture of ridiculously poor ethics throughout the organisation’s senior  management. If Warner has gone rogue, then it is worth investigating every claim he makes no matter how far fetched to get to the truth. Sadly it seems that the investigation wanted to sandpaper a scripted outcome to ensure the reverse swing on the trial whizzes straight by the fans so things can get back to normal ASAP. The jig is up. Cricket Australia will likely find sponsorship from the local butchers going forward because it will be hard for mainstream corporates to back such a sham. The future of cricket is far bleaker than we think.

Australian Cricket Family?

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Just how stupid does the CEO James Sutherland take fans for? Indeed if there are any left. If this is crisis management, Cricket Australia will fold under the weight of its own incompetence. What has the ‘head of integrity been doing for small these years? The shame this incident has brought upon a nation cannot be trivialized. Moreover the use of a logo with “Australian Cricket Family” is some sort of politically correct “we’re all in this together” appeal. No, we aren’t. You’re in this by yourselves.The CEO can’t deflect responsibility for something that was under his control. The culture that has led to this farce can’t be put down to being blindsided or aloof. Ball tampering seems to have occurred prior to the South African test if the video footage of the recent Ashes series in Australia is any guide. India also made similar claims. It isn’t hard to believe this cheating hasn’t been institutionalized for some time.

Heads must roll. Restoring faith? That all depends how the CEO deals with this. Leniency will be punished severely by fans, yet its odds on that management will believe that memories are short and Smith’s skills are a greater asset than the mugs that go the games and  pay his wages. To that end it is bang in line with Cricket Australia’s internal governance code – Lacking Board Wisdom (LBW).

Never, never give up

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Probably one of the best matches in junior cricket.  Australia vs England in the U-19 ICC Cricket World Cup quarter final. When I woke up Australia was 7-88 and looking totally lost at sea. 128 looked a pretty easy target given the Aussie batsmen threw so many wickets away.

The Poms started the run chase well, reaching 50 in short order. It looked like a formality that they were going through to the semi finals. Then a ginger haired leg spinner named Lloyd Pope drew first blood. The next batsmen was hyped by the commentators on his form through the tournament. Out first ball. The fear was in the faces of the English squad in the stands. Then Pope took another in the next over. And another. All of a sudden the tide has turned. The English were 8-88 before they knew it.

From the offset the English sort of convinced themselves that they couldn’t lose to such a tiny run chase. However Pope totally changed the setting. Helped by some excellent catching and fielding it was so obvious the Poms were hoping his spell would end to finish the slaughter. In his final over Pope rolled the rest with two balls to spare. 8-35.

Deserved man of the match. A fantastic lesson in salvaging a seemingly hopeless situation. Highlights here. Never never give up.

When you’ve seen something truly masterful

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What a fantastic innings by Mitchell Marsh. Recalled into the side after an 8 month break and he has even outplayed his captain, Steve Smith. While Smith has played a brilliant innings so far, Marsh has scored more boundaries and his straight drives have just flat demoralized the English bowlers. Enjoy. It is worth signing up to watch the video. Who said cricket was boring? Perhaps the trophy cabinet of Australian sports might start to fill up again.