Monthly update on upcoming Test records/milestones and ones achieved this month
As the Test series roll on, record and milestones tumble for players from all sides. While these might seem like statistical oddities, they often say quite a lot about the longevity of a player or the rapidity of their rise.
- Australia: Steve Smith, David Warner, Nathan Lyon
- England: Alastair Cook, James Anderson, Stuart Broad
Table prediction (batting + bowling ratings)
- Melbourne Stars (9.5 + 8.5 = 18)
- Melbourne Renegades (8 + 9.5 = 17.5)
- Perth Scorchers (7.5 + 9.5 = 17)
- Sydney Sixers (8.5 + 8.5 = 17)
- Adelaide Strikers (7.5 + 9 = 16.5)
- Brisbane Heat (8 + 8 = 16)
- Sydney Thunder (7 + 8 = 15)
- Hobart Hurricanes (6.5 + 7.5 = 14)
During Darren Lehmann’s tenure as Australian coach, much praise has been directed at his laidback approach to managing the Australian side. Prior to the 2013 Ashes, Super-Lehmann donned a BUPA-emblazoned tracksuit and set about repairing a team, whose fractures had come to the forefront in the infamous ‘Homework-gate’ tour of India. He focused on providing a healthy, supportive environment for the players so that they could play their natural games.
As such, for better or worse, the aggression of many an Australian player has shone through. It has produced results and has, perhaps, been the primary factor in the ascent of Steve Smith’s side to the number one position in Tests. But such are the vagaries of the ICC Test Rankings system that Australia has done so without winning a single Test in Asia for almost the past five years, while losing six of the past six Tests there. What is the answer to Australia’s problems in the subcontinent? Unfortunately, the Australian Test side has a whole host of issues to deal with in regards to this. But a key step forward lies with a step away from aggression in the form of a steady left-arm orthodox bowler by the name of Stephen O’Keefe.
Bill Lawry once floated the idea that Watson should retire from Test matches and instead focus on the short forms: since he’s a ‘superstar’ in limited overs cricket, why does he bother with a format that puts such a strain on his brittle body? While this might have just been a throwaway line during the commentary of an ODI, it does illustrate this disparity between his achievements in the Test arena and the shorter forms.
His Test record – although not as bad as public sentiment would have it, as I have discussed previously – jumps out as one of underachievement for Australia’s next “Keith Miller”. However, in one-day internationals, he ranks as one of the greatest all-rounders in the format: across his 190 matches, he has aggregated 5757 runs at 40.54 and 168 wickets at 31.79. Among batting all-rounders, only Jacques Kallis and Viv Richards have comparable records. In Twenty20 Internationals, he motored along at a strike-rate of 145 and was miserly with his mediums, which went at an economy rate 7.5. But his true value as a limited overs players is fully depicted by his performances in global ICC tournaments.
In the ACA Sheffield Shield Team of the Year, four of the top six are under the age of twenty-four, which would have been unthinkable a few years ago. It is manifest that this 2015/16 season has seen the emergence and continued success of the young batsmen – a testament to the improvements that Greg Chappell has made to Cricket Australia’s National Talent program. As such, I have decided to examine the batting prospects from this Shield season.
The date is 17 January 2016 and India are 2/171 in yet another Australia v India ODI. Virat Kohli is at the non-striker’s end on 72 when James Faulkner begins a futile attempt to verbally unsettle him.
Kohli: Go bowl. Don’t waste your time. Go bowl. You’re wasting your energy. No point.
Faulkner: Having fun, are we?
Kohli: No point. I’ve smashed you enough in my life. No point. Go bowl.
As I watched Virat Kohli dispatch James Faulkner for three consecutive boundaries during his chasing masterclass in the decisive World T20 group match in Mohali, I was reminded of the verbal exchange above. While Kohli’s slap-down might be attributed to gamesmanship – both Kohli and Faulkner are fierce competitors with combative personalities – Kohli did raise an interesting question: has he really smashed him enough in his life?
World T20 2016, 26th Match: Australia v Pakistan at Mohali, Mar 25, 2016
The highlights reel of this vital group match will contain a number of eye-popping cricketing moments. It will show Steve Smith scoring a logic-defying boundary from so far outside off-stump that he almost walked onto a different pitch. You will see Shane Watson, freed from insecurities over his position in the side for the first time in years, smoke the resurgent young quick Mohammad Amir for sixes. James Faulkner took the best figures for an Australian bowler in T20I’s from his slower balls and cutters. However, the most noteworthy feature of this match that I will take away is Glenn Maxwell’s dot-ball percentage while batting.
As we examine the aftermath of a domestic Twenty20 tournament so perfectly scripted that Hollywood is in talks with James Sutherland to produce a BBL05 film (Steve Carell is rumoured to be playing the role of Michael Hussey), we should take some time to reflect on the great cricketing performances provided by the players. What better way is there to do this than picking the best eleven players of the tournament?
80, 883. Before I note anything about the cricket, that number, the attendance figure for the 16th group match of the BBL – not even a final – between the Melbourne Stars and the Melbourne Renegade is a ridiculous number. Eat your heart out, BCCI.
One of the difficulties with following domestic Twenty20 competitions is that the schedule of matches rattles along at such a high pace that it’s hard to keep track of the interesting events. So, this article is a guide to the noteworthy themes and events to come out of the first quarter of the 2015/16 Big Bash League.