Posts Tagged ‘bryce mcgain’

Part two of the Twenty20 Champions League Preview:

  • The Bangalore Royal Challengers have almost as many South Africans in their squad as the sides representing that country (even without the injured Kevin Pietersen). Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher and Dale Steyn all feature, whilst Rahul Dravid demonstrated in this year’s IPL that there’s a role for him in Twenty20 cricket which doesn’t simply involve driving down the run-rate.
  • Somerset‘s preparation has been dominated by Marcus Trescothick’s return to India, with some of the coverage seemingly willing him to suffer a breakdown. Assuming all is well with Trescothick, he and Justin Langer make an experience opening pair, with possible future ‘England’ wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter also capable of making quick runs. It’s difficult to assess how well the English sides will do, but at first glance it seems a mighty task for Somerset to win the tournament.
  • Sussex have a reasonably balanced side which was impressive during the English domestic Twenty20 Cup, with the batting of Michael Yardy and Ed Joyce and the bowling of James Kirtley particular highlights, with Luke Wright and to some extent Yasir Arafat capable both of adding runs and taking wickets at crucial moments. The side may struggle against some of the millionaire IPL teams, but perhaps greater experience of Twenty20 cricket will count in their favour.
  • Trinidad & Tobago are arguably considerably stronger than the side which is representing the West Indies at the moment, with Dwayne Bravo one of the stars of the (now presumably defunct) Stanford 20/20 competition alongside spinner Dave Mohammed, and with Windies wicketkeeper Dinesh Ramdin also in the side.
  • Wayamba have the experience of Mahela Jayawardene and the magic of Mendis. The latter will most likely bamboozle a number of players who are missing international experience, although he didn’t quite live up to his billing for Kolkatta in the IPL. The side look more like dark horses than front-runners, but, as I’ve already said, anything could happen over 20 overs.
  • Victoria might suffer for the loss of Dirk Nannes, but David Hussey and Brad Hodge have the class to make an impact with the bat. Bryce McGain has another chance to make an impact outside of Australia following his disappointing Test ‘career’.

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If Paul Harris was a busty woman (or Jesse Ryder-shaped), it would be tempting, in the style of tabloid sub-editors everywhere, to say that ‘he has his knockers’. Undoubtedly, he has had his fair share of criticism (not least from Geoffrey Boycott, who described the South African spinner as “a buffet bowler — you just help yourself“).

His critics may be reconsidering (or perhaps not – Boycott isn’t known for reversing his original stance) following Harris’ career-best performance in the Third Test against Australia. While it is true that the match was a dead rubber with no bearing on the series, Australia don’t suffer many innings defeats, so when they do it’s worth sitting up and taking notice. Given the sub-par performance of another noted spinner in the same match, it may be time to re-evaluate Harris’ credentials.

The people behind the world rankings for Test bowlers obviously agree, as Harris is – at the time of writing – newly installed in the Top 10.

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Ashwell Prince made a triumphant return to Test cricket, almost certainly becoming the first South African to make back-to-back Test centuries despite spending the intervening period between those two innings (the first against Bangladesh back in November) getting injured, being effectively dropped, being made captain, and then being demoted back again after expressing discontent about being forced to move up the order and open the batting.

The decision to have Prince open was generally regarded as a ‘gamble‘, but he seems to have made his peace with the relatively unfamiliar role, and South Africa will be pleased to have uncovered an interesting new partnership in Prince and Imraan Khan.

Bryce McGain, meanwhile, had a day to forget. There are worries circulating that he could turn out to be another Jason Krejza.

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Bryce McGain finally made his long-overdue Test debut today at the grand old age of 36 years and 359 days (here’s the proof). He even got two bowl two overs, as the Australian batting order collapsed to 209 all out on the first day of the Third Test against South Africa.

Fotunately for Australia, the series is already won, but with four players (including Ponting and Hussey) making ducks, questions are still likely to be asked. Questions like: was it sensible to replace Marcus North with an extra bowler…should Haddin really be batting as high as 6?..by what stretch of the imagination is Andrew McDonald a Test number 7?

Nevertheless, McGain finally has his Baggy Green – here’s hoping he manages to pick up a few more before age finally catches up with him.

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The two best Test cricket teams in the world move on to the second leg of their epic clash (the first was, of course, the recent series in Australia) as the Aussies embark on their first Gilchrist-less and Warne-less (and, for that matter, Lee-less, Hayden-less…) tour of South Africa. The series will be the first for either team to make use of the referral system, and it will be interesting to see how Smith and Ponting choose to utilise it.

For the tourists, much of the focus will be on the less familiar faces – the likes of old Bryce McGain and young Philip Hughes. Marcus North, recently signed by Hampshire, is also in line for a debut, probably in the First Test.

For South Africa, the faces will be more familiar given the team’s performance in Australia- even to the extent that a fit-again Ashwell Prince can’t break back into the side. The pace attack (especially Steyn), so potent in December, will be crucial once again.

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The age of 37 is quite an unusual one at which to be looking forward to your Test debut, but that’s the situation Bryce McGain finds himself in, having been included in the squad to tour South Africa following a disappointing near-miss in India, when he picked up an inury in a warm-up match. Whilst some may see his selection as an attempt by the Australian selectors to buy time (which it may be, in the absence of anyone younger and of sufficient quality), the absence of an attacking leg-spin bowler could be argued to be one of the key factors in Australia’s recent struggles.

South Africa may find the resurgent McGain harder to cope with than the various part-timers and, arguably, second-raters that Australia have turned to for their spin recently.

If you’re curious to learn more about Bryce, try here – the man is obsessed…

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Harbhajan Singh has predicted that Australia’s new spin attack won’t cause many problems for India in next month’s series: “There are no spinners in Australia of the quality of Warne and MacGill now, and I’m sure our batsmen, who are the best players of spin in the world, are going to have fun with this challenge”.

I’m sure that people were saying similar things about Mendis not so long ago…

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Bryce McGain has supplanted Beau Casson as Australia’s spinner for the tour of India, in what is clearly a first birthday present to Cricket with Balls.

Notorious fisherman Andrew Symonds has also been omitted, being replaced by Shane Watson.

There were a couple of other interesting selections, too. Jason Krejza has been picked as a horse for the Indian course (being a right-arm finger spinner for those of you as ignorant of his previous progress as I was). His father, trivia fans, was a Czechoslovakian footballer.

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Do the Aussies have floppy fringe? Not with ‘Nice’ Bryce McGain in the side. The former IT worker took 3-51 today for Australia ‘A’ in 17 overs, staking his claim for the role of Australian Test spinner as fellow contender Beau Casson found himself quite literally hamstrung after a single over.

The ‘unofficial Test series‘ between India ‘A’ and Australia ‘A is also notable for the participation of ‘one to watch’ Virat Kohli (currently unbeaten on 48) and the often underrated Mohammad Kaif (there with Kohli at the close on 68 not out). The series could be worth keeping an eye on, especially in the absence of any meaningful International cricket over the next couple of weeks.

Then again, maybe you should go and see Graeme Hick while you still can.

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