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Posts Tagged ‘marcus north’

England fans everywhere are carefully considering whether or not to get their hopes up after their side ended the second day of the Second Ashes Test at Lord’s needing only two further wickets to bowl out Australia, who currently languish 69 runs short of the follow-on target.

Jimmy Anderson in particular starred with the ball for the hosts, taking 4-36 in his 17 overs on Day 2, including the wickets of Cardiff centurions Ponting and North. Earlier, the “Burnley Express” had made a career-second-best 29 with the bat, most of which in a tenth-wicket stand of 47 which doubtless added to Australia’s frustration.

For the tourists, the task ahead is incredibly tough, but if they are asked to follow on, it could play into their hands, especially if the showers that are being forecast materialise at the right time (or the wrong time, depending on your viewpoint).

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Less than 24 hours after being backed by his captain for a place in the Ashes squad, Andrew Symonds hasn’t been included in
said squad, with Shane Watson, Andrew McDonald and Marcus North all being preferred to the centrally-contracted and often controversial all-rounder.

Was this the right decision? Was it the wrong decision? Will it make any difference?

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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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South Africa and Australia certainly know how to get cricket fans on the edge of their seats. Just as the First Test was beginning to organise itself into a contest where victory for the hosts looked improbable if not impossible, things swung right back around, Jacques Kallis taking 3-22 (the 3 in question being Ponting, Hussey and North) and Ntini 3-52 as Australia’s second innings was brought to an end with just 207 added to their lead.

The tourists still enjoyed a lead of 454 at this point, but recent events Down Under (and before that, during England’s tour of India) have moved the goalposts, so to speak, for fourth-innings run chases. 276 from 98 overs tomorrow is now well within the realm of the possible.

If Ricky Ponting has a nagging feeling of deja vu, it’s most likely due to what happened in Perth last December, where South Africa overcame a first-innings deficit to claim victory with a ridiculous 414/4 in the fourth innings. Whilst the Saffers have a lot more left to do on the final day this time around, stranger things have happened (and many of them in the last twelve months).

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Marcus North has made quite an impact in his first outing as a Baggy Green. Australia are in the market for new heroes at the moment, given their recent slip from the heights of invincibility, and North seems to fit the bill.

The last player to make a century on debut for Australia was Michael Clarke back in 2004, and in the years since, the side has been arguably at its least stable for some considerable time. A batsman of North’s ability lower down the order, combined with some promising batting from Mitchell Johnson, will help the Aussies cope without feeling the need to have Andrew Symonds in the side if his non-cricketing issues aren’t resolved in time for the Ashes.

Australia are evidently going to be tougher to beat for South Africa the second time around.

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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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