Posts Tagged ‘michael hussey’

The Urn

Congratulations England, farewell Flintoff, hard luck Hussey, and hats off to young Broad.

It hasn’t been the greatest series ever, but winning the Ashes still means a lot. Of course, it’s all thanks to Monty’s last stand at Cardiff

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After that all that talk about Phil Hughes not being under pressure evaporated in a single tweet on Thursday morning, and Shane Watson made his case as a makeshift opener, the pressure is starting to build on Mike Hussey, not least because of this shocking leave yesterday. As has been mentioned on numerous occasions by various others, Hussey’s form has been poor for some time now, and if Australia were to lose at Edgbaston with ‘Mr Cricket’ failing in the second innings, he may prove to be the fall guy.

Interestingly, given Australia’s struggles so far with the ball, the selectors have left the bowling attack unchanged (aside from the extra option that Watson provides). There have been suggestions in some quarters that in reality, Hughes is paying the price for Mitchell Johnson’s continuing troubles, rather than his own failures with the bat.

Even if all of these decisions prove to have been the wrong ones, however, the quality of Australia’s reserves has been somewhat understated by many in the English media – much as Hughes was built up by the same media based partly on big scores for Middlesex in matches that lots of journalists had seen – and surely Graham Manou can’t be quite as anonymous as he seems. In short, Australia may not have the big names any more, but it is a brave (or foolish) thing to discount players purely because they aren’t as well known as Shane Warne or Brett Lee.

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The first day of the 2009 Ashes was quite a day. It had a spectacular catch from Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson scaring the horses, Pietersen and Collingwood losing their heads (and their wickets), Prior and Flintoff going ballistic, a wholly unnecessary nightwatchman being employed to protect Stuart Broad, who ended up batting anyway, and Katherine Jenkins, for those of you who like that sort of thing.

On balance, both sides will find plenty of encouragement, as well as plenty of areas for improvement. It seems at least some of the hype about the entertainment value of this series will be borne out.

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The second season of the IPL (or the first season of the SAPL, if you prefer) gets underway this weekend, so here’s the lowdown on the teams taking part:

Bangalore Royal Challengers
Bangalore’s main pre-season activity was the purchase of Kevin Pietersen and KP will join a host of his fellow countrymen in Kallis, Steyn and Boucher. Last year the Royal Challengers finished seventh of eight teams, with only 4 wins, and Rahul Dravid didn’t look much of a Twenty20 batsman last time out, so it is to be hoped that the signing of Pietersen and the availability of Nathan Bracken following injury last year will improve things.

Zaheer Khan has departed to the Mumbai Indians in a swap deal for Robin Uthappa, but Steyn and Bracken – when available – should be enough to keep the bowling up to standard. Nevertheless, the Royal Challengers are unlikely to be amongst the favourites for the competition this year (although as Rajasthan showed last year, the odds may not be a fair indicator of each team’s relative chances).

Chennai Super Kings
Initial indications are that Chennai look strong again this year. Matthew Hayden’s retirement from international cricket means he is available for the whole competition, and new signing Andrew Flintoff, if fit, could potentially be the archetypal IPL all-rounder. In addition, MS Dhoni remains a potent threat.

Last season, the Super Kings lost out to Rajasthan in the final on the last ball, and the squad looks good enough to go one better this time around if fortune (and fitness) favours the Super Kings.

Delhi Daredevils
Dehli have been hit by the loss of Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Asif, but have added Australian master blaster David Warner and English duo Paul Collingwood and Owais Shah. Perhaps most important of their new additions is ‘Dirty’ Dirk Nannes, a Twenty20 specialist who has been part of successful Middlesex and Victoria teams in the shortest form of the game.

Dehli also have the likes of Sehwag, Gambhir, Vettori, de Villiers and McGrath at their disposal, so if the Daredevils can get the make-up of their side right, they have a strong chance of success. The fact that most of their overseas stars will be available throughout may lead to the odd selection problem, but they will be problems of the sort that other franchises would like to have.

Deccan Chargers
Last year’s wooden-spoon winners in dead last place, the Chargers suffered heavily in the batting department as Shahid Afridi, Scott Styris and even Herschelle Gibbs failed to live up to expectations. he has been recalled, and they have a preponderance of all-rounders having also added Dwayne Smith and Ryan Harris.

RP Singh is also under pressure after a disappointing season last year, as is Chaminda Vaas, and Fidel Edwards’s arrival should improve the effectiveness of the bowling unit. In all, there is some hope for a better performance this year, although it would be hard for the Chargers to do any worse.

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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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If Australia’s batsmen weren’t concerned by their series defeat to South Africa, then 181 all out at home to New Zealand should give them cause for a sleepless night or two.

Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin were the only two Aussies to make more than 20, as the normally wise old heads of as Ponting and Clarke made rash decisions between the wickets, getting themselves run out. Such was the failure of the top order that the home side found themselves at 54/5 in the 20th over.

With the Australian ODI star seemingly in decline, then it might be time for a radical shake-up.

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Does Ricky Ponting trust his spinners? During India’s second innings of the Second Test, White and Clarke bowled just 9 overs between them. Even Mike Hussey, who has never taken a Test wicket, bowled 8 overs.

It’s not as if the conditions in Mohali aren’t suited to spin bowling. Amit Mishra took 5 wickets in the first innings, and Harbhajan took 2 wickets in his first over today, triggering a top-order collapse from the tourists. The absence of an experienced spinner, one of the few chinks in Australia’s armour, is perhaps starting to make a difference.

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Australia made 430 all out in their first innings of the First Test against India, with Mike Hussey picking up from where Ricky Ponting left off yesterday, making 146 and marshaling the innings until his was the tenth wicket (youtube here) to fall.

The rest of Australia’s batsmen obviously felt that two batsmen making runs was enough for the innings, with the bottom seven batsmen making just 80 runs between them whilst Hussey scored at the other end, and India toiled in the field.

For India to win the Test from this position is unlikely, but some forecasted disruptions and the experience of their top order should mean that Australia will have plenty to do if they want to take a 1-0 lead in the series.

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