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Posts Tagged ‘nathan hauritz’

Four months after Australia’s poor showing at the World Twenty20, a number of the players involved in the Aussie set-up have managed to claim an international Twenty20 trophy by other means, with Brett Lee, Stuart Clark, Nathan Hauritz, Philip Hughes, David Warner and Simon Katich all involved in New South Wales’ victory over Trinidad & Tobago in the Twenty20 Champions League final.

Lee in particular showed his class in the final, hitting 48 from 31 balls and then taking 2-10, whilst Clark (3-21) and Hauritz (2-23, including the wicket of Kieron Pollard) also made telling contributions with the ball.

Now that the focus shifts to Australia’s ODI series against India, the main concern for those involved in both the Australian and NSWelsh sides is the lack of time to rest before the first ODI on Sunday. Two-thirds of the Australian touring party has been involved in the Champions League, and if similar situations continue to arise, then the sort of club vs country row that often fills column inches in football could be on its way to cricket soon.

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Club cricket takes a new turn this week with the inaugural Twenty20 Champions League. Here’s a brief run-down of the sides involved:

  • The Cape Cobras, although without the injured Graeme Smith, will still have plenty of firepower with JP Duminy and Herschelle Gibbs the main threats. The lack of access to the large pool of overseas talent that the IPL teams will enjoy could be an issue, though, as could a lack of familiarity with subcontinental conditions from the non-internationals amongst the squad.
  • The Deccan Chargers boast a wealth of talent, with Adam Gilchrist, Andrew Symonds, Chaminda Vaas and Scott Styris all in the squad alongside Indian players of the quality of Laxman and RP Singh. One of the IPL sides will be expected to win the competition, and the Chargers will certainly fancy their chances.
  • The Delhi Daredevils pulled off a coup in securing Dirk Nannes‘ services for the tournament, and some of his fellow Victorians may be cursing that decision on Friday when he could well open the bowling against the Australian side. Meanwhile, Gambhir, Sehwag and Dilshan could be an irresistable top order combination if they all hit form. The loss of Paul Collingwood to injury is unlikely to be felt too deeply (except by Collingwood himself, who has ‘a little niggle in his buttock’, no less).
  • The Eagles are on paper the weakest team in the competition, but the likes of Dillon du Preez and Ryan McLaren have overseas experience, and Twenty20 competitions have proved ripe for surprising results in the past, so they shouldn’t be underestimated.
  • New South Wales could upset the IPL hegemony, with the likes of Simon Katich and the famously big-hitting David Warner providing the runs, whilst Stuart Clark, Nathan Hauritz and Brett Lee will be a potent attack. If the problems which the Australian national side had in the World Twenty20 can be overcome, then NSW could be heading home with some silverware to go with their international players’ natty new white jackets.
  • Otago‘s chief asset, as ever, is the power-hitting of Brendon McCullum, but brother Nathan can also contribute. Dimitri Mascarenhas, available as neither Hampshire nor Rajasthan have qualified, has a strong track record in this format with both bat and ball, and is a strong addition to the squad.

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In all the (admittedly irresistable) excitement about Flintoff, 1934 and all that, it’s important to remember that 2009 is not 2005. The tension has been similar, but mainly because both sides have alternated between dominance and capitulation, rather than because the standard of cricket has been as high as it was during the much exalted series of four years ago.

England, certainly, have looked much less impressive with the ball than they were at their mid-decade peak, with even Flintoff only occasionally managing to dispel the impression that he is something of a nostalgia act (today, of course, has been a glorious exception). The batting, too, is less assured – perhaps surprising, given that Ian Bell was in the 2005 side.

It’s hardly revelatory to suggest that Australia’s bowling attack is weaker than it has been for any Ashes series for nearly two decades, but it’s nevertheless accurate. Whereas the Aussies used to have the best bowlers in the world, Hauritz isn’t even necessarily the best spinner in Australia, and comparing McGrath to Hilfenhaus or Siddle is a bit like comparing Elvis to Jimmy Ray, at least for the moment.

So, it’s not time to start planning that chapter in your memoirs about the ‘legendary summer of 2009’ just yet, but unfortunately, this Ashes series seems to be having a similar effect on my mental health to the 2005 edition.

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Much has been made in the build-up to the Ashes about the supposed weakness of Australia’s bowling attack, but it is quickly becoming apparent that England’s isn’t quite as good as some people would have you believe.

Flintoff has bowled plenty of overs without looking particularly menacing; Panesar‘s only wicket was more or less self-inflicted by Ponting; Swann hasn’t proved as dangerous to the left-handers as was predicted, and has been outperformed so far with the ball by Nathan Hauritz, Australia’s alleged weak link; Jimmy Anderson has been Jimmy Anderson, threatening for a spell then innocuous until the second new ball; Stuart Broad has gone for nearly 4 an over.

If England want to bowl Australia out twice in a Test this series, then someone needs to step up. Graham Onions may be feeling confident about his prospects for the Second Test (as indeed may Harmison).

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Australia begin their Ashes warm-up in earnest tomorrow with a tour match against Sussex, and all eyes will be on the bowlers as the Aussies try to determine what their strongest attack is. Of the five pace bowlers in the squad, only Mitchell Johnson can feel confident of his place in the side for the First Test in two weeks’ time. That leaves Brett Lee, Stuart Clark, Peter Siddle and Ben Hiflenhaus to battle it out for the remaining places. Leaving aside the various possibilities regarding spinner Nathan Hauritz and all-rounders Shane Watson and Andrew McDonald, the Sussex match (and next week’s match against the England Lions) could be seen as a shoot-out between the four pacemen. But who should play?

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They may have arrived in England with only a single spin bowler, but Ricky Ponting’s Australia seem not to be short on the type of spin favoured by Malcolm Tucker as opposed to Malcolm Walker.

First there was the suggestion from Ponting that England had moved the First Test from Lord’s on purpose because Australia have a good record there (where the First Test was played in 2005, but hasn’t usually been in previous Ashes summers). Now, Ricky is weighing in on the subject of Flintoff’s fitness, suggesting that a half-fit Freddie would be more of a liability than an asset to the hosts.

Well, thanks Ricky. I don’t think anyone else had realised that. I doubt that any in the England setup will be keen on taking advice from the opposition captain, in any case.

To some extent, the real reason for all these ‘controversial’ pronouncements is the unwillingness of either the English or Australian media to think about anything cricket-related other than through the prism of the upcoming Ashes, but the Australian side has recently shown a propensity for media spin which, with respect to Nathan Hauritz, seems to surpass the current team’s ability with regard to the variety of spin more familiar to cricketers.

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Australia, still reeling from conceding 414 runs in the fourth innings of the First Test, have made some changes to their attack ahead of the Boxing Day Test. Ben Hilfenhaus has been called into the squad as an extra option, Krejza has been swapped for Hauritz, but Siddle stays.

The logic of bringing in Hilfenhaus is that he could cause South Africa the same sort of problems that Johnson did in Perth. What this means for the struggling Brett Lee is unclear, but Siddle, who took only one wicket at the WACA, is the more likely candidate for being dropped.

The change of spinner seems a little less clear in its motivation, and in general there’s not much that suggests all of Australia’s problems will disappear before Friday.

The main factor that will fire up the hosts is likely to be the sour taste of home defeat, not a familiar flavour for most of the side.

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