Posts Tagged ‘simon katich’

Sulieman Benn has shown considerable promise for some time (even to the extent of me noticing), so it’s gratifying to see him stepping up when his team need him, taking 5 for 155 (including the wickets of Watson and Katich, who started the day having built a 174-run partnership) as the West Indies dismissed Australia twelve runs short of their own first innings total.

The West Indies could really do with a top-class spin bowler at the moment, as their bowling attack has struggled against the Aussie machine, and if Benn can maintain the same standard in the second innings at Adelaide, where the pitch is starting to deteriorate, then who knows what could happen?

There, I didn’t mention his height once. I didn’t say that he’s taken giant strides forward, or that he’s reached new heights, or even that he was head and shoulders above the rest of the attack.

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Australia go into their first Test series since the Ashes with a strong desire to bounce back, and one could hardly dispute that the West Indies are in need of a boost following their recent troubles, so both sides should be sufficiently motivated for the three Test series which starts on Thursday.

For Australia, the side is fairly settled, with Doug Bollinger confirmed as the 12th man for the First Test. Mitchell Johnson will be hoping for a return to form following his well-publicised struggles over the English summer, whilst Stuart Clark now seems to have been cut adrift indefinitely. As for the batting line-up, Shane Watson is well established as Katich’s opening partner, and the rest of the top and middle order is similarly predictable. Anything other than a series win for the hosts is unthinkable for captain Ponting, who will desperately be trying to shake off the disappointment (and the stigma) of a second Ashes defeat under his stewardship.

The tourists will be boosted by the return of Chris Gayle from Jamaica in time for the First Test. Much, as ever, rests on the captain’s shoulders, as well as those of Chanderpaul and Dwayne Bravo, with the latter hoping to translate his good form for Trinidad & Tobago across to the Test format. Meanwhile, 19-year-old Adrian Barath looks set to open the batting alongside Gayle in a partnership that will have to gel quickly in the face of the formidable Aussie pace attack, not to mention the pace-friendly conditions at the Gabba. The Windies face an uphil struggle, to say the least.

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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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It’s the Ashes. Everyone’s still talking about the 2005 series. England have made a ‘big’ score, mainly thanks to Pietersen and Collingwood but with contributions from others too, everyone in the UK has got even more excited about this, then Australia have got in and, with no small contribution from Ponting, have made the ‘big’ score look a lot less impressive.

Am I talking about the current Test at Cardiff, or the Test at Adelaide in December 2006?

Whilst England’s cause isn’t quite so parlous a state as it was after throwing away that Test two-and-a-half years ago, the ease with which Ponting and Katich have eaten into England’s lead is more than enough cause for Pommie concern.

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The first day of the long-awaited series between Australia and South Africa promised drama, and on that score it didn’t disappoint. The home side, having won the toss, found themselves languishing at 15/3, but Simon Katich and Michael Clarke, and then Andrew Symonds and Brad Haddin, battled back to leave the Aussies on a decent 341/9 at the close of play.

South Africa’s bowling attack has been much praised in the build-up to this Test, and it seems to have delivered for most of the day. Ntini in particular gave the Australians all sorts of trouble, and it will be interesting to see how Australia’s less than experienced bowlers fare when they get their chance on day two.

If every day’s play is like this, we’re in for a fantastic couple of weeks.

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Australia, following their wobble in the first Test against the West Indies, have made an ominous start to the second Test, with Katich and Ponting already having passed 50 at the time of writing. Jrod, over at Cricket with Balls, is keeping a close eye on proceedings for those who like their reports with a little more sauce than Cricinfo’s ball-by-ball.

What Jrod is unlikely to report on is a win for the Windies – this Australian side (for all its faults) doesn’t do second chances. Unless your name is Michael Clarke.

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Australia take on the Windies tomorrow in the first Test of the series.

The Australian side is potentially the least predictable it’s been in ages, with Hayden a doubt. If, as cricinfo thinks, this means moving Simon Katich up the order, and with Michael Clarke on compassionate leave, then Brad Hodge, or possibly Ashley Noffke, will play.

Another unusual feature of this particular lineup will be the absence of Adam Gilchrist. It remains to be seen whether or not Brad Haddin will crumble under the weight of unrealistic expectations, as is the norm for English wicketkeepers. He probably won’t – he’s Australian.

The West Indies will need to get up to full speed quickly to compete, which won’t be easy with many key players having just returned from the IPL. This is also the first time they’ve faced Australia in a Test without Brian Lara, who often performed cosmetic surgery on the scorecards when these two side met in the past.

The most likely result is a Baggy Green whitewash, but with any luck Chanderpaul, Bravo and company can prevent a total walkover.

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