Posts Tagged ‘Perth’


Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

Apologists for depreciating cricketing standards in India have finally run out of excuses. Some of the post-mortem findings, coupled with ‘expert’ opinions, are the kind of things ardent fans want to stay away from – the media bringing out character-revealing natures, some fabricated and some true, of our heroes’ personalities and core interests.

But what, unjustly, is getting camouflaged is the lack of coverage by the Indian media on rising Australian standards. After all, Michael Clarke, amidst immense pressure during the build up to this series, had artillery with young, raw and largely untested players coupled with a few experienced seniors going through lean patches. That the Aussies decimated the Indians the way they did is a credit to their attitude and work ethic.

Barring Shaun Marsh and Brad Haddin, every Australian can afford to hold his head up high. Marsh has age on his side, whereas Haddin appears to be at the twilight of his career and much of it is stuff that he already knows – the willow isn’t generating enough sound to undertone his “be afraid … very afraid” warnings through politically correct advertisements in television media. His keeping skills, in addition, have been subject to much criticism over the best part of the last year.

Unlike India, the imbalances that need to be unwound in the Australian squad are far lesser. For one, albeit the talent possessed by Shaun Marsh, he doesn’t appear to be a Test number three. He is an organized batsman, no doubt, but he often bails out to deliveries outside off stump – those he’d have happily dismissed in the shorter formats. Test Cricket is a different ball game all together, and it might help him if he polishes his Sheffield record (not a mandate these days) to grab the spot with both hands with significant 4/5 day experience. After all, history has shown that even batsmen with unlimited talent but insufficient temperament have created their own recipes for prolonged failure in Test Cricket.

Reinventing the wheel with Sheffield Cricket will make Marsh a stronger candidate at three © Zimbio

Phil Hughes and Usman Khawaja are examples of two batsmen from the very recent past who are busy reworking their techniques, temperaments and whatever else it may take to cement a spot in the Australian XI. Marsh isn’t far behind in terms of ability, although his domestic record may not seem all that overwhelming when compared to the other two youngsters. After all, Marsh looked a certain fit at three before he succumbed to injury in South Africa. This could, for all, be a bad phase he’s going through but when everyone makes merry and you miss out, you certainly feel the pinch a lot more obviously than otherwise.

Haddin’s story is a different one. The injury to Tim Paine may have created a sense of false security that he isn’t ready to be overthrown yet. He certainly isn’t moving as well as he’s expected to behind the wickets, and looks lost as a batsman. Poor shot selection has been his nemesis on many an occasion. He could place his faith in the confidence angels but his sustenance, despite the excellent team results, will only border on optimism if he doesn’t make a mark at Adelaide.

It would only take a radical reversal of course for the Aussie to potentially falter at Adelaide. Despite the middle order misgivings at Perth, the Aussies will feel that there is no willingness to face up to the necessity of having to face a threat at Adelaide given how the visitors are wounded and beaten – and that some of them may just be a touch too old to get up and resume battle.

The Indians, on the other hand, claim to have made plans to gradually phase out the senior players to accommodate the influx of youth from talent pools around. The reluctance to phase all of them out at once compares to a family that takes out too large a mortgage to consequentially suffer from making the monthly payments. However, with the Test Cricket schedules looking sporadic over the next couple of years to come, there is sufficient time to gauge the prospect of more than one veteran being replaced pre/post Adelaide.

Whoever comes in at Adelaide will be well aware that the Australian bowling unit missiles are as good, and potent, as any other subsonic missile around. Nothing has deterred the attack from disciplined bowling. It only took Mitchell Starc a few sessions with Wasim Akram to do what he did at Perth – and that spells trouble for any opposition. Neither did Ryan Harris show any signs of a bowler who’d just returned from a long lay-off due to injury. The Aussies, in a nutshell, have demonstrated that the ingredients for success are blatantly obvious: discipline, channeled aggression, enviable work ethic and consistency across the unit to build a competitive squad. This has got Australian cricket moving again – and all the Australians moving again.

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Bini Sathyan

Warner bats very much in the mould of a Sehwag. Image: sportinglife.com

David Warner is only five Tests old. In this short span, he has hit a century and another. The second one against India at WACA is the fastest ever to be hit by an opener. And it was completed in a session at the WACA. To hit a century in a session is no mean feat. Something that the greats dream of. The stuff that legends are made of. And it is a rare feat. Warner has announced his arrival in Tests and his stature is growing.

Till a few months ago, he was a Twenty20 hitter, an entertainer who was nowhere in the Test scene. He went around the world playing in T20 leauges entertaining the crowd. The selectors did not have him in the scheme of things. Neither did he have Test cricket in mind. In his own words, he never believed that he could play Test cricket.

All that changed when he was contracted to play in the IPL for the Delhi team which was led by the dashing Virender Sehwag. When Sehwag was a hit in the ODIs, he was also not considered for Tests as the purists felt that his style of play is unsuited for the longer version. But once he was given a chance, he revolutionized and brought entertainment to test cricket batting. Records were rewritten and batting never remained the same again in Tests. It was Viru who instilled in Warner the belief that he would do well in test cricket. Inspired by Sehwag’s words and work, he finally landed up in the Test arena. And the rest as they say is history.

Both the hitting machines shared one thing in common. They both believed in only one thing. The ball is there to be hit and hit hard. The pitch is not a concern, the situation is not a bother and the bowler does not matter. The only thing that mattered was where the ball lands for the fielding team to pick up. They have only one cricket gear, the top gear. So they did not have the confusion of switching it as the situation changed. They go all out from the word go. They try to hit the first ball of the match out of the park. Brought up their centuries with sixes. Lived and died by the sword. And on their day, decimated the opposition in such a way that the destruction was complete and total. They are the weapons of mass destruction in cricket. The similarities do not end. Records fall by the wayside when batting for them is a walk in the park. Sometimes it looks like they are out practicing boundary hitting out in the middle a match.

Though Warner’s debut in Test cricket has coincided with a big slump in form for Viru, for Warner, it is just the beginning. He is an improved version of Viru – faster scoring, farther hitting and better footwork are the improved features in the new version. India’s batting machine reengineered and invented at IPL and launched in Australia with a ‘Made in Australia’ tag. Australians have found a Viru for themselves. A new brand of Test cricket batting belonging to the Viru breed has been launched. The weapon gifted by India is being used against its inventor.

The doubts about the improvement in consistency and longevity can be proved only with time. Such power hitting which can influence the results of 5 day long Tests in a single session is going to be a threat for the Test playing nations and a treat for the fans. These power hitters are definitely going to entertain. India will have to think hard and come out with a better version of Viru to counter the Warner threat. A reloaded version of Viru who can last longer and more often. Or we need to find a newer version. Let’s leave that task to Viru himself.


Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

In the midst of Test Cricketing doldrums, the Indians have been beset by yet another storm that has washed away its final chance of salvaging some pride this series.  Yet again, the Indians find themselves in a position on Day One where the result seems inevitably favoring the opposition. True enough, the mystery behind a slump in form – spanning seven tests – remains.

India’s batting collapses have been well documented since the commencement of the England tour last summer. And (un)fortunately, there’s nothing new that a writer can add to throw more light to this crisis.  It is easy to gain the impression that nothing is happening behind the scenes, and in truth, it appears as though not much was. A titanic squad on paper has been relegated to the backbenches of cricketing credibility.

Lack of faith in the current team to reverse the premonitions seem evident, and entirely rational: another short-term spark is needed to ignite the fused morale, as is a long term veteran replacement plan to throw some hope in to the future, but both seem beyond any imaginable degree of capability now. These impulses are largely altruistic – precisely the reason why a change, even though rightfully claimable, has escaped the thoughts of selectors forever. Individual interests seem to have taken precedence over larger interests.

Amidst a fierce recession in Indian standards, David Warner stepped into the WACA, with a mere four caps against his name, to rewrite record books. The intensity of his innings remains an awe-inspiring memory, given how the Indian batting had made the spectators, initially, believe that there was something in the wickets for the bowlers to exploit. Record books will indicate that four out of the seven fastest test centuries have been made at this venue – highlighting the fact that if you can play pace and bounce well, you’re likely to succeed at the WACA.

Warner feasts on Indian Curry during his way to a record breaking ton © Daily Mail

The cynical Indian will point his fingers at Sehwag for having planted the thought of Test Cricket in Warner’s mind during the inaugural edition of the IPL. Warner reminded us of a young Viru who took pleasure in decimating bowling attacks, and it is no wonder incidental that the closest shave Warner had was an LBW appeal from a Sehwag offie. Cowan, at the other end, remained solid and firm to remind fans of the successful, if brief, partnership that Sehwag and Chopra had formed during India’s tour down under back in 2003/04.

Warner delightfully gathered runs at levels and rates at which Iran perceivably enriches Uranium. And it doesn’t look as though either is likely to stop anytime soon. Warner’s willow seemed to possess the venom that the Indian pacers lacked. At times, it would have appeared cruel to be judgmental on the Indian bowlers given how Warner dismissed even good deliveries to the fence. His assault crippled Indians hopes of revival and there seem to be no evidence that Day Two would promise change in fortunes, given how implicitly the bowling has qualified cluelessness.

Warner, thus far, has looked as rigorous in dismissing bowling attacks as the Indians have struggled to cope with it. The Indian batting, to begin with, painted a diametrically opposite picture with batsmen clearly looking lost in a wicket that didn’t even closely resemble the nature as described during the buildup.

Hilfenhaus continued from where he left off at Sydney, and Starc, who’d come in place of Lyon, silenced any doubters over the four-man pace attack by grabbing two wickets. Although, in hindsight, it would’ve appeared as though playing a spinner wouldn’t have been all that bad an idea. The only resistance offered by the opposition was via Kohli and Laxman who, briefly, looked as though they were doing a decent job rebuilding the innings.

The Aussie pacers had other ideas. As did Warner, subsequently. With one record firmly under his belt, it wouldn’t be all that unrealistic to imagine the possibility of him breaking more as the Test progresses. Unfortunately for the Indians, the harsh reality of a Formula One Race lasting longer than a solid innings would give their go-karting skills little to brag over.


Goutham Chakravarthi

India stand to lose more than just the series when the third Test gets underway on Friday morning. Talks of both teams going with four quick bowlers have donned the headlines over the last two days, but they have been just a sub-text in a week dominated by Haddin’s claims on India being a side not needing much to turn on each other and Zaheer’s counter claims to it. Perhaps, Haddin folding his hands and saying, “Friday the 13th… be scared India…. be very scared…” is sillier than Hrithik Roshan calling this the Agneepath series. Even though some of the cricket from India in Sydney was pretty silly, none could match these sequence of events over the last week.

From being touted to be the best opening pair in the world two seaons ago, Gambhir and Sehwag have largely disappointed. They were Batman and Robin, Holmes and Watson, and Bryan and Bryan: irresistible and scintillating. They would thrill with their strokeplay and running between the wickets. One would sneeze and the other would catch a cold. Two close pals, one a genius on his day, and the other, a determined soul, needing each other more than ever before to turn it around for themselves and for their team. They set the tone and their form usually dictates how well India do as a batting unit.

If they can give India a good start, India will fancy their chances. Photo: AFP

Yes, in their heyday, this team would turnaround every friction, banter and abuse to its advantage. They were among the most respected and tough bunches going around. Yet, with reasons, firstly, with injuries, and now with age, the reasons for decline have not been arrived at. Some have pointed out to Fletcher’s incoming to this team coinciding with its dipping fortunes, but, the coach and the team swear by the culture and insist that nothing has changed.

The reason for India’s declining fortunes is directly proportional to its waning batting performances. India’s planning in the Tests has not been as prudent as it has been in the one-dayers. It took a hard stand to leave out the likes of Laxman, Dravid and Ganguly and groom youngsters and reaped benefits. A similar attempt in Tests has never materialized.

India goes into Perth with little confidence and/or collective form. A green pitch might guarantee 20 wickets for both sides. There in lies India’s best chance. The chasm between the sides has been Australia’s bowling. India’s bowling has been inconsistent and seems to rise and fall with Zaheer’s mood and health. Should the wicket encourage a three day Test, the result will hinge on a crucial 70 here or there, and, right now, that seems to be the best the Indian middle-order seems to be able to produce.

Over the next few days, this Indian team will not just fight the Fremantle Doctor and the Aussies for the series, but for their immediate future. While the right thing would be to blood a couple of youngsters, it is difficult to imagine this team management opting for that. For long, consistency in its team selection counted among its strengths, now, it might have come back to haunt them.

Australia go in as favourites, but the pitch might give India a chance to pull one back.

You can read preview from the Australian camp here.


Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

Mind games with the Aussies, much akin to the way they play cricket themselves is about attack and more attack. Rarely courteous and often lacking an element of political correctness, the ‘mind-game’ quotient is always deferential to the raw aggression at the core of their intent. The channels through which these thoughts become manifest, apart from media headlines, is via the Aussie crowds’ seascape of humor: from inflammatory jibes to stirring loud-mouthed opinions.

Australia’s most potent 12th man is the collection of chants emanating from the dry-humored men amidst the high terraces of Aussie arenas. And as the stage moves to the West, Australia’s quasi-twelfth men look as though they’d have a greater impact on the Indians than the current Australian top order.

It should be noted however that two, out of the three, top order places currently occupied are stop-gap solutions to what otherwise is a better laid plan. Injuries, and lack of a better idea, are what still keeps Cowan and Marsh at the top – although this might sound a lot lesser harsher than what it really conveys. No individual can be thoroughly judged in the context of two games, but given today’s competition for places, such thoughts become inevitable.

Perth demonstrates how Cricket is Going Green © Resource2 News

A green and bouncy Perth wicket would mean as much joy to the bowlers as it would mean misery to some of the Aussie batsmen. Given their record against the moving ball of late, it would be a surprise to see a greenish top (even if reports claim so) given how the Aussie batsmen have been found wanting under such conditions.

The selectors can afford to be cagey though, given the middle order spark of late, and decide to stick to the winning combination for the rest of the series. That would mean that further lack of runs from either Cowan or Marsh (and even Warner to an extent) would be ignominious to their reputations perpetually. And players, who’ve traditionally taken this route, ended up not witnessing further international action, or in some cases, revived their careers after a rather large period of isolation and strong domestic performances. Marsh, a Perth local, would especially want to capitalize on home soil.

In the process of admiring Clarke’s feats, the revival of Ricky Ponting and the gusty temperament of Michael Hussey, the other side of the equation – the pace bowling department’s steadiness throughout – has been overlooked. Sure, the likes of young Cummins and Pattinson would’ve relished a wicket like Perth to bowl on, but the tendency to repeatedly catalogue young, exciting fast bowlers has not ended up giving Hilfenhaus and Siddle the credit they deserve. Whether a four man pace attack at Perth would be an option envisioned is yet to be ascertained, but over-rate concerns apart, the idea may not seem all that farfetched.

Ryan Harris would be an automatic choice to fill the void left by Pattinson. Having not played since being injured during the tour of Sri Lanka, Perth would be an ideal venue to resume duties. As for Mitchell Starc, the question lingering around the four man pace attack would have to be answered before his name pops up on the team sheet. Given his height and the steep bounce he is likely to generate, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he lines up with his team mates at Perth, leaving Nathan Lyon to warm the bench this time.

Unlike Sydney, where the focus was largely on the numbers gathered by the middle order batsman, Perth would give the audiences an opportunity to witness what pace and bounce can do to unsettle batsmen. Given that age has caught up with most of the Indian batsmen, their reflexes would be tested beyond imaginable measure by the Aussie attack, which would, like the previous tests, target taking twenty wickets before the final day dawns. But with the visitors having triumphed at Perth last tour, complacency may find very little space in the Aussie dressing rooms.

You can read preview from the Indian camp here.