From the Blog
Are Cameron White’s fears for Australian cricket justified?
Date: February 03, 2017 / Posted by control
Cameron White stuck his head above the parapet this week and Trevor Hohns was quick to take a shot. White complained that the national selectors were no longer taking Sheffield Shield and domestic one-day performances into account when choosing national sides. “Right now, it seems that the Australian team at some stages is a development team”, White said in an interview on RSN. “For me, playing for Australia isn’t about getting a chance to develop. Domestic cricket is where that happens. You can get picked to play for Australia in any format out of the Big Bash, really. It doesn’t make sense. “I’m a little worried, to be honest, about the importance the selectors are putting on domestic cricket. It worries me for the future of Australian cricket”. White’s comments came after he was overlooked for the current three-match Chappell-Hadlee one-day series in New Zealand. Hohns, the chairman of selectors, did not take kindly to White’s assertions. “Cameron has had plenty of opportunities in the past and it’s probably fair to say he performed okay without being earth shattering”, was Hohns response. Those opportunities amounted to 88 ODIs and four Test matches. White’s first international appearance – an ODI against an ICC World XI at Docklands Stadium in Melbourne in October 2005 – came at the age of 22. His debut occurred during that brief period when the ICC allowed for player substitutions during a match, with White being subbed into the game at the expense of Damien Martyn during the ICC World XI’s innings. White may have been only 22 at the time of his ODI debut but by that stage he had already racked up 30 appearances in the domestic one-day competition. In those 30 games he scored 349 runs at 17.4, with one half-century, and claimed 28 wickets at 29.1. It was his bowling that got him the nod as he batted no higher than number seven in his first 13 ODIs. In the end, White’s 88 ODIs netted 2037 runs at 34.5 with two centuries and 11 fifties. As his career developed he effectively gave up bowling, finishing with 12 wickets at 29.3. Fast forward to this summer and White was the leading run-scorer in the Matador Cup, compiling 457 runs at 76.2 with two centuries and a strike rate of 99. He only sent down two overs. At 33 years of age he was overlooked for the current New Zealand tour with the selectors going for 21-year-old Queenslander, Sam Heazlett. Before packing his bags for New Zealand, Heazlett had played just five List A games. All of them came in September last year in what was dubbed a Quadrangular A-Team One-Day Series in Queensland. The series featured Australia A, South Africa A, India A and an Australian National Performance Squad. It was for the latter that Heazlett played, scoring 289 runs at 72.2. He was forced to retire hurt with a thigh injury during his last innings in the quadrangular series. That injury ruled him out of October’s Matador Cup. His selection in the squad, without having played a one-day game for his state, was one nobody saw coming. Former Australian fast bowler Stuart Clark was one who voiced his concerns about his call-up when interviewed on the Big Sports Breakfast radio show. “I don’t know how you come up with that selection. Personally, I don’t like that sort of collection. You’ve got a lot of guys running around playing first-class cricket and you go, ‘Hang on, why are they not getting an opportunity?’ But the selectors have obviously seen someone and thought, ‘Well this guy’s a player of the future, let’s get him into the series’. But I’m uncomfortable with that.” Aside from White, several other players who had dominant Matador Cup campaigns were overlooked – Moises Henriques (414 at 69.0), Daniel Hughes (386 at 64.3) and Player of the Tournament (271 at 45.2). The selection of Heazlett for the series against the Black Caps was made even more unusual given the absence of the experience trio of Steve Smith, David Warner and Usman Khawaja. When skipper Matthew Wade was ruled out of the opening match of the series in Auckland, Heazlett was called in for his international debut – he was dismissed for four. Heazlett’s debut came hot on the heels of 22-year-old Billy Stanlake’s international call-up. Like his Queensland teammate he too missed the Matador Cup through injury. He played his maiden ODI against Pakistan at Brisbane last month on the back of four career List A matches. He is currently in New Zealand as well. Australia, like all nations, have always had speculative selections. Matthew Renshaw was a highly successful one during Test summer of a very limited first-class background. Shane Warne was perhaps the most outstanding speculative choice we have seen. This summer there have been several, with Heazlett the most unusual having never played at the level he was chosen for for his own state. Clearly, the likes of White are not happy with such choices. He will doubtless not be alone in his convictions. On the flip side, Michael Klinger has been selected to make his international debut at the age of 36 in the T20 series against Sri Lanka later this month. It will be interesting to see which way Australia heads in the future with respect to its Test and ODI selections. Will see more debuts handed to the likes of Heazlett and Stanlake or will see White’s fears allayed with more players who have done the hard yards being rewarded? First published on The Roar - theroar.com.au - on 3 February 2017, soliciting 81 commentsRead More →
Australian cricket is in great health
Date: January 26, 2017 / Posted by control
The Big Bash League has become a juggernaut. The sixth edition of the Twenty20 franchise league has again broken records. Last night’s crowd at the Gabba for the second semi-final between Brisbane Heat and Sydney Sixers took the aggregate tournament attendance to 1,032,165. With the final still to be played on Saturday at the WACA Ground, BBL06 will register a new 35-match attendance record, eclipsing the existing record of 1,030,495 from last season. When the BBL moved to its current 35-game schedule in 2012-13, the aggregate crowd was 503,262. Attendances have more than doubled since then. This season’s average attendance will be over 30,000 per match against the 14,379 in 2012-13. With the Scorchers moving from the 21,000-seat WACA Ground to the new 60,000-seat Perth Stadium next season another rise in attendance figures will likely be on the cards. For Cricket Australia, the BBL has been a godsend. When the next Big Bash TV deal is signed, CA will savour a quantum leap in rights fees. The Ten Network secured the current broadcast rights in 2013 for $20m per year. When the present agreement ends next year industry insiders predict the rights could go for as much as $60m per season. Such is the drawing power of the BBL, last week, except for the Nick Kyrgios match on Wednesday night, it rated better than the Australian Open on the Seven Network. Once again, it has also pulled larger TV audiences than Australia’s one-day matches against Pakistan. Cast an eye over any of the telecasts and you will see a higher proportion of children in the crowd when compared to the other forms of the sport. There are numerous ‘hooks’ that have help attract the youth market – scheduling the tournament in its entirety during the school holidays; the fact the match is all over inside four hours; and the constant razzmatazz, music and pyrotechnics. What remains to be seen is what the viewing habits of these new fans will be in the decades ahead. Cricket Australia will be hoping that the fledgling supporters follow the path that David Warner did with his international playing career – moving from T20 to ODI to Tests. If my 11-year-old son is a barometer the transition will take a while. He very quickly became a rusted-on Perth Scorchers member and fan. He will be at the final on Saturday, along with three mates from his junior cricket team. Yet, when asked if he wanted to go to the ODI between Australia and Pakistan last week at the WACA Ground his response was a definitive ‘no’. The answer would have been the same had it been a Test match in prospect. As I am penning this column he is glued to the TV watching the Heat-Sixers semi-final. He will be unlikely to give today’s ODI at Adelaide Oval more than a cursory glance on the television. And this from a boy who is being raised in a household of cricket purists. Richie Benaud opined 30-odd years ago that Test cricket would, in time, become primarily a television event, one that would be followed intermittently on the tube rather than from the ground. In most countries that has become the norm. Except for England, Australia and India crowds have thinned substantially. Even in India, where the sport is followed with an affection akin to what Brazilians have for football, cities like Delhi, Nagpur and Mohali rarely manage half-filled stadia. Whilst Australia has led the move to day-night Tests, and with it a spike in crowds, it is hard to envisage the longest form of the game ever attracting the global spectator base of year’s past. But, in the end, how important is that in the grand scheme of things? While some will never see T20 as being ‘real cricket’ it nonetheless helps underpin the longer forms. Spectator numbers dropped off when ODIs became a widespread phenomenon. Nowadays, the T20s have drawn spectators away from the 50-over game. In the end, though, each of those spectators is watching the game of cricket. They may not be watching the form that all of us prefer but I would contend that more people turn out to watch the sport nowadays then in past years, and surely, for the sport that is a good thing. In any business, and that is what the game is at the elite level, the key is attracting clientele. Presently, cricket is maximising that by catering for varied tastes. In the end the whole is made up of various parts. And in the current day those parts add up to a sport that is in good health in this country. First published on The Roar - theroar.com.au - on 26 January 2017, soliciting 39 commentsRead More →
Sorry Nick Kyrgios, but a grand slam win is light years away
Date: January 19, 2017 / Posted by control
Nick Kyrgios was an embarrassment last night. Sadly, it was not the first time and doubtless it will not be the last. His second-round loss to Italian world number 89, Andreas Seppi was yet another lost opportunity. Pre-tournament Kyrgios was talking up his chances. What he threw up against Seppi was not the stuff of a man entrenched in the world’s top-20. His unravelling last night was bizarre as Hisense Arena was transformed into Nonsense Arena. Two sets to love up and seemingly cruising towards a third-round clash with Belgian world number 71, Steve Darcis, a berth in the round of 16 was looking like a formality. But from that point on it all went pear-shaped for the world number 13. He went from being energised and businesslike to someone who seemed totally disinterested. In the space of eight minutes in the third set he copped two code violations for verbal and racquet abuse and, as a result, was docked a point. He also spent time yelling at his own support crew in the box. The theme seemed to be issues with the way he had been prepared for the tournament. Suddenly, the pep in his step was gone as he moped around the court. Everything seemed to have become a drudgery as his body language became akin to a man being led to the gallows. His shoulders slumped, he dragged his feet between points and before he knew it Seppi had levelled at two sets apiece. Towards the pointy end of the final set things entered the realm of the seemingly unbelievable. With scores locked at five-all, staring at a break point, Kyrgios chose not to play a backhand to a ball that landed on the line. The first point of the next game, with Seppi serving for the match, produced the most bizarre moment of the match. On what should have been a regulation groundstroke, Kyrgios chose to play the ball back between his legs. A ‘tweener’ at that point wreaked of a man who could not care less. Remarkably, he won the game to level at six-all before holding a match point at 7-8 on Seppi’s serve. He could not convert it and the Italian went on the claim the match 10-8 in the last. Despite his lack of application for much of the last three sets the crowd did its best to will him on with each point won being met with raucous applause. There were even boos when twice the Seppi kissed the net and the ball dropped over for a winner. But, when Kyrgios left the arena the boos were directed at him. Take nothing away from Seppi, he hung tough and deserved the win but he was greatly aided in his endeavours by a man who appeared to have given up. John McEnroe has spoken often of Kyrgios’ talent, but equally, he has called into question his attitude. He did so again after this defeat, saying, “What I don’t understand, what I can’t accept, is when he stops trying. It’s a black eye on the sport”. McEnroe was never a role model for on-court behaviour but one thing he never did was tank. One could only imagine what was truly going through the mind of Kyrgios’ Davis Cup captain. Lleyton Hewitt was doing his best to comment on what he was witnessing but I doubt he really expressed his full thoughts. For a man who fought for every point in every match he played he must have been gutted to see such a limp performance from a fellow Australian. The fans deserved better. They deserved to see a full commitment towards winning. Some will say that they should know what to expect when they part with their hard earned to watch Kyrgios play. The problem is, fans pay for tickets to a grand slam well before the schedule is released. Last night they were ‘treated’ to a man who cared little for the result. Kyrgios’ media conference contained little remorse, with his opening answer being, “I am not going to beat myself up about it.” He did however allude to one area of his game when he said, “I don’t think there is anyone else in the top-100 without a coach except me. I think the mental thing is big to me. That’s when a coach would be good.” Time will tell as to whether he will engage a full-time mentor. Regardless, the current world number 13 appears a long way away from seriously threatening for a major, let alone winning one. Yes, he may have the talent, but as he freely admitted last night his mentality is not at the level that is required. First published on The Roar - theroar.com.au - on 19 January 2017Read More →
No way to spin it, the Australian Test team needs a decent leggie
Date: January 12, 2017 / Posted by control
It was almost 24 years ago that Shane Warne truly announced himself on cricket’s international stage. It was June 1993, when he drifted a leg-spinner well wide of Mike Gatting’s leg-stump and ripped it back to hit the top of off. That feat at Manchester was dubbed “The Ball of the Century”. Warne became the toast of the cricketing world and over the next 13 years he continued to bamboozle batsmen and dominate the game. He single-handedly popularised what was previously an unsexy craft. Prior to Warne young kids wanted to emulate fast bowlers like Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson and batsmen like Viv Richards. But we were told Warne changed all that and budding young leg-spinners were popping up all over the place. No one expected anyone to come along and be the equal of Warne, but ten years have passed since his retirement from international cricket, and to date, we are yet to unearth a quality Test leg-spinner. Stuart MacGill played in Warne’s shadow for the bulk of his career and given he debuted in first-class cricket just three years after Warne and is the son of former West Australian leg-spinner, Terry MacGill, he was hardly influenced by Warne with respect to his career path. Leaving aside MacGill, there have been several leg-spinners selected to play for Australia since Warne debuted in January 1992. Peter McIntyre played two Tests in the mid-90s, the first in tandem with Warne against England at Adelaide. In his first-class career he captured 322 wickets at 39.7. Cameron White and Steve Smith both debuted at number eight having been selected for their spin bowling. They have taken a combined total of 22 wickets since from an aggregate 54 Tests with both developing into batsmen at the expense of their bowling. Bryce McGain made his one and only Test appearance, against South Africa, the week before he turned 37. Then there were left-arm wrist spinners Brad Hogg, who played seven Tests across a 12-year period and Beau Casson who played just the once against West Indies in 2008. Whilst chosen primarily as batsmen throughout their careers, Michael Bevan (29 wickets) and Simon Katich (21) were called upon to bowl their Chinamen in their combined total of 74 Tests. None however have commanded even medium-term stints as specialist wrist spinners. And that is a continued issue for Australian cricket. Currently there are two leg-spinners being touted as future Test players – Adam Zampa and Mitchell Swepson. Zampa is in an interesting case. He has proven to be highly effective in the limited forms of the game, with 30 wickets at 27.8 from 19 ODI appearances and nine at 17.9 in eight T20 internationals. But in long form cricket he has been very ordinary. In 25 first-class matches he has captured 62 wickets at 50.3. While he has been regularly selected of late for international ODIs and T20s, he has struggled to be a regular member of the South Australian Sheffield side over the past 18 months. This season he taken nine wickets at 47.9 from three Shield matches. He is effective in short form cricket as he is reasonably accurate and batsmen have to take a risk in going after him, but given he is not a prodigious turner, when he has a red ball in hand he poses less of a wicket-taking threat with batsmen merely sitting on him and waiting for the loose ball to put away. Zampa is still only 24 but he has a long way to go to prove he is a viable option at Test level. Swepson, is 23, and has played 14 first-class matches for 41 wickets at 32.8, which is a tidy start. This season his four Shield outings have realised ten wickets at 43.0. Both Zampa and Swepson have been touted in some circles as candidates for next month’s tour of India. Zampa would be a risk given his parlous red-ball history while it would be an enormous baptism of fire for Swepson against the best players of spin in the world. India aside however, the lack of a quality leg-spinner is more of an issue each summer in Australia. Given the nature of the pitches in this country it has been the wrist-spinners that have traditionally been successful. The harder nature of the pitches and the fact the majority do not deteriorate greatly over five days has meant the bounce that can be extracted by wrist spinners is more of a threat. This is best illustrated by the records of two of the sports most prolific finger spinners. In Australia, Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan averaged 75.4 in five Tests and Indian Harbhajan Singh 73.2 from four matches. Staid drop-in pitches are likely to make finger-spinners toil even harder for their wickets in the future. Nathan Lyon earned the sobriquet GOAT, ‘Greatest of All-Time’ when he surpassed Hugh Trumble’s career record of 141 test wickets, the most by an Australian finger-spinner. When he reached Trumble’s mark he sat behind five other spinners in the all-time wicket-taker’s list for Australia, each of whom are leg-spinners – Warne (708 at 25.4), Richie Benaud (248 at 27.0), Clarrie Grimmett (216 at 24.2), MacGill (208 at 29.0) and Bill O’Reilly (144 at 22.6). Currently, Lyon has 228 wickets at 34.1, an average vastly inferior to the aforementioned leggies. Whilst Lyon has been serviceable, he has struggled to bowl his side to victory late in matches in Australia. That job, historically, has primarily been the domain of the wrist-spinner. One of the significant issues that is hampering the development of leg-spinners in this country has been the changing face of club cricket. Far more of it nowadays is centred around one-day fixtures and T20 competitions rather than the more traditional two-day games spanning two weekends. This has meant wrist-spinners have less opportunities to hone their craft. It has also meant their captains have had less of an opportunity to learn the requisite field placings and best way to utile their skills. Whatever the reasons, despite all the hype about youngsters emulating Warne, a quarter of a century after that historic delivery at Old Trafford we are still awaiting the arrival of a wrist-spinner who can hold down a place in the Test side for any more than a fleeting moment. It is perhaps the single most pressing selection issue facing Australian cricket. First published on The Roar - theroar.com.au - on 12 January 2017, soliciting 76 commentsRead More →
Australia must look to the future when it tours India
Date: January 06, 2017 / Posted by control
Australia is going to get hammered in India. On its last tour in 2013, it suffered a historic whitewash, losing 4-0. There is every likelihood that the four-Test series which starts late next month will end with a similar score line. Australia’s ill-fated 2013 tour marked the start of a 19-match unbroken streak where India has not lost a Test at home. In that time, it has registered only three draws. Currently, India has an embarrassment of riches at Test level. In its past 27 Tests it has not had the same eleven in consecutive matches through a combination of injury and optional changes as a result of the playing conditions. When Australia lobs on their shores they will be brimming with confidence and rightly so. For that reason Australia needs to be realistic about its chances and not necessarily look at this series but the years beyond. Following Australia’s most recent sub-continental debacle – the 3-0 loss in Sri Lanka in August – Cricket Australia’s General Manager of High Performance, Pat Howard spoke about a change in thought process at the selection table. “We’re most certainly going to end up with a horses for courses mentality. That might mean some players play really well during the summer and don’t go to India.” Ever since Shaun Marsh was recalled to the side for the Third Test against Sri Lanka, when both Usman Khawaja and Joe Burns were dropped, and peeled off 130 and 23, it was felt that he was definitely one of those horses for courses players who would be first picked for the Indian tour. He launched his Test career in Sri Lanka in 2011 with scores of 141 and 81 in his first two matches. However, having been injured during the opening Test of the summer against South Africa at Perth he has not reappeared in first-class ranks. He returned to the BBL with the Scorchers on 27 December, but with little success, making scores of 8, 7, 4 and 32. Yet he is still seen by many as a strong chance to usurp Matt Renshaw at the top of the order. Chris Rogers, David Warner’s former opening partner and currently an erudite voice on ABC Grandstand’s commentary, said as much after Renshaw’s 184 in the first innings at the SCG. “From what I’ve heard, Shaun Marsh is a good chance to play. He [Renshaw] is booked in for the opener’s spot for a long time to come for Australia. Whether that’s in the Indian series, I don’t know.” Given the ages of the pair – Renshaw is 20 and Marsh 33 – I would definitely stick with Renshaw, especially given Marsh’s injury record. With Australia seemingly on a hiding to nothing in India, giving Renshaw the opportunity to play against the best spin attack in the game in their conditions would be invaluable for the years ahead. Take Marsh by all means, but give Renshaw first crack. It is a tough call on Marsh whose last five innings for Australia realised two centuries and another knock of 63. But Australia has turned its batting fortunes around this summer on the back of selecting young players in the shape of Renshaw (315 runs at 63) and Peter Handscomb (359 at 90). Both will learn an incredible amount in India. Interestingly, the selectors chose 24-year-old Hilton Cartwright for the pivotal number six role at Sydney on the back of 19 first-class matches where he averages 44 with the bat and 42 and with the ball. Whether he holds down that position for the first Test in India is debatable. If he does, again it will be a case of giving a young player the opportunity to learn about his game in India. The jury is still out on Matthew Wade and just how he will cope up to the stumps on turning pitches. Once again, it is a crucial decision for the selectors. Do they stick with him or return to Peter Nevill. In terms of age, both are 29. With India looking like a forgone conclusion if there is a chance to select youth over experience I would be favouring the former in an attempt to hone the skills of the younger players for the future. It appears they will get another chance in the sub-continent later in the year as well with the postponed 2015 tour to Bangladesh likely to be rescheduled. When England toured their last year they came away with a one-all draw with their win by a margin of just 22 runs at Chittagong. It is time to back some of the younger players with an eye to the future. India will be a tough and almost certainly lost series but Australian cricket could help set itself up for the future. First published on The Roar - theroar.com.au - on 6 January 2017, soliciting 56 commentsRead More →
Nathan Lyon needs to be booted
Date: December 29, 2016 / Posted by control
Nathan Lyon is a walking dichotomy. He is currently experiencing a level of adoration from the fans like never before in his 62-Test career. Yet, at the same time, he no longer deserves his place in the side. Unless he can conjure something special in the last two days at Melbourne he should not be in the eleven for the final Test of the series at the SCG. It has been a summer of discontent for the man who carries the sobriquet of GOAT – Greatest of All-Time – as a result of being Australia’s leading finger spinning wicket-taker. Half way through his fifth Test of the summer he has captured nine wickets at an average of 66.7. His performance in Pakistan’s first innings was one of his worst showings this year. After sending the crowd into raptures when he claimed the first wicket of the match halfway through his opening over, he finished the innings with figures of 1-115 from 23 overs. The delivery that claimed Sami Aslam was a beauty – drifting in the to the left-hander, dropping on a length and spinning away with appreciable bounce. When his skipper, Steve Smith snapped up the catch at slip he would have been contemplating a productive innings from his right-arm tweaker. Alas, that delivery provided Lyon with his only highlight of the innings. He produced only one maiden in his 23 overs and went for exactly five runs per over, including being struck for five sixes, four of which were off the bat of number ten, Sohail Khan. Whilst this was his worst economy rate of the season it simply continued what has been a worrying trend. His inability to bowl tight spells is clearly causing problems for Smith. Too often this summer Lyon has been guilty of attacking the stumps which has resulted in him being worked with ease into gaps on the leg side. Rather than pitching the ball considerably outside off to the right-handers and working it back in, he has landed fractionally outside off and been turned with relative impunity onto the on-side. It has resulted in the batsmen rarely having to look for runs by hitting against the spin into the off-side. He appeared to have adjusted his line for periods in the final Test against South Africa at Adelaide but he has failed to back that up against Pakistan. Lyon was a line ball selection for the historic day-night series opener at the Gabba. Smith admitted that the call to select Lyon over uncapped paceman Chadd Sayers went right down to the wire. Part of the reasoning behind the offie holding his place in the line-up would have been his track record at Brisbane. His five previous appearances at the Gabba had produced 24 wickets at 24.0, making it his most productive Test venue. Against Pakistan he returned his worst match figures at the ground, 40-5-139-2. Five-wicket hauls are often seen as the bowling equivalent of a batsman scoring a century. In Lyon’s case his last five-for was 26 Tests ago, when hauls of 5-134 and 7-152 earned him man-of-the-match honours against India in Adelaide in December 2014. There has been talk of playing two spinners against Pakistan in the New Year’s Test at the SCG. For mine, I would go in with just the one specialist spinner in support of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood and Jackson Bird. And that man should not be Lyon, but his New South Wales teammate, Steve O’Keefe. The left-arm orthodox O’Keefe has been a long-time performer at first-class level. In 64 matches, he has captured 218 wickets at 23.6. Allied to his work with the ball is his more than capable record with the willow. He has a first-class average of 29.1 with nine half-centuries, the best of which was an innings of 99. With Nic Maddinson and Matthew Wade struggling in the middle order, O’Keefe’s batting would be a welcome addition. But it will be his bowling that should ensure his selection. O’Keefe has played three Tests to date. After debuting against Pakistan in the UAE in October 2014 with match figures of 4-219, he was overlooked until the SCG Test in January this year against West Indies where he took 3-63 off 26.1 overs in the one innings he bowled in. On the back of another solid first-class summer he was included in the squad that toured Sri Lanka in July. He guaranteed his selection in the first Test at Pallekele with a stunning performance against a Sri Lankan XI in the warm-up fixture, capturing 5-43 and 5-21 as well as an innings of 78 not out. In the opening Test he captured 3-74 from his 27 overs but a hamstring tear during the match saw him return home with Jon Holland called in as his replacement. It was a cruel blow for O’Keefe who would surely have played all three Tests. Having overcome the hamstring injury, he then suffered a broken finger in training that ruled him out of the Matador Cup at the start of the domestic summer. Since returning to the fold he has shown solid form, including hauls of 5-65 and 3-41 against Western Australia at the SCG last month. Both Lyon and O’Keefe will likely be in the tour party to India in February. But at the SCG next week, if one spinner is the option, it should be O’Keefe who gets the nod. First published on The Roar - theroar.com.au - on 29 December 2016, soliciting 86 commentsRead More →
Australia needs pace in India, not spin
Date: December 23, 2016 / Posted by control
India’s tour next tour of India looms large with the first Test exactly two months from today. Much of the focus will be on whether Australia has the requisite spin bowling stocks to have an impact against a powerful batting line-up. Perhaps, it is not that important a discussion. I was lucky enough to commentate on Australia’s historic series win in 2004, the first since the Bill Lawry led side in 1969/70. In 2004, the Australians principally won the series on the back of its fast bowling. In the first Test at Bangalore, which the tourists won by 217 runs, their only spinner, Shane Warne, sent down 60 overs in the match for figures of 2-78 and 2-115. Jason Gillespie (5-96), Glenn McGrath (6-94) and Michael Kasprowicz (4-66) were the more influential bowlers. The second Test at Chennai was a draw with two days’ play lost to rain. In the third match at Nagpur, where Australia secured the series on the back of a massive 342-run victory, it was again the quicks that did damage. Warne returned four wickets for the match and was required to bowl only 38 overs with India dismissed for 185 and 200 while Australia compiled scores of 398 and five declared for 329. Between them, Gillespie (9-80), McGrath (5-106) and Kasprowicz (2-74) claimed 16 of the 20 wickets to fall. The final Test was played on a pitch that was not up to Test standard from ball one with neither team able to score more than 205 in any of the four innings and the match lasted just over two days. Such was its dust bowl status, part-timer Michael Clarke captured 6-9 off 6.2 overs in India’s second innings, a feat that the likes of Steve Smith could have emulated. Still, in the first innings where India was dismissed for 104, the three quicks claimed seven wickets. In the end, Australia went down by just 13 runs. With Warne being ruled out late with a hand injury, Nathan Hauritz was the sole specialist spinner remaining in the squad. He returned match figures of 5-103. Had Warne been available, two spinners on that pitch would have been on the cards. However, at the other grounds tandem spin was not required as evidenced by the final series statistics – Gillespie (20 wickets at 16.1), McGrath (14 at 25.4) and Kasprowicz (9 at 28.3). Heading to India early next year Australia needs to play to its strengths, something it did not do in the recent 3-0 loss to Sri Lanka. In that ill-fated series Australia played two spinners in each match – firstly Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe, and when the latter was injured, Jon Holland was paired with Lyon for the last two matches. A third quick and just the one spinner may well have been a better option. England has just lost 4-0 in India and as former skipper Michael Vaughan tweeted, “Eight Test losses in a year … all because of no world class spinner!” Aside from the result in India, England also drew one-all in Bangladesh. In the first two Tests against India, England had three spinners in the side – Adil Rashid, Moheen Ali and Zafar Ansari, who was omitted for the last three matches of the series. Come the end of the series, their averages were not overly flattering – Rashid (37.4), Ansari (54.3) and Ali (64.9). Unless the pitches are going to be raging turners in India, Australia would be well advised to go in with just the one specialist spinner. Currently the spin stocks in Australia are unlikely to regularly trouble India’s batsmen. Pace is Australia’s strength. It has worked in India before. It should be the focus again. First published on The Roar - theroar.com.au - on 23 December 2016, soliciting 33 commentsRead More →
Virat Kohli is clearly the batsman in the world
Date: December 15, 2016 / Posted by control
Indian skipper Virat Kohli is currently monstering England and in the process stamping himself as the best batsman in the world. In the first four Tests of a five Test series he has plundered 640 runs at an average of 128.0. His most recent innings – a career high 235 at Mumbai – has taken his average beyond 50 for the first time in his 52-Test career. It was his third double century this year following 211 against New Zealand and 200 versus West Indies. He now averages over 50 in all three forms of the international game. It is a unique feat that no other batsman is close to achieving. A comparison with the overall records of Kohli’s leading contemporaries illustrates his all-round current standing in the game. Test ave ODI ave T20 ave Virat Kohli 50.5 52.9 57.1 Steve Smith 57.5 42.3 21.6 Joe Root 52.9 45.7 37.5 A B de Villiers 50.5 53.6 23.6 Hashim Amla 50.1 51.3 31.5 Kane Williamson 49.4 46.3 34.5 David Warner 48.1 43.1 28.1 Having turned 28 years of age last month he is in his prime as a batsman and is performing accordingly. Since assuming the Test captaincy he has average 65.5 in his 21 matches at the helm. Kohli first made his name at one-day international level, playing 59 ODIs before he received his Test call-up in June 2011. He made a relatively modest start at Test level, averaging 39.5 through his first 29 appearances. Since that point, just over two years ago, he has averaged 65.0 and struck nine centuries in his 23 Tests. Kohli is very much the modern-day Indian player given he is prepared to get in the face of the likes of the Australian team. Previously, generations of Indian players were almost subservient on the ground when confronted by more aggressive opponents. Kohli is no shrinking violet and is not intimidated by such tactics. Indeed, his most successful series to date came in Australia in 2014/15 when he reeled off four centuries in as many Tests in scoring 692 runs at 86.5. Kohli’s air of confidence and bravado at times rankled the Australians. If there is one question mark over him it is the disparity between his home and away records at Test level. At home, he averages 59.0, whilst away it drops to 44.6. Interestingly, he averages 62.0 in Australia and 68.0 in South Africa, countries where the pitches are traditionally diametrically opposed to the ones he was raised, and still plays on, in India. His Achilles heel has been England where his five Tests have realised an average of a mere 13.4. It was immediately following that series in mid-2014 that his career took off at Test level. He has yet to return to England but it is a safe bet that when he does he will do far better second time around. While Smith is anything but orthodox and in short form cricket, de Villiers can produce shots few can, Kohli has principally scored his runs in all three formats on the back of a pure technique. With the typical coiled wrists that are possessed by so many Indian batsmen, Kohli scores freely all round the wicket. His legside play, in particular, has a silken quality about it. Australia will face a Kohli led side when it ventures to India in February. Quelling the Indian skipper will be at the forefront of Smith’s mind. If history is any indicator, having scored six centuries and averaged 60.8 in 12 Tests against Australia, he will not be an easy man to tame. First published on The Roar - theroar.com.au - on 15 December 2016, soliciting 54 commentsRead More →
In the media
Reliving Eden Gardens 2001 through the voice of Australian radio
By Sandeep Dwivedi, ‘The Indian Express’, 14 March 2015 – Sitting on a wooden bench at King’s Park at Perth, you are at a height, the vantage point providing an enchanting view of the serene city and the sparkling river Swan. Sitting on that same wooden chair, facing Glenn Mitchell, sipping coffee and feeding on […]read more →
FIFO induction must contain mental health advice: Mitchell
By Michael Washbourne, December 2014 edition of Australia’s Paydirt – Renowned broadcaster and mental health advocate Glenn Mitchell has called for a greater emphasis on suicide prevention and mental wellbeing during the induction process for FIFO workers. Mitchell’s plea comes in the wake of a parliamentary inquiry into the mental health impacts of FIFO work […]read more →
Back from the brink
As part of Mental Health Week in 2014 I did a video interview with Marnie McKimmie from ‘The West Australian’. In the interview, I discussed the journey that I have been on and what I have learned as a result of being sufferer of mental illness. Click on the link below to view it. http://bcove.me/acr130arread more →
"Glenn was the perfect guest speaker for our Sports Star of the Year Awards. His speech was engaging and most appropriate for the intergenerational audience in attendance. Overall excellent presentation."
Chris Thompson, Manager Great Southern, Department of Sport & Recreation. Albany
"Glenn is a thoroughly entertaining speaker who can highlight the serious side of sport whilst simultaneously having the audience in stitches. A most enjoyable speaker who can clearly tailor a speech to suit a variety of audiences. Excellent presentation."
Ben Williams. Ravensdown 2009 Agents Conference
"Glenn Mitchell is a man with a powerful personal story to tell. He is an accomplished sports broadcaster who has walked the path from despair and illness to hopefulness and well-being.
As a story-teller, Glenn's ability to openly "speak his truth" is inspiring many people who are in a dark place to reach out to find and accept the support they need and deserve.
As a host and presenter, Glenn's professional approach and capacity to engage an audience with his unique blend of humour and whit, are exceptional.
Amanda Wheeler. CEO Lifeline WA
"Glenn spoke superbly about the relationship between Australian society and cricket. The audience was hugely impressed by his knowledge and humor"
Cricket Club of India
"Excellent presentation which provided our audience with an entertaining and informative insight into the world of elite sport. We've had much positive comment and feedback from our members and guests."
CPA Australia State Congress
"Glenn's presentation was great using his experience and knowledge of sport mixed with humour. Importantly he was able to engage the whole audience from all parts of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Rating: Excellent"
Lisa Lynch. Capricorn Society Limited.
"Excellent speaker. Glenn was exactly what we wanted and participated really well."
Clare Thompson, IWIRC Network (W.A.Branch)
"Many thanks for the fantastic job you did as MC for our Jumper Presentation Evening. The success of the night can be largely attributed to the insightful and informative style of your presentation, and we thank you for making our event a night to remember for all involved."
Scott Ballem, W.A. Football Development Trust.
"We appreciated Glenn's professional approach as MC for our Emerging Leaders Program Launch, and his prior preparation. We were very pleased with the outcome of the launch. Excellent MC".
Kim Ellwood, Department of Sport & Recreation
"Glenn had our audience captivated. His presentation 'What We Can All Learn from Sport' was excellent."
Stacey Martin, 2006 Ausnet Real Estate Services Conference