Posted by: nestaquin | February 27, 2009

Marcus North: More than a Century

Marcus North on DebutA first innings century on debut is one of the highest individual achievements for a Test match batsman and to do it in hostile territory against a class and in form opponent renders superlative almost redundant.

West Australian captain Marcus North, a man in a rich vein of form, has rewarded the selector’s faith with an innings that had class written all over it and in doing so he has booked his place in the BaggyGreen batting order for some time to come.

As a thunderstorm threatens to halt play on the second afternoon at The Wanderers, North was just stumped ending an outstanding eighth wicket stand with Mitchell Johnson that has the South Africans looking dejected and sloppy.

He has quite literally ground the home team into the dust and in doing so given the inexperienced Australian team the ascendency in this most important of Test series.

Considering the new players in the Australian Test squad and tour selector David Boon’s comments about sticking with the debutants through thick and thin, North’s innings is more valuable than the scoreboard indicates.

Cricket is a psychologically subtle game on so many levels where you get to enjoy the success of your team-mates as much as your own and the instant realisation of North’s ability, reliability and maturity will help build further belief and respect in the inexperienced Australian squad. This fillip will enable Ponting’s new team to confidently bond on tour while allowing them the opportunity to put the glories and accompanying burden of the previous generation behind them and create their own unique chapter in Australian cricket history.

Image: Getty


  1. Wonderful innings particularly after the lauding of the SA attack in taking out 3 of the top 4 cheaply.
    Looks like MJ is going to get a century too
    – arguably even more impressive?

  2. He missed out 96*. A remarkable end to perhaps the finest hour of Test cricket I’ve ever seen.

    If this is the standard for the rest of the series this may be one of the greatest ever played.

  3. Australia batted brilliantly today, with a highly impressive 96* from Johnson.

    One quick thought however; this will be the last test series for SA before Imran Tahir becomes available for selection. Well as they played, I do wonder how well some of the Aussie lower order would have faired if they had to start thier innings against a quality leg-spinner. Perhaps the upcoming ICC World Twenty20 will give us a clue?

    • I think Imran will be waiting a while for a chance although Johnson’s 26 off one Harris over will help him. Australia batted well in the first innings of all three matches in Australia and they only won one, just. Removing Smith before the rain arrives would make for a very impressive day for Ponting’s Babes.

      • Oooh, threaded comments, nice.

        Harris is a better player than some people give him credit, but I suspect Tahir is firmly in the thoughts of the SA selectors. But as always, time will tell.

        • I’m glad you like the new comment feature Len. Just have to educate the rest of the readers including one well known Londoner with antiquated audio equipment to use them too.

          I’m going to keep my eye on Tahir as I’m a man that thinks no cricket team is complete without a wrist spinner.

  4. Nesta – the finest ever? That’s praise indeed, but understandable when players deliver like North and Johnson against a quality attack.

    Just a word on North – he has played 40 county matches to go with his 79 Shield matches, which suggests that I wasn’t far wrong in this piece

    • I did refrain from hyperbole in the article but that last 45 minutes before tea had everything. Superb batting, aggressive bowling, a stumping, clean catching, a debut century, an over that went for 26, a wicket off a no-ball then a brace of wickets and now Smith is gone for a DUCK!!

  5. Nesta – Can I remind you that learned opinion has it that Test cricket is dying?

    • Perhaps the learned need an education!

  6. Your boy has delivered – second ball!!!

    • So two of the three debutants have started brilliantly. I expect Hughes to make his mark when next at the crease too.

  7. it is warming up rather nicely, isn’t it?
    why is Johnson off after 3 overs?

    • No idea but the way Siddle is bowling I hope Ponting gets him back on soon. Perhaps he is a little weary after his innings so short sharp spells might be the best way to use him for the rest of the afternoon. He has another wicket in him and I reckon we’ll see him back on for a burst before stumps.

      • well he’s back on again, for hilfenhaus now so some sort of rotation going on.

        • I take it back. Siddle has Kallis. I still think there’ll be a fightback at some stage by the Proteas. They are good team but Australia sure have them pinned to the canvas at the moment.

  8. an example of captain knows best?!
    next pair to stay put a while I guess though

    • One more before stumps would be very nice but regardless it has been an excellent day for the BaggyGreen.

      • The best day for the Baggy Greens in a Test for a fair while I guess.

        • There were eight good days against NZ in November but in the context especially with all the debutants, the quality of the opposition and the prize on offer it has been a very very fine day’s cricket.

          However, South Africa aren’t beaten yet and as we saw in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth they are never finished until the 20th wicket is taken. I expect them to hit back tomorrow after regrouping overnight.

          Regardless of what happens in the next three days Australia have shown that the new boys are up to it and that the next generation will still be a team to be reckoned with in the coming years.

          • I thought about the NZ matches, but this day has to be better in the context.

            The new boys are doing well, but Hughes has to prove it yet (he will, I’m sure) but I’m not so sure about MacDonald.

            Haddin’s aberration with the gloves a few weeks back seems to have spurred him on. Perhaps he saw what might be taken away from him?

            • I’m not sure about McDonald either but he has played seven days of Test cricket and Australia has come out on top in every one. He’ll be replaced by McGain next Test unless he does something extraordinary in this one.

              It’s been a while since Australia has used a dibbly-dobbler like McDonald but it seems to be working in an economical Chris Harris kind of way. It should be noted that he did get a corker from Steyn early on today.

              I’d rather Bracken do his job but I’m not going to criticise selection on this very fortunate and felicitous Friday.

  9. the lovely Mitch. Fabulous to see Hilfy at it, Nesta.. Tassie bricklayers know what’s what.

    South Africa looks distinctly different. Could it be that Smith is not quite recovered? He looked like he was going about things a bit gingerly, a tad pulled back. Not taking anything away from Ricky and the Rollers, but there is something missing in the SA team I saw in AU, an aura of nervousness.

    well… it could be me and my wishful thinking.

    • Pepp, the Saffas looked alright in the first session yesterday until Ricky and Pup decided to attack them and test their nerve. It’s not easy being the hunted instead of the hunter. South Africa learned that lesson today.

      You forgot to mention Marcus. Surely, you’d be swooning on a warm Friday night over a man of his composure, style and class.

  10. my night has been one long swoon, nesta…. considering it started out in the usual state of high fright and jitters…always is when AU plays SA or SriLanka. Marcus!!… ( it was like watching Duminy and I cant give higher praise than that. )

    I am gearing up, nesta, .. helped along by Pietersens idiotic swipe and then the referral stuff. .. I have stuff in the pipeline.

  11. along with NZ dragging India all around the ground, its been a lovely Friday/Sat. .. I dont make predictions, as you know, but I have a crisp $great shark that says NZ may do India in in a Test match, too.

    • If Ishant is crook and Oram is fit there is always a chance. Cricket is an unpredictable mistress. I was all nerves too for Hilfy but he had the ball on a string and could have easily picked up a couple more.

      It’s very hard for a Tasmanian to break into the national team but when they do they usually, Greg Campbell excepted, do the business. The last two were Boon and Punter and within a few years Ben will have a statue at Bellerive too.

  12. It hasnt been easy for Ricky this summer, trying out a whole boatload of blokes for places. And there is no other way to try them out other than in a match, in the public glare, really. But I maintain that it’s better to lose a few at home than travel with dead wood, even though it’s fraught with risk. Some risks have to be taken.

    I often marvel at some people who actually think that Ricky , like their own captains, I suppose, faces being dropped when AU loses matches. Or even series. That Baggy Green isnt given away with a packet of crisps. Isnt removed at speed, either.

    • Ricky is captain until he retires. Everyone in Oz knows and accepts that. And that’s the way it should be. We’ve had 4 captains in 20 years not including the times when the vice steps in for injury. That is stability and the more the team fails the more I see Steve Waugh and Allan Border in Punter. On that theme, Pup does worry me. I see a bit of Kim Hughes in him and we never want to go down that road again!

  13. I long for Geeves to be bunged in, Nesta.. I have not forgotten his stuff in the IPL.

    I had my obligatory photo taken between Lillee’s legs in Melbourne recently. Framed now, and gracing my office for all to see. Lillee looks as determined as I do.

    • You have to read Brett Geeves’ blog Pepp. It’s in the right hand column under Brett’s Blogs. You’ll laugh your tits off and get a great feel for Tassie cricket.

  14. yes.. oddly,.. and it’s taken a while, I do see that in Pup as well. That Katich thing was a bit of a worry, to me, I am comforted by the belief that Punter is in no hurry and plenty of time for Pup to grow into it..

    but a liiiiitttle twinge, indeedy.

  15. oo.. super. I have truly enjoyed Ian O’Briens logs in cricinfo, as much as I adored his bowling.

    I am off now, to sink into Bretts stuff, thanks for the tip!!.

  16. last post, nesta.. isnt Shane naughty!!!.. .. Vaughan in the team, Monty is wonderful, Flintofff must be in it.. . I howled with helpless laughter, he is a rat with a gold tooth. Thank God he is our rat.

    • Must admit I laughed and thought the exact same thing. I’m off to bed too. Thanks for dropping in.

  17. I laughed and thought the same thing too.

    Ravi is nearing a ton here – England have fought back wonderfully well since the 51 all out.

    I’m sure you’re right re Ricky Nesta, but the mark of a captain is in the field – he has a lot of convincing to do there to win over sceptics like me.

  18. That was one hell of a test innings from North Nesta.. he showed the Aussies what they had been missing in their batting order in India and all summer..

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