Posted by: nestaquin | March 8, 2009

David Boon: The Mastermind Behind the Mo

The Master and the ApprenticeDavid Boon departed KwaZulu-Natal yesterday on the long flight back to autumnal Hobart with a devilish and satisfied grin hidden under his famously luxuriant moustache. In his job as tour selector for the first half of the away Test series against South Africa he has overseen a remarkable and unexpected resurgence in Australian international cricket and although his humility would prevent him taking credit, he thoroughly deserves the recognition.

With Australian cricket on its knees after a steady 18 month decline, Boon urged his fellow selectors, Andrew Hilditch, Mervyn Hughes and Jamie Cox, in the aftermath of the Boxing Day Test to reinvent the team with an injection of youth. He wanted the most promising players in the country to be aware that the team was no longer a closed shop and that key performances in critical situations at State level would be rewarded.

Sydney was seen as a stepping stone with one last indulgence allowed, that being Matthew Hayden’s farewell Test, but beginning thereafter would be a new chapter forged in the manner of the rebuilding of the mid-eighties. The best of the next crop would be chosen and they would be given every chance to prove their worth without too much pressure on results.

On arrival in Africa, Bradman Young Cricketers of the Year, Ben Hilfenhaus and Phillip Hughes were immediately given their BaggyGreens along with accomplished West Australian captain and Walter Lawrence Trophy winner Marcus North, and all tasted success after excellent performances in Australia’s surprise win in Johannesburg.

Alongside the debutants were four others with limited Test experience, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Andrew McDonald and Peter Siddle and these seven had played fewer Tests combined as their senior team-mates Hussey, Clarke, Katich and Ponting had accrued individually.

With youth comes an unbridled optimistic ambition and Australia’s demolition of South Africa at Kingsmead yesterday has all but guaranteed that Australian cricket will retain the ICC Mace until the next challenger for the title surfaces in the years ahead.

With that tremendous achievement in mind and a job well done, David Boon will deservedly sink a few of his favourite ales on his meandering trip home and return with a characteristic inconspicuousness to where he is revered and loved the most; the tiny and increasingly influential cricketing island of Tasmania.

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Responses

  1. And so it begins. Second ball of the day! Duminy won’t be impressed.

    Good blog Nesta, the selectors get hammered often enough, you have to recognise their good calls too.

  2. Third ball of the day too! This game just won’t stop.

  3. Good blog N as per usual. Nice to be in here and away from Guardian-Ashes centric discussion/insufficient respect for what THIS tour involves.

    l’m keen to focus and hold nerve on what would be one of our great and unexpected away tours, against what we all believed was the best side in the world. At some point there needs to be some reflection on what SA have demonstrated in this series.

    For me this would be as joyous as my cherished memories of Ashes 89 or the Martyn led victories on the subcontinent. Truly wonderful watching these hungry young fighters in the baggy green. Stunning effort from the rookies which as you note N includes most of the team.

  4. Ponting’s having a bat 214 in front. Can’t argue with that but I was hoping they’d have another go at them.

    • Plenty of time left, give the bowlers a rest and best not to bat 4th l reckon. But it would have been real foot on the throat stuff.

  5. Well you’d reckon 200 in this innings will be plenty so I wouldn’t be surprised to see South Africa batting again late in the day, although light may be an issue, so probably early tomorrow morning.

  6. Albie’s out in the middle today. Pepp will be pleased.

  7. I’m amazed that Hughes and Katich aren’t being bounced relentlessly. SA need Morkel on now and Steyn to bowl three bouncers and three yorkers per over.

    There’s something in English and Australian approaches to the game in the reaction to the starts of two bowlers.

    Here’s one bowler’s figures from his debut to his last completed innings.

    2-42
    2-103
    3-122
    1-49
    5-47
    3-93
    5-165

    and another

    3-114
    1-62
    1-44
    0-84
    4-81
    0-34
    5-59
    3-54
    3-76
    3-46
    2-20

    The former is Graeme Swann whom nobody is touting to be a big influence on the Ashes and the latter is Peter Siddle whom people are touting to be a big influence on The Ashes.

    Perhaps the reality is that both have made good starts to their Test careers and will have some challenges to come.

    • l think there is some contextual damage from yesterday. Heads are down from SA and no Smith. Yesterday was brutal and indeed the whole script of this series has gone off the rails for them. Struggling to deal with it all l think.

  8. Very solid start from H & K. Looking good to set ourselves up for more than enough overs at them tomorrow.

  9. Morkel is bowling well here. If Flintoff is fit, Hughes is going to have to work out how to play the right arm round the wicket short stuff better than he is doing today. And why SA don’t have a fly slip is beyond me.

    • Yep l do know what you mean and certainly the first thing l would be trying. The thing is that is exactly what every bowler in Aus has been doing for the last two seasons and obviously SA. But the kid keeps getting runs and will learn quick.

      Perhaps Flintoff of any bowler in the world is best placed to exploit this. But all in all a very fine start from the kid.

  10. Ponting looking superb

  11. South Africa look beaten. Their tilt at the title looks spent as Jap alluded to earlier.

    Toots, I’ve no idea what that list of figures proves except your insecurities about the Ashes but whatever it is it lacks context. Nothing is proven by comparing two blokes in two different matches or a series of them. Same match, same series maybe but even then a very simplistic analysis. You’ve heard the phrase apples and oranges.

  12. Nesta – the figures don’t prove anything, but the receptions of two bowlers who started their careers at roughly the same time and are currently playing their fifth and sixth Tests are markedly different. Yet their figures (and hence their contributions to their team’s objectives of taking twenty wickets as quickly as possible) are broadly similar.

    My feeling is that England aren’t as bad as many posters here and elsewhere suggest and have found a decent spinner and Number 9 in Swann and have a captain / opener and middle order bat in peak form. Clearly that’s not enough, but some problems are being solved. Likewise Aus have solved some, but not all, their problems as they were revealed by India and SA.

    I’m expecting a tight series in England and some tight series around the world in the immediate future.

    • Toots l think most of the Siddle chat l have seen around the traps has been in relation to a necessary defence of him being considered not up to it which is patently wrong. As with Johnson and Haddin before him. To me there has been little discussion of Swann etc because most are focused on SA rather than the Ashes. Terrific start for him and some good signs for England albeit a worrying inability to grasp hold of the series. As for the Ashes (which if pressed l would see Aus just home in but really it is too far away, not as interesting at the moment etc) lm sure we will have endless blogs in which to argue about that after this thrilling SA series. And likewise after Eng finish trying to win in WI.

      • Japal – I think the warmth and brightness of the sun in England is turning our thoughts to the summer and that means The Ashes. We should be wary of getting ahead of ourselves though – granted.

        I wouldn’t expect Aus to be too bothered about Swanny – my comment is more directed towards England supporters who have been quick to see Siddle as a huge threat (rather than an emerging talent) and almost completely ignored Swanny’s excellent start to his Test career.

        • Fair enough then. You guys are particularly good at getting down on your own. Seems from my little knowledge that the whole series has been kind of ruined by a series of road pitches (51 aside!).

  13. oh, the delightful Albie, yes, Nesta. I am pleased. Never enough of Albie.

    Well.. I reckon the Punter got Siddle to one side last night over a bit of a braii and said, ‘mate, don’t worry about anything. You’ve got it, we’ll get it, have a good kip and just stroll out tomorrow and skittle Steyn,. dont worry about Duminy, then do Ntini in. Please be quick, though’..

  14. Ponting looking (sounding on the radio) superb.

  15. He looks majestic on the telly too. Hughes is also looking very good. Top score in your first two Tests is some achievement. A century in both innings beckons too.

  16. Steyn has bowled only 21 balls of the 91 Hughes has faced. I can’t understand Boucher’s thinking, unless Steyn is crocked.

  17. Now Ntini!

  18. At the very least South Africa should be attempting to bowl maidens. They’ve lost their way and when the declaration eventually comes (500?) I doubt there’ll be much resistance.

  19. Tooting, so Australia is humiliating the number two team in the world, while England is struggling to land any blows on the lowest ranked team, but the two will be competitive when they play each other in a few months? Hmm, give me a little time to digest that one before I comment.
    Siddle is surrounded by hungry and successful colleagues. Swann is surrounded by an attack that is, well, you know. No need to say it.
    But Japaljarri is right, this is the time to focus on the success of this new team, tomorrow will take care of itself.

  20. Fred – Siddle may be surrounded by hungry and successful colleagues, but in his five completed Tests, those colleagues have conceded scores of

    469
    314-3
    218
    414-4
    459
    183-1
    327
    272
    220
    291

    Overall, there’s plenty of time there to take wickets.

    I’m not saying that your point isn’t a good one, but there’s often another view to be taken.

    I wouldn’t say that SA are being humiliated – they are well behind at the moment for sure. And I wouldn’t say that England were struggling to land a blow on the Windies after some big scores and drawing a match with the opposition nine down.

    Any team with as inexperienced an attack as that likely to come to England in July cannot just be a shoo-in to win a Test series, be they wearing baggy green caps or not. In 2005 and 2001, we knew that the Aus attack would take wickets regularly – we just don’t this time round and that puts the outcome in doubt no matter what the rankings show.

  21. oh, the darling Ricky.. He has Phil tucked under his chin and riding shotgun for him. How Lovely!!!

  22. So last time Toots they were too old and this time too young. Ponting just passed Steve Waugh on the aggregate list with a trademark pull for four off Steyn. Nice work Punter, all in a day’s work.

  23. Second ranked team bowled out for 138, two best batsmen sent to hospital, losing the series to rookies: if thats not humiliation then I don’t know what is. Perhaps, and honestly I’m not having a go here, as an Englishman you have a different standards when it comes to humiliation. Any score over 100 is OK.
    Anyway, I certainly take the point this is new success, and we don’t know how often they will repeat it in the years to come. But I have my suspicions.

  24. I just dont think that all the experience that the English team surely has is the correct experience. FAR too much experience in folding, choking, collapsing , far too much in losing, non preparation, sulkiness, overestimation of content, and so forth. All this kind of horrid experience has a cumulative effect in the end, I believe. Even when England could win, with a bit of hard yakka, the eye is always on some compromise that may work, and so rarely does.

    so experience is qualitative, really. England is truly handicapped by one bad experience after another, and also the relentless desire to ignore these bad experiences as temporary.

    AU lost to SA this Au summer and it was such an horrific jolt, but not unexpected, risks had to be taken, that the desire for that experience has been used as a way to ride on to winning. Not losing. Yet, England manages to use the same experience to add to the general idea of losing as the norm.. why?

  25. I think scores and stats are often overstated. What matters are results and the manner in which the cricket is played. I don’t think Australia have played such high quality cricket in a series since Warne, McGrath, Martyn, Gillespie and Langer all retired in the same season. It’s about quality not quantity. And at present Ponting is demanding an excellent standard in every aspect and setting the example with relish.

  26. Punter has looked as good here as I can remember.

    • He certainly has Steyn’s measure and this is an outstanding captain’s knock when you consider the baby of the team is at the other end. Ponting will enjoy Hughes’ ton, if they both get there, as much as his own.

      • He was wonderful at the MCG earlier in the Summer as well. When he is own he just plays his own game. He will really really enjoy this one if gets the three figures.

  27. Punter minding Phil very nicely. Very paternal..

  28. Fred – I fail to see that Aus are humiliating SA when the series is yet to be decided. Once it’s 2-0 or 2-1, then fair enough. At the moment, Aus are on top in a Test and they’ve been there before against SA and not won. Unlikely I know.

    Nesta – scores and stats are overstated, and it’s the results that matter. So – in the last 16 Tests, England have lost twice to SA, once to India and once to WI. The other half of the story isn’t as rosy obviously, but that’s not the profile of a side addicted to losing and irredeemable. And that’s my only claim – that England will be competitive in the Summer and that the series will be tight.

    I see your point about the high quality cricket Aus are playing, but mine is that (as you have written) it is unrealistic to expect this level to continue with young players’ inevitable inconsistency. Not so long ago, Aus were playing the worst cricket I’ve seen from them since Packer as SA chased down big targets and Steyn and Duminy scored runs at will.

    I applaud the regeneration and Boon’s role in giving youth its chance, but this team is poised for a famous series win and may pull ahead as the leading team in the world – we can say no more at the moment. The mace will stay in Aus – rightly – but Test cricket moves too quickly for rankings to be irrefutable statements of fact.

    • The mace will be at Jolimont with the last three World Cups. That’ll do me for recognition of the nation’s status in the cricketing world.

      • Fair enough – it’s been earned, but the World’s Best Test Team has been clear for most of my adult life, so it would be nice to be able to argue the case for a range of pretenders in the future.

  29. That’s 400 ahead. They are scoring so freely that the score when considering the declaration has become irrelevant. It’s all about time now and how long Punter wants to make South Africa suffer. Mentally they are already beaten and I suppose Australia will just keep batting and batting.

    Bit disappointed that South Africa have essentially thrown in the towel. I expected more but that’s how Australian cricket has dominated for a long time now. By grinding the opposition into the dirt with quick scoring and aggressive bowling. A guaranteed recipe for success.

  30. Smith must be absolutely furious. And Kallis. And…South Africa. They really were ready to ascend to the throne in all the pre series coverage. Smith in particular seemed keen to really grind Aus into the dust.

    • An argument could be made that it is the ultimate choke but that would be grossly unfair both to South Africa and Australia. Although I’ve been emphasising it daily I still think some are still to realise that this is a new beginning and not a continuation of past efforts. The frightening thing for Australia’s opponents is that this team will only get better not worse.

  31. I saw the opposite, toots.. I saw South Africa playing the best darn cricket of anyone outside of AU that I have ever seen. Individually, collectively, they were simply outstanding in every respect. Johan Botha, who isnt playing in the tests was amazing , every game was a simple display of brilliance from South Africa , brilliance they certainly have, and I have no idea why it isnt being displayed right now.

    Cricket.. it’s all in the head.

  32. nesta.. yes… I think that bowling of Mitch and Siddle has buggered them, really. Mentally. North and Katich and of course Ponting’s batting is grinding in spades.. oh..

    I do not think that Ricky will declare.. I will be surprised if he does.

    • l wouldn’t be surprised if he has a crack at them later today if the light holds. Plenty of time to get 5-550 ahead.

    • I doubt that he’ll declare today. Probably overnight or maybe early tomorrow. Should make for an entertaining afternoon session with Ponting and Hughes taking the long handle to allow Hussey another chance to find some form.

      • Yeah you are probably right. He’ll be looking to 550-600. Make it a zero chance game. If we can’t bowl then out in at least 5 sessions then we don’t deserve what would be A VERY FAMOUS AND WONDERFUL series win!

        • Nothing wrong leaving the opposition wondering overnight when and if the declaration is coming. Messing with the mind is a crucial component of Test match cricket.

  33. North’s 10am shadow has matured into a full bore 5 o’clock beard…

  34. Even Roebuck, of all people, is trying to jump on board with Ponting now.

    http://www.theage.com.au/news/sport/cricket/proteas-on-knees-as-a-team-reinvents-itself/2009/03/08/1236447047928.html

  35. Interesting comments from Harris about Ronald. l have been impressed with Harris and his steady contributions to the SA side :

    “I suppose I have to say he’s brilliant because he bowled me. Look, he’s a steady bowler,” South Africa tail-ender Paul Harris said. “He doesn’t seem like he’s much but he does bowl his areas. He bowls nicely and he keeps it tight. With three fast bowlers at the other end that are quite attacking I suppose he’s a perfect foil. Instead of going in with a specialist spinner they’ve gone in with him and they’ve asked him to do a similar role as what Graeme (Smith) asks me to do most of the time. So he has done it really, really well on this trip.”

    • Well, I know I’ve been in a minority but I’ve supported The Ginger Strangler mainly because I knew that his style in combination with the quicks would keep the gameplan simple. A side as talented as this doesn’t need tricks just motivation and Ricky isn’t the most malleable of characters.

      Saying that I want to see McGain play the next test and unfortunately McDonald will have to make way. I also would like to see Geeves in the next one too.

      And just to appear completely confused and deliriously content I’d be happy with keeping the winning team too.

      They are saying that if Hughes reaches the ton he’ll be the youngest ever to score a century in each innings. If I was a gambler I’d put some dough on him scoring a century on debut at Lord’s and also on him accumulating 10000 in his career.

  36. OK Tooting, I’ll stop, I don’t think we’re going to find common ground on this. I’ll give you one thing though, you’re stubborn.
    Almost as stubborn as a West Indian tailend batsman.
    The question now for Ponting is what’s the best way to drive home the psychological advantage? Try for a few SA wickets before the days end, or bury them under a mountain of runs?
    Nice platform for Hussey to play himself back in.
    Surely SA will turn up for the third test? They never gave up in Australia, where have they gone now? Johnson destroyed them in Perth too, but they came back. Maybe Aus is applying pressure better here.

  37. agh!!!

  38. Lovely knock from the skipper. Marching towards 11000.

    And positive tales from ABC radio about him mentoring Mcdonald and North about technique etc things he could probably never do with Hayden, Symonds etc.

  39. Yep. Top stuff Punter. Hughes’ ton will settle the nerves. I hope the young fella gets there.

  40. Shame but 81 is not too shabby.

  41. Now that is something special.

    • Amazing maturity. A new legend is born. Hope Matty Hayden is up watching with his mate Roy. The kid’s got a bit of the Warne self belief about him. The duck in his first innings of Test cricket didn’t bother him one iota. Top score in all three innings since.

  42. The record about being the youngest to score double centuries is all well and good, and yes it has significance, but for me far more important is his role in providing solidity and confidence to a new team facing a hugely difficult challenge. Along with several bowlers and North, Hughes has been fundamental to turning around Australia, and driving it to success.
    Looks like Australia will just quietly do the job from here. The next question is how do they consolidate and move onwards. Johnson has had no problem converting a good debut into great ongoing performance. Need to see the others do it now.

  43. The record is all the more impressive when you consider your points fred. This is a crucial Test in the series that decides the honour and prestige of a No. 1 test nation. I feel privileged to have seen both hundreds.

    Wonder if pepp is still wiping the tears of joy from her eyes?

  44. * Me and Mango are just entranced, Nesta… I knew Hughes would be good, but he is more than that. He is utterly nerveless. I bet Rick strolled off that ground a happy man.

    I wonder what they are eating now that Mattie isnt around to whip up some samoosas and Thai salads, and barramundi fillets??

    • I think they’ve been feasting on slowly roasted springbok pepp!

  45. oh.. poor Hussey.. dear me..

    • Poor old Huss. He’ll come good because if he doesn’t he’ll find himself round at Matty’s place with Roy and Bing eating barra and reminiscing while watching next summer’s action on telly.

      • Given what’s happening here, I think they’ll give him the third test, and otherwise send him back to state cricket to find his form.

        • State season finished today for WA. Huss will play in the ODIs in Dubai and then have a tickle in the IPL before the T20 WC. If he is still in a rut then they’ll have to consider a replacement. Some of the potential candidates are in yesterday’s post.

  46. Boonie will be keeping an eye on Mike. That eagle eye. Merv will be, too.

  47. Steyn looks so pissed off.. dangerous times.

    • The new ball will be interesting if and when they take it. Young Phil just laid into Steyn like he was a rank medium pacer. Beautiful and dominant. He’s batted all day and still looks fresher than Pup.

  48. Steyn wants the new ball and Boucher is refusing. He looks very displeased and has just bowled three slower balls on the trot. No longer are the Proteas are happy united team. Good job Ricky and the Rollers.

    291/3 (85) AU lead by 505

  49. well.. that was good. Steyn gives a mighty bouncer, and I would expect nothing less from Dale. He always plays till stumps.

    • He is taking out his frustration on Hughes but the youngster has his measure. Bit of an insult to a bowler of Steyn’s class to have to bowl with an 87 over ball in the last tilt of the day.

      Hughes batted all day 136*. Legendary stuff that you can tell the grandkids. The New Rollers were awesome. It could be over tomorrow but there is no rush. I expect a declaration before lunch.

  50. Nesta, can anyone display ‘displeased’ as much as Steyn?? he is a master at it..

  51. “No longer are the Proteas are happy united team.”
    Hehehe…its all about confidence, momentum and belief. They had it in spades in Australia, they have lost it in the blink of an eye here. Can’t wait for the third test to see how they come back. Maybe they’ll show spine in their second innings, but I doubt it.

  52. good stuff nesta.. every minute of it.

    LOVED it.

  53. Can SA bat out a bit less than two days? It’s not impossible.

  54. I would have said yes once upon a time, fred.. not so sure, now.

  55. True, they don’t seem capable of big efforts at the moment, and they are a batsman down. Still, I’ll be happy to see the first couple of wickets go down, just to get the ball rolling.
    Preferably in the first over:)

  56. Thanks Pepp, Jap, Fred, Toots and all the readers. I’ll be fed and watered early tomorrow ready for another tilt. Ricky is on telly, grin ear to ear, loves Hughes, reckons he’s a legend in the making, he reckons he NOW has bowlers he can rely on, declaration depends on the weather, if its cloudy he’ll declare straight away if not keep batting for an hour, Even old Kep can’t hide his affection for his BaggyGreen reckons Sth Africa are stuffed. I agree. See ya all tomorrow.

  57. nitey nite to all. thanks for the lurrrve and stuff. . good things, nesta.

  58. I have a desire, provoked by Toots to watch a bit of eng v wi.. oh dearie me..

    • I felt the same and will watch to lunch. Seems they’ve got a bit of momentum and I want a look at Lendl Simmons.

  59. bye all.

  60. Thanks for the company guys and gal.

    An almost perfect day for Aus and one can only admire Hughes’ extraordinary achievement. I missed the last session of the day, so I can’t understand why Harris bowled so many overs.

    Gigantic effort needed from the SA bats tomorrow who will be stung by the criticism the team will cop tonight. I’m sure Aus will have to work for their wickets, but I’m sure they’ll get them. I do hope Duminy has a decent knock.


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