Posted by: nestaquin | March 19, 2009

Brett Lee’s Publicist, Whingeing Poms & Bon Voyage

surfers-paradiseMotivation is a mysterious attribute. Rarely does inspiration interrupt and I must admit that after Australia’s glorious win in Durban I’ve been busy with other aspects of my life while attempting to overcome the weariness and elation of back to back Test matches in a very unfamiliar time zone.

Tonight Australia and South Africa continue their battle albeit in a deadish rubber and I will be unable to report on the match as I am preparing to holiday in Queensland until Easter.

However, a few things have piqued my curiosity recently.

Brett Lee’s publicist has been working hard releasing photographs of his client in the gym and begging every news agency in the country to interview the veteran fast bowler in a desperate attempt to have him selected for The Ashes.

With Johnson, Siddle and Hilfenhaus’ selection in the First XI guaranteed that only leaves a possible fourth bowler’s position left open for Lee but the selectors have sensibly indicated that Stu Clark or Bryce McGain are the favourites for that spot.

The attack is well balanced with three differing quicks and Clark with his height and unerring accuracy would add another dimension. Unfortunately for Lee he is a similar bowler to Siddle and on current form and fitness only an idiot would swap Lee for the aggressive Victorian woodchopper.  Lee may find himself on tour but only injury will prevent him from spending most of it carrying the drinks and bowling exclusively in the nets.

Another story that is reaching its zenith is the ECB’s new found distaste for Australians playing County cricket. While understandable from a xenophobic perspective, to actively discriminate against Australian citizens alone would contravene several United Nations and European Union statutes. If the ECB eventually ban Australians from playing during Ashes years then the same would have to apply for every other nation whenever they are scheduled to tour the UK. For cricket’s sake, a Pandora’s Box better left unopened.

To suggest that English cricketers are not extended the same courtesy when they tour is not entirely truthful as several members of the English squad played Grade cricket to prepare for the 2006/07 Ashes including the captain Andrew Flintoff who played two matches for Mosman before the First Test. They were invited to play so they could be at their best for the series and for no other reason other than to extend the hand of friendship.

All the moaning from Lord’s only illustrates the fear and confusion residing in English cricket who are yet to fully realize that they are a rabble on par with minnows like Bangladesh. As they lurch from one avoidable crisis to the next it would appear that the ECB would rather blame anyone and anything for their ineptitude instead of assessing just what has caused the spectacular and continuing demise of English cricket since 2005.  Perhaps after another predictable flogging by their oldest foes this northern summer an honest transparent assessment will take place but if current history is any indication I wouldn’t count on it.

I was surprised and delighted at hearing of Daniel Vettori’s fighting century on the first afternoon at Hamilton. Surprised because the New Zealand skipper rarely passes 20 against Australia (18 was his highest score on the most recent tour) and delighted as Vettori is an iconic gentleman of the game and is deserving of success. It will be a tough series for the Black Caps but with Vettori leading from the front perhaps they might snare a miraculous victory before it is over.

I’ll be mostly absent for the next three weeks but I may find time and a connection to post or add a comment below an article by Toots or Rajesh. Until then folks be well and I should be back on board for Australia’s ODI series in Dubai and the much anticipated second season of the IPL.

Stay Human.



  1. I’ve never had anything but praise for the counties offering Hughes and now Clark employment – but you have said in the past Nesta, that no Aussie State would put a foreign player ahead of an Aussie? (I may have got the wording awry, but that’s the impression I recall).

    England aren’t quite as poor as you suggest – although the administrators are!

    • Australian domestic cricket is undoubtedly seen as a nursery for the BaggyGreen, however, there is nothing preventing other nationalities from competing.

      This year Younis Khan, Brendan McCullum and Umar Gul appeared for State teams and in the past legends like Sir Garfield Sobers, Barry Richards, Michael Holding, Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Ian Botham, Andy Roberts and Imran Khan to name just a few have competed.

      In recent years Zimbabwean exiles Murray Goodwin and Andy Flower played with distinction and many others from around the world have come to play Grade cricket yet haven’t been selected for State honours, mostly because they lacked the high standard required.

      For example, in 1983/84, my first year of Grade cricket, I played with Mike Gatting and he was very much available for higher honours. It wasn’t his passport that prevented selection for NSW but his poor fitness, abysmal fielding and lack of centuries!

      So although Australian cricket’s needs are obviously considered, if the player is good enough to hold a place and contribute to the development and success of the team they’ll get a run ahead of a local.

      In the context of the ECB’s complaints, banning Australians and no-one else is clearly discriminatory and I’m sure if KP, Broad or Strauss want to play the early season matches in Australia in 2011 they would be welcome. As for the rest of England’s contracted players they’d have to improve a whole lot to even be considered.

      • I would have very few restrictions on overseas players – if the Brits are good enough, they’d get selected. There’s 18 counties!!

  2. Forgot to add – have a good trip Nesta!

    • That’s the idea Toots!

  3. Punter gone for a duck! All to play for – except the series, I suppose.

  4. The Ranji trophy not being a marquee tournament, this point is moot in India. But I’m pretty sure which way the BCCI would go if they were ever confronted with such a conundrum – they’d go the protectionist way. You could almost set your conscience compass by the BCCI – take whatever they do, and the exact opposite would be the right option.

    have a good trip Nesta.

  5. I am surprised at ECB’s decision; wonder who’s advising them :)

    But, irrespective of Australia’s form and focus, England does have a few players who can fight back (in home conditions), and I expect it to be a close series.


    Not sure why you say that BCCI won’t allow foreign players a stint in domestic Indian cricket.

    The BCCI acts the way it does only when it comes to money matters. In matters of cricket, I have never seen them consider the interests of any set of players, Indian or foreign.

    If a few international players want to play in India, and Neo Cricket/SET Max are willing to telecast and share the revenues with BCCI, I am sure Mr.Modi will find a way :)

    Brett Lee – If he regains fitness, I still think he should open the bowling.Siddle has been very good, and may be Lee should just be patient and bide his time.He will definitely get a chance to play if he gets picked for Ashes, and I hope he makes it count.

    Enjoy the break, Nesta.

    • Thanks Kumar, leaving very soon.

      As for the BCCI, the IPL shows that they see the benefits of international players. In my opinion I think the IPL should lift the restrictions on foreigners and allow it to become a true international T20 competition. The locals will still get to play because of the economics and the relative small pool of internationals on offer. Perhaps some day in the future that will happen.

  6. I honestly dont feel Australia will even need a fit Lee to retain the Ashes.

    I ran across a few stats on Lee in England and they are not that flash to begin with.

    Siddle, Hilfenhouse and Johnson have a lovely complementing way about them and adding Stu Clarke would be the icing on the proverbial cake.

    As to the English not allowing the Aussies county stints, as you say its can of worms best left unopen.

    Enjoy the good times then Nesta! See you soon!

  7. Agree with you on IPL, Nesta. I am sure they will increase the no. of foreigners in playing XIs to 6 next year.

    Happy to see McGain playing for Aus finally.I salute his grit and passion for the game.

  8. Great to see Mcgain play. 36 years old and has spent 20 years working in a bank. Good luck to him, will treasure his baggy green – fine achievement.

    Lee is bowling at 40 or 45 in England l think? l only see him playing if there are injuries/things go pearshaped and we need an experienced in.

    lf the nominal 15 and no injuries l would currently take :

    Bowlers –
    (Hilf or Mcgain to play depending on pitch)

    Keeper –

    Batsmen –
    Clarke (should bat 4)
    Watson (and hoping he is fit to bowl)

  9. Awfully tough start for McGain – gone for 44 in his 6th over…

    Hindsight would surely see Prince playing from the first test….

  10. The 3rd test may be a dead rubber in terms of this series here in RSA, but I am looking at the bigger picture.

    After this series, we all will compare SA’s win in AUS and AUS’s in SA. This is extremely difficult to judge but combining the test series will leave us with a good indicator too. Currently its 3-2 to AUS, and if South Africa manage to win this 3rd test, they can gain loads of credibility to even it up, 3-3.

    No use talking about it being a dead rubber and the match having no significance. I bet AUS will say that they stepped off the gas (as is their habit) after securing a series, but this game has much significance in terms of world ratings so I think that excuses for a poor performance are not justified.

    • I suggest that inexperience brings inconsistency and that’s what we’re seeing from Aus. Whilst saluting Aus for delivering when they had to, this team is still a work in progress, especially up against pros like Prince and Kallis.

  11. Well, today went well didn’t it?
    Of course a young team is going to be inconsistent (and you can’t get younger than being a debutant). The key however is how the youngsters carry themselves. Johnson, Siddle, Hilf and Hughes have impressed beyond all expectation. Haddin and North have done very well. McDonald OK. McGain, well, yes. Overall, thats a very impressive injection of youth over the last 12 months, I can’t think of any team that has brought in so many new players and had them step up so quickly. England is still waiting for Bell and Monty to fulfill their potential, after dozens of games. SA is excited that Duminy has fitted in, surrounded by old hands.
    This team will get knocked around a bit more from time to time, but some very solid foundations are being laid.
    Much as I empathise for McGain and for Australia, it was impressive the way SA made their statement about the spinner. Aus keep trying to show their contempt for Harris, and keep being dismissed by him. Unless he has more success in less demanding conditions (today was a harsh test) then the search goes on. I thought Krezja was dropped prematurely.

    • Fred I agree with that, but that’s the recipe for a close Ashes series, which I seem to be alone in expecting.

      • Well if Aus is having a “getting knocked around” day and Eng plays out of their boots, then it may be close. But England hasn’t played out of their boots much since 2005, so I wouldn’t hold my breath.
        England seems to keep running through new hopes, rarely finding one that clicks. This time it’s Oawis, who apparently has cramping and temperament problems.
        Too much was running in Eng favour in 2005 to believe it could be repeated in the forseeable future. This Aus side is not a world beater yet, but it’s formidable.

  12. Inconsistency from young players magnified by a dead rubber. And Prince was excellent and really set the tone. l thought Hilf and Siddle bowled very well in that first session of day 2 and whilst being a but unlucky were also seen off by Prince.

    Not great to go down here (far from over) but it is a dead rubber and we have already sown the series up. Not bad to get a kick up the bum as the hyperbole was starting to build a bit too quickly for my liking. Overall the Aus side is building with significant promise. We’ll take our mace home very happily after a tremendous series win! SA must be absolutely furious at blowing this series, the chance to cement themselves at the top and no test matches until November.

    As for the Ashes l would agree on predicting a close-ish series but still a long way off and wait and see.

  13. 9 for 641 on day 3. De Villiers has played beautifully and perhaps stepping up a level this summer to work his way to becoming a truly elite player.

    Mcdonald and McGain may have bowled their way off the plane to England. Bailey? Cullen? Katich actually looks as though he is the best spinner in Aus. If Clark returns well it looks like 4 seamers. Siddle has been tireless.

  14. The Aussies should go with four or even five seamers. They have plenty of batting and I never have understood why this side have been so desperate for a spinner. The only problem they have going with four seamers is that the attack gets tired, leading Ponting to run Mitchell Johnson into the ground, but if North and Katich are given some part-time duty they should do very well.
    To be honest it doesn’t matter who they pick, they are way too good for a mediocre England side, even away, and always have been. A couple of series against the two best teams in the world that went against them (but could have gone the other way) made everyone think Aussie cricket was on its way down, but luck has turned back their way and now we are seeing their true class.
    Check out my (slightly old) analysis on this:

    • I like your confidence, but I feel it’s misplaced. Punter showed complete cluelessness in hammering his bowlers physically and mentally in pursuit of what exactly? Why wasn’t Katich bowling 50 overs earlier? Take it from someone who knows (ie an England fan), you only concede that many runs if the bowlers have no plans or can’t bowl to them. For all Johnson’s talent, Hilfenhaus’ potential and Siddle’s aggression, a captain without imagination or a spin option is not a good sign for Aus.

      • Ponting didn’t hammer them, he just asked them to bowl. It’s what they do. Especially after a two week break. Siddle was fine.
        In pursuit of what? Well, wickets obviously. I don’t know what you mean by that question.
        I’m not sure if today was bad bowling or just irresistable batting. Four consecutive 6’s suggests the latter. Extraordinary.
        Ponting managed his bowlers fine, except for the spin option. Kat probably should have had a chance, but I must say, I admire his strength of conviction to keep going with McGain. I would have folded much earlier. I think he has conclusively tested McGain’s potential, and no better place to do it than in a dead rubber.
        Ponting’s coming along fine as captain, but we are clearly spinless. I don’t agree Ron that we can make do with fast bowlers, no matter how good they are. I suspect the part timers will make do until the next spinner is found.

        • Just a minor quibble Toots, Katich has not been bowled on many occasions because of ongoing back/shoulder complaints. He rarely bowls in the nets for the same reasons – there has been quite a bit of discussion about this in the Aus press.

          So not quite lack of imagination from Punter – it is an ongoing calculated risk to bowl him and threaten his batting. Katich has repeatedly indicated his reluctance to bowl on these grounds but circumstances seem to be conspiring against him! Not dissimilar to Michael Clarke.

          Which is a shame as l think Katich has something quite genuine to offer. l am sure he will come under pressure from Skipper/Selectors to see if he can be fit enough to bowl come the Ashes.

          • I’m sure Katich has something to offer!

            I didn’t know that about Katich, so thanks for letting me know. Begs the question why Punter risked him when the score was over 600? Why not at 400? If he was fit to bowl five overs, it should have been then.

            • Probably desperation changes the perceived risk!

              With his recent positive efforts l think he will now definitely come into planning about when can we get 3-5 overs out of Katich.

              • I felt Michael Bevan was always under bowled and that Mark Waugh’s off breaks should have been seen more often, so maybe it’s in the Aus DNA. Michael Vaughan should have bowled more too.

        • I felt with the lead at 300+ and the young bowlers plainly tired after being flogged that it was time to protect them a little – it’s not as if a win was likely. I’d have tried to buy a few wickets. Maybe that’s not the way, but the next time SA face those bowlers, they’ll have a big psychological edge.

          • Maybe but l doubt it really matters in terms of Sids, Hilf and MJ. Next time they meet (having already brilliantly won this series as well) will be to far down the track for these young bowlers to render it of any import (pyjama cricket aside).

            As for the other two sure and l don;t think they will be seeing Mcdonald or McGain again….

  15. After a summer of tests I reckon there’s 2 bowling spots up for grabs in the Australian 11. These are my certainties


    The next 2 positions could be taken up by Hilfenhaus, Clark, Krejza, Lee, McDonald and any number of others. But no-one’s even penciled in for mine. There must be some uncertainty over Clarke’s fitness as well and maybe someone like Ferguson or Rogers or Hodge would slot in there.

    • Agree on that but if fit l would automatically add Stuart Clark.

      Then who takes the last slot? Hilf probably the next best bowler but that means four seamers. Watson? Despite lengthening the batting why weaken the bowling further – we need 20 wickets. prefer Hilf. Bailey or Hauritz or Krezja? Hmmmm. Mcgain has failed – Bailey probably the best of them and 2-3 years ago was definitely earmarked before it went astray. Hauritz can keep it tight in a Giles role but we need 20 wickets and the remaining three need more support. Watson at 6 and Hauritz in? No l think we need that top 6 settled with North. Krezja is a wicket taker but bleeds runs. Looks like 4 seamers with Bailey if its a ripping turner?

      Lee is only in if one of the seamers breaks down/bowls poorly for mine. Watson a floating back up but Ferguson next bat in.

      • I’d fear Krezja the most – sure he leaks runs, but the Aus fielding is so good that they should be able to cover a fair bit of the boundary and he does take wickets. There will be times when the ball is soft and the pitch flat so Siddle and Hilfenhaus will have to bowl longish spells to very tight lines and disciplined lengths. from over 30 to 70 Krezja going at one end to get 20 – 2 – 80 – 3 while Hilf and Siddle share 20 – 6 – 48 – 0 would be a handy result for Aus.

  16. Well played Mitchell Johnson. What a talent he is!

    • We should all listen to Dennis Lillee more.

      If he can get his average up to, say 40, he’d have to be called an all-rounder!

  17. What a fantastic run of six test matchs. Great entertainment, and both teams growing tremendously.
    A legend is born in Johnson.

  18. Brilliant 6 test matches. Both sides would have their arguments but 3 – 3 about right. Both fantastic away wins but he who laughs last?!

  19. Long live the clone of Alan Davidson

    Details at the website

  20. I love how you guys cry Lee down. Must be pretty disappointing for you detractors now that Lee walked into the squad for the Pak series. He’ll walk into the Ashes squad in much the same way, with Ben “brilliant with returns of 7 @ 52” Hilfenhaus getting the boot. Nuff said.

  21. Sam – as an Englishman, I hope so. Lee always blew hot and cold and will have to be at a level of fitness (more accurately readiness) for five Tests that few fast bowlers of his age have sustained. If he does do it, I’ll be at the front of the queue to praise him.

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