Posted by: nestaquin | June 9, 2009

Australia Achieve Minnow Status

pontingAustralia deserve T20 minnow status after losing consecutive matches in their hapless tilt at the 2009 world title. It would be disrespectful to their opponents to be overly critical of the men in yellow as they were easily beaten by better teams in both matches. Not once were they in a strong position and they were embarrassingly outplayed, outwitted and eventually spanked by the Windies and the Lankans. On current form the SRL – WIN match at Trent Bridge tomorrow promises to be a beauty.

Australia’s attitude appeared positive but unlike their opponents they were bereft of a plan. It seemed that they thought all they needed to do was turn up and the result would go their way. This has been a pattern in Australian limited-overs cricket ever since Tim Neilsen replaced John Buchanan and unfortunately the corporate’s favourite will be in charge for some time to come.

The Windies attacked fearlessly in the first six overs of their innings and by the time the field was allowed from the ring the match was as good as over. Ponting relied on Brett Lee throughout the restricted period and his team paid a heavy price for the faith shown.

There will be many readers who are well aware of my concerns at Lee’s return and the selectors are kidding themselves if they believe that Brett Lee is a more potent, clever or accurate bowler than Peter Siddle.

What little success Australia has had in the last 12 months has been on the back of the hungrier, less experienced players and to choose any player in an ultra-competitive global tournament on sentiment and not performance erodes the confidence of the younger men and ultimately upsets the morale of the entire squad.

The Symonds selection has already proven folly yet I doubt the selectors and coach have learned their lesson in regards to Lee and if they choose him ahead of Siddle, Clark or Hilfenhaus in Cardiff, mark my words, all Australian supporters will come to regret the decision.

In Australia’s second match Sri Lanka used their spinners superbly and the Australian batsman were constantly under pressure and never comfortable. Sangakkara rotated his bowlers and led the chase intelligently and Ponting, if he ever discovers humility, could learn a thing or two from Sri Lanka’s impressive skipper.

Sri Lanka’s spinners were courageous with their flight and although it is normally foolish to compare Test and T20 performances England should take heed of Australia’s inability to counter thoughtful spin bowling.

At the top level cricket is played mostly between the ears and with that in mind Swann and either Panesar or Rashid should be first bowlers picked regardless of conditions for the First Test in less than a month’s time.

Australia’s performance at the World T20 should have the captain, coach and selectors critically analyzing why they failed to be competitive but I’m led to believe that they have instead chosen to pretend that all is well and they were just unlucky. That does not bode well for the rest of the tour and is reminiscent of the mentality the last time they visited the home of our dear old Queen.

[Image: Getty]


  1. Not sure about the last bit regarding the Ashes implications. Very different side, game etc etc. Prefer them to get the red ball in their hand asap personally, although losing is rarely beneficial.

    l think we have never come to terms with 20/20 cricket – our selections evidence enough of that. We just haven’t got our heads round it at all and combined with a general decline(of varying levels depending on whom you ask)……well we just ain’t that good at 20/20.

    In fact not sure l have come to terms with it myself. My distaste for it (and indeed 50 over cricket) grows with every bitter whisker! Go Sri Lanka though, love to see them get up.

    • Perversely, I’d like England to triumph. They’d spend the time between the final and Cardiff riding buses, getting tanked and receiving worthless gongs.

  2. Well, It’s been only 2 games…so it’s unfair to say that they’ve achieved that status…

    in the second para…It sayd that the aussies just had to show up to win but I disagree as they had plans yesterday. The Jayasuria’s wicket speaks for itself.

    But i agree that they are desperate for players. They do have talented batsman (who can’t play spin), and bowlers (No spinners)…..So they experimente to much…..

    But i’m sure they’ll be back in face of the English as usual in the Ashes.

    • Fair or not Australia will be considered unseeded minnows in the next World T20.

      They may have had a plan for a guy they’ve played against for near on two decades but as for an actual game plan for different match situations I never witnessed it. They were depressingly predictable and even then failed to execute their skills under pressure. Except their running between the wickets which was exceptional for the most part.

      Obviously, they’ll be pumped for The Ashes but they are only human like the rest of us and catastrophic failure always produces doubt as the Bard so eloquently expresses, “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt”.

      With that in mind the team need some big wins in the practice matches. I hope they play the First XI in both of them. No player gains confidence carrying the drinks.

  3. Harsh but fair I feel Nesta.

    Few sides would have dealt easily with Mendis yesterday and Kumar knows his stuff when it comes to captaincy. I fancy the Lankans to go all the way.

  4. Same rounds of comments were being shared when the Aussies were unable to win the Champions Trophy for 5 consecutive editions but they did achieve an emphatic win in the subcontinent. I see little bearing of this match on their Ashes preparation but the England will be buoyed to play a dejected Aussie outfit.

  5. Kartikeya Date’s entertaining rants against T20 cricket sometimes go a little far, but I think he’s closer to the mark than a lot of people think.

    If the world’s best T20 country played the world’s eighth-best in a 10-game series, what would be the result? I would guess that typically it’d be about 7-3.

    Luck is a huge factor in T20. It is why England can lose to Holland one day and beat Pakistan the next. Some people are talking up South Africa’s chances in this tournament. Australia played them four times last summer for a 2-2 split.

    That’s not to say that Australia’s tactics and strategy were optimal – they almost certainly weren’t. But losing two games to other reasonable T20 teams is not really important. If it convinces the selectors that Lee shouldn’t be picked for the Ashes, it might even be a net benefit.

    • That seems a reasonable assumption, David. However, in cricket just as in life we do make our own luck. Australia played some dumb cricket in both matches and got the results they deserved.

  6. As you note Nesta one benefit could be that Lee has bowled himself out of the XI. Please….If tomorrow l’d go with the four quicks (MH, Sidds, Clarke and Hilf) unless Hauritz does alot or its a real turner? Or of course Watson – who is immensely talented, incredibly unlucky and must come right some time…….

    If they line up a 3rd tour match (trying now apparently) may well be a blessing of sorts. Red ball and as many overs as possible for mine. Sides never prepare fully for big series these days – see the Poms down here last time.

    • Another match or two would be a great benefit. As for Lee I think the selectors are infatuated with him and what concerns me most – apart from his brainless bowling – is the effect his parachuting into the winning South African squad will have on Siddle, Hilfy and others.

      They were heroic last series and should be rewarded for their efforts by retaining their places for Cardiff. They performed away from home against a quality opponent when the pressure was intense – it was our last chance to keep the Mace – and they did the job.

      I think the spirit among the young squad on that tour was critical in their success and if anyone is dropped it will affect morale and confidence. I do hope they stick with young guys. As I’ve said before, after the terrible year of 2008 it is time to look forward and not back.

      • could not agree more. the spirit of the team is critical and the team that played the SA side was a positive, hungry team.

        • Although l do think S Clark could add something also.

          • Me too Jap. If someone has to miss out I think it could only be McDonald. Johnson can bat at eight.

  7. Lining up another tour match would definitely be a benefit in Ashes terms. This episode is fairly shameful, but they didn’t lose to the Dutch.

    If the Aussies do disregard it without pretending it was just luck, then we will see that England have troubles of their own. Which team will work to correct their problems?

  8. KP played the other day Toots and very well it seemed. Is he test match fit though? l thought l read reports saying he was playing with painkillers for his back but really needs 2 months off?

  9. Japa – I was there and KP played very well. He looked about as fit as Steve Waugh did for many of his hundreds and Gordon Greenidge for the occasional double. He’ll be okay for The Ashes.

    Dave – a couple of biggish performances can win a T20, so this tournament cannot measure the best in the world. But we can still draw some conclusions about form, ticker, clarity of thought under pressure and, most of all, fielding – the best measure of morale of a cricket team.

    • Thanks Toots. KP actually is that good too…Prefer to win it with him in too. Looking to Siddle cut back in on him and lift his off bail

  10. I’m as baffled by Punter’s captaincy as he is by Australia’s failure. When he threw the ball to Brett Lee for that 3rd consecutive over I threw my own hands in the air in exasperation. And so Crystal went to town on that over.

    It’s interesting the theory re Neilsen. Midn you Buchanan’s failure with KKR doesn’t put him in the greatest light re T20 tactics.

    I don’t think I buy the Symonds excuse they’ve been spinning. The one that Ponting said wasn’t an excuse even though it sounded remarkably like an excuse. If we had succeeded than no doubt the exit of Symonds would have ‘galvanised’ the team, just like the exit of Warne did at that ODI World Cup.

    Poor old Bing should probably start focussing on a T20 career. But let’s see how he goes in the warm up games.

    • I don’t think Neilsen is up to the job and it is his poor relationship with Symonds and the clique that he has formed with Clarke and the New South Welshmen that was a factor in Roy’s expulsion.

      It is interesting to note that John Dyson and Trevor Bayliss were the coaches of Australia’s opponents and they tactically wiped the floor with Nielsen. Unfortunately, we’re stuck with him for years as he ticks all the corporate boxes and has a new contract. Too bad one of the boxes isn’t success – as in trophies – for Nielsen has touched very few of them throughout his playing and coaching career.

      As for Lee bowling throughout the entire powerplay, Ponting is old-school and has a record of sulking when selections are forced on him and then making his point to the detriment of the team on the field. Perhaps he didn’t want Lee in the team but was over-ruled. He then threw Lee the ball basically saying, “Prove me wrong”. It wouldn’t be the first time and unfortunately I doubt it will be the last.

  11. I think people are being a bit unfair on Lee here. His pace has come back, and he just needs the a few good spells with the red ball.

    Australia were in the group of death, and its Captain messed up the tactics on the ground.It was Gayle who did them in the first match, and Mendis in the 2nd.For batsmen playing Mendis for the first time, it does become difficult to figure out which way it spins or doesn’t.Only David Hussey seemed to be able to read Mendis, and it is no he played Mendis in the KKR nets during IPL.

    Let the team management decide on the XI for the first test based on how the quicks perform in the practice matches and in the nets.

    I think a lineup with Johnson, Lee, Siddle/Hilf, Clarke (is he fit?), supported by Watson should do. As for spin, I doubt if Hauritz will be successful at all. I am surprised why Jason Krecza couldn’t make it to the squad. He has the right temperament for Test cricket.

    • Siddle is second picked for mine and must play. Yeah would be very pleasantly surprised for Hauritz to have a decent tour…Not sure the loose Krezja is the answer either though. Not sure there is one at the moment. Play the quicks – hopefully Katich is getting fitter and can bowl a bit. Is genuinely dangerous.

      • Japal,

        Kreza is a wicket taking bowler.He almost singlehandedly brought Aus back into the series against India (2008).Punter messed up the over rate and…

        But yes, Katich can bowl a bit and more.Some how, he has been under utilised till now.

        Overall, the English seem to have the edge right now against Aus when it comes to Spin.Will that be a deciding factor? Aus would look to Pup and Katich to blunt the Swanns and Montys, I suppose.

        • No l agree on the wicket-taking l just think he bleeds runs. Perth did it in for him – he was told to tie it down and couldn’t. And his subsequent shield form was average. It is a distinct advantage to the Poms no doubt. Swann for his competitive nature more than Monty l think. They still need to bowl well to capitalise on the balance advantage.

  12. Australia id the weakest team this time….Because their spirit were not included in to the team by the selection committee. Australia would never win without Andrew simonds, shane warne, mcgrath, gilcrist….. and others that has more experience.

  13. Because of their similar styles and keeping in mind the balance of the attack the choice is either Lee or Siddle and I think you’ll find Kumar that most Australian supporters that witnessed Siddle against South Africa are much keener on his selection than Lee’s.

    Pace isn’t enough. Quicks need to move the ball either in the air or off the pitch and they have to be able to bowl consistently in back-to-back Test matches. Through injury Lee lost his place to Siddle and he needs to earn it back through performance in next year’s Shield.

    Additionally, Lee has failed before in England and the English like him because he is a good sport and a gracious loser. They just don’t have any fear of his talent, potential or pace.

    Siddle, on the other hand, is an aggressive mongrel who hates opposition batsman with a disturbing passion and there is no doubt that he’ll get under English skins and worry them just like his mentor Mervyn Hughes. The guy is fearless, bowls his last ball as quick as his first and is a team man through and through.

    After Johnson he should be the next bowler picked and his opening spell against Strauss and Cook will be worth the price of admission alone.

    There’ll be plenty of short stuff and sledging and it will be undoubtedly nasty and exciting. It’s not a T20 carnival, it’s The Ashes, the oldest, most fierce contest in the cricket world and Siddle has the intensity required to write his own chapter in it’s annals.

    Unfortunately, Lee is yesterday’s man and in the decades to come he will only be remembered in Ashes history as the poor sod who was consoled by Flintoff after Edgbaston 2005.

    I’m sure the English will whinge non-stop when Siddle lines up Anderson for some around the wicket chin music too. They are going to hate him just as they hated Warne in 1993. If Australia are to win the mental battle early on in the series he must play instead of Lee.

  14. Not sure we hated Warne in 1993, maybe the stump dancing thing, but I think that was 2001. Never hated Merv either, nor McGrath.

    It’s mainly Punter, partly because he is captain, but mainly because it seems to get at him.

    Jimmy is okay with the short stuff – he’s been hit a few times, but gets into line next ball. Monty is a different matter, but only Onions will be a bunny if picked.

    • Obviously hate was a poor choice of word. The point is the English do not fear Lee but they will Siddle if he is given the opportunity.

      I’m sure all the English players will be courageous but there is little doubt in my mind that when Siddle does rattle a few tailend helmets that the press will wail.

      I’m certain the T20 embarrassment has also rattled a few Australian egos and that has increased the importance – if that is possible – of The Ashes contest.

      • We might see a little hate come July! England fans will hiss and boo a bit, but it’s panto stuff. Warne will be commentating and there’ll be hundreds trying to get an autograph or shake his hand. I hope McGrath is here too, as he will get a great reception (and would have even without his tragedy).

        We might fear Siddle, but he’s unlikely to get as much life out of any of our pitches until the fifth Test at The Oval. Lord’s will break even his heart. It’ll be a good test, he’ll have to bowl a fuller length and cut or seam the ball. He’ll get some banter at Third Man, mainly because he’s so perfect a caricature of the roughhouse from the Bush.

        Most of the British Press and all of the TV commentators are ex-players and few of them will be concerned by bouncing helmeted tail-enders – that always exercised the toff writers more than the Northern League correspondents and ex-players.

        Posters all over London for Sky’s Ashes coverage the majority showing blurry outlines of players, but the crowd in full focus.


    Please don’t play Lee!

    • Looks as though they’ll learn their lessons the hard way Jap. A rather depressing read in the circumstances!

      • A very depressing read. I don’t get it. What do they expect Lee to do in/against England that he hasn’t been able to do before?

    • CA have an investment in the duds due to their being the face of Aus cricket in TV advertising.

  16. Australia were in the toughest group thats the only margin they get.

    I think CA has come at par with PCB in making selectorial blunders. I agree with you on Lee and Symonds.

    Something needs to be fixed at CA.

  17. If Lee had a half-decent record in England, I wouldn’t mind him coming in and nicking Johnson’s first over at Cardiff, but he hasn’t, his Ashes record is ordinary in the extreme and I am deeply bummed that Hilfy and Siddle appear to be heading towards carrying the drinks after the ‘all for one/one for all’ unit they formed with Johnson in SA.

    I can cope with Clark back in, he may at least close down runs.

  18. I’m not sure Siddle will carry the drinks, but he needs to be there. He is at least as important as Johnson. Mitch can and will run through England, but he is frightfully inconsistent. Australia needs Siddle to provide the heavy lifting to keep Australia in the game until that moment comes. Clark can, perhaps, do that too, but I’ve nothing but respect for Siddle and his record is very good.

    Lee, I’ve never been a fan of. Steve Waugh took him down that wrong path I fear, trying to turn him into the bullish aggressive Patrick Patterson type that scared him in his youth. And succeeded I guess, without the aggression, in that both Patrick and Brett averaged 30 and leaked too many runs.

    • I once had the misfortune of playing against Patrick Patterson. It was a typically cold Hobart afternoon and he was mostly disinterested, wore two sweaters and was only off about ten paces. Even so it was the quickest spell I’ve ever faced and not surprisingly there wasn’t a half volley to be seen. It was one of the few innings of my life where I wasn’t disappointed to be out.

      I remember having a beer with some of his team-mates after the match and they remarked that you knew you weren’t in the captain’s good books if he sent you into Patrick’s net at training. Sensibly, when he bothered to turn up there weren’t too many batsman padding up for hit.

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