Posted by: nestaquin | December 22, 2009

Frank Worrell Trophy 2009: Australian Review

Simon KATICH: 302 runs @ 60.40

His first innings contributions of 92, 80 and 99 have been mostly ignored by the media in their series reviews yet he was Australia’s most dependable batsman and top run scorer. Considering the media’s fetish, both mainstream and independent, with conflict, controversy and personality over cricketing substance it is hardly surprising that Katich’s unflinching and quiet determination has been largely forgotten. Without the New South Wales captain anchoring the top order Australia’s fate in this series may well have been different.

Shane WATSON: 263 runs @ 52.60, 8 wickets @ 26.37

Produced a very good series with bat and ball but his immaturity let him and his team down on occasion. When, and if, he ever matures from boy to man he could be among the elite of the sport. His reckless stroke to the second ball on Day Two in Adelaide cost him a debut century and his petulant celebration after dismissing Gayle in Perth cost him the respect of many Australian supporters.

Ricky PONTING: 136 runs @ 34.00

A troubling series from a batting perspective for the Australian skipper as his form continues to decline rapidly. He still produces bursts of bold, jaw-dropping strokeplay yet is finding it difficult to sustain in the Test arena. He obstinately refuses to acknowledge that he needs to be more circumspect in stroke selection and like his predecessor Steve Waugh tailor his game to his diminishing reflexes and eyesight. He probably should drop down the order and allow a younger man to take on the important task of first drop but I fear that his ego and overbearing sense of responsibility will never allow it.

Michael HUSSEY: 235 runs @ 47.00, 1 wicket @ 3.00

Got starts in every innings but couldn’t convert any of them into a century. Still, he did a serviceable job in the middle order and put a high price on his wicket. His fielding in the gully was outstanding and although he’ll never reach the dizzying heights of a few seasons back his experience and influence will be very important to the team going forward.

Michael CLARKE: 209 runs @ 52.25

Very solid series from Australia’s captain-in-waiting with his best innings on the last day in Adelaide where he survived the entire final session to prevent the West Indies from securing an unlikely victory. With Ponting injured in the second innings at Perth he assumed the number three position but he batted too negatively and was eventually out when suckered into a wide one from Bravo.

Marcus NORTH: 166 runs @ 33.20, 0 wickets for 62

Batted well in Brisbane, failed in Adelaide and did both in Perth. He seems to do well when those above him do but fails when most needed which has led to the recent disturbing middle-order collapses. It will never happen but I’d like to see him and Ponting swap positions in the batting order.

Brad HADDIN: 225 runs @ 75.00, 14 catches

Returning from injury the ‘keeper had an excellent series with the bat, scoring quickly when needed and digging in when the team was in trouble. His glovework was uninspiring but mostly clean and his judgement on advising Ponting of when to use the referral system was sound. Got involved in a running and recurring series long slanging match with Sulieman Benn that turned ugly in the final Test and would be pleased with his work as Benn allowed Haddin’s niggles and sledges to distract him from the task at hand leading to the big Barbadian losing his line, his wicket and his livelihood for a week.

Mitchell JOHNSON: 52 runs @ 13.50, 17 wickets @ 28.05

Apart from having a dash when Australia were looking to declare in Perth did very little with the willow. His bowling, however, was a different story. Although expensive he was the top wicket taker in the series by a distance. He took important scalps in every innings and not one of the opposition batsman looked completely comfortable when facing him. He now has 57 wickets in 2009, a dozen more than his closest rival, and despite his occasional horror spell Australia would be a much poorer cricket side without his contributions.

Nathan HAURITZ: 80 runs @ 40.00, 11 wickets @ 33.00

Had a great match in Brisbane scoring a half century and getting five wickets. He will rarely, if ever, bowl Australia to victory on the final day of a Test but if his job is to keep it tight and assist the team to get through 90 overs in a day then he is doing his job and doing it well. Saying that, Australia need a wrist-spinner if they are to halt their descent down the rankings.

Peter SIDDLE: 20 runs @ 20.00, 3 wickets @ 70.66

Perhaps it was his hamstring niggle or maybe a culmination of a long and tough initial year in international cricket but the popular Victorian had a series best forgotten.

Doug BOLLINGER: 2 runs @ 2.00, 13 wickets @ 19.84

Replaced an injured Hilfenhaus for the final two Tests and enhanced his reputation with several aggressive accurate spells and his first five wicket haul in Test cricket. If he continues to bowl as he did in Perth he will be hard to leave out of the First XI when Siddle and Hilfenhaus return to full fitness.

Ben HILFENHAUS: 5 wickets @ 14.00

Tore through the Windies top-order in a man-of-the-match cameo in Brisbane before finally succumbing to chronic tendonitis of the knee. His ability to trouble quality top-order batsmen makes him an automatic choice when fit but that may be some time off as his only hope for full recovery is predominately palliative.

Clint McKAY: 10 runs @ 10.00, 1 wicket @ 101.00

Siddle’s replacement for the Third Test bowled admirably on debut for little reward. I expect he’ll be a key player in limited-overs cricket in the years ahead but he still has a way to go before becoming a fixture in the BaggyGreen.


Overall, Australia played reasonably well against a motivated and steadily improving West Indies team. However, problems remain and there are no easily identifiable solutions.

Age is rapidly diminishing Australia’s ace Ricky Ponting and the middle-order is prone to collapse when the bowling is on song.

In the field, their inexperienced first choice opening bowlers are injured and no match-winning spinner is on the horizon.

On the bright side the opening combination is producing, Bollinger is fast and furious, Haddin punchy and provocative, Clarke cool and collected and Johnson evocative and dangerous. An eclectic foundation to build on but a base nonetheless.

Their next opponents, Pakistan, fresh from a tough series in New Zealand, will be a stern examination even though they have never won a series in Australia. Usually, the BaggyGreens would brush them aside on Australian soil without too much fuss but as South Africa and the West Indies have shown this year, Australia are vulnerable and no longer the indomitable force they once were at home.

If time permits a West Indian Review will follow.

Image [Getty]



  1. I saw a little of the cricket, so it’s great to have this considered review. Punter’s form has declined rapidly, because he was imperious towards the end of the England Tour, but that can happen at his age – it finished Vaughan for good.

  2. Ricky can still produce an amazing session but he looked very ordinary against the sheer pace of Roach.

    In ODIs where he can play his shots with impunity he is still great value but his dismissals in this series were very disappointing for a player of his experience and class.

  3. l think the Great Punter will bounce back a little from this series but the trend is, of course, downwards. Could not agree more on wishing he had the courage and freedom to drop down to 5 (for mine) and even hand over the (C). Would be an act of genuine class. l think the burden of gun first drop and being Skipper in its responsibility, focus, concentration, and indeed opprobrium, is still more onerous than his eyes and hands.

    Most worrying is that trend in nearly every test for an abominable session or innings that can cost Aus the match.

    Hilf a real worry. Was set for a very successful Summer l think, having learnt quite a bit at Test level.

    There is some super talent 2-4 years away l think, but no one pressing incredibly hard right now demanding a berth. Hughes will be back asap though.

  4. I watched Hilfy bowl in the Bellerive nets on Sunday and the disappointment was writ large all over his face after spending ten minutes stretching and warming up only to bowl a few warm-up balls and then chuck in the towel.

    I doubt he’ll play again this summer. I presume he’ll have a prolonged rest and try to get fit for the winter in England against Pakistan.

    What is even more troubling is that he has been resting since The Ashes with a couple of games to test his knee and each time he has pulled up lame.

    It is a tragic tale of a good bloke on the precipice of a sterling career having it snatched away from him through no fault on his part. I hope he comes good eventually but I fear it may be a long and winding road back.

  5. Nesta,

    If Ricky fails with the bat against Pakistan, will there be demands to drop him down the order and/or divest him of captaincy?

    Also, your choice of Marcus North for the pivotal No.3 position surprised me. You don’t think Clarke is ready for it? Or Mike Hussey can not do it?

    Australia may have won the series 2-0, but I doubt if they have come out with any positives from the series. Doug Bollinger, yes, but that wasn’t unexpected.

    Hope you do a WI review.I am very impressed by Adrian Barath, Benn and Roach. They are slowly forming the nucleus of a top test team.

    • l think Watson, despite his idiocy, had a very good series as well. He could become a cricketer of some significance.

      • I like his batting a lot – he needs more tricks on flat wickets with his bowling which isn’t as good as Mark Waugh’s in my opinion. Could improve though.

        Bit of a dickhead though.

        • Just a bit? l thought Punter spoke quite strongly/well after the Third Test regarding his disappointments in the teams behaviour. But now Watson has come out with some pitiful ‘Gayle started it’ line….

          • He comes across as a hysterical wally. He was like this during the 2007 World Cup. Punter should give him a clip around the ears.

            • Has noone else watched the replay of Watson’s histrionics? Ponting is a damned hypocrit who did exactly the same thing.

  6. I was dithering about a Windies review Kumar but since you’ve asked I’ll do it this evening.

    Ricky can basically do whatever he wants regardless of his form or what the press and public think. He has more power and influence than many realise and only Bradman, and possibly Border, have had more clout in Australian cricket history.

    I like North at 3, short-term, because I think his technique and temperament would be very suitable as a bridge between the top and middle order.

    As for positives, in these darkening days in Australian Test cricket every win is appreciated although I do agree that there was very little in this series that points to a turnaround anytime soon.

  7. If Hilfy becomes an Aussie Simon Jones, that’ll be a cricketing tragedy. How about Hughes at first drop in the long run?

  8. At the moment I think Michael Klinger would be the best fit for the number 3 position if Ricky is unavailable now or in the future.

    Although, I rate Hughes I was disappointed that he was selected as Ponting’s likely replacement for the Boxing Day Test.

    Watson and Katich are doing the job very well against the new ball and they either split a successful combination or play Hughes in an unfamiliar position under undue pressure.

    Personally, I think Ponting will be right and Hughes’ selection is a way of assuring the lad that he isn’t forgotten.

  9. You are right about Punter. He needs to do what Sachin did and tone himself down or this form slide is going to continue.

    By the way, Hussey is no better than North at stopping the rot, he never has been.

    North should be coming in at 3. Sounds strange but he bats at 3 for WA and Punter just shouldn’t be there for now. He is losing his wicket in really stupid ways continually. And either North succeeds or he doesn’t and we move on.

    What to say about MJ? Bowled so awfully at times, he could barely bowl 2 balls an over in the corridor, and yet kept picking up wickets regularly as he does. He is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. It must be his speed and the fact that no-one knows what is coming that makes him successful. Tough on a captain and the other bowlers though to have a player who lets off the pressure continually.

    Bolly did himself all sorts of favours in this series even if he is a dork, he is a committed one.

    But can we have Hilfy back please? Pretty please. Never makes trouble, doesn’t gob off to the press or get all emotional, just does his job as well as he can.

    I also agree about Hughes, not the right time to put him back in.

  10. I just read what you wrote about Hilfy in the nets. I feel depressed now.

  11. I agree that Sachin has set an example that Ponting should follow. Ponting has always kept his game simple and that has been a major reason for his success. Aside from oodles of natural talent of course. But oncoming age affects everyone and he needs to put more thought into his game, as Sachin has, if he wants to prolong his career.

    As for Kat another great series however I’d like to see him guts out some good second innings knocks.

    It’s fascinating witnessing Australia go through a period of crapness. It brings back memories of when I was growing up and first getting into cricket.

    • Border is practically a second father to those of us who grew up in that era…! So much respect for him, did so many hard yards in rebuilding Australian cricket. And l remember so many gutsy innings as partner after partner fell…Legend.

      • Allan Border was my first cricketing hero. Well, after Peter Toohey. I can’t really explain the Toohey fixation. Meanwhile teenagers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood are bowling up a storm against Victoria in the ODI clash.

  12. Allan Border happens to be one of my cricketing heroes as well. He was not just a great captain and batsman, his spin bowling was quite handy too.If memory serves me right, he once won a test against the WI with his spin bowling :)

    Much as I admire Punter’s batting (far more talented than Border), his approach to captaincy when the chips are down, leaves a lot to be desired. But of course, my view is that of an outsider-admirer of Australian cricket, and going by the comments here, especially from Nesta, Punter seems to command a lot more respect and affection from his domestic audience. And that does count for a lot.

    However, I don’t think it is easy to tone down one’s batting approach a la Sachin. Even King Viv failed to do that in his last couple of years of Test cricket. This is not to say Punter can’t do it. May be he needs to hand over captaincy and bat at No.4.

    Once again, I am surprised why no one wants Pup at No.3. Is he supposed to be a perennial No.5? In what way is North a better candidate than Clarke for No.3 position? Curious minds want to know :)

    • Yes AB is truly embedded in the national psyche – the man who stood alone through the 80s after the departure of the Lillee etc. It is hard to describe but he simply was The Australian Man when l was growing up. For all his grumpiness he was never an arrogant player and a dose of his determined humility wouldnt go astray right now. Far more so than Warne, Mcgrath, Gilly for all their cricketing genius. Revered on the subcontinent in my travels there.

      l would like Pup at 4 and have done for some time. l would have liked to have seen that swap last Summer with Huss. if we cant have a Great bat at 3 (Clarke is not that despite an excellent couple of years) we tend to like something very solid at first drop.

      Thus l think North at 3 is a useful suggestion, although l do think he gets caught shuffling a bit sometimes and waving loosely outside off stump. Klinger is a fine player and personally l’m a Hughes fan and wouldn;t be averse to trying Watson at 3. Its all a bit scrambly and unsettled though…which is a sign of the times. l miss Dizzy and Marto…:)

      Klinger is a very good player, Bailey is playing well, White has come back well. Rogers unlucky…Later on Khawaja looks a very fine player from the little l know, Mitch Marsh has big wraps…

      • It is hard to describe but he simply was The Australian Man when l was growing up.

        Yep, just about describes him for me. I have memories of him as the only batsman standing time after time.

        It just doesn’t seem right, Pup at 3.

        • AB was so good, it seems that even South African’s started naming their kids after him!

  13. Border was an extraordinary player, will personified. He was always brilliant in England and likes it here as much as he is liked here.

  14. I have fond memories of Peter Toohey too. With the memory fading his terry-towelling hat, sideburns and brilliant fielding burn brighter than his batting though.

    AB is the greatest player to wear the BaggyGreen in my lifetime. Obviously, there have been more skillful cricketers but forced into the captaincy at Australia’s lowest point in history he healed a nation torn apart by World Series Cricket and the rebel tours to South Africa, stood tall and never gave an inch against the violent assaults from the Windies, won Australia’s first World Cup, started an Ashes run that lasted a quarter century etc etc, and in doing so enabled the next generation that produced Warne, Hayden, Gilchrist, McGrath and Ponting, to name a few, believe that any situation, no matter how dire, can be conquered if you have faith in yourself and your mates.

    We all owe him a great debt and there is no way Hughes would have been cast aside so callously if AB was still involved. He backed talented teenagers like McDermott and SWaugh to the hilt and was also influential in Warne and Ponting getting a fair go when they began their international careers.

    And as an aside, I heard that Ricky equalled SWaugh’s record for most Test wins by a captain in Perth the other day. It took him 6 more matches (2 losses, 4 draws) but still an outstanding achievement nonetheless.

    • Lovely tribute to AB Nesta.

      Punter deserves a lot of credit for that that record, but he won’t get it!

  15. Yep, add me to the list of Border hero-worshipers. He defined what followed.

  16. My strongest memory of Border still makes me wince to think of it – the 130+ last wicket stand with Tommo, when Tommo finally got caught in the slips with 4 still needed to win against the poms.

    I can still feel the pain. But I think the effects are still being felt. It would have been so much easier and less emotionally painful to have just chucked in the towel, but they gave it everything and nearly pulled off a miracle. And they swallowed the pain of having got so close.

    It set the standard for “not giving up”.

    • Tragic failure seems to strike a cord doesn’t it? We haven’t seen so much of that recently, being champions and all, but there may be more in store now we’re human again.
      The story of Jones collapsing on the pitch in India and Border telling him he didn’t want a weak Victorian but rather a strong Queenslander makes me feel uneasy. Inspiring but also disturbing. Breaking the boundaries is never comfortable.

      • I remember that. Ch 9 were still on ads when the wicket finally fell. Ahhhhhh! We came back to it to see the replay, was it Tavare dropping it and Botham cleaning up?

        • I think Geoff Miller caught it – not sure who spilled it. I rather liked it… but it took the hearts of two lions to make it what it was.

          • Yup, it was Geoff Miller. I was about 10 or 12 at the time, but I still want to strangle him each time I see him.

            • That was my earliest cricket memory – Well not Tommo going out, rather has they were running off my Dad got rather irate that the fans who ran on the ground were patting both Tommo and AB on the back. “Who are they patting him on the back? He’s the idiot who got out!”
              I doubt Dad would have been that tough on Tommo if he was a Victorian (My Dad still asked people to pass the Laurie when asking for a bottle opener)

      • Somewhat alleviated by the humor in the fact that Greg ‘Fatcat’ Ritchie was the strong Queenslander in question?! Good to remember though as a young Vic growing up, Deano had demi-god status alongside Pat Cash. His outfielding…

        But yeah this was the iron will of AB, that stood against the tide. And it did honestly feel like it would all be swept away if he wasn’t there…That Adelaide test lost against the Windies was so tragically sad for him.

        Without doubt the patriarch of our greatest era. Which l guess makes Tubby the quiet, underwhelming, but fantastic when you remember to think about him grandfather. Tugga is the strong as steel father, the living embodiment or peak of the family culture. And Ricky the son, the young genius…What a family….!

        • I felt AB picked on the wrong guy – Deano was hardly soft and I reckon it played on his mind a bit and led to him having captaincy difficulties.

          There’s not an Englishman who does admire Tubby Taylor as much as any cricketer of any nation.

          • Tubby has probably been our best captain since Ian Chappell. Or maybe he’s on the same level as Ian. Certainly he and Steve Waugh had great material to work with. Punter alas has had a harder job, but maybe it will be ultimately more fulfilling. Great achievements already, particularly in one day cricket. A work in progress I guess.

            • Tubs is just about the only one on Ch 9 that doesn’t make me want to turn coat and barrack for any other nationality apart from Oz.

  17. AB and Thommo is probably my first, burnt into my brain, memory – sitting in a car park at Chadstone in my Mums Meteor listening to the ABC. Innocence destroyed :)

    • I remember listening to the Ashes on the radio during the wee small hours and being seriously tired at school beacause of that. I was deeply depressed after Botham and Willis spanked us in Edgbaston. Soul destroying. And then there were players like Bedi and Chadrasekhar. I used to marvel at them at the same time as they were making my and my team’s life a misery.

      • That was why the 87 World Cup (we what?! Veletta!) and even more so Ashes 89 were so sweet. Ashes 89 remains my favourite cricket memory and experience. All of ABs work finally paying off, ‘Dad’ slugging away for so long finally got some respect :).

        l have no doubt my schooling suffered that Winter staying up to listen to Alderman rapping Gooch on the pads.

        Nostalgia for the hard times!

        • In November ’89 I was in London and the freezing dark walk to Nth Finchley tube every early morning was made brighter by some graffitti on a wall.

          Someone had written ‘Thatcher OUT!” and another wag, probably an Aussie had scrawled underneath it “lbw Alderman 0”

          Still makes me smile today!

  18. This thread is a beauty fellas, thanks for all the memories even though most of them are heart-wrenching!

    It gives perspective and reminds of how good we’ve had it all these years since AB pulled Oz cricket out of the mire.

    Jones’ innings in the tied Test was superhuman and his first in the coveted No. 3 position which, as most of us know, is recognition that you are the best bat in the country.

    I never saw the match live but have seen a documentary about it and Greg Matthews also performed above and beyond his call.

    Border’s declaration was generous and India had a dash at the total in the last session in what was I think Gavaskar’s 100th Test.

    Umpire Vikramraju gave Manider Singh out lbw off the final ball and never umpired another Test.

    Here is a link to the scorecard

    The documentary is called Madras Magic and if you haven’t bought yourself a Chrissy present you can get it at your local ABC shop for $10.

  19. Japaljarri: “And it did honestly feel like it would all be swept away if he wasn’t there…”
    That was my feeling too, so many batsman just like rabbits in the headlights, and Border just grimly, stubbornly playing those ugly short arm shots, on and on and on…
    But re Ritchie being the next man in on that day (I see the humour), or Tooting saying he picked on the wrong man, misses the point. It was no reflection on Jones (of all people!) it was just Border saying don’t give in, ever. He certainly found his man on that day.
    Ah, enough of that. Time to see MJ get his average down while continuing to take wickets, Hilf to stay healthy, Clarke to surpass Ponting and Hughes to start his ascent, then we’ll get some momentum and continue the tradition.
    Nesta, good commentary, thanks.

    • Absolutely agree on Jones and AB.

      Great thread.

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