Posted by: nestaquin | January 16, 2010

Australia v Pakistan Third Test: Elegance, Pugnacity & Masochism

Pakistan’s tour of Australia continues its predictable path from calamity to catastrophe and much, if not all of their misery has been masochistically self-inflicted. To say that the team is a shambles is an understatement.

Their fielding is so poor that the nine year olds playing Milo cricket during the lunch break were more efficient, skillful and clinical. The little lads’ running between wickets was also of a higher standard. It was a startling contrast and had me wondering about youth development in Pakistan.

In Australia more time is spent on these basics below the age of 12 than batting and bowling. It is seen as absolutely essential and it isn’t a modern philosophy either, it was the same many, many moons ago when I was a boy.

As many will have noticed, I’m usually very respectful of international cricketers recognising that it is a tough, often unforgiving gig but when it comes to managing men and interpreting cricket Pakistan captain Mohammed Yousef may be the most inept skipper I’ve ever encountered.

He appears a genial fellow and is undoubtedly a class batsman but his tactics throughout this match have infuriated and bewildered not only me but most of the spectators at Bellerive.

Yousef’s overly defensive mindset began as early as tea on Day One. He instructed his bowlers to bowl a line as wide of off stump as possible and in doing so sent a message to his bowlers, and the Australian captain and his deputy, that he was bowling for run-outs.

This allowed Ponting and Clarke, safe in the knowledge of a two nil series lead and with over four days to play, to stay at the crease virtually unchallenged. That Yousef persisted with the tactic even after taking the new ball was astonishing.

It was clear that his bowlers were displeased and Ponting and the ever elegant Clarke feasted on their impotency as their record partnership attests.

As a Tasmanian, Ponting’s double century was especially moving and the standing ovation he received was as enthusiastic as I’ve ever encountered among the usually laconic Bellerive crowd. It wasn’t a classic Ponting innings where he flayed the bowling with disdain to all parts of the paddock. It was measured, patient and mature. A classic stereotypical captain’s knock.

Before heading down to the ground on this fine and sultry morning for Day Three a quick word about Marcus North and Nathan Hauritz.

Admittedly, for a man playing for his international career North came to the wicket in the worst possible situation with his team 423/4 with a push towards a declaration under way. A quick 40 like Haddin’s innings was what was needed yet the West Australian captain prodded and blocked and in doing so Australia lost all momentum and the chance of a crack at the Pakistanis before tea.

With the field spread and with no pressure applied by Yousef all he had to do was push for a single a ball and to give hitters like Ponting, Haddin and Johnson the strike. He failed miserably to even do this seemingly simple task and now the Australian selectors will need to decide on his replacement. Hughes at six seems a likely response although it wouldn’t be my choice.

Hauritz bowled tidily but his final over, the last of the day, was a shocker. With Shoaib Malik new to the crease Ponting had five and six men around the bat and Hauritz could only make him play once.

He bowled too many wide of off stump, gave the ball no air and instead pushed through six darts which had his captain most displeased. Despite his two five wicket hauls of late I’d like to see an additional spinner added to the squad for the tour of New Zealand in March as Hauritz like North is a weak link in the current Australian team.

As I head out the door for another hot day at the cricket the question on my lips is, will Ricky enforce the follow-on if he gets the chance? If Pakistan can bat into the third session I think it unlikely.

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Responses

  1. Hat’s off to Punter, but you’re right to identify MoYo’s dismal leadership and Pak’s abject fielding. I’d love to see Shahid Afridi given a go as captain – he’s a livewire in the field and, after all these years, it might just be the making of him.

    I recall Henry Lawson and co bowling a negative line in 85 I think.

  2. Maybe in Pakistan, bowling for run-outs is a legitimate tactic?

  3. Unfortunately I agree about North and Hauritz. North looks like he has given up to me. He is just waiting for the chop.

    I have enormous respect for Nathan Hauritz, he makes the most of what he has and is pretty tough and unfrightened as a cricketer, but he really doesn’t look intimidating or difficult to play at all. But who else do we have?

    It was good to see Katich getting wickets due to proper turn yesterday, he looks more threatening than Hauritz ever has, what a shame he is a part-timer. He doesn’t have enough control to be bowled a lot but I always enjoy watching him. And he has a spectacular strike rate for a p/t bowler.

    • But who else do we have?

      This is the key point. Here are the Australian spinners’ first-class records this summer:

      Hauritz: 26 wkts @ 29
      Krejza: 17 wkts @ 47
      McGain: 13 wkts @ 45
      O’Brien: 12 wkts @ 50
      Bailey: 9 wkts @ 45
      North: 8 wkts @ 38
      Smith: 6 wkts @ 82
      Voges: 5 wkts @ 24
      Dan Marsh: 5 wkts @ 44
      Heal: 5 wkts @ 62

      No-one’s really bashing the door down. I’d like to see Smith play some more Shield cricket for NSW before he gets promoted to the Test team.

      • That’s a sad looking list, statistically David. I’d like to see a wrist spinner just to add some pressure on Hauritz. If I was certain in a candidate I’d have mentioned one. Same for North. There are few players absolutely crying out for selection.

        If there are I’m hopeful you’ll provide a similar list.

        • There isn’t anyone crying out for selection. You can’t pick a wrist spinner, just because they aren’t Nathan Hauritz. And Smith needs another season at first class level minimum. Getting wickets in 20/20 is not at all the same as test cricket. Look at David Hussey and Brad Hodge, they both take wickets at 20/20 but does anyone want them in the test team for their bowling?

          Hauritz is what we got and he is doing as well as he can and better than I ever expected. He’s good in the field and can hold a bat. If the Kat can keep his shoulder in good enough order to help out every now and then, I can’t see that we can do better just now.

          North is different. They can just choose a younger player like Khawaja and stick with him. He can’t do any worse. North hitting a bad patch of form after such a short time in the team is a really bad sign and he has always been the most inconsistent of players. It’s a shame as I like him very much and I expected so much more.

  4. nesta, so far Mitchell Marsh has been getting out easily to bowlers from minnow nations in the U19’s but Tom Beaton is enjoying himself.

  5. What can you say about Pakistan? It’s gone beyond criticism of cricketing skills, there’s just something deeply wrong there. The only bright spot is that Butt must have iron intestines to score a ton after the look Yousef gave him after being run out by him. I would have ended up just a melted puddle of flesh and bones seeping into the pitch.
    Thank God Ponting has found the middle of the bat again, we need that.
    A bit harsh on Hauritz, Nesta, he’s done pretty well lately, and few spinners are match winners.
    Anyway, whatever the opposition, I’m happy if Australia develops it’s positive game. Engl

  6. oops.
    England is setting new standards in hanging on by the fingernails. Good luck to them. Long live the spirit of aggressive and positive cricket.

  7. Greetings to all, I have been a bit disappointed in the Pakistan cricketers, I held out a lot of what now seems to be ridiculous hope that they would provide great cricket, one always hopes for that in one’s summer, I guess. But no. It became so painful watching their fielding that I had to turn away and simply sigh. Dreadful.

    In contrast, I made it a habit to watch the ENG SA game on cable, well, I have never laughed so much in my life ( except the Ashes tour of AU 2006, of course) .. the comedy in that series was a wonder to behold, the icing on the cake being the tremendous stink put up by Strauss and Flower re the umpiring. Who writes these scripts?

    My fave of course, and as usual, was Pietersen. He has taken to bearing a strange resemblence to a rather befuddled chimpanzee with this scraggy facial hair, added to his bewilderment when he got out for practically zero each (!!) innings.

    But moving up the ladder on Ways To Get Out is Stuart Broad, who manages the same thing plus the bonus of a terrific tantrum each time. Much gesticulating, glaring, jigging, pointing, sulking, stomping, it is simply too delightful for words, I have been WEEPING with laughter at it. It really has been a circus tour in every sense .

    • Broad really is hard to have any regard for isn’t he? Lets hope that time matures him, like a good cheese.
      The decline of KP is startling. I won’t mourn his passing, if that’s what we are seeing, but it can’t be denied he had some talent.
      I think Eng have gotten out of jail in this series, that they will struggle in Bangladesh, and be soundly beaten in Australia. Having your number 11 hold on for a draw is nothing to be proud of.
      A shame JP and AB didn’t do more, as they are the future of SA, but aside from that, at least one team stood up finally in this series, and played irresistible cricket. Since Australia’s decline, we have been lacking a master team, SA showed how it’s done, at least for this test. Lets hope Morkel and Steyn continue to set such high standards.

      • Don’t know about England being soundly beaten here (though I agree that they have got out of jail). I think that really depends on Bolly’s development. He is almost our real strike bowler now as MJ is so in and out. If MJ bowls like he did in the series against the West Indies… the Englisih batsmen aren’t going to be under much pressure come the change bowlers.

        Morkel and Steyn have been so exciting to watch, it’s great to watch 2 quality quicks operating like that. I hope that Morne can keep this quality going.

        I like Broad as a bowler, think he is developing nicely, but I find him less and less appealing as an on field ‘personality’ with every game. But that’s ok. There really aren’t many English players in the team to dislike, so he’ll fill the ‘get her’ shoes nicely.

  8. 11pm and pouring rain in Hobart. Perhaps the weather will save Pakistan the indignity of another 3-0 defeat in Australia, although my feeling is that it will clear before morning.

  9. I like Hauritz a lot. He can bowl it a bit quick and flat but he has something about him that can get good players out. Fights hard with the bat too.

    A report card for England coming up soon.

    • Oh come on Lou, were you really convinced by Englands performance? Yes Aus certainly has it’s problems, and we’re lucky Pak shot themselves in the foot repeatedly, but Eng has hit its pinnacle by getting this draw. Eternal bridesmaids. The series up for grabs and they scored sub-200 twice? Tooting will write a good report about character and progress, which is fair enough, but its not the same as winning. Swann has had a good series, but Monty, the last great hope, did well for a while too.
      No, I think Aus is easily ahead for a home ashes at the moment. Although having Hilf back would be nice.
      Aus against Pak in England will be interesting, maybe the conditions there might suit them better, and their inner lion will emerge?

      • Morkel and Steyn on an up and down greentop would see off any batting lineup in world cricket. England didn’t bat well, but Morkel and Steyn were superb – all credit to them – and to Smith, Amla and Boucher for toughing it out with the bat.

        • But Fred we don’t have a Steyn who can apply pressure for an entire session that he bowls. Look at our bowlers on Day 2 at the SCG. Did one of them think it would be a good idea to pitch it up? Not that I noticed even though they had just hopefully watched Asif’s master class the previous day.

          And have any of our batsmen convinced you that the collapses are not going to be as regular as ever? Has Brad Haddin learnt that you can’t hit your way out of every situation? From what I have seen Watson has had one score this summer that he has got to 90 but not been dropped along the way. Bopara springs to mind.

          What happens when we come across a team that can catch better than the Pakistan and West Indies: ie most of them? I may be a bit of a Cassandra but the Aussies have benefited massively from largesse this summer and I sincerely hope that we do not see such a disorganized team visiting next summer!

          • Don’t get me wrong Fred, I would be more than happy if you are right, but inner lions?????

            • Lou,
              no no, the inner lions reference was to Pak not Aus! I hoped Pakistan might find its feet better there than in Australia, and show off its talents to better effect.
              Not sure Australia has an inner lion, although those tabloid pictures of Warne in his playboy bunny gstring a few years back may prove me wrong.
              But, re the cricket, true we can’t do what Steyn and Morkel did today, but few can. But we should be able to do enough.
              You’re right, our batting can be wobbly, yes Haddin is a bit flaky (in the tradition) but you can’t argue with what Watson has done this summer. Comparing him to Bop is insulting! I agree Aus is spluttering along at the moment, but I don”t believe Eng will be able to mount a consistent challenge, especially in Australia. Cook and Strauss are pedestrian, KP is fading, Colly is strong but limited, Bell is a question mark. Their bowling depends on the day and the conditions. Eng will have its moments but thats all.
              Australia often finds a way to win, even when it seems improbable.
              Thank God we benefited from the largesse of visiting incompetence, because we needed the break to rebuild, but we’ve made the most of it, and are now no worse positioned than any other team (except regarding a spinner).

              • “true we can’t do what Steyn and Morkel did today, but few can. ” – Fred, didn’t we do that to SA over there last year?

  10. Expect the Ashes to again come down to winning a couple of key moments rather than appearing to play better for longer. This far out it is just as easy to see it finish 2-2 as 4-0 to either team.
    If I was a betting man, the only bet I’d have would be Broad for leading wicket taker.

    • We did do it to SA but that was with Mitchell Johnson marque 2, now we have marque 3 which seems to resemble marque 1. We need marque 4 to resemble marque 2 and to stick around for more than one series.


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