Posted by: nestaquin | January 19, 2010

2009/10 Australian Test Summer: Positives & Negatives

The Test match portion of the Australian summer has concluded with Ricky and his team undefeated and although there are still doubts over the team’s standards it is difficult to argue with their results. Admittedly, their opponents dwell at the lower rungs of the Test rankings yet six Tests for five wins and a draw makes a successful summer in any fair judges’ book.

POSITIVES

In every Test, the bowlers, backed by attacking fields and/or timely declarations, were able to take 20 wickets.

Ponting’s captaincy was deliberately aggressive and at times he took calculated risks in a bid to accelerate the learning curve of his mostly inexperienced charges.

The review system, which included Hot Spot, was a revelation and such a success that by the end of the summer batsman began walking after thin edges.

The opening pair, the foundation of a superior Test team, appeared very sound.

Ponting rediscovered his batting mojo by belligerently pulling and hooking himself back into form at Bellerive.

Brad Haddin’s ‘keeping improved. His catch down the legside to dismiss Salman Butt was stunning and proved the crucial turning point in Australia’s improbable win at Sydney.

Nathan Hauritz, to the amazement of many including himself, continued to take fourth innings wickets.

Doug Bollinger bowled with energy and intelligence and proved himself worthy of a place in the First XI.

In an all-round performance not seen for many a summer Shane Watson averaged 60 with the bat and 25 with the ball.

Michael Clarke took his career average over 50 with consistent performances throughout including batting the last session and a half in the draw at Adelaide. Also, his catching at first slip off the spinners was reminiscent of Mark Waugh at his best.

Mitchell Johnson sprayed it everywhere yet still took 30 wickets at 27.

Justin Langer joined the coaching staff and his presence assisted Ponting and the men in his control, tactically, technically and psychologically.

Kerry O’Keefe on ABC Grandstand.

NEGATIVES

Marcus North couldn’t hit it off the square.

Ben Hilfenhaus’ international career was cruelly disrupted by injury.

Mitchell Johnson sprayed it everywhere.

Brad Haddin’s batting became even more one-dimensional.

Michael Hussey is on his last legs.

Phillip Hughes’ technical deficiencies.

Peter Siddle’s lack of wickets.

The predictable batting collapses.

The Australian mainstream media’s general lack of support for a team still finding its feet.

Channel Nine commentary team’s increasingly cringeworthy jingoistic approach to broadcasting.

In summary, the team performed better than they did in England but not as well as they did in South Africa at the beginning of 2009. They play New Zealand next month and I have it on good authority that the team will be unchanged for the First Test at Wellington, although you don’t need to be clairvoyant to know that Marcus North will need a score a two if he is to get another trip to England in June.

Are there more positives or negatives? I’m sure I’ve missed more than a few!

[Image: Getty]

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Responses

  1. Brad Haddin’s wicket-keeping is one dimensional as well. A better spin bowler would be driven nuts by his inability to cleanly take the ball for stumpings. It was noticeable that Tim Paine can keep better for spin bowlers. He did some vivid stumpings in the short time he was in the ODI team.

    MJ, hey? He bowled better in this series than against West Indies. He was truly horrible against them at times. But you pays your money…

  2. I tend to agree with your observations about Haddin ‘keeping to the slower bowlers.

    I spent a time at square leg watching Haddin ‘keep to Hauritz on Monday and it appeared to the naked eye that he was still getting his gloves in front of the bails at times. If he ever manages to pull off a stumping it could conceivably cost the team a wicket if the Third ump is on his game.

    Does anyone know if the referral system is used in the ODI series? And if yes, is it still two unsuccessful referrals each?

  3. Crisp summary Nesta! Paine looked a much better keeper and bat than Haddin when I’ve seen them. What to do about MJ? It’s surely going to go badly wrong soon isn’t it?

    • What was Lord’s if not badly wrong? It’s already happened once.

  4. Mitch is already going badly yet he keeps taking wickets when the team needs them.

    Even though DK Lillee discovered him and pushed hard for his selection at the Academy I think he is more in the Jeff Thomson mould.

    He was the quickest bowler in the last series by a distance regularly bowling in excess of 150kph.

    With practise he could take a yard off and bowl more accurately but I think his captain encourages him to charge in and fling them down as fast as possible.

    Haddin is a frontrunner who can be devastating when the team is 350/5 and looking to declare. Not so good at 150/5.

    Paine bats at three for Tasmania and opens in the short stuff and when he gets another opportunity he’ll enhance his reputation further.

    He impressed everyone that matters in England, South Africa and India in the latter half of 2009 and will probably get another run in pyjamas when Haddin is rested in New Zealand in preparation for the T20 World Championships.

    Once you’ve got the gloves in the BaggyGreen you traditionally play till retirement so Tim will have to wait his turn but when his time comes he can look forward to a long and fruitful career and maybe even a statue and portrait at Bellerive alongside Ricky and Boony!

  5. Negative:
    Having to turn down the volume because I simply couldn’t take any more Mark Nichols or Tony Greig. Shame because Taylor can be interesting.

    Pontings first 20 runs in Tasmania. He seemed determined to hook himself to death, it seemed senseless, and I didn’t want to watch. I guess the rest of his innings belongs in the positives column.

    Having to readjust expectations re MJ.

    Positives:
    Great to have a strong, well performing opener again. Getting close to 100 before the first wicket down is such an important part of a team that fires well overall. And he bowls well too, bonus!

    Great to see Hauritz given time to grow into the role, and to use it to good effect.

    Siddle refusing to give in at Sydney. Inspirational.

  6. Yep, Siddle was inspirational but you never expect anything but a wholehearted effort from the man. It won’t be the last time he causes our hearts to swell.

    • If he bowls wholeheartedly, you sort of expect it, it’s what he’s there for, but to not only show resistance with a bat, but also actually score a few runs and reach his personal top score, was extraordinary. He lead his team to victory. The highlight of the summer for me.

  7. The highlight for me, probably because I was there for every ball, was Ponting and Clarke’s 352 partnership.

    The team was wobbly at 71/3 with Asif bowling well and they both dug deep, supported each other and played innings of responsibility and class.

    M.Clarke has developed into a very reliable Test bat these last 12 months and sacrificing his limited-overs game to achieve it.

    I’m starting to believe that he’ll do a fine job as skipper when Ponting hangs up the pads at the end of next summer.

  8. A tad off topic but I’m really looking forward to seeing Damien Martyn bat again in this year’s IPL.

    Not sure if Warne is just rewarding an old mate or if he has a plan but either way I’m happy. Marto likes Indian conditions and I won’t be surprised if he does well.

  9. Not the first time Clarke has shown his class.

    Surely you must have been watching Ponting’s start peeking through your fingers? Even if you can’t argue with the end result, I thought he was unbelievably rash and reckless. Or maybe I’m just a wimp.

    • I had my heart in my throat and was thinking during that first hour that he was living on the edge but Ricky has never been anything but belligerent and audacious with the willow in his hands.

      Ian Chappell, who is a similar personality to Ponting, is fond of saying that the best way to find form when it has deserted you is to play your shots aggressively and with intent. Ricky did that and once he had his eye in he played as intelligent an innings as I can remember from him.

      He forced the bowlers to bowl where he wanted and gave Yousef a headache by continually making him change his field. Clarke played his part perfectly too as they alternated their styles, one aggressive, the other working the singles, for over four sessions.

      From a tactical perspective it was Test match batting at its finest, and their fourth-wicket partnership has only been bettered by Bradman and Ponsford when The Don scored a triple at Leeds in 1934.

      It was special and like Gilly and Langer’s partnership in 1999 at Bellerive, I doubt the memory of it will ever fade.

      • Fair enough. No criticsm at all of course about the later stages. I thought he was Pietersen-esque in his approach (who has plumbed news depths of idiocy and flakiness in SA), but as always you can’t argue when it comes off. I suppose he feels if he can’t hook, he may as well call it a day. A cautious Ponting would be depressing sight. It’s true he has always been extremely positive and he’s scored one or two runs along the way.

        • I thought he’d misread all the news reports and thought he had to put away every shot BUT the pull. God, it made for grim viewing at first, but when he got warmed up, he was playing some lovely shots.

          Be nice if he didn’t pull till he got his feet and body going though, but fat chance of that I’d say.

  10. I’m certainly not saying Haddin has ever been the perfect keeper, but has he really been any better this summer than he was before he was called up for the Aussies? I had the impression that he just had a slump at the start of his international career.

    Nesta, if you can see his no-balls from the boundary, what’s up with the umpires?

  11. Jonathon, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ‘keeper pulled up for such an indiscretion.

    I believe he catches the ball after it passes the stumps but he has a habit of getting his fingers fractionally in front before cradling the ball.

    You’d think that after the incident against New Zealand in Perth last year he’d be more closely scrutinised by the umpires for it’s hardly a secret is it?

  12. So if Hilfy is fit and plays do they drop Siddle or Bollinger?

    • I expect they’d favour Siddle. But Bollinger is more likely to crash the stumps over with a couple of quick wickets. I’d be reasonably happy with either.

  13. Hilfy won’t be fit. It would appear that his condition was misdiagnosed.

    After recovering from surgery it would be a risk even to take him to England this winter although they might because of his performance last year.

    Apparently, his leg has withered after being told to keep off it for a month and he’ll need intense rehabilitation to even be able to take the field.

    A likely scenario is that he plays County cricket to regain fitness and form and then, if needed, he’ll be in England for a call up.

    So for the time being at least, the pace attack is Bollinger, Siddle, Johnson with Clint Mackay and possibly Brett Geeves in the wings.

    Tait will likely be in the T20 team too.

    • Geoffrey Boycott said during the Cardiff test match that he had been trying to get Hilfy over to Yorkshire for about the last 2 years but he didn’t want to come. BGB is a big fan of his, so maybe that will be an option at last?

  14. I realise he’s not fit now but if and when he returns to fitness and form this will be come an interesting issue.

    • A very welcome conundrum too!

      • If Bolly keeps going like this, how can they pick Sids over him? It’s remarkable how MJ keeps taking wickets as in some ways, apart from his ability to pull out an over like the first one in the last Indian ODI, he looks the worst of the lot.

        Not Geeves, thanks. I’d rather have one of the U19’s than him. He looks just too hittable.


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