Posted by: tootingtrumpet | October 9, 2010

India vs Australia Second Test – Day One

 

Mean, moody but not magnificent

 

The final over of the day.

Ball One – Shane Watson and Simon Katich have become one of the most reliable and effective opening partnerships in Test cricket. Jake Howe (@Howe_zat) informed Testmatchsofa.com that they average 58.8 for the first wicket in contrast to the other top order wickets’ average of 45.2. Australian batting has fallen some way from its astonishing peak about ten years ago, but it would have fallen further still without the unlikely success of two middle order batsmen as openers.

Ball Two – India completed an astonishing victory just four days ago, retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy amid scenes of complete jubilation. Inexplicably, in the first session, India almost repeated their opening two hours in Chandigarh – little energy, untidy fielding and regular concessions of both boundaries and singles. Against Australia more than any other team, intensity in the field needs to be at 100% from ball one. Why experienced cricketers cannot summon such intensity is not easy to excuse.

Ball Three – After attracting some deserved criticism for less than impressive umpiring in the First Test, you would expect Ian Gould to seek a low profile playing himself into this Test. Why then, did he fail to raise the finger when Watson edged Ojha to MS Dhoni, choosing to nod repeatedly? The digit, even the crooked digit, is the way to send off the batsman and has been since time immemorial – Ian Gould should take note.

Ball Four – Somehow, without the bowling being particularly bad, Australia’s batsmen are taking singles and scoring boundaries almost at will. Some credit goes to Watson, Ponting and Clarke, but MS Dhoni is at fault for setting fields that do neither one thing nor another. The effect of the fields is exacerbated by India’s players being on their heels rather than their toes. Get in close enough to save one and deep enough to save four – can’t be that difficult.

Ball Five – Mike Hussey is struggling with his technique – he knows how to bat but seems incapable of arranging his arms and legs into the necessary configuration to meet ball with bat in the advised manner. Once the ball is outside his eyeline, it is only a matter of time before the ball goes to slip or gully. Aus selectors are famously loyal to their players, but can they afford a man in such turmoil at Number Five in The Ashes? Perhaps as long as England continue to pick Colly, a man going through similar travails at the same time in his career, they can afford it.

Ball Six – Change bowling is much underused as a way of breaking a batsman’s concentration and getting a wicket when little else is working.  Suresh Raina was a surprise pick to turn his arm over, but he did his job snaring a set Ricky Ponting with a lot of help from Billy Bowden. At that point, MS Dhoni should have taken off Raina in favour of a frontliner – instead, Raina continued and bowled Tim Paine through an awkward half hour late in the day. Knowing when to attack is crucial in captaincy and MS Dhoni failed to seize his opportunity.

You can find the Tooting Trumpet at Testmatchsofa.com and on Twitter at @garynaylor999 and @Fakeadil.

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Responses

  1. I thought Dhoni’s captaincy was very strange all-in-all.

    The decision to put Zaheer on at the end was bizarre. Everyone watching knew the umpires were considering the light, it was almost as if he wanted to get off the field.

    Either that or you have to ask what level of intelligence he has?

    With regard to your stats on Katich and Watson, I knew they were a reasonable partnership but I didn’t think that their average was that good.

    It’s strange in the fact that North and Hussey are currently struggling in the positions that I would have thought that Katich and Watson would be more suited too.

    As for Collingwood, he seems to be undropable. He scored less test runs than KP did against Pakistan. We keep hearing this ‘he’s a good man in the dressing room’ line from the England hierarchy.

    Maybe Geoff Miller and co think that good guys in the dressing room rather than runs on the board win matches.

    I know team spirit is important and they obviously think that Collingwood contributes more than just his (lack of) runs.

    How long they can carry on with that though, I don’t know. But while they do, it can only help Australia.

  2. Dean, character in the change room has always been one of England’s greatest strengths. Doesn’t matter if the match score line is edging up, 0-1, 0-2, 0-3, as long as the boys are showing great character and spirit, then all is well.

    Not sure about North, I’m tempted to join the chorus that his time has run out, but Watson was indulged for so long, and he has returned the favour with such great interest that you sometimes have to just respect the selectors judgement and give it time. Watson is well on the path to becoming a champion, yet he was so vilified for so long.

    It’s one of the funny little things about this side that, of all people, Watson and Katich have become so successful. I think I read somewhere that their performance statistically outscores Langer/Hayden. Hard to believe, but they seem to be doing the business. Watson reading the game and occasionally being circumspect when required is one of the most encouraging aspects.

    The concept that “Watson isn’t an opener” surely has to be put to bed. Maybe he wasn’t before, but now he is.

    Everyone says Ponting’s power is fading. That may be, but if it means he only gets 70 odd in India, I guess he hasn’t faded too much yet. I suspect a big summer in store for Mr Ponting.

    • Fred, I quite agree that Watson has to be classed as an opener now.

      When he was first put into that role, I thought it was only a temporary move and that he would eventually find himself down at number 5 or 6.

      Watson and Katich were regarded as middle order players, but have to be taken seriously as openers now.

      With regard to my comment about these two being more suited to bat where North and Hussey are currently in the team, I wasn’t suggesting that they drop down the order and replace them, just that Watson and Katich were previously classed as middle order batsmen and that it is ironic that they are both succeeding at the top of the order, while Australia are struggling at 5 and 6.

      And as for Ponting fading, yes, he might not be as good as he once was. But he has a long way too fall and is still some player. If England think he is a spent force then I fear we are in for a shock when the Ashes start.

      I certainly think that Ponting is still some player and that we (Eng) have to put a high price on his wicket. I can’t believe that we could be stupid enough to under estimate him.

      England are going to target him with the short ball and I don’t think that Geoff Miller will be too disappointed at seeing his dismissal in the 2nd innings of the 1st test.

      Only problem with that is that Ponting will surely know this and if he negates this tactic and ignores the short stuff will England’s bowlers be astute enough to adjust their plans?

      They have been known to get carried away in the past when bowling the short stuff. Instead of trying to hit the batsman with the element of surprise they have peppered him. Remember them trying this tactic against Hashim Amla a couple of years back and he just ducked under everything.

      It will be interesting to see what happens.

      • That stat didn’t surprise me about them being so successful as Kat and Watto are obviously our most reliable team in terms of partnerships. As long as they are there I feel ok, it’s only when a wicket goes down that I start waiting for the next.

        But strange as it sounds, I’m still not used to them opening together. There is something off-key about them. I wonder how they get on off the field.

  3. Quite agree Tooting, it’s only a small thing, but raising the finger is the only way to do it.

  4. Thanks for the comments.

    Watson and Katich have the tightest techniques amongst some that are fairly loose these days. Both have proved themselves at openers.

    Punter still looks the key man but he’s finding ways to get out. By which I mean that even two years ago, he would never have given Billy the chance to give a marginal decision as he would have hit the ball in the middle of the bat.

    Character / attitude in the changing room matters, but only if the technique is solid. Hussey and Colly have techniques that are unravelling. Just a matter of time who gets ditched first – cruel, but sport is.

  5. 2 points
    1. I do worry that by holding on to Katich, Ponting and Hussey, the team will just be getting over rebuilding the bowling stocks when they will have to do another major overhaul to the batting. Not just for the Ashes, but for the structure of the team in the future, Hussey needs to be pushed out now. The other two can be phased out in another 1 to 2 years. The possibility of all 3 going within 6 months of each other would really put the teams recovery at risk.

    2. Now that the third umpire is a well established position of authority, isn’t it time they were used more? Not through extra technology, but just the simple procedure of rotating the 3 umpires. Either daily or even per session. This series has been a perfect example of the effect environmental stress can have on sound judgement

    (sorry I didn’t mean to come across all Roebuck there at the end)

    • Yes – the umpires are a resource that is imbalanced in use. Billy and Gunner shouldn’t have five hard days than such a short break before five more hard days. Unlike the players, they are in the middle all the time.

  6. This business of targeting with the short ball leaves me a bit bemused. Is it really such a cunning trick to spring on an international batsman? Would Ponting never have thought he might be given one when he least expected it? Hasn’t it happened to him since he was about 10, or whenever he first picked up a bat? Headlines that Ponting and now Clarke are suddenly susceptible to the short ball seem more designed for attention grabbing rather than real analysis.

    But I do admit Ponting keeps going for the pull without doing it as well as he used to. Frustrating for spectators, but he won’t back down. He’ll never ignore the short stuff. He’ll either deal with it or retire.

    Tooting, funny phrase, “Colly and Hussey have techniques that are unravelling”: you can’t forget technique. You may lose motor skills, reflexes, eye sight etc but not technique. Or did their technique depend on them being young?

    Anyway yes sport is cruel, as life is, but if Hussey is dropped tomorrow it won’t be cruel, he’s had a fantastic career.

    • I suggest the short ball is different when it’s quicker and set up by reverse swinging full deliveries before that. Punter’s eye cannot be as good as it was ten years ago – nobody’s is.

      Technique? Gooch had a technique that worked better at 40 than 25 because it limited the moving parts. Hussey and Colly both play away from their bodies with bats that come across the ball. Any lack of confidence or lateness in picking up the ball sees it take the inside edge or outside edge as the bat is not coming through straight. Both are being bowled off the inside edge and caught at gully.

      • Right, so it’s about the orthodox correctness of your technique? A straight bat will see you good into your old age. Makes me wonder about Tendulkar, how can he maintain his high level of performance? Because he has a classical technique and respects the basics!
        KP beware. Sewag beware.

        • Tendulkar is pretty economical and somehow quiet as a batsman. Not too much backlift, no ‘look at me’ holding the bat in place after the shot, no real flourish about the way he bats. Very neat, very correct and obviously a superb eye – hand co-ordination.

          That’s what I’ve really noticed this time as it’s fascinated me how much he seems ‘in’ as soon as he’s at the wicket. Bloody brilliant to seem so serene in test cricket at his age.

  7. Fred, I’m not saying it will work or that I agree with it.

    It is though, what I believe England will do.

    On the other hand, maybe you are right that they are attention seeking headlines.

    But looking at England’s squad, I’d say they are planning on bowling plenty of short stuff.

    And yes I’m sure Ponting will be expecting the short ball and even the odd surprise short ball and I’m sure he has known all this from whenever he first picked up a bat, but it dosen’t stop him getting out to it.

    • England will look for LBW vs Punter early then bowl short. They won’t want him on 20 and driving. The big issue for me watching Punter is that he looks really in and cruising and he is suddenly out. He seems not to cash in as often as he did.

      • No seems about it Toots, he doesn’t cash in. His conversion rate in the past 2 years has gone swirling down the plughole.

    • Yep, doesn’t stop him getting out to it. Just like me, I know that last drink for the night is going to hurt me, and I’ve known it for a long time, but does that knowledge stop me from doing it?!
      I guess Ponting will continue to do what he does, until they drop him.

  8. Ponting is a champion batsman – and he has gone a long way to redress his Indian record. Pity then that this is a two test series. Two fifties in two tests(and a potential century, or atleast a 50 looming in the second inns this mach), and the century last tour certainly move him away from the Shane Warne league of “India is my Kryptonite”.

    3 years ago, people were busy predicting the demise of another champion batsman, and ironically, Ponting was their pawn in doing so. “Look at Ponting”, they said “still firing away” while “Sachin is a spent force.”
    All that is happening now is that these same people are mocking Ponting. That champion batsman bounced back and showed these johnny-come-lately critics their place. So will Ponting.

    I know many fellow Indians hoping that he’ll lose this series and the Ashes and will be removed from the Aussie side as a consequence. Wishful thinking, my brethren. Australia’s surely going to win the Ashes – and with some luck, this test, too.
    Ponting is going nowhere any soon. Don’t you just love his assertion that he will be back for another Indian tour.
    “I will be back”, thus spake the adventurer.

  9. alrighty.. nice days batting by AU, and now India is in to bat, so it’s up to the Bowlers now.

  10. Ive got no idea why anyone would think Ponting would ‘be removed’ He has earned the right to remove himself, and he will know when the time is right to do that. It is not AU’s habit to remove captains, really. It is a long term job overall, irrespective of the individual’s prowess , the ups and downs of batting at no.3.

    • I don’t agree. I don’t think anyone earns that right. Punter isn’t close to retiring yet anyhow. He still looks good enough for test cricket even if not at 3.

  11. aha, Sewhag out, Dravid out.

  12. Ponting is a strength of the side, not a weakness.

  13. * groan* we need a wicket around now!!.

    * nailbiting *

  14. I think Aus need a first innings lead – without it, they might not set a target high enough.

  15. Closer and closer to that elusive win in india as captain, is Ricky? Icing will be getting sachin quickly(or even before he gets his 100 will do) tomorrow. Vijay has reached his average and will get out quickly. Raina just needs to be given short balls. Dhoni looks worn out already. So who is going to score for india? Pujara, the debutant? The very thought sounds deliciously unlikely

    Tomorrow might be a good day to be a aussie fan in india. Mind you, havent got too many such days recently.
    :lips-smacked-in-anticipation:


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