Posted by: tootingtrumpet | December 17, 2011

The Final Over of the Week in World Cricket December 18 2011

Ball One – It’s always nice to get a score on debut, so Manprit Juneja must have been pleased to get the nod for a first class debut on the Ahmedabad road. He certainly cashed in though, bashing his way to a double ton, in red ink to boot. Quite what that tells us about his potential I’m not sure – the match scores were 698-8, 539 all out and 100-0. Even I might have got a few. Unlike Parthiv Patel, who kept wicket for a mere 181 overs, then opened then batting and lasted nine balls. One can take leading from the front too far.

Ball Two – The first matchof the Big Bash League brought a scorecard entry that turned back the clock – Hayden b MacGill 29. I’m not sure it’s an entirely good thing that men of a previous generation are quite as prominent as they appear to be in Australia’s new sports-entertainment hybrid, but I know that Stuart MacGill is twice the bowler that Steve Smith is and will be for a few years yet. 4-0-21-2 vs 2-0-25-0 rather backs up that view.

Ball Three – To absolutely no surprise at all, Rahul Dravid’s Bradman Memorial Lecture has been universally praised for its erudition, its judgement and its sensitivity. Coming less than six months after Kumar Sangakkara’s tour-de-force in his Cowdrey Lecture, it has set me wondering whether any other sport offers such platforms for current players to speak, free of any obligations to anything beyond the game itself. I don’t think they do – though I stand to be corrected – and, perhaps, they should. Maybe Derek Jeter or Raul might not match the oratory of the two men from the sub-continent, but John Eales and Jose-Maria Olazabal might have spoken as well in their day. Perhaps it’s just another example of cricket’s glorious exceptionalism in a sporting world dominated at the top level by sponsors’ spokesmen and media training.

Bloemfontein cricket ground - apparently.

Ball Four – I’m all for attracting new audiences to cricket and can even stomach most of the marketing-speak that surrounds the Big Bash (but I’ll draw the line at The Hayden Way). However –  Knights vs Titans in a first class match? Of course, not every team has bought into the hyped up names.

Ball Five – David Warner is in a rich vein of form in diverse formats and proving the doubters wrong. Like Eoin Morgan, his arrival in international cricket was hardly a seamless progression through the expensive development systems put in place by armies of coaches and administrators. Pakistan produce great talents by default as much as design too. It’s a glory of this most wondrous of games that talent will out wherever and whenever it turns up.

Ball Six – A little Twitter debate with which you may wish to join in below the line. How many 80s Test sides would beat their 2011 equivalents given the same support, preparation etc? I’ll say NZ, SL (just now), Aus (late 80s), WI (obviously), Pak (obviously), Zim. India 2011 would beat 80s India, SA 2011 too (though not 70s SA) and England 2011 would probably do 80s England because of the bowling. That so few current sides would beat the previous generation is quite an indictment of current standards, I suggest. Or maybe I’m donning the rose-tinted spectacles that I favour from time to time. What do you think?

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Responses

  1. Re: Ball 6.

    I think that if the basic set-ups that are in place today were applied to teams from the 1980s then Sri Lanka would have been even more competitive than they were at the time (surely cricket’s best test debutants alongside Pakistan in the 20th Century?)

    It would be hard to see how England could have not been improved. Just think what Botham could have done with the last years of his career if he had been properly conditioned and he retained that broad triangular body shape rather than the sorry sight he looked in his last test.

    • Good points, but I feel SL cricket’s problems at the moment run very deep.

      England’s bowling depth in 2011 would even cancel out a fit Botham – 1978-1982 essentially.

      • I assume you meant the 1989 side when you count the 80s Australia as better than their current outfit. Seems odd, seeing as that side only really came together in that year and most people would associate the likes of Taylor, Waugh, McDermott, Healy et al (and to a less extent Boon and Hughes) with the 1990s. For the majority of the decade, Australia were a distinctly mediocre side who won only 3 out of 47 Tests between 83 and 87, failing to win a single series. If you shift Australia to the “having gotten better” category, that makes it four teams each – not bad.

        Next, allowing the best sides of the decade from Pakistan and NZ, (but allowing England to take their early 80s team) to represent the 1980s also gives the baby boomers a handy advantage. Taking the England side in its state from the same date you pick an Imran Khan-inspired Pakistan, and the current England outfit would have them for breakfast.

  2. It’s not quite the same, but retired Major League Baseball players occasionally give poignant and eloquent speeches on the state of the game at hall of fame induction ceremonies.

    • Baseball was about the only sport that I thought might offer something similar – like cricket, it shares a respect for its past and a lyrical approach to its chronicling.

      I might search a few of those out Matt – thanks.

  3. Comparing Smith’s bowling to MacGill’s strikes me as akin to comparing Luke Wright’s bowling to Glenn McGrath’s.

  4. With adequate preparations and facilities:

    1. I think India 2011 will beat India of the 80s (1983-87) at home, but the 80s side may prevail if they meet overseas.

    Gavaskar & Srikkanth – Sehwag & Gambhir

    Amarnath, Vengsarkar, Azhar – Dravid, Sachin, VVS

    More – Dhoni

    ..all cancel out with the opening pair of the 80s being more soild overseas than the current one.

    The 80s side had Kapil and Shastri as the all rounders, with Chetan Sharma, Roger Binny, Maninder Singh, Sivaramakrishnan, available for bowling slots.

    Clearly, there is no one like Kapil in the current side.Chetan Sharma was nippier than the current lot, and Binny was able to swing it well in helpful conditions overseas.

    2. However, if some of today’s sides, in our analysis, are weaker than the mid-80s sides, it does not mean the standards have come down.Cricket goes through a cycle, and for some countries, it all comes together for a decade or more – the best case being Australia of the mid 90s to mid 2000s.

    3. I am not certain I can rate the bowling depth of current Eng side highly till they prove themselves in all conditions against all opposition.They have done very well against an Australian batting side in transition, and demolished an under cooked, injury-laden Indian side at home, Immediately after, the Eng bowlers failed in ODIs in India.I will have to see them succeed against Pakistan in UAE followed by Sri Lanka, to actually assess how good they are in alien conditions. That Eng have become the No.1 side in Tests owes as much to the disciplined test batting of Cook and Trott, and to the late blooming of Bell, as it is to the collective performance of the Eng bowlers over the last 2 years. The best attack in th world is the one SA has- one that has the potential to succeed on any surface.

  5. “80s” is far too vague to really make that judgement given how much the quality of most teams changed over that period. The best team they put out over that period ought to defeat a random team from 2011. If you pick a particular year, say 1987, then only West Indies, Pakistan, New Zealand, and maybe Zimbabwe could be said to be stronger. 6-4 in favour of modern cricketers (and outside the test nations most associates are many times stronger). In 1983 that would be turned around (perhaps even 8-2), but as Kumar said, these things are cyclical; lots of teams are turning over ageing line-ups at the moment. The standard of cricket has dropped perhaps, but as a narrative it is interesting in its own right.

  6. Thanks for the comments re 80s vs 2011.

    Yes Jake – I was having my cake and eating it and the mid-80s Aus sides were pretty poor.

    Kumar – that’s an interesting head-to-head there, but I think the 2011 batting has it over the 80s players by some way. England’s bowlers still have a bit to prove, but I’ve never seen such depth with ten or more to choose from.

    Russ – cylical indeed and a good point about associate members that’s even better if applied to women’s cricket. I’d much rather see competitive play at a lower standard than walkovers at a higher.

    Interesting comments on what was really a throwaway point written after being up all night travelling. I think it shows that there’s something in it and that anything with pretentions towards proper argument needs more analysis of the kind you supply.


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