A Tale of Two Cricket Matches

The first is a match between Australia and South Africa played in Hobart.  South Africa won by an innings and 80 runs having skittled their opponents for 85 in the first innings and then knocking up 326 in reply, Quinton de Kock helping himself to his second century of the series.

The second is a match between India and England played at Rajkot.  England scored a wopping 537 in their first innings with Root, Ali, and Stokes all making centuries.  India replied in kind with 488, Vijay and Pujara making centuries.  A batting surface, then.  England piled on 260 in their second innings with Cook making his fifth century in India – a record for a visiting batsman – and debutant Hameed scoring 82.  England declared leaving India chasing 309 in 49 overs on the final day.  Speculation is ongoing as to whether England could have declared earlier to give them more time to bowl India out, but in any case they took 6 wickets and it took a decent, fighting partnership between Kohli and Jadeja to draw the match.

According to Malcom Knox writing in the Sydney Morning Herald (h/t TNA):

While Australia destroy themselves, England destroy the game

England had the position and the opportunity to force a result. But, in what retired Australian Test cricketers would call batting and leadership of unacceptable selfishness, Cook and Hameed strolled on towards a partnership milestone. Once Hameed did open his shoulders and take a risk, he got out for 82. He looked disappointed with his decision when he should have been proud. (If India had imploded, that would not have made Cook a genius. The indisputable fact is that, with batsmen like Joe Root and Ben Stokes in the sheds, England did not maximise their chances of winning. Even after Hameed and Root were out slogging, Cook made sure he nudged his way to his hundred.)

This is not the Australian way, but it is the Australian way that is under fire. Australia never play for a draw in India (if they could), always seeking to move the game along, and in striving to win they most often lose. Whether in Hobart or on the subcontinent, Australia’s attack-first mode of cricket is what gets them into trouble. Australia lose matches in India, Sri Lanka, the Emirates, England – and now at home – because their cricketers have lost the patience and temperament to weather difficult conditions and play a full five-day game.

Through their aggression, Australians destroy themselves. Through their defensiveness, England and India destroy a game. Which would you have?

So, while Australia are lambasted for playing their own way, a feckless younger generation putting entertainment ahead of survival, Cook cruises like a stately zeppelin towards his fifth Test century in India, more than any other visitor. As he did so, televisions were switched off across the subcontinent, and left on only in places where the only alternative was to look at the rain.

Oh dear.  Things must be getting rather desperate Down Under if they’re trying to paint an Australian drubbing at home as preferable to a hard-fought draw by England chasing a win in India.

What next?  I think the problem is merely a lack of good old Aussie ticker.  The solution is to make more frequent references to the great teams of the ’90s and ’00s and perhaps get one or two of them to come along and give the current lot a pep talk about what it means to pull on the Baggy Green.  That’ll keep Kyle Abbot and Vernon Philander out.

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15 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Cricket Matches

  1. It’s not ‘aggression’ that destroyed Australia, more like rank stupidity justifying itself as aggression. The only greater pleasure than watching Australia whitewashed at home would be to see it at the hands of NZ.

  2. Cricket is a game in which a draw is as likely, perhaps at the highest level more so, as a result.

    Given that cricket has had drawn games and batting collapses since the year dot (or just after) I presume it has been ‘destroyed’ continually, as have whole national teams. Yet perversely is still here to be played. Odd that.

  3. That article is absolutely hilarious. For all the alleged confidence of Australian cricket, that just screams of a small-minded mentality lashing out. It’s the sort of article you’d expect from an SNP MP.

    Anyway, I wonder if Australia are still practising the technique of “mental disintegration” on opposition batsmen, or are they too busy disintegrating themselves instead?

  4. If Cook had declared an hour earlier he would have set 260-odd in 65 overs. That’s a lot easier than 309 in 50. It’s hard to set attacking fields around the bat when quality players of spin only need 4 an over.

  5. Even by the standards of Australian sports reporters, Knox is a bell end. So it is highly amusing to see him tie himself in knots to try to make Australia’s failings into moral virtues.

    Test cricket is most likely to struggle in Australia because their side is losing and the supporters are notoriously fair-weather fans. It remains popular in England of course and – I am informed BTL on the Guardian cricket coverage – is more popular than you’d think in India.

  6. Cook’s declaration was perfectly sensible. Unfortunately England’s spinners aren’t that good and Cook was aware that if India got off to a strong start chasing 250 those spinner’s could fall to pieces. As it is Gambir punched one to the slips and Rashid and Moeen bowled surprisingly well.

    My only criticism was, with an hour to go, Cook brought on Root and Ansari for about 6 overs. This made no sense.

  7. The SMH is leftist drivel. Please don’t take it seriously. You’ll be quoting from The Guardian next.

    There are over a hundred players in my local cricket club. We’re loving these results. The Australian team has been ludicrously infiltrated by administrative and management vampires. The captain needs to consult with a “high performance manager” amongst others before making a decision. We want to see the whole lot of them go into the dustbin. Hopefully some more on-field implosions will hasten their demise.

  8. What Malcolm Knox knows about cricket can be written on the back of a post-it note with a large marker pen in block letters!

  9. David Moore,

    It’s not ‘aggression’ that destroyed Australia, more like rank stupidity justifying itself as aggression.

    Yup! The problem is they lack the technique to play any other way. Those juicy IPL contracts must seem like a distant memory now.

  10. MC,

    Test cricket is most likely to struggle in Australia because their side is losing and the supporters are notoriously fair-weather fans.

    Indeed, and say what you like about the English fans, the Barmy Army came to prominence in the 1990s when we were absolutely dire. English fans seem to stick it out through thick and thin.

  11. Rob,

    If Cook had declared an hour earlier he would have set 260-odd in 65 overs. That’s a lot easier than 309 in 50.

    Exactly. He made the game safe and then pushed for the win. All things considered they came pretty close.

  12. Adam,

    The SMH is leftist drivel. Please don’t take it seriously. You’ll be quoting from The Guardian next.

    Fair point.

    There are over a hundred players in my local cricket club. We’re loving these results. The Australian team has been ludicrously infiltrated by administrative and management vampires. The captain needs to consult with a “high performance manager” amongst others before making a decision. We want to see the whole lot of them go into the dustbin. Hopefully some more on-field implosions will hasten their demise.

    That’s good to hear.

  13. Tim, one other thought on this matter. Cricket Australia are flying into damage control tonight after chairman of selectors Rod Marsh fell on his own sword. They have been mouthing nice soundbites for the press but the greater problem for them is that they are not really thinking of the players. The most important thing for CA is the product. The product cannot be damaged or harmed. The product is everything. The players are superfluous to the product. And to keep the product safe they will latch onto any short-term strategy that they think is worthwhile.

    Which means the rot will continue. This is what happens when you do a sport into a cooperation.

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