Monday 24th February–Housework

sky-dish-installation-scotland-quick-fit-aerials-ltd-satellite-tvMonday is always housework day, but I had a bad start to this today when I knocked over a lamp, which broke and had to be thrown out!  I think it has a lot to do with my hands not gripping well when cold – arthritis!  It was a strange day, the first thing was a call from Wickes – they are going to replace the wood that is all split, so they will come on Thursday – then I heard from the Sky Engineer, who is coming tomorrow to re-align the satellite dish (again).  Then the door stop behind the living room door – one I bought about 18 months ago when I built the pyramid-shaped book shelves – came apart, the rubber end stop fell off because it had deteriorated badly, so it will have to be replaced!  Still, I managed to get the rest of the housework done without incident and settled down after lunch to watch the rugby I recorded and South Africa beating Australia in the cricket.  I only saw the last 15 min of the rugby between England and Ireland yesterday, so it was good to see the whole match, which was more exciting than the score suggested.  England played well and it was a hard game – in the first half I was amazed how many yards England made on the tackles.

After dinner, we finished the online shop for tomorrow’s delivery and I watched a little of the Newcastle football match.  Sadly, the recording kept breaking up because of the dish alignment problem, but I managed to see most of the programme – I’ll watch what remains tomorrow before I start on the shoe rack again.

News of the day has got to be the last commercial flight of a DC10 – an amazing aeroplane!  The unfortunate shooting of two women in Farnham looks like it might be a strange story, we will have to wait to see.  I haven’t mentioned much about Ukraine, but I see that an attempt is underway to establish an alternative government – I doubt Russia will be pleased – it will take time before we will know if this will succeed.  Then there is the news that NHS data has been released to insurance companies – well that is a good illustration of why I opted out of the “data.care” scheme!  Finally, the idea that the UK government would hold a Cabinet session in Aberdeen to try to win over the Scottish vote against independence had me smiling, surely no one would be convinced by such a childish prank?

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One test down, four to go!

AshesWhat a dramatic and controversial start to the Ashes tour for England!  However, despite my love of test cricket, I cannot help but feel that this is too much cricket against Australia, in too short a time – I certainly have not got the enthusiasm that I would normally expect to have.  I always thought that it would be tougher for England in Australia, but even I was surprised by the level of aggression being used in the media to undermine England’s confidence.  I think this hype is what has led to the “over the top” sledging both on the field and in the press sessions after play.  Whether this has also contributed to the depression affecting Jonathan Trott is another matter and only Trott himself would know.

Stuart-Broad-and-Mitchell-001For England, the first test was a disaster after what seemed like a good start for the England bowlers.  A quick summary would be that England were simply out bowled and this was a result of Mitchell Johnson hitting some form (he is quite variable in his ability to bowl accurately), but I am not sure it is that simple (sport rarely is).  I wonder how well England were prepared for the level of aggression they would face in Australia, it has been known for years that sledging on the field and aggressive reporting are an important part of a successful Australian cricket team (it is also true for other successful sports such as rugby).  But, this is the first time I have seen it used, to such a high degree, by a less than successful team, which may reflect the unusual situation of a back-to-back Ashes series.  Aggression is a key part of sport at any level and I have used it myself to gain advantage, but you have to be ready for it and not let it dominate how you play – I think this might be England’s problem and the batsmen were not ready for the verbal and physical battering they were about to receive.

For me what I found interesting was the way Australia were able to continue to exploit the well described weaknesses of the England batsmen – Cook flashing outside of the off stump, Trott with the short ball etc. – England only managed to get one Australian batsmen out based on a well known weakness; although it was their captain.  What I am suggesting is that England’s batsmen have not been able to overcome their problems associated with a known weakness (e.g Trott always playing through the leg side for any ball on the stumps) and it has been this batting frailty that has caused the downfall.  I also think this knowledge has played on the mind of the batsmen (often seen as a slow sown in runs as the Australian bowlers begin to exploit the weakness) and this has got into their mind set.  Of course, no one may agree with me, but that is my view.

What is next?  Well, no matter how many fines are put in place, the Australians will not stop sledging, barracking or being aggressive so England will face all of that again.  The only way to counter the problems is for the top-level batsmen, with the most experience, to stand up and demonstrate they can bat through the aggression – kevin_pietersen_paPietersen, Cook (who showed some of this metal in the second innings), Bell and Prior (who maybe has the biggest problem.  Carberry was unlucky in the second innings and I hope his luck is better in the next test, but Pietersen has a major role to play as he may find himself having two types of game to play – a defensive role to sop a fall of wickets, or an attacking role to move the game along at a key time.  He has done both and is very capable of doing this again, but he must concentrate and get past the flack that will come his way.  Are there any positives for England – well, tongue in cheek, they are better than Australia at reading DRS decisions!

Okay, that is my rant after just one test, but let’s not get too down.  England have done this often and can recover, just make sure the games are not lost because of a lack of sports psychology in the dressing room, but are won or lost through sheer sporting ability.  Everyone knows the ability of the England batsmen, but it is hard to know their mind set.

Update as of 14/12/2013:

The second test was not the England batting success I hoped for and there seemed to be some real fear of fast bowling in the eyes of the middle order batsmen.  A few bright sparks that might signal a recovery, but my main concern was the ability of Australian bowlers to slow England’s run rate and then take wickets.  This was continued in the first innings of the third test, where England started to show some fighting grit at last, but are still behind after two days play – they need to get the thoughts of failure out of their heads and start to attach back.  Put the Australian bowlers under some pressure, they do not look that solid when forced into long unsuccessful sessions!

18/12/2013:

Well, the Ashes have gone, but we have ben Stokes to thank for some entertainment and for at least attempting what I suggested above – interesting that the Aussies looked less than solid when he was batting.  The sad aspect of the game was the way all of the senior, experienced batsmen once again crumbled, playing poor-choice shots yet again!  That was compounded by some woeful fielding by England – we gifted Australia the Ashes.  I am in total agreement with Sir Ian Botham when he says England have been bullied out of this series – maybe there is a place for a new Sports Psychologist in the England setup (I never thought I would have to suggest that)!

02/01/2014:

The title of this blog should now be four down and whitewash imminent!  The 2nd innings  batting by England in the fourth test was the worst performance I have ever seen by professional cricketers.  I have just read Alec Stewart’s views on this and I agree with his views, but I find it sad that Michael Carberry is struggling to score freely – I have always know his defensive leave was suspect, but he seems to have completely withdrawn his shots.  It will be interesting to see how England approach the final test of the series, but I do not hold out a lot of hope.  Changes to the batting line-up are likely to be more important than to the bowlers, who have done okay.  However, my view remains unchanged – there is a problem with the mind-set of the England batsmen, who have lost the ability to make good shot selection when the bowling gets tight and runs dry up.  The question for me is “who can sort that out and how”?

05/01/2014:

So that is it – 5-0 a white wash!  Introduction of new blood made very little difference to the performance of the senior players, all of whom played terrible shots – the leaves being two of the worst since Gatting vs Warne – and showed no resilience.  There is very little to take from this series and I simply will go back to my opening comments about a ten match series being too much for everyone.  I think it has been for England as it was clear during Australia’s time in England that they were beginning to get the measure of England and it is clear to me that they gained an upper hand in Australia through psychological pressure (both in the media and on the field) and by changing tactics to attach the recognised weaknesses of the England top batsmen.  In contrast, England’s tactics did not vary much and they stubbornly stuck to what they have been successful with before – but that was never going to win in Australia.  Bowler’s lengths, fielding close to the bat and the positioning of fielders all need to improve in pressure situations!

The next real test of England comes from India in the summer!

Hampshire vs Durham – 40 over match

A week without cricket at the Rose Bowl was slightly broken up by the test match between England and New Zealand – what a strange match!  I guess there were a few things of interest beyond the result:

  1. DRS-sky-sport_628526tThe slow outfield made a much more interesting game of it, with only the very best shots earning a boundary, but also showed that the batting side should not expect to gather boundaries and that running is important.
  2. That test cricket can be played under lights.
  3. That the DRS system is an excellent mechanism to improve the reliability of umpires and should allow the use of home umpires (but only if the DRS scheme is used everywhere).
  4. That the lack of runners for injured batsmen may well worsen injuries and that the timing of test matches will not allow recovery – maybe larger squads will be needed.

The last day of the test was the day of the most recent YB40 game at The Rose Bowl, I am not too keen on the use of Sundays for these matches as public transport is poor and the last bus back into Southampton, for instance, is at 19:15, before the end of the game.  However, there was no way I was going to miss seeing Durham and I find that my loyalties are split these days!

Durham_DynamosThe day started with rain (well it started to rain once I set off for the ground) and the covers were on when I arrived, not a good start!  However, it quickly dried up and the game was started at 14:30 as a 36 over match.  Hants won the toss and elected to field, which looked a good decision in the conditions and proved to be so as Durham lost early wickets and stumbled to 45-4 when Collingwood was out for only 6 – a shame as I was looking forward to him batting!  Despite this terrible start, Ben Stokes rescued Durham with a tremendous 87 and some woeful bowling by Hampshire was punished by the later-order batsmen, who moved Durham to 241-8 in the 36 overs, which looked a good and competitive score.

Hampshire_Royals_LogoAfter the short break between innings (15 min) the weather was much better and it looked ideal for batting – warm sunshine and a light breeze.  This was confirmed as Hampshire began a batting onslaught despite losing the in-form James Vince for a duck and put on 133 for the second wicket (Adams out for 67 in the 19th over).  The victory still looked a long way away and the runs dried up for a while, but Dawson batted well scoring a rapid 37 at the close of the game to win the match, but it was a shame that Carberry was out on 96 in the penultimate over!

Sadly, I had to miss all of that late action as I went for the 19:15 bus (come on First, at least run a bus after the end of the game) and things got worse when it became apparent that the last bus had broken down.  I had to walk to Bitterne where I eventually caught another bus into Southampton – this is the problem with public transport!

Still a very good win for Hampshire and an excellent game to watch.

England’s winter tour – final thoughts.

Cricket_India_Crest_svgWell, that is the end of watching cricket exclusively on Sky (for a while at least) as England finish their winter tour to india and New Zealand, and what a finish!  There are several points that can be drawn from both series, but I guess the real take home message is that New Zealand will be interesting opponents this summer!

But first points from the Indian tour:

  1. Beating the Indians, on their home territory, was a major achievement, made even more significant by the recent 4-0 whitewash for Australia.
  2. There is no doubt that a combination of Panesar and Swann, on a spinning wicket, is a formidable pairing – maybe we should think about spinning wickets in the UK (and NOT fine grounds for producing such wickets that produce interesting matches).
  3. DRS should be forced on the Indian board and players as it not only solves problems during matches, but also improves umpiring and resolves mistakes made by umpires.
  4. ODI cricket still needs some tinkering to solve the problem of the boring middle overs.
  5. The powerplay system in ODI cricket is not working and needs to change.
  6. The mind-set of players touring the subcontinent is critical for a winning performance and senior players must play at their best.New-Zealand-Cricket

Which, neatly brings me to points from the tour of New Zealand (bearing in mind that England were expected to trounce New Zealand):

  1. The loss of senior players can wreak havoc on the batting line up.
  2. Players need to get match practice even when they are touring, so that we do not have to introduce players into a tense situation, who have not played for several weeks.
  3. Small boundaries make for exciting games in limited over cricket (fairly obvious, but shouldn’t be forgotten).
  4. Spin remains important in t20 cricket.
  5. DRS is a must for correcting poor umpiring decisions.
  6. Concentration, when batting, is the most important aspect of playing the game and there should not be criticism of Trott just because his method of doing this is so well-defined (remember how reliable he has been and look at his average and strike rate together).
  7. The middle order needs strength and experience to avoid sudden collapses.

But, what a final day that was in the Final Test, I have seen everything in cricket, but not all in one day – it all happened, but the magic moment was Prior being hit on the head, the ball then hitting the stumps, but the bails not being dislodged!  It can only happen in cricket.

Now I await the first game at The Rose Bowl (10th April) against Leicestershire.  I will not be surprised to see snow and cricket together!

England in India 2012 – test cricket at its best

I had to wait until the end of the test series before blogging about how England are doing, even after  three tests I was excited by the quality of the cricket being played, but how controversial things have become and how unexpected the outcome.  Read full details of the cricket here, but I hope my blog can help illustrate how the cricket went in my eyes.england_drs_300  Sorry about the length, but lots to tell!

The controversy had started well before the test series, with the Indian Board of Control for Cricket insisting that the review system (DRS) would not be used.  I am not convinced that an individual board should have the right to out rule the ICC, but there we are!  One thing India would have to remember about this situation – the Umpire’s decision would be final, right or wrong following TV reviews!

bcci_toss_ind_eng_300The first test was a disaster for England and with hindsight it appears that the non-selection of Panesar was a major contribution to the result, but that seems a little simple to me.  I think England’s batting in that first test was naive; although, their bowling in the first innings was also weak.  Loosing the toss was not a good start for England, and was to become something of a habit in this series, but batting first was an obvious choice for India and what batting!  We all know about Sehwag and his run-a-ball hundred was atypical dynamic Sehwag innings, but it was the almost unknown Pujara’s 206 from 389 deliveries that really set the scene for the rest of the game.  This was test cricket at its best, determined batting with few chances and few risks taken, yet scoring at good rate to set up an impossible to match target.  If it had not been for the quality of Swann, who took five wickets, goodness knows what score England might have faced – as it was, India declared their innings at 521-8.
England lost early wickets, with the new boy Compton out with the score on 26 and this was followed by a rapid collapse of the lower batting order and when Bell was out for a duck, with the score at 69-5, it was clear England would struggle to make any score and would likely have to follow-on.  Eventually all out for 191 from only 74.2 overs the follow-on was inevitable.  India had shown how to play test cricket and demonstrated a weakness in England’s batting against spin.  Perhaps the only highlight at this stage of the game was Alastair Cook’s 41 from 109 deliveries and864507-14609791-640-360 it was Cook who was to lead the way in the second innings with a magnificent batting performance scoring 176 from 374 deliveries and took the score to 365 before he was out.  But England only left India needing 77 to win, which they accomplished easily with only the loss of Sehwag for 25.
So, the immediate response from the press was that England couldn’t play spin, would be beaten 4-0 and that they should have played a second spinner.  My own viewpoint was that England’s leading batsmen needed to concentrate more (with the exception of Cook) and show better choice of shots against a spinning ball.  But, I agreed that two quality spinners must be used in India – India’s strength lies with spin and so the wickets will have to offer them an opportunity of spin so England must make use of that situation – pick Panesar!

Wankhede-Stadium-MumbaiThe second test in Mumbai showed that the selectors were listening and had seen their mistake – Panesar was selected and England had two high-class spinners in the side.  India won the toss again and chose to bat as expected.  However, in this match England bowled much better, with a tight line on a wicket with some bounce – Anderson struck early trapping Gambhir LBW with the score at 4.  Sehwag started with his usual dynamism, but was bowled by the excellent line, bounce and spin of Panesar with the score at 51.  Pujara, arriving early at the wicket batted superbly again, showing real class and frustrated the much improved bowling of England.  However, wickets tumbled frequently at the other end, with Tendulkar (8)  failing once again, also bowled by Panesar and only a brief stand by captain Dhoni (29), followed by an excellent innings by Ashwin (who looked like a real all-rounder for India) scoring 68.  The star of the show, at this stage was Panesar, fully justifying his inclusion with an excellent 5 for 129; while, Swann also collected four wickets.  India were all out for 327, which looked insufficient on this wicket, but could England bat against India’s spin attach was the real question.
England’s innings started well and Compton and Cook looked very solid, but steady in terms of scoring rate, until Compton was caught off Ojha for 29 off 90 deliveries, with the score on 66.  Everyone expected the same steady batting with the arrival of Trott, but he was quickly ut LBW to Ojha for a duck – was England’s batting frailty against spin about to be revealed again?  Pietersen inningsHowever, it was the appearance of Kevin Pietersen, now fully integrated into the team, that changed the game in England’s favour.  He made a spectacular 186 off 233 deliveries, supporting a very solid Cook (who also made 122 off 270) taking the score to 274 before Cook was caught behind off Ashwin.  England batted on with smaller contributions from Patel and Prior, but where eventually all out for 413 – Pietersen eventually falling at 382, caught behind off Ojha.  England had demonstrated that their best batsmen could score against the indian spin attack, but more importantly the Indian spin looked less penetrative than the England spin attack.  It was clear this was going to be an interesting test match and maybe a big change of fortune in the series!
India faced a real uphill task to clear the deficit of runs and take a lead, England quickly introduced spin, despite an excellent four overs from Anderson for only 9 runs.  It was immediately clear that Swann and Panesar were getting more out of the Mumbai wicket that the Indian spinners and wickets began to quickly tumble; ony Gambhir (65) and Ashwin (11) reached double figure scores and India crumbled for only 142, leaving England 56 runs to score to level the series.  They did this without any jitters and lost no wickets, scoring 58 off 9.4 overs – a truly excellent win in India and opening an exciting series with England no longer seen as the underdog.

eden-gardens-kolkataThe third test took us to the wonderful Eden Gardens ground in Kolkata, but following the trend from the previous two test matches, the crowds were along way from those illustrated on the right – Indian home support for this test series was poor and it is clear that one-day cricket has “killed” Indian Test Cricket support.  The pattern at the coin toss continued – India won the toss and elected to bat – but England’s pace and spin attach looked confident despite a good start by Gambhir (60) and Sehwag (23), who was run out by Finn with an excellent long throw from the boundary.  This run out seemed to affect Gambhir and he has been involved with a few such events.  Tendulkar showed some resolve in this innings and was able to 76 off 155 deliveries, but Anderson had the little master caught behind, followed quickly by Kohli (6) and only stubborn resistance from the late middle order (Yuvrag Singh, 32, Dhoni, 52 and Ashwin, 21) gave the Indian scorecard any respectability – all out for 316.  Panesar, at 4 for 90, and Anderson, at 3 for 89, had bowled brilliantly to give England a chance to bat well and take a lead!
England openers started really well adding 165 for the first wicket (Compton eventually LBW to Ojha for 57), but the star was Cook, who India were now struggling to dismiss and he just seemed to keep on batting.  Both Trott (87)and Pietersen (54) made significant contributions and only the unlucky Bell (5) failed in the early batting order.  Once again the late middle order swung the bat with contributions from Patel (33), Prior (41) and Swann (21) allowing England to reach 523 – a healthy lead of 207.  The scene was perfectly set for England’s bowlers to dominate  and teh question was asked how much spin was there in the wicket for England’s spinners – could they, once again, out play the Indian bowlers?
India  opened with an excellent partnership between Gambhir and Sehwag of 86 before Sehwag was bowled by Swan for 49, sadly one run short of a dynamic 50 runs, but then another terrible run out, involving Gambhir, finally saw Pujara dismissed cheaply (8) with the score at 98.  This run out seemed to affect Gambhir’s batting and he quickly followed when Finn’s excellent bouncing deliveries had him caught behind for 40!  With the score at 103-3 India were worried it was clear, with Tendulkar still struggling for form.  Only 4 more runs were added before Tendulkar was caught at slip off Swann for only 5 and the atmosphere changed – even on TV it was clear that England felt they were on top of the game.  Indian wickets continued to tumble and only the determined all-rounder Ashwin was able to show he could dominate the English bowling attach – eventually unbeaten on 91 he took India to 247 al out, a lead of only 40 runs!
England lost three very early wickets on the way to gaining victory, which might have caused a major worry in the dressing room, but in truth they never looked like a major collapse and Bell was able to lead the way forward with a solid 28, while Compton looked solid if steady.
This was a great victory for England and confirmed they had really managed to turn around their form and clearly demonstrated they could easily bat against India’s spin attack.  So, the question that now was being asked is how India would change things and what sort of wicket might they prepare for the final test, which they must win.

cricketstadiuminindia123The final test was in central India in Nagpur.  I was expecting something of a dust bowl after the announcement that India would include only one pace bowler – spin was to be the attach against England.  This could easily backfire as England’s spinners had already shown they were better than India’s spinners in the previous two tests, but India might hope to get a good first innings score and bowl out England cheaply, twice.
So, the toss of the coin was going to be key to the outcome of this test and unexpectedly (after losing the previous three) Cook won the toss and elected to bat – a good start for England!  Two very quick wickets, both openers, must have given England the jitters, but what quickly became apparent was that the wicket – a patchwork quilt – was very slow and not spinning.  This must have surprised England more than anyone and the variable bounce (sometimes very low) would surely benefit England’s attack.  Compton (3) was out with the total score on 3 and Cook (1) fell at 16, but Trott (44) and Pietersen (73) showed resolve and took the score to 102 before Trott fell to spin.  Unfortunately, Bell failed once again scoring only 1 run, which brought the debutant Joe Root to the wicket and what an inspired innings he played, scoring 73 from 229 taking both time out of the game, but also looking solid on a difficult low wicket.  Finally, once again Prior and Swann made significant contributions – Swann in particlular adding some momentum to the innings – and England were eventually all out for 330.  Having taken 145.5 overs this innings had already shown that a win would be difficult on this wicket.  Although it was difficult to score runs quickly the wicket offered little spin and only slow bounce, it was difficult to see how this would work for India!
Perhaps Sehwag could score quickly on this wicket, but we were never to find out as he was bowled by his second delivery from Anderson, who then started a beautiful spell of accurate seam bowling eventually taking both Gambhir (37) and Tendulkar (2), this was the 9th time he has taken Tendulkar’s wicket in test cricket!  Pujara showed some resistance, scoring 26 from 72 deliveries, but at end of the second day’s play India looked in trouble at 87-4.  However, England struggled to take wickets for most of day 3 and Kholi and Dhoni (playing a captains innings after promoting himself above Jadeja) scored 198 runs for the fifth wicket – a tremendous feat that must have worried England during day 2.  However, a clatter of wickets at the end of the day, following the fall of Kohli for 103, Jadeja went quickly for only 12 LBW to Anderson, who sensed a change in fortune.  then the real blow to indian hopes was Dhoni brilliantly run out by Cook just short of his 100 (he scored 99 off 246 deliveries).  Day 3 ended with india on 297-8 looking as though they were in deep trouble once again.  England only needed a draw and would want to bat all the next day and beyond to draw the match.
The fourth day was to be the most controversial day of the series and was to bring to a head the problem of not accepting DRS.  Ashwin (29 no) got very little real support from the tail and India declared at 326-9 four runs behind England with two days to go.  The general feeling was that England should easily manage a draw and India’s only chance was for England to have one really bad session.  The controversy started, in my mind, with the pace of England’s scoring.  Cook took 93 deliveries to reach only 13 and seemed to be taking the idea of batting for time far too literally.  I think batting this way can ruin the natural game of a player and his fall at 13 seemed to support my view (Caught behind of Ashwin).  Compton was equally slow and only reached 34 from 135 deliveries before being caught LBW to Ojha.  Then things began to take a turn for the worst, for England, when Pietersen, who seemed to be batting well, but also slowly, left one from Jadeja (old demons?) and was bowled for only 6 off 30 deliveries.  England, at 94-3, were not scoring quickly enough to make a draw a safe result.  My own feeling was that they should have played their natural game, but not been too adventurous on this slow wicket.  There was very little turn for the spinners and only one pace man (Sharma) was not penetrative.  Despite this poor situation, Trott looked set for the day and there is no doubt the situation suited him, but a delivery from Jadeja, which slipped out of his hand led Trott to walk to the stationary no-ball and smack it to the boundary for four (a nice hockey shot).  At first it seemed everyone saw the funny side of this, but it seems that this was not the case (according to India, who thought it unsportsmanlike).  kohli_trott_argue_300Then, when on 43, Dhoni and some of the Indian team clearly thought that Trott edged a ball and was caught behind.  However, the umpire clearly said not out (and TV analysis showed this to be correct) and, unfortunately, this led to a confrontation between Trott and some of the Indian players. which had to be broken up by the umpires.  A little later Ashwin also warned Trott about backing up too far, increasing the tension in the game.  Despite these problems Trott kept his concentration and, thankfully, at the other end Bell was developing a very solid innings.  By close of play on day 4, England had reached 161-3 and the feeling was that England need to bat for only three more hours to draw the match and win the series.
The final day was slow but steady, Trott reaching 143 from 310 deliveries before being caught by Kohli off Ashwin with the score at 302 and Bell went on to reach 115 not out from 306 deliveries.  Root had a short innings and looked very solid again.  England declared allowing stumps to be drawn and England to win a series in India for the first time in 27 years.

However, I was left with a slightly angry feeling at what had occurred between Trott and the Indian team, listening to Ashwin being interviewed on TV he seemed to suggest all of this arose after Trott hit the no-ball boundary, but it was clear to most people that India were avoiding the real issue – the lack of DRS!  The umpire’s decisions throughout the series had been controversial, with some clearly plain wrong, but refusing DRS means that umpire’s decision must be final and India seemed to forget this in their frustration at losing the series.
That frustration was not just because they bowled and batted poorly, but also because of the wicket prepared for the final match – I fail to understand why such a dead wicket was prepared and I can imagine Dhoni must have been angered not to be able to make maximum use of his spin attack.  For me, the Indian Cricket Board, the groundsmen and the selectors got a lot wrong, which made it very difficult for India to win the series – time for a real think, but also time for DRS to be imposed for everyone.

India vs. West indies – third test, Mumbai

This blog should be subtitled – not quite a tied draw – and it was clear to me that the most likely outcome for this match was always the draw, but what was not obvious, or at all certain, was how close the resulting draw would be.  This is only the second test match that has been a draw with the scores level, but is not quite a tie because India had one wicket remaining.

Initially, the interest in the match had centred on whether Tendulkar would get is 100th international 100, but that was not to be with his innings of 94 in the first innings was temptingly close, but he fell cheap in the second innings, so we all have to wait!  Watching the final innings was an amazing experience as the possibilities of either side winning, or the more likely draw became the most likely outcome.  Indian wickets fell occasionally and there were missed chances for run-outs and catches that kept everyone on the edge of the seat.

However, the game finished, on the final ball with the run out of Ashwin, by the substitute fielder – it had to be, leaving the scores level.  Great stuff, but I do have to wonder why Ashwin didn’t run harder for the second run, pushing the fielders into a possible error!  I am sure I am not alone thinking of the spot-betting situation and the possibility of cheating that the game has become tarnished with.  I think players should always try as hard as possible to obtain a result and never seem to give up – such actions will inevitably lead to suspicions in the current climate of opinion and maybe Ashwin should ponder this thought.

Still a great game to watch.

South Africa vs. Australia November 2011

What an amazing test match this has turned out to be and I have to comment.  First 19 wickets fall in a single day!  South Africa plummeting to 96 all out after scoring 24 for the first wicket and reaching 73-4, but that was the start of an epidemic of wickets with Australia making only 47 all out in only 18 overs.

However, South Africa made the most of this opportunity and set 236 to win they accomplished this with some aplomb, loosing only two wickets and Smith and Amla both scoring 100s, with Smith not out.

This was unusual enough, but it was clear something else had to happen on this final day of cricket – Armistice Day – and it turned out to be the score of 111 runs required at 11:11 am (local time) on 11/11/11!