Slapdash Cricketers

Remember when, as a child, you wanted something urgently but your parents would say “Patience is a virtue., this also holds true for cricket. It seems though, watching the two test series between South Africa and Australia, that it’s been abandoned in cricket.
Both matches have been played at a frantic pace, usually reserved for One Day Cricket or in Kallis’ instance in the first innings, of the second test, a T20 game. The first test was completed in within three days, after huge collapses by both sides but the alarming stat, is how many starts aren’t converted.
Let’s highlight Australia for a moment, in the first test, no one bar Michael Clarke and briefly Shaun Marsh applied themselves for long enough resulting in 284 all out in the first innings, continuing a long trend where Australia have failed to score over 300! (The 11th time this has happened since the start of 2010)
Has the modern batsmen, I’m loathe to just narrow it to the Gen Y batsman become so obsessed with fast scoring rates, that no one (besides England it seems) can apply themselves for long periods of time.
There is so much T20 and ODI cricket played with test cricket sprinkled in when it suits countries that changing gears between forms has become much harder. Strikers like Shane Watson, only know two gears, blocking everything or flaying the bat either screaming to the boundary or the opponents hands. It’s also reinforced in Watson having a subpar conversion rate (15 fifties converted into only two centuries).
These 50 and outs by Watson put pressure on the middle order for Australia to continue his solid start and more often than not, Australia collapse to somewhere within the 200s or in extreme cases, 127.
Granted it isn’t just Watson who isn’t converting, Phil Hughes hasn’t set the world on fire since his recall during last year’s Ashes plus at different stages carrying an out of form, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin hasn’t helped. Neither has rash shots when your team is in severe trouble (Looking at you Haddin from the 2nd innings at Newlands.)
Batsmen need to have some application on pitches, I’ll admit that there are great bowling spells which can clean up a team, like Steyn’s last night but there were some rank shots mixed in with the brilliance. Sometimes you have to make that mental note, that I won’t let that bowler beat me, soak up some time then pounce on the odd bad ball!
The problem though, isn’t limited to Australia. South Africa on DAY ONE came out all guns blazing, led by Kallis who scored 54 at a quick rate, was dismissed off a rash shot which seemed to be the order of the day with it becoming the catalyst for South Africa to be dismissed for 266, after a promising start.

For the other nations though, there is a counter balance which is provided brilliantly for South Africa by Amla and De Villiers. The Aussies need to get back to the basics of test cricket, if they want to improve scores to above 300, more consistently and give their bowlers a chance in most matches.

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2 Responses to Slapdash Cricketers

  1. Well, yes … but mostly no.

    Frankly, I don’t see anything wrong with players scoring a faster pace. Since the days of Border, Australia appears to have aimed for a RR of around 3 per over; since Taylor/Waugh over 3. Not all Test players need or should try to be Dravid and block, block, block in order to be considered ‘proper’ Test batsmen; not all Tests series need end with the one win and the rest of the matches drawn in order for them to be considered ‘proper’ Test series. Slater, Mark Waugh, Lehmann, Langer, Gilchrist (average Test SR 81.95!) to name but a few, all had average SR over 50; I don’t see how that made them worse Test batsmen … or even unworthy ones. Also, in that first innings at Newlands, Clarke had a SR of 85.79. Are you saying that his wasn’t a fine Test innings because of that scoring pace?

    That is not the same as saying that Twatto is necessarily a Test-worthy player. I would happily agree that he isn’t. And no, he doesn’t convert his 50s often enough. However, can we honestly claim that we lost or drew Tests because Twatto didn’t convert or scored too fast? Hasn’t that been more of direct result of the collective failure, again and again, of our senior batsmen to produce these past 2-3 years?

    Parenthetically: Hughes, I would argue, is a particular case. He’s been treated so shabbily by our former selectors’ committee that I’m prepared to give him a lot more leeway than most other players: yes, there might be problems with his technique – but what was the point then of keeping him ‘in the squad’ rather than releasing him and letting him play Sheffield Shield … or actually, any cricket at all, to iron out those problems in match situations? Complaining that he isn’t setting the world on fire or isn’t in good nick when he’s basically played only a handful of matches – domestic or international – seems rather unfair: what player would be?

    I would argue that it’s not the pace of scoring runs as such that’s at fault, but that batsmen get so damned lazy facing the heavily circumscribed bowling in limited-over cricket that’s the problem. The solution to that problem would be to free up the bowlers more in those forms of the game, T20 in particular.

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