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“WE’VE GOT A HOLD OVER AUSTRALIA”
Michael Clarke W H Y OU R “WORST EV ER” TEA M CA N W I N
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F I R S T
T H E Q U I Z
1. In which city was the fi rst Test of the 2009 Ashes series held? 2. In Ashes Tests in England, what result is the most common: England win, Australia win or draw?
3. In what year did Australia last go winless in an Ashes series? 4. Who has scored the most runs for England in Ashes history? 5. In the Boxing Day Test in 1982, England won by three runs. Which Australian was last dismissed and who took his wicket? 6. How many Ashes series were held before there was a drawn series: 7, 18, 24 or 31? 7. Who played the role of Douglas Jardine in the TV series Bodyline? 8. Who has the best bowling figures in an Ashes match by an Australian?
S E S S I O N
During the England tour, the English spin duo proved approximately one-and-a-half times as effective as their Indian counterparts. Swann and Panesar’s 37 wickets came from 328.5 overs at a strike rate of 53.32. Ashwin and Ojha’s 34 wickets came from 491.1 overs at a strike rate of 86.68. It doesn’t bear comparing the Australian spin trio with their Indian counterparts.
THE S TA T S by KERSI MEHER-HOMJI
In the past six months, both England and Australia have had their mettle tested on four-Test tours of India. Both lost their fi rst Tests convincingly – but there the similarities ended. While England went on to win 2-1, Australia was whitewashed 0-4. What can the stats from these two tours tell us about our Ashes protagonists? Taking wickets in India revolves around the spinning ball. England’s two spinners captured 37 wickets in seven Tests between them (Swann 20 at 24.75, Panesar 17 at 26.82). Australia’s three spinners took 26 wickets in eight Tests between them (Nathan Lyon 15 at 37.33, Xavier Doherty 4 at 60.50, Glenn Maxwell 7 at 27.57). India’s Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, by comparison, spun out 53 Australians in eight Tests between them.
Successful batting on the subcontinent is all about occupying the crease. This was Alastair Cook’s great achievement in India. The England captain hit 562 runs from an incredible 1285 balls faced. In the same series, India’s four senior batsmen – Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh – faced just 1218 balls between them. This ability to occupy the crease was the great failing of the Australian batsmen in India. Skipper Michael Clarke top-scored for Australia with 286 runs from 564 balls faced. In the same series, Murali Vijay hit 430 runs from 873 balls faced, while Cheteshwar Pujara hit 419 from 671 balls. For Australia, only Ed Cowan showed any desire to stick around, gathering 265 runs from 706 balls.
Swann and Panesar proved a series-defining pairing in India.
9. In the 2010-11 Ashes series, how many times did England score 500 or more in an innings? 10. In the 2006 Ashes Test in Perth, how many runs did Adam Gilchrist take off one Monty Panesar over, the most in Ashes history?
1. Cardiff 2. Draw (63 tests compared to 46 Aus wins and 44 Eng wins) 3. 1977 4. Sir Jack Hobbs (3636 runs) 5. Jeff Thomson, the bowler was Ian Botham 6. 31 (1938 series) 7. Hugo Weaving 8. Bob Massie (16/137 in 1972) 9. Four times 10. 24 INSIDE CRICKET
But enough of the serious number crunching – let’s move to quirkier stats. In the 111th over of the Chennai Test against Australia, India’s captain MS Dhoni was 111 not out and Harbhajan Singh 11 not out. In the Hyderabad Test, two Indian batsmen, Vijay (167) and Pujara (204), totalled 371 – that’s three more runs than 22 Australian batsmen and sundries combined, 368 (237 and 131). India’s spinner Jadeja took 3-33 and 3-33, to fi nish with the hellish match figures of 6-66. In the next Test in Mohali, Australia were 9 for 399 when no. 9 batsman Mitchell Starc was dismissed for 99. In the fi nal Test in Delhi Australia’s Peter Siddle became the fi rst no. 9 batsman to score 50 in both innings in Test history. He was also the fi rst no. 9 bat to top score in both innings. In that Test, Maxwell became the fi rst Australian to open the batting and bowling in the same Test since Percival Hornibrook against England at the MCG in March 1929. The last cricketer to achieve this in Australia was Sri Lanka’s Tillakaratne Dilshan in the SCG Test this January.
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er Kings Although the Chennai Sup d when it han ing help a d nee ly hard nonetheless comes to IPL succes s, they ue’s received one from the leag r when it governi ng cou ncil this yea kan cricketer Lan Sri no announced that ate in wou ld be allowed to part icip ban The i. nna Che in ed play matche s sure for – describ ed as a safety mea g grow ing Sri Lan kan players followin of Tam il e stat the in ion politica l tens tment of Nadu over Sri Lan ka’s trea fury amongs t ethn ic Tam ils – prompted er Kings – Sup The es. the other franchis orts, Nuwan whose two Sri Lan kan imp nanjaya, Kula seka ra and Akh ila Dha off lightly. are peripheral figures – got r, were not so eve how es, chis fran er Oth Bangalore luck y. The Royal Cha llengers Till aka ratne (Muttia h Muralitharan and Hyderabad Dilshan) and the Sun risers sara Thi and kara (Ku mar Sangak fi ll when Perera) had bigger gaps to No surprise they travelle d to Chenna i. s. both retu rned without win
After receiving the Order of Australia and a Life Membership of the SCG, a fi nal honour was heaped on Sachin Tendulkar in April with Sydney’s Madame Tussauds Museum unveiling a wax model of the Little Master (above). The model, which apparently took 60 artists over 800 hours to complete, was unveiled at the SCG in front of a crowd of Swami Army devotees who turned up to scream themselves hoarse at the graven image. The only problem? As a bevy of Indian newspapers promptly pointed out, the waxwork was wearing a shirt from the 2012 T20 World Cup – a tournament Tendulkar didn’t play in. Indeed, Tendulkar has only played a single T20 for India, against South Africa back in 2006. While spokespeople from the museum refused to comment, the man himself shrugged off the gaffe, claiming the waxwork was a fi ne 40th birthday present.
A disastrous tour of Zimbabwe has left the Bangladesh team in tatters. After suffering a 335-run loss in the sole Test and 2-1 ODI-series defeat, Bangladesh skipper Mushfiqur Rahim fronted the press and announced: “I will be stepping down as captain after the last two (T20) matches. I believe that I couldn’t lead my team, and I didn’t score enough runs. That is why I think we lost the ODI series.” After the Bangers rallied to win the fi nal T20 match, however, Mushfiqur promptly retracted his resignation. “I have taken the decision emotionally,” he explained. “It was a wrong decision on my part. No player should back out in such a time. I should have been encouraging everyone, but I ended up doing just the opposite. I have now realised my mistake. Losing to them didn’t go down well with me. My team-mates have backed me, and I hope this is how it remains in the future.” At the time of writing, Mushfiqur and the BCB were still in discussion.
The 15 0th ed ition of the Wisden Cr icket er’s Al manack –a tome un iversa lly acknowledge d as the ga me’s bi ble – wi ll not make pleasant read ing for Kevi n Pietersen. Ed ito r Lawrence Bo ot h took dead ly ai m at Pietersen’s behaviour du rin g the 2012 Sout h Af ric an serie s: “C ricke t, some su sp ec te d, ex isted on ly as an ex tens ion of Pietersen’s wh im s (and un like team, cr icket defi nite ly ha s an ‘I’ in it). Em boldene d by a luc rative new Indian Prem ier Leag ue deal, he wa s ar roga nt , at tempting to bu lldoze over the term s of hi s cent ra l cont ract. He wa s self-pit yi ng, cla im ing he had never be en loo ke d af ter. And he wa s a man apar t, send ing sil ly text s to the So ut h Af ric an s.” Later, Patrick Co lli ns also took a shot at the fl am boya nt batsman : “A ffect ion cont inue s to elude hi m. There are reason s for th is and most of th em involve selfab sorption, selfpromot ion and a di st re ss ing ab senc e of selfawarenes s.” Ou ch.
“The Ashes – it’s a big fight.” Interview by CRISPIN ANDREWS
T SEEMS hard to believe now, but when Matt Prior strode onto the Test stage in 2007 he was cast as the villain. Despite a run-a-ball century on debut against the Windies at Lords, with his bald head and diamond ear-stud, the newcomer created a poor fi rst impresson. His combative nature behind the stumps confi rmed prejudices. The Fleet Street press tore into him, the crowds jeered. After a spiteful Test at Trent Bridge during India’s ’07 tour, London’s The Telegraph ran an editorial entitled “Matt Prior the buffoon should grow up”. For a 25-year-old fresh from the quiet county scene, struggling to secure his place in the side, the hostility came as a rude shock. It’s a credit to the man that, six years on, he’s not only considered the fi nest keeper-batsman on the globe, he’s also considered the beating heart of Alastair Cook’s team. More than 200 Test dismissals and a batting average nudging 50 point to an all-rounder of the highest calibre. But stats alone fail to colour Prior’s true significance to this team. His sharp glovework and insightful cricketing mind powers England in the field, while his aggressive strokeplay and hard-headed composure anchors the second half of the English order. More
than this, his honesty and openness have proven invaluable for a team that was teetering on the verge of disintegration after the series loss to South Africa last year. With Pietersen sacked and Strauss retired, it was Prior who called Pietersen and smoothed the way for his “reintegration” into the team. In the eyes of the nation, the buffoon has morphed into the ultimate team man. Time and again he’s pulled his side back from the brink, none more memorably than in the Auckland Test in March this year. When he came to the crease after lunch on the fi nal day, England looked dead and buried. Chasing 481, they’d slumped to 6-159. With the New Zealand quicks hooping the second new ball at alarming angles, even a draw looked beyond reach. Prior, however, thought otherwise. By turns obdurate and attacking, he rattled up an unbeaten 110 from 183 balls to deny the Kiwis a rare series win. In the press room afterwards, the Kiwi skipper Brendon McCullum was effusive: “I thought it was an incredible innings played under severe pressure. He stood up and showed why he’s the player he is.” With his autobiography The Gloves Are Off on the shelves this month, Inside Cricket collared the man for a chat.
ON HIS FORM I want to play in a successful England team. I want to win games. And to win games, we have to have the right team balance. If that means I bat at seven, then I bat at seven. If I bat at five, then I bat at five. I look at myself as a batsman and a wicketkeeper – I have to be able to bat anywhere in that top seven. If our top six are scoring big hundreds then we’ll be in a position to win games. In that case, my role is to take the attack to a tiring bowling attack, to push the score on. If we’re not in such a good position five down, I have to dig in, get a few partnerships going, get a decent score on the board. Yeah, I feel I’m playing my best cricket right now ... But I want to stress that I’m not one for sitting still. I want to keep improving. I want to keep striving to get better. My aim is to average 50 in Test cricket. And I know that I’ll only get there by consistently scoring runs when I get the opportunity to bat for a long time. You need big hundreds to average 50. Everyone will have some low scores. You’ve just got to keep chipping in and make it count when it’s your turn. Yeah, that hundred in Auckland this year was probably my best (above). It was special because it went against what I naturally like to do. I like to take the attack to a team. I struggle with the concept of having to bat out for a draw. It was also special because of how the other guys batted. Broady’s innings was phenomenal
(Broad lasted 137 minutes in the fi nal session, scoring six runs). Working with a guy like that was really good fun. It’s something I’m very proud of. Being compared to Adam Gilchrist? It’s not something I like to speak about, to be honest. To even be mentioned in the same sentence as him is incredible ... But I’ll leave comparisons like that for other people to talk about. As far as I’m concerned, Gilchrist changed the role of the wicketkeeper in the game of cricket. He was a phenomenal performer, averaged over 50 for most of his career, kept brilliantly, kept to Warne. Most importantly, he put in those match-winning or match-saving contributions when the team needed them most. I’ve got a long way to go to be considered even nearly as good as him. Prior: Batting Stats
ON WICKETKEEPING People always ask me: What’s more important, your keeping or your batting? A few years ago I would’ve defi nitely said batting. But now, I honestly think they’re both as important as each other. Gone are the days where you can have an unbelievable wicketkeeper who averages 20 with the bat ... A keeper needs to be able to score hundreds. It’s hard to get someone who isn’t a natural batsman scoring hundreds but as long as they’ve got certain attributes you can turn them into a useful wicketkeeper. They might not have the class and panache of a Russell or a Knott, but they’ll certainly be good enough to do a job. After I got dropped in 2008 I started looking at my options. I’d been batting well, scoring Test hundreds, but my keeping was letting me down. I was like, “Should I knock keeping on the head and try and get back into the team as a batter?” Alec Stewart was the guy who said, “Look mate, you owe it to yourself to give it one more real good go.” Alec was a role model from a very early age. If it wasn’t for that chat, I’m not sure I’d be keeping wicket today. The most important thing for my keeping is consistency. I always knew I had it in me to be able to take the one-handed diving catch. But it’s the day-in, day-out graft: making sure you don’t drop a ball in a day, then putting five days together to make a Test, then putting five Tests to make a series, and then two or three series to make a year ... To get that consistency you need a good method and a good technique. I had to work on a number of things to get there. For me, the most important thing is footwork. If you have to dive to catch a ball your percentage chance of catching it are slimmer than if you stay on your feet. Who’s the quickest of the English bowlers? I think it’s probably Finny. Although Jimmy was very excited when he was clocked at 92mp/h (148 km/h) in one of the New Zealand matches. After that,
he was saying that he was the quickest. I’m not sure the speed gun’s that’s accurate – but we’ll give it to him. Keeping to two spinners on the spinning wickets in India was great. As a keeper it was really exciting. I was always in the game, both spinners bowling brilliantly. You know, Monty and Swanny are highly skilled but they’re very different. Monty attacks the stumps more with his angle while Swanny puts it outside the off stump. They complement each other brilliantly. Top Five Keepers
Top Five English Keepers
The Battle of the Beef IAN BOTHAM WAS THE BIGGEST NAME IN WORLD CRICKET WHEN HE LANDED ON THESE SHORES IN 1982. AT THE MCG, THE MAN KNOWN AS “BEEFY” CAME FACE-TO-FACE WITH AB AND THOMMO. IT BECAME AN ASHES EPIC. by A ARON SCOTT
fter the white-knuckle excitement of the 1981 Ashes Series – where the Botham-inspired Poms had raised themselves from the grave to pinch a 3-0 series victory – there was a feverish air of expectation when Bob Willis’s English tourists touched down in Australia in October 1982. There were microphones, cameras, crowds. And the man everyone wanted to see, the bloke everyone wanted a piece of, was the moustachioed all-rounder. Ian Botham, of course, had travelled to Australia before. He’d played an inauspicious summer of grade cricket with the University of Melbourne in 1976 and he’d toured with the
English team in the summers of 1978-79 and 1979-80. But this was something else. Botham’s heroics in that northern summer of 1981 had rocketed him to superstardom. He’d become the face of cricket. He was the biggest name in British sport. He was damn-near bigger than the game itself. And the Australian crowds were determined to gape at the “Beefy” razzle-dazzle. But, as he stepped off that plane and into the gathering steam of a Queensland spring, the man himself was in no shape to provide razzle-dazzle of any kind. He was tired. He was sore. And he was carrying a tad too much weight around the belly. Over the
previous few years, the English team had been locked in an almost perpetual carnival of cricket. They’d travelled to the Caribbean, to India, to Sri Lanka. They’d hosted the Windies, the Australians, the Indians, the Pakistanis. They’d barely wrapped up their three-Test series against Pakistan than they were back on the plane and flying to Australia. All the men were cricket-weary – but Botham more than most. He’d been a showman both on and off the pitch. The rockstar lifestyle had sat easily with him. He’d embraced the late nights, the parties, the boozing. Despite a persistent back problem that had surfaced in the Pakistan series, he’d continued to lead a life of leisure after hours. Botham’s candle had been burning at both ends for years now. And,
as he wheeled his luggage through the Brisbane International Airport, the wick was just about burned up. In the opening three-day tour match against Queensland at the Gabba he could only manage a combined total of two wickets and 32 runs across both innings. He was equally invisible in the match against Northern NSW. Against South Australia, he took the new ball, but managed just six overs across both innings. Throughout it all he maintained his heady lifestyle. Despite his cricket whites growing tighter about his ever-expanding girth, Botham continued to drink with the best of them. Willis was alarmed. He pulled his star aside and gave him a furrowed interrogation. Botham, who seemed blissfully unconcerned by his failures, blamed the back problem that had surfaced in the Pakistan series. Willis wasn’t convinced. He instructed England’s tour manager Doug Insole to give Botham a pep talk on preparation and training. Again, the criticism rolled off Botham’s back. After all, he’d been leading the same freewheeling lifestyle for years. He’d torn the cricketing world to shreds back then. Why should he change now? In the papers, Harold Larwood, the great English quick of the 1930s, ripped into
“Beefy” Botham: heroic in ’81, plain heavy in ’82.
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A N U M B E R S GA M E
NO SPORT DOES STATS LIKE CRICKET. AND CRICKET DOESN’T GET BIGGER THAN THE ASHES. HERE ARE SOME OF THE STRANGEST STATS TO EMERGE FROM 131 YEARS OF TORRID COMPETITION… by KERSI MEHER-HOMJI
Both the inaugural Test of March 1877 and the Centenary Test of March 1977 between Australia and England were played on the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Both were won by Australia. Both were won by the identical margin – 45 runs.
The years 1981 and 2005 had amazing similarities. Liverpool was crowned European champion, Prince Charles got married, the Pope died and Australia lost the Ashes. Of course, in 2013 the Pope resigned…
The number 7 also dominated two other Ashes Tests. In the August 1882 Test, Fred ‘Demon’ Spofforth captured seven wickets in each innings and England collapsed for 77 in the second innings to lose by seven runs, thus birthing the legend of the Ashes. In the August 1997 Test at The Oval, Glenn McGrath took seven wickets in the fi rst innings and Michael Kasprowicz seven wickets in the second. For England, eccentric spinner Phil Tufnell captured seven Aussie scalps in the fi rst innings.
Michael Angelo, not to be mistaken for the famous painter, was the fi rst streaker to intrude on a Test match. He took the fi eld in the 1975 Ashes Test at Lord’s at precisely 3:20 pm on August 4. He streaked to win a bet and celebrated by hurdling both sets of stumps. Unfortunately, he lost his money to the magistrate the following day.
No surprise that the number 7 popped up regularly during Australia’s 1977 Ashes Tour. But things got spooky during the second Ashes Test at Old Trafford, which started on 7-7-1977, the 77th day of the Australian tour. In the 77th over Doug Walters took his score to 77.
Mustachioed legend Graham Gooch (the top-scoring Englishman with 8900 runs at 42.58 in 118 Tests and the only Pom to record a triple century and a century in the same Test, against India at Lord’s in 1990) started his Ashes Test career disastrously. He recorded a pair of ducks against Australia in Birmingham in 1975.
The most expensive Ashes blunder? In The Oval Test of 1938, Australia’s wicketkeeper Ben Barnett missed stumping English opener Len Hutton off spinner Les Fleetwood-Smith. Hutton was on 40 at the time. He went on to amass 364, a Test record that stood for 20 years, while England posted
a total of 903. Off his own bat Hutton outscored Australia in both innings. Score: Hutton 364 beat Australia 201 and 123 by an innings and 40 runs. (Notably, due to injuries Don Bradman and Jack Fingleton did not bat in either innings).
In the 1902 Ashes Test in Manchester, Australia beat England by three runs, then the closest result by run margin in Test history. England had to wait 103 years before exacting their revenge. In the 2005 Test in Birmingham, Michael Vaughan’s Englishmen defeated Australia by two runs.
All 11 England players bowled against Australia in the 1884 Oval Test. The most successful bowler was the regular wicket-keeper, Alfred Lyttelton, who took 4-19. WG Grace kept wicket while he bowled.
In the Brisbane Test of 1928, England amassed 863 runs in two innings (521 and 342) during which Australian wicket-keeper Bert Oldfi eld did not concede a single bye. This match was triply notable: it was the fi rst Test played in Brisbane and the Test debut of Don Bradman.