Category Archives: victorian bushrangers

The lost White hope

When he was a teenager, people said Cameron White was the next Warne, who could bat and might captain Australia. It was a lot to carry.

White looked like he could carry it. Until you’re standing near him, you don’t quite get the full effect. His nickname is from a polar bear that appears in rum ads. Which when you’re close to him you fully understand. He’s not built like a batsman, or even a cricketer. He’s built more like a gym-body beach bum.

His shoulders are epic. White is constantly pulling at his sleeves. It is probably a tic from a lifetime of ill-fitting shirts. He has what sports commentators like to refer to as an impressive frame. He looks like he could pick up most cricketers and toss them back over his shoulder just for fun.

If that’s what he looks like, it’s often the complete opposite of how he actually is on the field.

When White bowls he seems one ball away from breakdown. A stock ball that produces few worries. He relies on pushing his even straighter ball through a bit quicker and trapping a player back on the crease. It is a risky practice. And unless you have the genius of Anil Kumble, you are going to fail more than you succeed. The only way it works is if you believe in your method completely. It seemed like White never has. At times of late, he has even resorted to medium pace. Giving up legspin for medium pace is the last resort of any leggie.

When White bats he has two modes. Angel of death or dead duck. Early on he always looks one full and straight ball away from a dismissal. Other men with his power intimidate bowlers, but unlike Symonds or Watson, White can look awkward and out of place in the middle. Until he hits the ball long and straight, his innings seem to be played with a handbrake on. When he does take a ball long, he often leaves his bat up for a good few seconds. On other batsmen it looks arrogant. For White, it is almost surprise at what he can do.

There is not a bowler on earth that he can’t lift down the ground and into the stands. Most of them well beyond that. When he is in a purple patch of form, your best chance of getting him caught is in the second tier. And once in that form, the good form can last for months. Unfortunately, the bad form can last just as long. And he has seemingly no middle ground.

The only time you see White as he should be is in the field. If he’s unsure as a bowler and flawed as a batsman, as a captain he’s a king. David Hookes was given great credit for giving White the captaincy at such a young age, but Hookes would have been pronounced blind had he not seen the phenomenal tactical nous of White.

White reads cricket as well as any modern player. It has not been taught by coaches or academies, it is a natural gift. To see him in the field is to see a captain as one should be. Upbeat, attacking, in charge, active, and ahead of the game. In limited- overs cricket he understands angles about as well as any captain. He has the energy and spirit of a young captain who is not scarred despite ten years of professional captaincy. For captaincy nerds, it is worth just watching him in the field. He’s Shane Warne 2.0 without the “all lost to win” attitude in every game. Results-wise he is the best captain Victoria have ever had, and he’s still only 30.

From the start of his international career he was in the circle, giving Ponting advice. Sometimes Ponting liked it, sometimes it appeared as if he had a headache. Before, Ponting had listened to titans of Australian cricket – Gilchrist, Lehmann and Warne. Now a young kid who looked like he’d got lost on the way back from a beach was yapping at him, and pointing to all the places he thought Ponting should be attacking or defending.

Australia thought so much of White that when Michael Clarke stepped down from T20 cricket, White took the job. It wasn’t a big surprise. He had led Victoria as they dominated Australian domestic T20 cricket. He broke records in English T20 cricket, and was one of the first players tapped on the shoulder for the IPL. He was known to most as a captain before he was known as a cricketer.

White’s reign was short. Six games. As a batsman he struggled due to one of his hauntingly long form lapses. He never bowled. Soon he was out of the ODI team and lost his role as captain. White has not played ODI cricket since 2011, and was not in the current T20 side to play England.

At one stage he was future Warne. At another, future Australia Test captain. Now he is a very occasional bowler who will barely be remembered as a former Australia T20 captain. If he ever could have put the confidence and belief he had in captaincy into the rest of his game, he would have become the sort of Australian cricketer their team needs so much now. He has elements of the three kinds of cricketers Australia want most. A spinner. A batsman. And a leader.

At 30, he has been replaced as Victoria’s captain. Matthew Wade has taken the job. It is a massive move to dump the second-most successful captain in Shield cricket when he is only 30. But it is only partly about White.

Cricket Victoria felt the indirect pressure of Cricket Australia to provide Australia with a potential future captain. There is a leadership gap in Australian cricket, and Cricket Victoria (Cricket New South Wales replaced Simon Katich with Stephen O’Keeffe) is trying to fill it. Wade is a fighter, someone who has overcome cancer and a poor wicketkeeping technique to make it as Australia’s first-choice keeper, right up until the Ashes. Yet the major reason Brad Haddin was brought back was for leadership. Which seems odd, considering Wade’s new job.

In the push for youth and magic potions, Cricket Australia have often discarded their strength, a strong Sheffield Shield competition. Their tampering with the Futures League was a disaster that they are rectifying. Cricket Australia constantly rewards youth over skill and experience. While some would love it if the kids all had a go, if the kids all have a go and there is no one around to test them, what is the point? What will they learn playing in Cricket Australia’s indirect age-group series? This pressure on the states to find leaders is just another short-term fix that won’t help. Wade, 25, is a potential leader. White, 30, is out.

The only problem is, Australian Test captains rarely come from Shield cricket these days. Australian captains are picked from within the team. Mostly from the players who have played several years of international cricket, which makes them unavailable for Shield cricket. Border, Taylor, Waugh, Ponting and Clarke didn’t get to play entire seasons as Shield captains. Perhaps with the exception of Taylor, they really learnt the job as second in charge of the Test team, or through captaining the limited-overs sides.

With Haddin averaging 22 in his comeback series, the chances are Wade will be the keeper in all three formats and he’ll barely captain Victoria. With Haddin out of the side, if the Australian team really rate Wade, he’d be made vice-captain of the Test side. If Victoria really wanted to replace White with a potential future captain who could get invaluable experience, they’d be better off with Alex Keath or Peter Hanscomb. They are both older than White was when he took over from Darren Berry.

Or they could have left White there to help develop the next generation of cricketers. Other than as an occasional member of the limited-overs side, the one thing that White can still give Australian cricket is his captaincy. Not at the international level but at domestic. A young first-class batsman should be examined by a smart captain. Poking at a technique that has been largely untested in age-group cricket and academies. A Victorian bowler with promise being mentored by an expert. A player trying to get back into the Test team up against a captain who knows how to make him struggle.

White’s batting and bowling might not have been Test quality, but his captaincy is. The one thing he did best, the one way he could continue to help Australian cricket, is now being taken out of Shield cricket. How soon before he drifts into the life of a T20 freelancer and is virtually lost to Australian cricket altogether?

You’d think a country that is having so many problems producing skilled cricketers would be a little more hesitant to throw away the ones they have. A few days after his 30th birthday, Australian cricket has started to distance itself from one of its lost generation. In doing so, they continue to lose.

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no one loses like Victoria

List A cricket is so unimportant to the world; the finalof the Ryobi Cup is on a Wednesday. When the final started, there were roughly 120 people in the ground, and you had to do two and a half laps of the G to even find any overpriced food.

 

But perhaps the reason that so few people made their way out to the G wasn’t the overpriced food, the weird Wednesday final or even the fact that most people don’t know List A cricket still exists, but because Victorian fans are so used Victoria losing finals.

 

They knew the result before they even went. Coming into the final, Victoria had lost six of the last seven Australian domestic limited-overs tournaments. They’ve lost Ford Ranger Cups and Ryobi Cups. Twice before they have lost to Queensland.

 

So when watching Victoria in this final, the few people at the ground, or the few more watching on Foxtelwere just wondering how Victoria were going to stuff this up.

 

They started well with the ball, getting plenty of movement and keeping the Bulls scoring pretty slowly. It was only extras who looked like scoring early on.

 

“Too many extras. We’re going to lose because of extras, aren’t we.”

 

Then young allrounder Jason Floros came in and actually started scoring. The first Bulls’ player to look like he could make any runs.

 

“Floros, bloody hell, what the hell is a Floros.”

 

In the Bulls final over, Floros went six, four, six. 16 runs in one over, let alone 3 balls, is huge in a match where only one other player scored at better than a run a ball.

 

“Now we’re going to be beaten by a guy who should be batting at number five for the Canberra Comets.”

 

While 147 in 32 overs seems an easy enough chase, the ball was moving around, Ryan Harris was in form, and there was the pressure of a final chase.

“147, bloody hell, we’ll never get there now, 120 is the most we could ever chase with confidence. And that’s in 50 overs. “

 

When Quiney left early, Finch got a dodgy lbw, and Hill and Hussey went to poor pulls, the total of 147 looked a long way off.

 

“I told you we’d lose. Our only chance of winning now is if the rain comes before the Duckworth Lewis kicks in at 20 overs. But the umpires won’t do that, they hate Victorians.”

 

Then Peter Hanscomb and Cameron White built a small confident partnership, they edged their way up on the total, keeping it at a run a ball-ish so that Victoria had the chance to improve their record in the finals.

 

“Don’t be an idiot, this is just giving us false hope, we aren’t going to win this. We’ll stuff it up, just wait.”

 

Then even when White and Hanscomb went out, Victoria kept up the pace as McKay started bouncing balls off the nylex sign and Sheridan looked good as well. They did so well that they made the equation five off ten with three wickets in hand. A winnable hand in any game. Victoria had finally done it.

 

“We can still lose, not sure how, but we will”.

From there, Victoria lost three wickets for two runs to lose their seventh final of the last eight.

 

“I can’t believe we lost that. Oh, yes I can. Of course I can, it is what we do, we lose finals like champions. No one loses like us. Mind you, it was the umpires fault, they hate Victorians, the whole cricket world is biased against us. Chris Rogers hasn’t played a Test since he became a Victorian. How is Cameron White not Test captain yet? Why is there a final anyway, we are clearly the best side in every game that isn’t a final, it’s bloody rigged mate. I blame New South Wales.”

 

If Cricket Australia really want crowds to come back to the Ryobi Cup, forget about playing the finals on weekends, tinkering with the rules or even getting the big named players to turn up. What they have to do is make sure Victoria is in every final, and that the final isn’t played in Melbourne.

If your team was playing Victorian in a final in your home town, why wouldn’t you turn up, you’d be all but guaranteed a victory and your chance to see the Vics embarrass themselves.

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the end of the end for Bryce McGain

Oh baby, when it’s over, it’s over. It’s been a hell of a ride.

Most people don’t go from an ordinary bank worker who plays a bit of cricket on the weekend in their 20s to playing for their country in 30s.

It doesn’t happen for many reasons, and at least one of those is that bank employees usually bowl off spin.

Bryce McGain bowled leg spin. I said that in the past tense on purpose.

And while most IT workers were busy hacking into ex girlfriends email accounts, Bryce was planning to play Test cricket.  Even if test cricket didn’t know or care who he was.

Then through his dogged denial, the most amazing spin bowling drought in Australian cricket, his will to succeed and the power of legspin, Bryce played for his country, and was crucified.

It was perhaps one of the greatest sacrifices of a human being that anyone will see.

Bryce’s flesh was hacked off with blunt objects piece by piece and thrown to the masses by brutal South Africans.

No player has ever come back from anything that harsh in their first test, and even though Bryce was a one man middle aged fairytale come true, not even he could recover from this slaughtering.

Yet, Bryce didn’t run off and cry.

He just kept going.

Age had always been against him, but the man could not step down, he could not fade away, and he would not retire with his one cap clenched firmly in his grasp.

After the ritual public embarrassment he had he could have been forgiven for taking the job as a caretaker of a factory in some shut down industrial estate and spending the rest of his days like a real life Wall-e.

Instead, Bryce stood tall, and came back for Victoria and continued to try to get back into the Australian team.

His whole career had been a series of fool’s errands, what was one more?

That said, this was the first time that he knew what everyone else had always thought, he wasn’t going to make it back.

It seemed like this was just to prove he was made of something.

That made the fact he tried one last time even braver than all those years of him trying to make it in obscurity.

At least before he had that small glimmer of hope that what he was doing might lead to playing for Australia, and that if it didn’t, few would know he failed.

This one was in vain and in public, with people sniggering and mentioning his figures as he continued to try hard with far less belief than he had before.

Yet, there he was, turning up for Victoria, trying hard, and doing everything he could to give himself the slightest chance.

If he was the middle age dream before, the man who made it because he wouldn’t give up, now he was the middle age reality, the man who kept doing what he did out of pride and because he probably didn’t know what else to do.

Now that decision has been made for him, Victoria’s decision to release him from contract is nothing like the brutal way South Africa ended his test career.  This was far more like a loving family member putting a pillow over Bryce’s mouth and waiting for him to stop wriggling.

Today Bryce McGain starts the rest of his life, it’s probably not going to be as cool as playing for his country, but he was the man who was never supposed to make it and did, so I wouldn’t put anything beyond him.

It’s been one hell of a story, Bryce. Well played and good luck.

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Paris Hodge

Zulquarnain Haider showed us that with a bit of Social Media work, you can get picked for your country.

Lady Hamilton-Brown has tried just appearing as unnamed friend in photos beside real English cricketers.

And Eddie Cowan has tried to use twitter to get selected.

All of these ideas have some merit.

Now Brad Hodge is back on the scene, and they all look kind of tame.

Being that Brad Hodge came up with it, probably in the middle of one of his great recent innings for Victoria, his idea is so much better than anyone else’s.

Even Zulquarnain Haider’s strategy, which worked, is not in the same league.

Whether batting or coming up with off the wall suggestions, the Ego of Hodge is so far better than anyone else it is embarrassing.

With the press all over him and Victorian fans doing their bi-annual why isn’t Brad Hodge playing for Australia love fest, he has been forced to talk about playing for Australia again.

His favourite, and often only, topic.

This time he has come up with a foolproof way to get selected.

“Maybe I could do a naked calendar as well to try to get my name up there.”

Bang. Goal.

Yes, maybe you could.

The thought of your cock aiming directly at the lens should be enough for the selectors to at least think of playing you just to stop the calendar.

But, why stop there, Brad?

Why not take it all the way.

Like you do out on the field.

A calendar will take time to organise, probably some cash, then a distributor and finding a camera person willing to get their assistants to lube you up and then aim their camera at the Hodge glory.

On the other hand, your mobile device probably has a camera, MMS and the numbers of all the selectors.

All you need to do is drink a couple of glasses of red win while snappin’ and sendin’.

How long into this photo campaign do you think the selectors will find a way to use Brad Hodge, just to make the smut go away?

Two days, a day? An hour?

Then Hodge is back.

Full frontal nudity and technology has always been an unbeatable team.

Brad Hodge is forever ahead of the curve.

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how Victoria started me drinking

By losing.

That is how.

It has been a long time since I have seen the Vics play live, about 12 months.

These days I find out the result in full.

I don’t have to go through the pain of waiting of watching, listening or reading updates of how the game is.

I just crack up my phone, find the page and feel good or bad.

Yesterday I had to watch.

Seeing the first ball find the rope.

Then the first over costing 17 from Dirty Dirk Nannes.

I had to sit through both of Shane Harwood’s overs.

Everytime David Hussey made a questionable captaincy decision i saw it.

Davey Jacobs playing for an IPL contract.

Maxwell provide me with no reason to ever back him.

And the stumps doing more dancing than the paid “dancers”.

For most of the game I just felt ill.

I’m not used to this feeling anymore.

I didn’t know how to handle it.

My stomach couldn’t handle this.

At the moment I’d prefer this was a knock out tournament, I don’t need my ass inverting 3 more times as I watch the Vics play.

Now, it is true that I could just not watch.

But I can’t do that either, it just isn’t right.

So instead I have bought some bourbon.

Cheap no name brand bourbon.

It shall get me through this tournament, I hope.

Or Victoria could start playing better.

But I trust the bourbon more.

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the david saker bowling group

David Saker has been announced as bowling coach for England. Saker had to beat out Craig “real estate mogul” McDermott and the man with the most serious face in the business, Allan Donald.

I spent way too many afternoons watching Saker run in, beat the bat, yell, walk back muttering to himself, and then repeat.

He was so clearly insane, in the best possible fast bowling way.

I remember one game where he sledged a batsmen so loudly that I could hear it and I was out the back buying a pie.

Victorians loved him, everyone else hated him.

So what will he do when he takes over a bowling group full of male models and solid notherners.

Stuart Broad

For the first time in his career, Broad focuses on bowling tight nagging spells just outside off stump and never tries to bowl anything else. Everything is going fine until Billy Doctrove is asleep one day and misses a plumb LBW, next over Broad is fielding a ball at short fine leg but still manages to “accidently” to hit Doctrove in the throat with a throw to the keeper. Broad goes off the field to write up his apology.

James Anderson

Starts bareknuckle brawling and this leads to a dramatic improvement in his performance. Whereas before he would glare at a batsmen and the batsmen would think he was auditioning for Men’s Health, now they see the scars and glint in his eye and get scared.

Ryan Sidebottom & Tim Bresnan

Nothing much changes in they way they play, but experts notice that their sledging has a much more personal edge to it, Ryan refers to it as the 1 percent he needs for success. Unfortunately Sky mic Bresnan up for a T20 game and then have to apologise to all homosexuals, hermaphrodites and anyone who has ever loved the Little Mermaid. Sidebottom is dropped after bowling a bouncer fromtwo metres over the crease before running through to the batsmen and clothes lining the batsmen.

Liam Plunkett

Never plays again.

Graham Onions

Claims he is, and always has been, a rolling stones fan and hates that pissy pop music like Lily Allen. He also dyes his hair strawberry blond, puts on some weight, pinks his cheeks regularly and finally grows a goatee. He also lengthens his follow through by 10 feet.

Darren Pattinson

Hits Stuart Law in a pro40 game and is rushed into the test side where he becomes an into the wind specialist and goes on to take 300 wickets for England.

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dirty dirk declares

First class cricket is pretty cool.

It is way better than manga or trip hop.

But it isn’t for everyone.

Dirk Nannes has stated to this very website that his favourite form of cricket is 2020.

To most people that is sacrilegious.

Dirk is not most people.

As far as cricketers go he is the Kakihara of the modern game, cool, unusual and must watch.

He does things differently, is different and goes about life in his own way.

So when he says he is quitting first class cricket on the eve of a second straight shield final, you shouldn’t be surprised.

Dirk’s record in first class cricket is pretty good, an average of 25. So it isn’t like he is shit at it.

However, this year he has played one game of first class cricket.

In his short time he has never played a full season.

I’m not even sure he could make it through more than 3 full games in a row anymore.

And why would he put his body through this?

There is more chance of you walking in on Sarah Palin naked then Dirk playing test cricket, so why would he put himself through it?

As a Victorian fan I am disappointed, but if it means he will continue to play cricket at the top level for Australia, Delhi, Notts and Victoria I can’t really complain too much.

He will still remain the 2020 bone crusher, and that is what he does best.

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John Wayne Hastings – the hype starts here

Batting average of 51 this year.

Bowling average of 22 in his career.

3rd leading wicket taker in shield cricket this year.

Can legitimately claim he is from NSWales.

Built like Jesse Ventura’s brick shithouse.

Is called the duke.

He is no Steven Seagal, but other than that what’s not to like?

Where is the hype though? Do I have to everything myself.

Surely Hastings has done enough this year to get a few people singing from his hymn sheet.

I saw him play a couple of 2020 games a few years back and I thought he looked like a player, I didn’t really expect a season like this.

So I am starting the hype, the boy can play, his stats are pretty, and if he keeps taking wickets he should be pressing for a spot in some team in the future.

Although he still couldn’t get Smooth Eddie Cowan out, but few can, as he is still the leading shield run scorer of the year.

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Is Cameron White the new Shane Watson?

Another post from the Omitted. A new omitted as well, I am building an army of omitted volunteers now.
For the last couple of summers, the only thing I have enjoyed more than Mango Weis Bars in the bath has been been hurling abuse at Shane Watson and wishing every move he made resulted in another broken toe nail that would rule him out of the next series.  Not because I knew he couldn’t play – I have always been a huge fan of his batting – but there has been so much to dislike the way he carries himself that overshadows all of his (then) underperforming skills. And then he found himself in South Africa and Abu Dhabi and my abuse turned into applause.

I needed a new target. I did not have to look very far. I have disliked Cameron White for years. The fact his name rhymed with Shitey reminded me there is in fact a (cricket) God. I am not alone it is fair to be said.
Hatred is too harsh a word. I hate warm beer, I don’t hate Cameron White. I just thoroughly disliked him. Part jealousy of the ride the has been given, part arrogant demeanour he gives off – I have yet to see him come in for a beer after a game, he never uses anyone’s name when saying hello, I even played in a game when he captained the great Shane Warne and set his fields for him. Warney responded by ensuring that the ball went everywhere the fielders weren’t just to prove a point.

In the same game I looked up at the scoreboard when he came out to bat and his List A average was 16. How could this bloke be captaining the strongest domestic team averaging 16, pulling facial expressions of a retarded Labrador and bowling more slop than is thrown onto plates of homeless shelters around the country. He could catch, and is the still best slipper in the country. But how does this push you through the national selection set up? Was he giving hand trolleys to Big Merv?

He was the laughing stock of the professional cricketing circuit in Australia. He would bully them in the winter at Taunton to prop up his floundering first class average that in itself was propped up by batting behind Hodge and Hussey on the slow wickets of the MCG.

There was the Indian Test tour debacle that had people closing one eye to avoid seeing such a demeaning act of the sacred baggy green and one open to not miss a second of laughter. Even Sachin felt sorry for him.  This however proved to be  a turning point – it was as though he too realised he could not bowl and to comfort himself he decided to become the most kick arse one day batsman in the world.
It is fair to say I am now a convert. His hundred at the ‘Gabba was as good as I have ever witnessed. Not just the stroke play, but how he timed his run, the eased of how he dealt with pressure. It was nothing short of world class. I still secretly harbour desires to kick him hard in the shins, twice, but in his form, he would probably wind up and slog sweep me over mid wicket for six.

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