Australia won wrong

“We’re going to play entertaining cricket,” Australia coach Darren Lehmann, on the 0730 report earlier this year.

“Get on with it.” “Just declare.” “Play a shot.” “Boring.” The MCG crowd, today.

Every single opinion you have on cricket is wrong. Even when it isn’t. No matter how firmly you believe, or have researched, or how often you’ve seen it play out, you’re still probably wrong. So is Ian Chappell. So is Ravi Shastri. So is your uncle. So is your daughter. All of them, wrong. Because rights and wrongs in cricket are never absolutes. It doesn’t work that way.

Today Australia declared at lunch, well just after lunch was supposed to begin. There were people who thought Australia batted three hours too many. There were people who thought Australia batted two hours too many. There were people who thought it was only an hour. Each thought the other was wrong.

Then there were people who thought there was no need for Australia to declare. They thought the longer they batted, the more chance they’d win the series. Why give India a sniff? Why worry about Virat Kohli when you didn’t need to? Either India play out the draw, and you win the series, or they collapse and you win the Test and the series. The early declarer obviously thought this was as wrong.

Even if Australia had bowled out India by tea, some would still have said they had declared too late. Steven Smith would be wrong, and a winner. India end up nine wickets down, Smith would be wrong and a winner. India finish three wickets down with 50 runs to get, Smith would be wrong, and a winner. Instead it was four wickets left for Australia, many would say that’s a session of bowling. Maybe they’re wrong.

Under Lehmann, we were promised exciting cricket. When talking about how England play, Lehmann said, “Dour. It’s not the type of cricket I’d play.” In general, he’s not wrong. This morning if you had England on the scoreboard instead of Australia, would anyone have noticed? Big lead, plodding batting, waiting for milestones, ensuring you couldn’t lose – it was dour, dull and defensive. This was Boof’s boys at their most English.

There were MCC members in London cheering as the ones in Melbourne were screaming for a declaration.

Ryan Harris likes to play his shots, and often pose after them as the crowd cheers his work. Here he scored 13 runs from nearly 20 overs. The only applause was from a few blokes giving him the slow clap. Shaun Marsh made only a few more in the same time. This was the innings of a man trying desperately to show he could play this kind of innings. Gritty and determined. Obdurate rather than obliterate.

Today Australia declared at lunch, well just after lunch was supposed to begin. There were people who thought Australia batted three hours too many. There were people who thought Australia batted two hours too many. There were people who thought it was only an hour. Each thought the other was wrong.

Then there were people who thought there was no need for Australia to declare. They thought the longer they batted, the more chance they’d win the series. Why give India a sniff? Why worry about Virat Kohli when you didn’t need to? Either India play out the draw, and you win the series, or they collapse and you win the Test and the series. The early declarer obviously thought this was as wrong.

Even if Australia had bowled out India by tea, some would still have said they had declared too late. Steven Smith would be wrong, and a winner. India end up nine wickets down, Smith would be wrong and a winner. India finish three wickets down with 50 runs to get, Smith would be wrong, and a winner. Instead it was four wickets left for Australia, many would say that’s a session of bowling. Maybe they’re wrong.

Under Lehmann, we were promised exciting cricket. When talking about how England play, Lehmann said, “Dour. It’s not the type of cricket I’d play.” In general, he’s not wrong. This morning if you had England on the scoreboard instead of Australia, would anyone have noticed? Big lead, plodding batting, waiting for milestones, ensuring you couldn’t lose – it was dour, dull and defensive. This was Boof’s boys at their most English.

There were MCC members in London cheering as the ones in Melbourne were screaming for a declaration.

Ryan Harris likes to play his shots, and often pose after them as the crowd cheers his work. Here he scored 13 runs from nearly 20 overs. The only applause was from a few blokes giving him the slow clap. Shaun Marsh made only a few more in the same time. This was the innings of a man trying desperately to show he could play this kind of innings. Gritty and determined. Obdurate rather than obliterate.

The entertainment continued as Marsh played and missed, started unlikely singles and then ran himself out on 99, but it wasn’t really the kind of excitement Lehmann had promised. This was more spoof than action film. It was made funnier by the arrival of a playing and missing Josh Hazlewood, and then Australia forgot that at nine wickets down, sessions get extended. They couldn’t even walk off the ground correctly.

Then Uncle Boof called them in. Australia’s dour hours were finally over.

It was telling – and maybe this is wrong – that it was Lehmann who could be seen waving them in, not Smith. Of course Smith could have been doing his shoelaces up behind the coach. Some thought that under Michael Clarke, Australia would have declared far earlier, they talked about the Oval Test. But that was a dead rubber, and a gamble for a win, so the comparison was wrong. Clarke was even defending Australia’s actions from the commentary box. Some people still think Clarke would have declared earlier. Maybe they are wrong, maybe Clarke was wrong, maybe Lehmann was wrong.

194,481 came to this Test. Plus the two coaching staff, so probably 200,000 all up. All with their own opinions. All wrong.

Smith shook hands with MS Dhoni, ending the match with four overs to go and four wickets to take. Maybe Lehmann or Clarke thought that was wrong. On William Barak bridge, the fans thought it was wrong. One bloke said, “bloody, defensive, crap cricket.” His mate said, “They won it the wrong way”.

Wrong. Even in glory.

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5 thoughts on “Australia won wrong

  1. jogesh99 says:

    Kohli captain! Scary.

  2. SpryCorpse says:

    I didn’t mind Smith ruling out an Indian win completely.
    The declarations in Adelaide made it seem that India were competitive in that match when really they were comfortably outplayed.
    Another generous declaration in Melbourne would have made it exciting but would have artificially suggested that India were more competitive than they really are.
    Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I like the excitement of the run chase versus the attempt at taking all wickets. But there is still a place for taking the run chase out of the equation. As it was if the Aussies had taken their catches they probably would have bowled them out in two sessions.

    Seems like the only way India will win a Test in this series is to rely on the generosity of Australian declarations.

  3. jogesh99 says:

    Profound understanding of the game Spry – captains’ declare out of generosity it seems.

    Oh, if they had taken the catches, well, learn to catch, then talk. “Its not the standards we set for ourselves, not the Aussie way, … puke puke” – the usual horse-dung the Aussies spew out every time they fall short.

    You should be their script writer, you are that banal and talentless.

    • SpryCorpse says:

      Thanks for that, jogesh99 the troll. Although perhaps not adding a lot to our collective wisdom.

      Good to see your not bitter about another pitiful Indian overseas tour.

  4. Asif says:

    Dhoni is only 33 and is out of test cricket? Why?

    Was he pushed aside for the new take no shit India as championed by Ravi?

    Perhaps he couldn’t take the stomach cramps eKohli gave him?

    Any way you look at it eKohli will give everyone the shits.

    Yeah brilliant player but the stench he gives off is pure t20.

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