Tag Archives: 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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How good is Clint McKay?

I’ve never rated Clint McKay. Never.

Every time I see him on the Australian team sheet I think it’s a weakened team. And it goes back farther than that, when he played for Victoria in the old days I felt the same way.

For years I’d be one of seven people in the G watching him for Victoria and telling the other six people that I didn’t rate him. Only for one of them to point out that he’d taken 4 for 60.

I should love Clint McKay. I should talk him up in random conversations and wear a t-shirt that just has his face on it. Clint McKay grew up 15 minutes from where I did. We should share a Northern Suburbs of Melbourne bond.

Instead of complaining about him I should be worshipping his head-swaying run-up, fetishizing his good lengths and eagerly anticipating his back of the hand slower ball.

A friend of mine had heard McKay might be their team’s overseas player and wanted to know about him. All I had for them was that he was tall and had a good slower ball. I could give them no more information of a guy who I’ve seen bowl probably 40 times.

To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen McKay not take wickets. But somehow I never seem to remember how he took them. They just appear over and over again.

He’s just one of those bowlers who takes wickets. In 18 ODIs, Mckay has 38 wickets at just under 20. That’s the sort of numbers that make any sort of preconceived perception sort of irrelevant.

And as I was writing this, he was Australia’s only bowler who looked like taking wickets. And then he was the only Australian bowler to be hit on to the cathedral by MS Dhoni, before following up with a waist-high no ball.

I’ve always felt that when someone hits McKay the ball goes further. He doesn’t get hit for small sixes, or gentle fours, people just hit him really hard. That could even be the whole reason I have had this thing against him.

Wickets are good, but everyone remembers the big hits.

That will probably be the case here again. McKay’s three wickets were handy, but I’d think more people will talk about how Dhoni almost killed spectators who were over a hundred metres away to win the game.

People are fickle like that.

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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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Victoria wins the County Championship

It has been a up and down year for the Victorian Outlaws of Nottinghamshire.

Running to the front of the class when David Hussey and Darren Eyelids Pattinson were playing as they were completely inspired by the fact Dirty Dirk Nannes had decided to play for them in the T20 tournament.

Then trouble started. And by trouble, I mean a complete lack of cricket motor skills.  It was as if the whole team was on absinthe.

It is now clear that when David Hussey left the county to represent the real Victoria, the outlaws faltered.

Left with only Eyelids Pattinson people thought the Outlaws would not be able to get across the line.

They were wrong.

After Adam Voges and Samit Patel had given away their wickets carelessly, it was up to Eyelids and some other scruffy to chap to get them the 400th run of the innings ensuring a batting point.

I would explain batting points in county cricket now, but it would be a shame for you all to fall asleep now.

So after Eyelids gets his four runs, ensuring that Notts are only one point behind Somerset, he then goes out to bowl perhaps the most important over in cricket history in which two runs were scored and no wickets were taken. The three wickets were taken by other bowlers who were inspired by his efforts.

Three wickets was all the Vic Outlaws needed and the title was theirs due to bowling points.

Somerset, who only signed one Victorian for the season (and never used him), gave up their chase early when it all got too hard. Not even staying out on the ground at the end, just leaving it with a very non-Victorian whimper.

Obviously one Victorian playing for them would have ensured at least one more point during the season, but they never had the Outlaws foresight.

Sure, you could argue that technically all Eyelids did was score 1% of the total and take no wickets as the Vic Outlaws won the championship, but it is that sort of small mindedness that stops you from ever truly being Victorian.

Well played, Eyelids, you were the glue, the spine and the intestional fortitude of this side.

I am sure everyone agrees.

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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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Nice Bryce takes 5 for Essex

I actually wrote this last night, which is tonight for me.  Or to be technical I wrote it after midnight, so earlier this morning.

I tell you that because the headline says that Bryce McGain took 5 wickets.

Now he may not have.

There is a chance, however slim, that Bryce, in his first game for Essex, did not take 5 wickets.

Life is unpredictable, years ago I kicked random cats, now i kick my own.

So while Bryce is probably going to take a five for in his first bowl ever in county cricket, he may not.

Regardless, I will back him to do this. Sure I didn’t see how he bowled in the match like Sarah did.

But I feel like Bryce and I have an unspoken, unnatural and unreal bond. He probably feels it too.

Bryce has overcome so much in his life, that all he needs is one wicket to complete a well earned (read exxpensive) 5 wicket haul, so he will do it.

Obviously there are some things beyond his control like a declaration, flash flood, or some nasty type digging up the pitch, but other than something like that, Bryce will prevail.

It won’t be a glorious five for.

They won’t talk about it for the ages.

Like most things for Bryce, he will work hard for it, it won’t be given to him, and it will take longer than most, but at 38, he will have his first five wicket haul in county cricket.

Or he won’t, and I’ll delete this post and you’ll never know about it.

Or I’ll leave it up, as a tribute to Bryce, the man who took 4 wickets in his first county match, but bloody well earned them.

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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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the cricket twilight zone

Currently I am in some sort of a cricket haze.

I’ve been trapped in that cricket time zone that only a sick fucker would wilfully expose themselves too.

A cricket twilight zone where everything is happening around me and I’m trying to watch it all.

If you are reading this, I assume that at least once in your life you have done the same. The two test matches showing on the same day but in two different time zones has killed many a fan.

For me, it started for the shield final.  After spending one whole night looking for an illegal feed of the game I ended up just following the ball by ball on cricinfo till late into the night, and swapping that with my iphone and cricket Australia’s site from there on in.

This all became worth it when VICTORIA TOOK A SHEFFIELD SHIELD TROPHY SIZE DUMP on Queensland to win back to fucken back shield victories.  Although on the first night when they were 6/75 I did want to murder them.

Then the Australia Vs New Zealand test started, and being that Sky had spent all their budget on Zimbabwe West Indies, I had to watch it on illegal feeds instead.

Between these two series I was kept up to 2 or 3 am for a day or so, until I started my shifts on test match sofa.

Those tests started at 3am my time.

So my body went from going to bead at 3am, to being fully awake at 3am.

The first night of my commentary I was completely pissed after co-inventing a drinking game around moustaches in the show the First 48.

So drunk, watching one test on TV, watching another on the computer and following the match that meant the most to me via text commentary.

For the small time I am awake in the afternoon I usually watch about 30 minutes of comatose IPL action as well, generally I go back to sleep before I even work out who is playing.

It has been a big couple of days; I know I enjoyed most of it, although I feel like I have been flying around the world as cricket was shown to me on one of those shitty little screens.

I was so tired at one stage I’ll swear I saw an Australian player kiss his sponsor’s badge.

Funny what your mind does to you with no sleep, some alcoholic intervention and not enough sleep.

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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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