Maddinson Searches for Joy and Redemption!

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To say that the selection of batsman Nic Maddinson in Australia’s T20 squad to tour England and Zimbabwe has been met with scepticism is to put it mildly. A brief flirtation with social media is all one needs to do to sense that the Ozzie fans’ vibes aren’t great. To put his selection into context, please be aware that despite a decent finish to the Sheffield Shield season, Maddo has actually been released from his state contract with New South Wales. He has however recently transferred and signed a three-year deal with Melbourne Stars on the back of good Big Bash form. His last T20I cap came over three years ago but to say that he looked like the proverbial young buck in extra strong car headlights when he graced the Test arena would be an understatement. In that form of the game, Maddo averages just 6.75.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/333780.html

After a seemingly traumatic time, Maddinson even took time out from the game. Hopefully the shorter format is where he can relax, excel and prove the doubters wrong.

England’s Alex Hales and Adil Rashid are focusing on white-ball cricket only and there are other players out there such as Maddinson’s compatriot Ben Laughlin who only play T20 cricket. The fact that Maddinson doesn’t have a First Class or List A contract shouldn’t really matter when it comes to T20I selection.

I’m an England fan but never like to see someone struggle as horrendously as Maddinson did in Test cricket. Fingers crossed that the still only 26-year-old can make a mark as he and Australia seek redemption!

Chewin’ the Fat Over Chewing Gum

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Victoria batsman Will Pucovski recently retired hurt from a Sheffield Shield match after being hit on the head by a delivery from New South Wales quick bowler Sean Abbott.

https://www.cricket.com.au/video/will-pucovski-concussion-sean-abbott-bowler-victoria-nsw-blues-sheffield-shield-junction-oval/2018-03-04

Pucovski has a bit of a track record for getting hit and of course for Abbott, the bowler of the delivery that tragically terminated Phillip Hughes’ life, it must have been particularly distressing.

Former England batsman Mark Ramprakash would chew gum when batting and if he was not out overnight, he would stick the gum to the top of the bat handle then carry on chewing it the following morning. I’ve previously written about why I think all players should where a helmet when batting even if the spinners are on.

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/04/16/have-to-have-a-helmet/

At the risk of drawing you to the obvious, I don’t think any athlete should chew gum when playing sport.

Imagine a batsman is at the crease and is chewing gum, they get hit by the ball or even when diving for the crease they accidentally allow the gum to fall down the back of the throat. It could become lodged and they could choke. The other players and medical team might not be aware that the player was chewing gum. It may seem like one of those once in a blue moon scenarios but it could happen and it’s just not worth the risk.

In football (Soccer), a player chewing gum may jump for the ball, get a knock to the head from an opposition player and choke on their gum. It’s just not worth the risk. Is the gum enhancing the player’s performance? No!

Is Ben Stokes the Best Cricketer in the World?

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Australian captain Steven Smith averages 59.76 with the bat in Test cricket.

South African paceman Dale Steyn averages 22.31 with the ball in Test cricket.

England all-rounder Ben Stokes averages 35.72 with the bat and 33.93 with the ball in Test cricket. Those numbers wouldn’t be considered good enough for either a specialist batsman or bowler.

So how could anyone possibly entertain the idea that Stokes could be the best cricketer?

The clue is rather obviously in the word ‘cricketer’. Smith may be the best batsman but he only bowls a bit. Steyn may be the best bowler but he only bats a bit. Surely to be considered the best cricketer you must contribute significantly with both bat and ball. Regarding Stokes, let’s not forget his fielding prowess either.

If Stokes were a specialist batsman who rarely bowled would he average 45 with the bat or if he were a bowler who batted at eleven would he average 25 with the ball?

If Stokes was the recipient of the award ‘World’s Best Cricketer’, surely Smith would look at Stokes’ batting stats and take umbrage. Surely Steyn would look at the England all-rounder’s bowling stats and go “Eh?”.

Taking a step backwards for a moment: Who is the greatest cricketer of all-time?

Many many people would answer by saying the name Sir Donald Bradman. The New South Wales native averaged an unparallelled 99.94 with the bat but claimed a mere two Test wickets. Bradman is so far ahead (There aren’t many between him and Smith) that he can possibly claim to go from being not just the the best batsman but the best cricketer. However George Lohmann averaged 10.76 with the ball but only totalled 213 Test runs. He might be the best bowler but surely not the best cricketer.

So does the world’s best cricketer have to be an all-rounder and are any of the following the best cricketer of all-time? Are the names listed below better than Bradman because they offer something in both disciplines or is Bradman so far ahead that his lack of bowling contribution is insignificant?

Kapil Dev (India) 31.05/29.64

Richard Hadlee (New Zealand) 27.16/22.29

Ian Botham (England) 33.54/28.40

Imran Khan (Pakistan) 37.69/22.81

Wow, okay. I selected those names off the top of my head but just look at those statistics! Clearly Ben Stokes has some way to go and I think that I’d take Khan over Bradman. Sorry Don!

Ultimately I think that to compare all-rounders with specialists is futile. (Well that was a waste of my time then!) Each player is only one man in the team. Maybe there is no such thing as ‘the best cricketer’ but only ‘the best cricketers’. Rather apt in a team sport.

Oh Keith!

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A word of advice to all you cricket lovers out there, to my loyal and devoted followers:

Alcohol and sport do not mix, certainly not professional sport!

Australia’s best ever Malaysian born spin bowler Steve O’Keefe seems to think otherwise. I know, I know, I’m a little late to the piece. Silly Point’s standard have really slipped!

SOK got into trouble last year for alcohol related offences and by all accounts appears to have gone on the rampage at a New South Wales cricket awards ceremony last week. So much so that not only has he been fined $20,000 but he’s actually been banned from playing in an entire Matador Cup campaign.

It’s easy to wonder what he’s playing at, risking his international career after belatedly getting it going but alcohol addiction is officially a disease so if SOK needs treatment then let’s hope that he receives it.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/7069.html

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/addiction/alcohol-addiction-treatment-and-self-help.htm

Crane Sticks Neck Out in New South Wales!

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Hampshire spinner Mason Crane is currently making his Sheffield Shield debut for New South Wales at the SCG. The leg-spin bowler, just turned twenty, has been tipped by many in the game to be England’s spin saviour. A First Class average of 40.75 suggests that there’s still work to be done but regardless of the results, Crane will surely be a better bowler for his southern hemisphere experiences this winter.

In NSW’s match against South Australia, Crane has already snapped up the wicket of the useful Tom Cooper. The opportunity to see Australia’s limited overs specialist Adam Zampa twirling tirelessly for the opposition will be an education for Crane. There was outcry by some when Zampa was omitted from Australia’s squad for his country’s Test tour of India but it’s worth noting that for all Zampa’s ODI and T20I success that his First Class bowling average currently sits above Crane at 44.07 and at a less than desirable 4.05 per over.

To keep up to date with Crane’s travails then please click on the link below…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/sheffield-shield-2016-17/engine/match/1036419.html

Australia 0-1 South Africa

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South Africa have gained a 1-0 lead in their Test series in Australia with a 177-run victory at Perth. Australia had actually been 158-0 in their first innings response to South Africa’s 242 but suffered an Englandesque collapse losing all ten wickets for just 86 runs and so finishing 244 all out, a lead of just two. Dean Elgar (127) and Jean-Paul Duminy’s (141) partnership of exactly 250 helped South Africa soar to 540-8 declared against the Birdless Ozzies (See previous post: The Bird and the Lyon). Despite 97 from Usman Khawaja and 60 not out from wicketkeeper Peter Nevill, Kagiso Rabada’s 5-92 saw the hosts bundled out for 361.

Australia’s selectors will now surely ponder possible changes to the side for the second Test and might do no worse than to ‘Go West’ as the Pet Shop Boys would say. Western Australia’s Ashton Agar (Remember him?) was unlucky to finish on the losing side as his team were beaten by New South Wales in Sydney in the latest round of First Class fixtures down under. Agar recorded career best bowling analysis of 6-110 in the first innings and match figures of 10-141. He also registered scores of 15 and 35 batting at number five. The Australian selectors might be tempted to bring the twenty-three-year-old back into the fold though national selector Mark Waugh already seems to have confirmed that it won’t be at the expense of Mitchell Marsh.

The second Test of the three match series commences on November 12th at Hobart down in Tasmania, down in Tasmania!