Time to retire, Australia. It has worked before and will work again
Once upon a time Mark Waugh batted for NSW in a Sheffield Shield match at the Sydney Cricket Ground, his team were in trouble by four for not many.
When Waugh hooked and was caught in the deep back square, there was a view around the floor, including in the Blues dressing room, that Waugh might have been a little more circumspect given the circumstances.
“Gosh, Junior,” Mike Whitney, who was nimble with his left arm, offered as Waugh trotted through the SCG house shed, “what the hell was that?”
Waugh and his twin brother, Stephen, weren’t known to be particularly close — their mid-pitch conversations were comically brief, and dating was never out of the question.
And yet they were literally blood brothers. And as close as twins can be. And Stephen was outraged by Whitney’s criticism.
‘You’re very happy when it works, Whit? You’re first if he hits that for six, Whit?” And then he stormed out of the shed.
Later the elder Waugh asked Whitney if he would like to come and throw some in his nets. Whitney said he did. And there Waugh explained that he and Mark have always supported her talent. Most of the time it came off and they looked like rock stars. Sometimes it didn’t and they looked like nongs. This was one of those occasions.
However, if you like the diamonds, mate, you’ve got to be pretty damn accepting of the occasional gravel rash, too.
Australian cricket fans, who have witnessed the national team lose 2-0 in the four Test series in India, have not accepted that Australia has stones among its diamonds.
The prevailing feeling – and it’s amplified each summer as we line them up and bounce them off – is that we’re number one. We are Australia. We win. Well, here’s one thing: we in India don’t. No one wins in India except India.
For Australia, India is a dud.
In the last ten years, India has won five out of six Border Gavaskar series. Since Nagpur in 2004, when the trustees prepared a wicket so juicy that Sourav Ganguly ruled himself out with ‘green fever’, Australia have won a Test in India in 17 attempts, according to substitute captain Anil Kumble.
What to do? As Waugh said to Whitney, get up.
Aussie cricket fans are goldfish. For all the gnashing and whining about Captain Woke and all that stupid shit, there were parts of this test series where supporting yourself was effective.
How else can you play in India? You block on defense – they will get you. If not Ravi, then Ravi, right?
You just have to play how you play. You have to support yourself.
Not to say you do monkey shit and smash everything. But Travis Head in the lead with Usman Khawaja, nice complementary action there.
Ditto Marnus Labuschagne at three, Steven Smith at four. This is a quality lineup, each with a unique approach. You want them to change? There are 18,423 test runs in between. Their average scores are 52.2. You just have to play and do your best. And yourself back.
Granted, sometimes you still lose 8-28 – India’s crackpots are all the time. But that doesn’t mean it won’t work again.
Pete Handscomb seemed confident in his ventures at six and will be at five. And Cameron Green at six, well, good luck, son. Bring the long leg down the track and swing, punch. Or what ever. But you baby Do you.
The Sweep? Didn’t work on the third day in the last friendly, for sure. But again, doesn’t mean it won’t work.
Alex Carey’s reverse sweep in the first dig of the first Test — on a bunsen that the locals failed to roll up to a good length in front of his stump at the behest of BCCI’s traveling curatorial group, the Fiends — got him 36 runs for 33 balls.
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Similarly, Pat Cummins’ dismissal in the second innings in Delhi looked bad under the circumstances. Maybe he could have been more careful. But Cummins had hit that long ball twice in the stands in the first innings to stack with Handscomb 33 from a 59-run streak. They certainly support recent muscle memory. you stand behind you
So here’s the plan, Australia. Scrap and smash and level up to 300 on the first dig and 200 on the second. It gives the three spinners something to work with on a day three or four deck. And then unleash the beast: Mitchell Starc.
The guy was stewing on the sidelines. foaming. His blood boils. Might not look like it. But there’s pent-up anger.
And with the pitch being cooked and rolled by the same traveling curators to allow the two ravis to confuse Australia’s left-handers in the rough, it means the ball is cut up and mangy on one side.
So buff the pill on one side and soak it with sweat. And let that big dog feast.
Because India’s bats are like everyone else: they don’t like it. Who would? As David Boon said of the West Indies, nobody likes pure speed, it just matters how you go about it. And big Mitch, with the new red brick or the worn old one swinging it both ways at speed, is the 150-click man of the hour.
Granted, he’ll need something to bowl with. You can’t lose 8-28 in sixth grade park cricket.
But again, again, for the batsmen to get the numbers that Starc and the spinners can defend and exploit, they don’t have to change their approach. You just have to play hard and support yourself – as the Waugh boys would explain.
https://www.theroar.com.au/2023/02/28/let-the-big-dog-feast-time-to-back-yourselves-australia-its-worked-before-and-will-work-again/ Time to retire, Australia. It has worked before and will work again