1. Bangladesh had as many players sold as Australia, and for more combined money, at Friday’s IPL auction.
2. Amongst those unsold was Brad ‘I am not a crook’ Haddin. The current Australian ‘keeper unwanted by any of the franchises. Something tells me the rest of the world doesn’t share Ponting and Clarke’s faith in their gloveman. Australia’s getting pretty sensitive about the situation, as the fate of this banner at Adelaide proves…
It was removed not, as you’d imagine, due to the glaring absence of an apostrophe, but because it was deemed ‘offensive’ by security guards. No point in speculating about whether a banner reading ‘McCullums a lump of shit’ would’ve met the same fate…
3. Australia have now lost five ODIs in a row, for the first time since we last ruined their summer at the Chappell-Hadlee in 2007. If they drop another tonight at the SCG (a track where our loss-win ratio is a comparitively decent 2:1, and one that takes turn) it’ll tie their record for most consecutive losses. Should they drop the next two we’ll overtake them for third in the ODI rankings, where they sit after starting the year in first. This prospect so terrifies them that…
4. …They’ve recalled Ricky Ponting for this match, because it’s a ‘decider’. So his initial two match ‘rest’ (where he still appeared to be the public captain of the side – it was he who suggested Vettori had ‘apologised’, remember?) has now become one paltry match. Maybe it’s because Steve Waugh, the man Punter desperately wants to emulate, publically questioned the logic of the decision. This kind of public dissent is extremely rare in Australia, where they pride themselves in team unity to an almost ridiculous degree, and the climbdown indicates the selectors are starting to second-guess themselves, and it’s effectively a very public statement of a lack of faith in Clarke and the batting line up. But the public back-and-forth is nothing on what went down in a Sydney dressing room earlier this year…
5. It turns out the Australian cricket team are more like a cross between Amway and Opus Dei. We always suspected as much, but leaked reports of a skirmish between Katich and Clarke have confirmed it. The series of events went something like: At 10.30pm following their too-late-to-be-face-saving third test win, Clarke asked the team to hurry up and sing the team song so they could get to a dinner booking he’d made. Unfortunately Michael Hussey was the custodian (yep) of the team song (Beneath The Southern Cross, apparently) at the time, which meant he had the sole right to decide when it was sung. Simon Katich responded to Clarke’s temerity by telling him to ‘fuck off’ (he spoke for all of us, really), then grabbing him by the throat before the pair were separated by team-mates. All this is true. The best part?
6. John Buchanan, former Australian coach has come out as being ‘disappointed’ in Clarke over the affair.
“I think he has still got a long way to go in terms of maturity and understanding what the word ‘team’ really means.”
You have to respect* a team that loves their team song (fun fact: The Breakers’ team song appears to be Time Of Your Life by, um, Green Day. Sung by Kirk Penney with Rick Rickerts on guitar) that much. And one where the coaches think it’s fine to get to throat-grabbing if the song’s disrespected. Between this and the Symonds incident (he’s pretty much a walking incident, but I’m referring to his boozily insulting McCullum in national radio here), the disintegration on and off field they’re doing a pretty good impression of an organisation in the grip of a full-fledged crisis. It’ll be an interesting year for sure.
7. Finally leaving Australia alone, the West Indies just bowled out England for 51 to win by an innings and 23 runs at Sabina Park. This is the third-lowest England total in history, and was spear-headed by Jerome Taylor, a guy who went through New Zealand taking five wickets at over 40, and looking very much like a distant third pace option for the Windies. Now he’s taken five wickets (for a match tally of eight) to destroy one of the better batting line-ups in world cricket. This game had ‘tedious draw’ written all over it, and the series is officially on.
8. Does this mean the West Indies is now out of its slump? I know one swallow doesn’t a summer make, but they went through New Zealand, a pretty difficult touring destination for everyone but Australia in recent times, and came within a Duckworth-Lewis permutation of winning the ODI series after tying the tests and Twenty20s. At the time we put that down to rank incompetence on the part of the Black Caps, but maybe it was something else. With Gayle, Sarwan and Chanderpaul matching up to Edwards, Taylor, Nash and Benn they’re looking like a nice mix of experience and you. It’d be nice to have them back.
9. If you’ll allow the above-expressed theory that the West Indies are ‘back’ and New Zealand are ‘ok’, and I think most sane non-Australians (and you could argue that the phrase ‘sane Australian’ is an oxymoron, particularly after the whole team song debacle) would allow that Australia has slid a long way backwards, then where does that leave world cricket? South Africa and India fight for the top spot, with Sri Lanka, New Zealand, England, Australia and the West Indies all in reasonable shape underneath. Translation, maybe as healthy as its been in a while. Of course England might well crush the West Indies in the remaining tests, and Australia dismantle NZ, but right now on a fine Sunday morning that doesn’t seem too long a bow to draw. It’s too happy a thought to let die before there’s irrefutable evidence anyway.
* By respect I mean ‘think totally menta’, obviously.