“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant”.
Robert Louis Stevenson
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant”.
Robert Louis Stevenson
It has been a funny old Sheffield Shield season with a massive gap right in the middle of it. The final round of the first class summer in Australia begins on Tuesday and there are four teams vying for a finals berth.
The points table, at the end of the 9th round of play, looks like this:
|New South Wales||9||3||3||0||3||0||26||1.050||4715/148||4549/150|
Obviously, Tasmania and Victoria are out of the running for the final. Each of the other four teams are all in with a shot of being in the final and even Queensland could host the final if results go their way.
These are the fixture kicking off on Tuesday:
· New South Wales v Western Australia at Canberra
· Tasmania v South Australia at Hobart
· Victoria v Queensland at Melbourne
The big game of the round is the fixture coming out of Canberra with a finals spot obviously up for grabs for the winner. If the game ends in a draw then the winner of first innings points will go to 28 points and that ought be enough to make the finals. For both teams, if they lose on first innings then they will still have a chance given that there are 6 points available for an outright win. New South Wales though will be hoping that Queensland do not win outright because if they win first innings points and then draw the game and Queensland win outright Queensland will go through to the final as they will have won more games outright.
South Australia will secure a finals spot if they get first innings points and Queensland fail to win outright or, again, even if they lose on first innings, if they procure an outright victory. Obviously, a win on first innings and outright gets them into the final without the need for count back.
For Queensland to figure in the finals they must win against Victoria on the first innings as well as outright to secure 6 points and jump to 28 points. Then they must rely on South Australia only winning on the first innings or not gaining points and one of New South Wales or Western Australia not getting any points from their encounter.
Looking at the games:
· Queensland have been assisted by the selection of the Australian T20 team as the Bushrangers will be without Daniel Christian, Aaron Finch, Cameron White and Glenn Maxwell. Maxwell, in particular had been in excellent form for the Vics so he will be a big loss. Conversely, Queensland will be basically at full strength and come into the game off the back of a massive win against the leaders of the competition, Western Australia. They will be looking at making it a season worthwhile for captain James Hopes who has been playing with stress fractures since the first round of the season and has 32 wickets to show for it.
· South Australia have been rocked by the suspension of their captain Johan Botha as a result of his poor conduct in their Round 9 fixture. He is also the second highest wicket taker in the competition with 36. They will be looking to Tom Cooper, who is the top scorer in the competition with 858 runs to lead the charge with the willow. The defending champion Tasmanians have a great record at home and will, no doubt, put out a pitch that seams which will play right into their hands.
· Western Australia and New South Wales are playing a semi final of sorts in this game. The Warriors possess two of the most consistent batters in the first class game in Marcus North and Adam Voges and it is no surprise that they lacked quality runs in their last game against Queensland which WA lost terribly. The New South Welshmen possess the leading wicket taker in the competition on Steve O’Keefe with 38 wickets at an average of 20.05 and one expects he will bowl “big” overs for them again in Canberra.
An exciting end to a strange season awaits on Tuesday. This is going to be epic!
It will surprise no one that I am not they greatest of fans of the shortest form of cricket. In fact, I theorise that calling the T20 form of the game cricket is a misnomer because the skills of the game are so different from what we see in the long form of the game. Yes the players still bowl and bat and field but the lines that a bowled, the shots that are played and the fields that are set are so different as to be unrecognisable from the pure form of the game.
Another facet of the difference is the different teams that play the game at the top level. The best example of this is seen with the Australian team that has been selected for the three match T20 series due to commence in South Africa tonight. Only three players from the all-conquering test team remain in the T20 squad remain with the team in South Africa (Mitchell Johnson has been rested).
This series is basically a group of 3 practice matches before the T20 World Cup commences in Bangladesh later in the month. Darren Lehmann has already said that he will use it as such to give players game time before the tournament commences so it seems obvious that results are not at the forefront of mind for the Australians.
Australia, historically, has struggled for success in this form of the game and their record against the South Africans is indicative of this having only won 4 of the 11 encounters between these two countries. South Africa have been historically dominant at home winning 19 of 29 T20 internationals hosted by them.
The key for both sides looks, on paper, to be the form of each side’s spin contingents. With Bangladesh likely to throw up only spinning decks both sides have selected a plethora of spin bowling options. On a vodcast for a site I used to contribute to a couple of years ago I mentioned James Muirhead as a player to watch in the future and he certainly is that now that he is in the top squad in this form of the game. South Africa’s best spinner from the test matches was a part timer in JP Duminy and one expects him to get a lot of overs against the Australians along with Imran Tahir and Aaron Phangiso.
Nothing will beat the excitement of the test match series just completed, however this series will be one that both sides will wish to perform well in with the spoils of the T20 World Cup not too far away.
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
I have written on this blog before about my struggles with mental illness and, principally, depression. Having worked my way through another particularly dark period I have spent some time over the last couple of days pondering both: how can I help myself out of the darkness when it descends and how can I forestall the darkness.
The problem with the latter of those two questions is, as I have written before, I never know when the darkness is going to hit me. So,that realisation firm in my mind I have focused on how can I help myself out of the darkness once it descends.
The short answer is that there is no easy answer. Rather there is a series of strategies that I think have helped me in the past return to equilibrium. They are:
1. Consider what I was doing when I was last happy and think about what has changed. If something has changed: change it back.
2. When I am going through a rough period I tend to over eat. If I am down I have to remember to eat healthily and not give in to the temptation of a large / rubbish meal that will make me feel grand for 30 minutes and then only make me feel worse.
3. I also tend to lock myself off from those who are closest to me when my black dog is barking. That is destructive and unhelpful. I have to force myself to continue to be around my family and friends because they, by their very nature, know me best and always find a way to help.
4. Get angry!!!! One of the things my dad has said to me a lot in the last 3 years (since my diagnosis) is that I have lost my “red mist”. What he means by this is I once was a very angry young man with a very short temper but now I have been so focused on not getting angry about things that I have lost the ability to get angry. Some “red mist” is ok according to the gospel of my father and he is right. I hate that I have this illness and I hate the way that it makes me feel: by extension I have every right to get angry at it! I must do that more!
These steps are, of course, intensely personal to me but if I can help just one person out there who is struggling then writing about them is worth it.
It would be remiss of me not to turn back to the question of how to avoid the darkness descending because I am at a point with my mental illness where anything is worth a try. Picking up on the themes noted above I have decided to try a strategy under the name of the “happiness project”. The “happiness project” will consist of the following:
1. Every day I am going to, when I wake, ask myself what positive steps I am going to take during the day and enter into a contract with myself to complete said steps.
2. Every day I am going to call (not text or other form of message) one of those close to me and talk to them about their day.
3. I am going to allow myself to be angry and I am focus my anger on my mental illness.
4. I am not going to look any further forward than 24 hours ahead of me and I am not going to look back at the past.
5. Every night I am going to read (for 30 minutes before bed) from the books of my adolescence and early adulthood which is the last period of my life when I can recall being consistently happy.
I hope this works: trying costs one nothing!
As I have written elsewhere I was a bit crook on Wednesday night and Thursday and thus not in a position write about Australia’s epic victory in the 3rd test at Newlands.
Having had some time to reflect and watch a replay of Day 5 now here are some thoughts on the 3rd test:
Ryan Harris: courage personified
It is obvious to everyone that Ryan Harris’ knee is buggered. It was not obvious to anyone until after the end of the game that he was not supposed to bowl in the second innings of this game. To come back with 5 overs to go when even he thought he was spent was nothing short of miraculous.
David Warner: match winner from the naughty corner
Readers of this blog will know my views on Warner and his behaviour. Take it as read that nothing that occurred on day 5 assuaged me from that view. If he were to be judged on his batting alone though he was head and shoulders about the rest in this series and was a worthy Man of Match and Man of the Series.
Only South Africa could have held on like they did
Anyone wanting an answer to the why South Africa are the number test nation in the world need to look at their second innings in this test match. There is not other team in the game, Australia included, though could have even gotten close to batting out the last day in the manner they did.
Boring? Pig’s Arse!
I have had a few alleged “fans” of cricket say to me that day 5 of this test was boring and not helpful to the marketing of cricket. This sentiment sends me off the deep end because the battle on day 5 is precisely what test cricket ought be about. It was enthralling and thrilling cricket.
Questioning the umpires decision and sledging: a victory tarnished
This has already been written about by some and I wholeheartedly agree: it is hard to celebrate a victory when, as a fan, you are embarrassed by the way your winning team has conducted itself on the field. Darren Lehmann has bought many positives to this team but it behaviour, including the way some players speak to the umpires is nothing short of appalling and is already a massive negative of Lehmann’s reign. Am I happy we won? Yes but I, as a fan, am ashamed as well.
There could not have been a better ending, from an Australian perspective to the 2013/14 summer of test cricket. Test cricket fans now have a long wait till October when a series against Pakistan is scheduled.