Fatter, balder and happier: goodbye 2014 and hello 2015!

2014 is coming to a close and whilst I have put on some kilograms and lost more hair, I have to say that I am happier than I am ever been.
 I am bless with wonderful family and friends whilst also having a roof over my head and a job that I love. Really I can not ask for anything more than that!
 This time last year I set myself a number of goals (I refuse to call them resolutions) and whilst I did not make them all 2014 has been a great year in which I have made positive steps. I refuse, therefore, to be disappointed about the year it has been.
 I am not going to set any goals for 2015 save for one: I am going to start and end every day happy. I know I am going to have good and bad days and the bad days are going to effect my happiness but I am going to work hard on turning the bad days into good ones by the end.
 Bring on 2015!
 – Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:The Esplanade,Maroochydore,Australia

Agar into the Australian Test Squad: how did that happen?

Regular readers of this blog will have read my rants about the work of Cricket Australia’s National Selection Panel. I have griped for years, even before I had this blog, that form in red ball cricket seems to count for little at the Cricket Australia Selection table and have even been left to ponder whether Cricket Australia ought just fold the first class competition for all of the relevance it has to the selection of the test team. I am sad to say that again this morning I find myself griping and pondering the same things again after the elevation of Ashton Agar to the Australian squad for the 4th test in Sydney.

Agar’s stat line in first class cricket this year does not make for happy reading: 7 wickets at 45.14 in 4 games is, frankly just not good enough. Add that lack of form to a first class career stat line of 62 wickets at 44.00 with a strike rate of 81 balls per wicket and the head scratching that started when pondering Agar’s selection on current form starts to draw blood.

If there were no other spinners playing in first class cricket in Australia at the moment then this selection might make more sense. However there are other spinners plying their trade around the country who appear to be vastly more qualified to play in Sydney against India. The three main contenders are:

  • The form leg spinner: Fawad Ahmed has been in excellent form for Victoria this season with a stat line of 18 wickets at 30.72 and a strike rate of 51 balls per wicket. His first class numbers, 95 wickets at 32.16 with a strike rate of 54.3 balls per wicket, make for much more pallatable reading than those of Agar and he has been in the Cricket Australia system before.
  • The best left arm orthodox bowler in the country: Steve O’Keefe is the best left arm orthodox bowler in Australia. No ifs, no buts, no maybes. 141 wickets at 25.81 with a strike rate of just under a wicket every 10 overs in a first class career makes for excellent reading. This summer he has done his job for New South Wales with the ball with 9 wickets at 28.44 gives him the best average of our sample of bowlers. Again he has been in the Cricket Australia system before too which has to be in his favour.
  • The young leg spinner: Cameron Boyce, seemingly, has been anointed as Australia’s next leg spin hope given his selection for T20 honours this year where he performed excellently. His first class record is worse that Agar’s however he seems to be following the currently accepted path to the top team via the shortest form of the game so his non-selection is a surprise.
In the context of these three contenders is there a cogent argument for Agar’s elevation to the team? I am struggling to find one. Of course my search for a cogent argument has been focused on the immediate cricket reasons for his possible selection: I neglected to include the fact that he has a significant profile in the game begat by his 98 runs on debut and the fact that he looks like the lost member of One Direction.

Surely though this selection can not be all about profile? Darren Lehmann does not strike me as a coach who would accept such a selection. Then again Lehmann was at the helm during the disaster, 98 runs aside, that was Agar’s debut 2 tests so he must have played some role in his return here.

I just do not understand it and am left again to ponder why Cricket Australia continues to pay for the Sheffield Shield to be run when it does not use the form coming from that competition to reward those players playing in it.

For what it is worth, I think there is zero chance that Agar will play in Sydney and have no doubt he will be released to his BBL team during the game. That is cold comfort one suspects to those others who are more deserving of selection, particularly Steve O’Keefe.

Cricket: when did a test match draw become such a bad thing?

I have gotten more and more frustrated this morning as commentators and fans alike have discussed over and over again when Australia will declare today and, as the morning as worn on, why Steve Smith has not declared.
 Has everyone forgotten there is a result in a test match called a draw?
 Situationally has everyone missed the fact that Australia leads the series 2-0 and wins the series with a draw?
 Some of the best test matches I have seen and read about have ended in draws yet the current generation of commentators and fans seem to have forgotten the draw as even a result.
 To me a good result today for Australia is to make sure that India don’t win. It is as simple as that. A win is a bonus and a great result but making sure India don’t win is the more important thing.
 Or maybe the game has changed that much we should just remove the draw as an available result?
 – Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday Tempter: Sport’s Multi

Here is a 5 leg multi of American sport today that might be of interest (and value) to punters:

Leg 1: Chicago Bulls to defeat the Indiana Pacers in the NBA

Leg 2: Pittsburgh Penguins to defat the New Jersey Devils in the NHL

Leg 3: Miami Heat to cover the line (-6 points) against the Orlando Magic in the NBA

Leg 4: Ottawa Senators to cover the line (-1.5 goals) against the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL

Leg 5: Washington Wizards to cover the line (+3.5 points) against the Houston Rockets in the NBA


This multi will pay $22 for each dollar invested.

As always:

  1. Please gamble responsibly.
  2. All care is taken with tips posts on this blog however no responsibility vests for any losses incurred.
Good luck and good punting whatever you are betting on today.

Steve Smith v George Bailey: who should deputise for Clarke in WC2015?

Let’s face reality: as confident as Michael Clarke is that he will be fit for the World Cup in March 2015 there is a more than even money chance it would seem that he will not be available for selection in all fixtures (if any). This, of course, raises the question of who ought deputise for him. The incumbent in this role is George Bailey however the sharp rise of Steve Smith to the captainancy in test match cricket means there is a conversation to be had about who should take the roll in 3 months time.

Bailey has done little wrong in the role of captain. Unfortunately his batting in 2014 in one day fixtures has not been up to standard; viz, in 17 matches played he has averaged 25 whilst scoring 405 runs with 3 fifties and no hundreds.

I am a firm believer in picking the best eleven players available for selection in the team and then selecting the captain. Steve Smith is firmly entrenched in the best eleven cricketers available for selection but I am not sure that George Bailey is similarly entrenched given his form and:

  • Warner, Finch, Clarke (if fit), Smith, Maxwell and Watson (if bowling) pick themselves and are in the best available eleven in this form of the game.
  • White, Ferguson, Burns and Dunk, to name just 4 batters, all performed very well in Matador BBQs Cup which should be a form of selection trial for the World Cup.

Had Steve Smith not performed so well as captain in the test matches (I know it is a small sample but early signs are good) I have no doubt that there would be less of a question about Bailey’s captaincy: he would have been carried despite his bad form. This approach would have been detrimental to Australia’s chances of winning in my view. Smith’s elevation to test captaincy makes this issue significantly easier to deal with and now the NSP can select the best eleven players available without worrying about the captaincy.

Interestingly, I know wonder if Steve Smith will unite the captaincies of Australian cricket teams across all three forms of the game? He is a solid T20 player who has not had much of a run in the side of late. Maybe Aaron Finch’s time as captain in that form of the game is also in danger of running out given the rise of Steve Smith. Only time will tell.