Cricket: the Mankading “controversy” … Why controversial one asks?

I have reading, with much bemusement, about the controversy overnight surrounding the Mankading of Jos Buttler by Sachithra Senanayake in the 42nd over of the 5th ODI fixture between England and Sri Lanka.

My bemusement comes from the fact this dismissal is actually controversial! Consider these facts:

1. Senanayake warned both batsman in the 42nd about backing up too far.

2. Buttler ignored both warnings and backed up a significant way out of his crease on the ball that led to the dismissal.

3. Mankading, as a dismissal, is part of the laws of the game. Indeed in 2011 the Laws of Cricket were amended to make the mankad easier to pull off.

4. The spirit of cricket, which ostensibly is a fairness standard, allows for this form of dismissal in the context of the batsman both being warned and repeatedly offending in backing up too far.

Why then the alleged controversy? All we have seen in this game is the laws and spirit of the game actually working. I could understand umbrage being taken if no warning had been given but to have warned twice and then acted strikes me as conduct entirely within the game’s spirit.

English fans will no doubt make some allegation of cheating against Sachithra Senanayake but frankly the only cheats on the ground in the 42nd over over night were the batters backing up too far. The fact that one of them was dismissed by a bowling knowledgeable in the laws of the game and the spirit surrounding there application ought be lauded rather than demonised!

Well played Sachithra Senanayake for following the game’s laws and Angelo Matthews for backing his player in upholding the appeal.

If anyone should be hauled over the coals for breaching the spirit of cricket doctrine it is the English players for their over the top sledging of Matthews and others when it came Sri Lanka’s turn to bat but, of course, the ICC is part run by the ECB now so the chances of that happening are slim at best.

The Ashes: 5-0 Australia

The title of this post says it all doesn’t it: Australia have won this Ashes series 5-0 and the breadth of the margin gives the best indication of the chasm between the form of the combatants.  Right from Day 1 of this series at the Gabba, England seemed to be unable to put away Australia when they were in front and so that trend continued in each test match of the summer.

Much has been made of our close the teams have been: and I agree that they are closer than the 5-0 result suggest, it is just that Australia has won every decisive moment of this series.  Every time Australia was in trouble with the bat there was a partnership that wrested the advantage from the English.  Conversely, every time England was in trouble they lost wickets in clusters and could not recover.

That fact alone shows you the difference in the line ups in this series: one was ruthless whilst the other was bereft.  Just as Australia was excellently coached and captained, it would appear that England lost their way both in the dressing room and on the field.

There were some fantastic individual performances in this series but to go through them would be to denigrate what was one of the best team performances I have seen from an Australian sporting team let alone a cricket team.  They were all united by Coach Lehmann and Captain Clarke with one purpose: the destruction of the English and, as a team, they succeeded in that purpose.

For England, there is only one shining light to come out of this tour and that is in the personage of Christchurch born Ben Stokes.  We will be seeing much more of him in years to come one suspects.

I have watched a lot of cricket and I have seen a lot of cricket live and I will say what I said after the first test of this series at the Gabba: I have never experienced crowd involvement in a game of cricket like that which I experienced at the Gabba and that involvement of the crowds has continued through each test right up until the end of the series today.  Australia has brought the passion of its fans, me included, back to the ground and the game, so much so that the anguish in the early hours of winter mornings in July and August is long forgotten.

Now, we have a tour to South African to look forward to which will present a new and different challenge for the Australian team.  With bated breath, I can not wait to see how that series unfolds between two of the heavyweight teams of the game.

The Ashes: First Test, Day 1 Talking Points

I have just gotten home from the first day of the of 2013/14 Ashes series and what a first day it was! It was a day that had something for every cricket fan no matter whether you are an Australian or English fan or just a one of the game’s purists. It would be fair to say that it was England’s day but Australia’s fightback in the final session of the day has made it a closer day that looked likely at the tea break.

Here are my talking points from the first day’s play:

Courier Mail v Broad: Broad wins in a first round knock out!

The Courier Mail lost the plot with its campaign to sledge Stuart Broad and to “silence him” by ostensibly not mentioning his name. 5 wickets, including the first 4 of the Australian innings, on day one from England’s key allrounder are enough for me, and basically every cricket fan, to declare this battle a win for Broad by knockout. Widely panned by all serious cricket journalists and all fair minded fan this stunt has done nothing but fire up the English team and successfully so it would seem. The people responsible at the Courier Mail, the journalist who wrote the article, the person who operates the social media and the editor who approved the stunt should be banished from this series for the remainder.

White ball form DOES NOT equate to form in the long form of the game

Australia’s top order again struggled. I have been vehement on this blog and in general discussion that some of Australia’s test players had been given insufficient time to prepare due to playing in a one day series before the test match and, I hate to say I told you so, so it proved for the most part today. George Bailey, on debut after a stunning series of scores in ODI cricket, looked out of sorts and out of touch and played at a ball he should have left. Shane Watson parried at a ball outside off stump that he should have left alone. It is easy to say that with more time in first class cricket at home instead of being in India they may not have played at those balls. I know Brad Haddin was on the same tour but he is not a top 6 batsman.

The Maligned Rise: Mitchell Johnson

It was a great day for Johnson. Under the pump from most fans (including me I concede) and under pressure given the situation Johnson played a gem of an innings. He was assured in his foot work, left the right balls alone and hit some very long balls when the opportunity arose. This was an excellent rearguard performance but the real test for Johnson will come tomorrow when he is called on to take the new ball. I, for one, he can take the confidence he must have gained from today’s performance and put it into play with the ball.

The Pitch: slower than expected … just the way James Sutherland ordered

I went into the ground expecting to see an old school Gabba wicket in late November particularly given the weather we had in Brisbane earlier in the week. I expected a bouncy green tinged wicket. What we got today at the Gabba, in the main, was a slow wicket with limited lateral movement. Fans should hark their minds back to the openly reported directive from Cricket Australia that James Sutherland and his sidekick wanted to see more batter friendly pitches for first class cricket this year. Seems that directive has impacted on the pitch prepared by Kevin Mitchell Jnr for this test.

Tomorrow beckons with Australia on 8/273 with Brad Haddin unconquered on 78 and Ryan Harris on 4. It presents as another great day of cricket.

Cricket: When is it ever appropriate to urinate on the pitch?

It has been reported widely today that the English cricket team celebrated their win of the Ashes series at the Oval overnight by having a few drinks in the middle of the field and then, for some players, urinating on the field. This is all allegation at this stage but if it is true this is a disgrace frankly.

Are you kidding me England? After the furore over David Warner’s tap on the chin of Joe Root and angst over Darren Lehmann’s comments regarding Stuart Board in which the ECB have taken the absolute high ground (rightly I concede) what ground will they take now?

I get that sometimes a bunch of guys sitting around in a park having a beer might not try to find a public convenience to relieve themselves and rather might find a close by tree to do. But to do so in the middle of one of the great cricket ground of the world smacks of the arrogance of these guys.

I was more than happy to salute the victory of the England team in this series: they played better cricket as a team when it mattered. The fact is though that throughout this series they have done their best to take the moral high ground and paint Australia’s players and administrators as wild colonials. Last time I checked though said colonials have not taken a mid celebration leak on the middle of one of their fields. Or at least if they have they had the decency of doing so when no one was in the ground.

Hang your heads in shame England cricket! And if the ECB does not come out massively against this abhorrent display then they ought hang their heads in shame too. One wonders if they will do so or if they will continue to show the arrogance of their players and just laugh this off!