Sep 06: Ma-Lee-syia
14 Oct 2006
By: Neil Pickup
This time last year, I had the choice of agonising over which sort of minnow-bashing was the most commendable, or offending half of India by choosing Greg Chappell.
There's something about Septembers. The kids are back to school, our cricket bags are back collecting dust on top of our wardrobes, and the cricketing world gathers its breath. As for the offending India bit? Malcolm Speed's got that covered for 2006.
This year's minnow-bashing centred on the Southern tip of Africa, as Mark Boucher swatted his way into the record brooks with 147 from 68 balls, however we all know that Zimbabwe don't count. The real interest came in the DLF Cup, arguably JAMODIT*, but equally so a chance for pre-Champions Trophy point-scoring between Australia, India and the West Indies.
Of course, the plan was an India-Australia final to wow the expat communities and whet the appetite for the CT group stages. However, the plan failed to take into account that the moving ball still scares Indian batsmen. Dwayne Smith never has been Malcolm Marshall, in fact he'll never be Anderson Cummins, but he was still enough to tear the top order apart.
Australia made nine half-centuries or higher. The Windies made four. Four Indians passed fifty for the tournament; and one of them made four times that. Without Sachin they would have been pitiful - however, I've done the whole "He's Back" angle before, and that just pre-empted another injury so I won't be tempting any more fate.
Michael Hussey confirmed to anyone who was still an unbeliever that yes, he is capable of doing absolutely anything on a cricket field as the combined pressures of first-time captaincy and a score of 64-4 generated hist first ODI century and pushed his average above 80.
One man's numbers, however, stand out even more. He played barely half the tournament as Australia swung into squad rotation mode, and still topped the wicket-taking list. His worst figures were 3-46, and his tournament returns were 12 wickets at nine apiece. Granted, the conditions helped the bowlers, the opposing batting wasn't the most durable, but he's done a damn sight more than Greg did twelve months ago.
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*Just Another Meaningless One Day International Tournament