Corey Taylor - ARTICLES


Australia and T20


The Australian cricket hierarchy still appear unable to take T20 cricket seriously. This article discusses possible implications.


Mid-series Reports – Australia


Mid-series reports ? Australia

Phillip Hughes


Expectations were high after Hughes` brilliant beginning against South Africa and in terms of what can be expected of a young, impulsive, unorthodox stroke-maker, he`s shown glimpses of form. However, once a player is in the Test side, results are expected and in those terms, Hughes just hasn`t impacted to any meaningful degree on the series??. Yet. Hughes has a great eye, no-one works harder, is determined to succeed and has a winning pedigree. Watch this space

Simon Katich


A trademark hundred in Cardiff was followed by a gritty knock at Lords sullied by a perilous pull shot (albeit, intercepted by a fantastic catch) and somewhat injudicious shot trying to force the pace in pursuit of 521. Katich is maintaining his great form of the last two years and still appears serene at the crease so he can be said to have had an excellent series so far with the promise of more. Is one of Australia`s key players in clawing back from 0-1 down.

Ricky Ponting


Played a bullish hundred at Cardiff and wasn`t able to get going in his Lord`s innings` but appears in good form, quick on his feet as the spinners found to their detriment. His captaincy has generally been on the mark although his predilection for questionable fields has been replaced by one for questionable bowling changes, the pressure seemingly manifesting itself in his uncharacteristically poor fielding at Lords. Purely on the basis of the occasion, being an Ashes series, you`d back Ponting for at least one more significant score in the series.

Michael Hussey


Word on the street is that Hussey`s footwork is slow at the moment and certainly, he`s having to work very hard for his runs. Definitely not in the pink form-wise and another failure at Edgbaston would rightly see his place for the remainder of the series in question. The Australian selectors seem keen to back him for now but will be looking at either he or North to make way if Watson bats and bowls well in the tour match.

Michael Clarke


The second Test at Lords may well be looked upon in retrospect as the moment when Michael Clarke went from `very good Test player` to `great`. An all-too-short 83 in Cardiff was followed by a sublime 136 at Lords when, despite chasing 521, for a short while Australia appeared in with a chance of winning the game and shattering a world record along with it. The hallmark of a genuine match-winner is one who takes responsibility for the team`s fortunes on his shoulders and Michael Clarke appears primed to do exactly that for Australia from now on.

Marcus North


Marcus North`s form is generally up-and-down and the perception is that after playing a superb hand in the first Test, a succession of low scores will follow. Certainly at Lords he appeared rattled by the occasion and in both innings played `get-out` shots which compounds why his place is rated as more vulnerable than that of Mike Hussey`s, despite scoring more runs of late. One reason for his initial inclusion was overs of handy off-spin but he didn`t appear terribly likely to take wickets in his journeys to the crease. Without his bowling being a factor, his place is that much more vulnerable, particularly with the team needing another genuine bowling option.

Brad Haddin


Has had an excellent series with the bat, playing very slick knocks in both Tests but the reason for being in the team, his `keeping, has been off. No major let-offs but his anticipation behind the sticks appears a little slow which resulted in many byes at Lords as he struggled to cope with movement after the ball passed the batsmen. As long as he`s batting well, questions about his play will be minimal but he`d do well to quiet them entirely with a screamer or two.

Mitchell Johnson


Unexpectedly, Mitchell Johnson`s has caused more than a few headaches for the Australian selectors. Despite bowling on both sides of the wicket (sometimes off it) and at just about every imaginable length, against all standards of what constitutes good test match bowling, he`s managed to take 8 wickets in the first two Tests. Clearly, though, he`s not bowling very well, a lower arm at delivery appearing to be the culprit as the menacing swing from South Africa has all but disappeared with runs flowing from his bowling. His reputation should keep him in the side for the rest of the series as should the knowledge that from his previous low periods, a far improved bowler has generally emerged. That he`s taken as many wickets as he has with such poor bowling should worry the English batsmen, especially if he sorts himself out.

Nathan Hauritz


One of two surprise packets for the Australians, the bowler most thought would bottle up an end and be happy not to get smashed has morphed into a genuine wicket-taking option. He appears to lack the penetration to really run through a side but evident in his bowling has been good drift and sometimes vicious spin. His dismissal of Strauss in the second innings at Lords with a classic off-spinning slip catch should give him heart and enough confidence to realise the spinner`s spot in the Australian side is his for the taking if he`s good enough as no-one else is putting pressure on his position. He`s unlikely to dominate in the remaining Tests, especially considering that they`re likely to be fairly flat pitches but it`ll be a job well done if he keeps taking the occasional mini-bag in support of the pace attack.

Peter Siddle


A cleaner, (much) leaner Merv Hughes, Siddle`s figures belie the quality of his work so far. While Johnson surprises with the occasional ball on the pitch, Siddle`s bowling has been menacing and but for a bit of a luck and better fielding, would have had more wickets. Always asking questions of the batsmen, his biggest bowling fault so far has often been releasing the pressure after a series of good deliveries. His length is about right and always threatening so if he tightens his line a little and gets a pitch more to his liking, there`s no reason why he can`t take quite a few wickets as the series wears on. Almost there but not quite putting the whole package together.

Ben Hilfenhous


The other surprise, Ben Hilfenhous wasn`t even looking like being selected for the Tests but, when picked, has looked the most consistent bowler on either side outside of Flintoff. In the right conditions, his swing has been prodigious and he`s caused many problems for attacking players such as Kevin Pietersen as well as testing the techniques of Strauss and Cook when the ball is new. When the ball hasn`t swung, he`s still been very difficult to get away and able to bowl for long spells. While Johnson is busy finding himself, Hilfenhous is shaping up to be the workhorse Australian desperately needs to keep more adventurous Englishmen in their shells.


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The Australian batsmen must stand up


In the hours following yesterday`s play, all of the focus has been on the Australian bowlers and the ease with which England were allowed to play them, particularly in the last session which yielded around 180 runs. There`s little doubt that the Australian bowling attack let England get away but there is some context missing which would not totally excuse the quality of bowling on offer but, at least, provide a riposte to those who insist the largest problems for Australia lie in their bowling attack.

The Australian bowlers were subjected to a hefty workload in the first innings against a quick-scoring batting line-up on a very true pitch. All of the pace attack bowled 20 or more overs, Hilfenhous with 31. This was without Nathan Hauritz`s bowling due to a dislocated middle finger on his bowling hand courtesy of Andrew Strauss. That England `only` got to 450 is a testament to how well the bowling unit covered for the actually missing Hauritz and the virtually missing Johnson. Had England been allowed to escape to 600, which they were threatening to, Australia would simply have been out of the match from that point onwards. 450 meant they had a chance of staying in it.

Imagine the dismay of the bowlers who, on said flat pitch, watched as the batsmen threw away their innings` one after the other. The number of mis-timed pulls would have made even Andrew Hilditch question where their heads were at as the chaos unfolded in wicket order;

Hughes: wild swipe caught down the leg-side
Ponting: tied down by tight bowling
Katich: seemingly set to pass 50 and having just batted Australia out of early trouble, decided to hook Onions down to fine-leg only to be caught by, albeit, a great catch but somewhat an injudicious stroke
Hussey: had just passed 50 and lost Katich, average leave to a ball which ran up the slope
Clarke: charitably, a very tame chip to short mid-wicket
North: needed to knuckle down, pull wasn`t on, dragged on to the stumps
Johnson: pull to mid-wicket, again, when the side needed some more introspective batting (and he`s capable of it)
Haddin: high bouncer, pulled to short mid-wicket

After only 60-odd overs, the bowlers were out in the field again, 220 runs behind in the match and expected to take wickets a bowler short. They received some good news when Hauritz appeared at the bowling crease and took a couple of quick wickets and, certainly, in the middle session against Bopara and Pietersen, they bowled very well without luck (or support from the field) but the threads stitching together the bowling effort unraveled quickly in the final session as Siddle and Hilfenhous tired. Hauritz was taken to by Prior and others and Johnson did little to improve his day, struggling to consistently hit a line or length anywhere near being threatening.

However, all the problems with the bowling mask serious issues with the batting. Whilst the going was good in Cardiff, the Australian batting line-up smacked the living daylights out of the English bowlers but in favourable conditions here, couldn`t get anywhere near 300 after their bowlers did just enough to keep them in the match. Cardiff`s batting papered over the inexperience and lack of grit seemingly inherent in the Australian batting.

Now is the time, guys. No-one is saying the bowlers are without fault (some emnity must come their way for conceding 450 in first innings) but the larger problem lies with the mettle of the Australian batting line-up. There are two days to bat (presuming England don`t bat for a period in the morning session) and a win is off the cards. South Africa proved it could be done last year at the same ground and the pitch isn`t playing any serious tricks yet. There`s a sniff of bad weather around so if there`s anyone in the Australian team for whom a return on investment is due, it`s the batting line-up.


It`s oh so quiet….


The current Ashes series lacks chest hair. Just over a week out from the first Test, there have been no serious shots across the bow from either side. Instead, we see the English side taking a lovely weekend Belgium trip to touch each others` feelings whilst the prettiest pace bowling attack in Australian history struggles to bowl out Sussex`s 2nd XI. Craig McDermott, the archetypical angry red man, would be have been fired-up last year for this series. Instead, the most inflammatory comments we`ve seen from the Aussies emanates from (reputedly) the angriest player in the side, Peter Siddle;

“I`m pretty sure there`s going to be a little bit said on the field and Pietersen is a pretty confident lad, he likes to say a bit, so I`m sure there will be a few run-ins between us and him.

Tough words, Vicious. Maybe next you`d like to send Pietersen a letter telling him how angry you are with him?

Thank God (McGrath) Siddle is there, though. Australia looks likely to field a bowling attack of Johnson and Lee in the first Test of the series and had Shane Watson been fit, he`d be in the side too. The orgiastic jostling for position in front of mirrors before play would have ruptured the very fabric of the space-time continuum with the sheer overpowering force of its metrosexuality.

The lack of sledging has not gone unnoticed by others. Perennially incapable of truly retiring from the game, Shane Warne has taken it upon himself to not only slate the current English number 3 Ravi Bopara (fresh from three consecutive Test hundreds) but to actively push for the selection of players who are injured/past it (Vaughan) or are so new to the game, they`re bound to struggle (Adil Rashid).

On Bopara;

“Bopara is a good first-class cricketer, but he is not an international cricketer. I think he`s got all the talent in the world, but I just don`t think he`s got the temperament. He can be put off his game too easily and he`s too worried about how he looks.

“Let`s hope England aren`t relying on Bopara [for the Ashes] because they could be in trouble.”

Criticising another for being overly concerned about looks? Oh Warnie, you are the living end.

The conclusion to be drawn from such inaction? Neither side is truly sure how the series is going to pan out. So they`re worried about saying something which will be remembered down the years as a `grovel moment`. It`s a sad state of affairs because Australian players used to back themselves and the needle between players not only provided spice for the series but worked in putting the opposition off their game.

Sort yourselves out, Australia.


A few predictions…..


It’s temping to believe that it’s all too early to make any serious predictions about the Ashes series based on one day of a tour match. And in the hands of lesser mortals, that would be the end of the matter. So, anyway, here are some predictions, feel free to throw them up at a later date and mock them when they all go pear-shaped. If, however, I turn out to be right……..


Ashes HQ Blog – An Introduction


Welcome to the first installment of Ashes HQ, a blog to capture the highs, lows, events and non-events which comprise an Ashes series. The series of 2005 was a fillip for Test cricket and the 2009 summer in England has fans and punters alike lining up for more of the same.

The blog is a collaborative, multi-national effort composed of esteemed members of the Cricket Web family; Zac Gelman and Cameron Burge (Australia), Martyn Corrin and Richard Dickinson (England), Will Quinn (Ireland) and yours truly, Corey Taylor also from Australia.

Over the course of the summer, you’ll be seeing the series through the eyes of the above contributors and we’ll be doing our best to provide balanced commentary but also some of the more off-the-wall happenings which occur in an Ashes summer. Whatever happens, hopefully Australia England cricket is the winner.


The first salvos


Shane Watson pulled up stiff after training in the lead-up to Australia’s first warm-up match of the tour. In other news, roses were declared to be red, violets blue and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was overheard muttering something about shaking sauce bottles.

Source: Foxsports muttering something about shaking sauce bottles.