HENRY: Australia not tested by Irish underdogs in T20
Australia cricketer Michael Hussey. AFP PHOTO / LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI
The battle for a double figures ICC T20 ranking, Australia (9) versus Ireland (10), promised so much and delivered so little. Such is the way with many hyped up fixtures in the sporting world.
The Australians had pronounced a degree of indignation at their ranking (the figures are based on wins and losses, it’s not a complicated system).
Be careful or the stain of the self-denial virus that spread from 2004 through 2011 will reappear, like Lady MacBeth’s ‘damned spot’ and nervousness at playing against an underdog – ranked all of one rung below.
It can often be uncomfortable and tetchy when you play against a team that is not SUPPOSED to be very good, someone from the depths of the competition table or from an inferior league that, on their day and with a modicum of good fortune, might just get more runs than your team.
Your team is considered by the media, your fans, and family members to be so much better that it is hardly worth them turning up.
Just ‘phone in the performance’, as the Yanks would say, implying that no more effort and concentration is required for a ‘W’ than lifting the receiver.
Players’ minds can get a tad fuzzy if underdogs hang in or challenge. They focus on the consequences of LOSING to an underdog.
After all, underdogs have nothing to get anxious about: fear of failure is hardly a problem when you are supposed to run second.
Underdogs rejoice in a close loss and feel content with whatever effort it took to lose. Favourites schedule extra practice after a close victory.
Australia has the day off.
On this occasion, it was the Irish setter underdogs that suffered from the nerves and fell to a large loss by 20 over standards.
Ireland got away to a poor start with the bat and only partially recovered with a few late blows from the tail to post a total defendable on some Colombo bunsens designed for Murali and Mendis.
This was not such a surface.
It had bounce and carry and pace and not much sideways movement before or after the ball pitched.
170 and above was closer to par.
It was hard to draw a form line on the Australian performance as they weren’t examined closely in any department.
Shane Watson took wickets, as he has so often done in any form of the game with old or new ball.
He may have had some good fortune with his first, a top edge from a loosener. If his plan was to find out how much bounce was in the middle of the pitch, he found out.
Mitchell Starc didn’t swing the ball as much as in the wide-littered practice game against England.
He looked to sacrifice pace for accuracy, and for the most part succeeded.
His around the wicket Yorkers were spot on and will continue to be so as long as he doesn’t lower the bowing arm angle into his left arm predecessor’s air space.
Glenn Maxwell has slipped comfortably into international cricket with bat and ball. He looks unhurried, composed and constructs each over with care and thought.
The major strength of this Australian team may well be through the all-rounders Maxwell, Christian and Wade. They have spinning and pacey pitches covered, although both Wade and Christian need to bat higher.
They are the batsmen who can create the BIG 20 run plus overs. Overs that win you big games.
Brad Hogg looked like he has had a hair tint and a bucketful of Warney’s miracle face cream. Did he look a lot younger or do I need a new spectacle prescription?
Maybe it’s just because of the irrepressible energy and joy at bowling that he exudes the Benjamin Button effect. Whatever, he still has an unpickable wrong’ un and displays why wrist spin, especially the rarely sighted left arm version, is so valuable at international level.
All of the bowlers did their jobs without being pressured, which left George Bailly plenty of options even without hauling Cameron White to the crease.
White finished with a red ink but should have made only 3 before former North Sydney captain Trent Johnston put him down. David Hussey must be in truly horrible nick to be left out of this starting eleven.
Watson and Warner prospered early and deprived the middle order of any worthwhile challenge.
Australia have crossed the first hurdle by breaking into the lightest of sweats. Ireland’s performance was not that of an underdog ready to revisit some glory days but that of an underdog sneaking home with their tail between their legs.
Geoff Lawson OAM is a former Australian cricketer and the former coach of the Pakistan cricket team. Nicknamed "Henry" after the Australian poet, Lawson was a fast bowler for New South Wales and Australia.
Watch Glenn Mitchell's wrap of the second Test, where Australia were victorious early on the final day, winning by 218 runs and taking a 2-0 series lead into the third Test in Perth.