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The Liebke Ratings: Australia vs India, first ODI

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Expert
12th January, 2019
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With the Border-Gavaskar Test series completed – who won? who remembers? – Australia and India turned their attention to a three-match ODI series.

Here are the ratings for the first ODI between Australia and India.

Retro Kits
Grade: B+

Australia, looking to distract their fans from a disastrous 2018 cricket record, revealed that they would be playing these ODI matches in a retro kit, circa 1985/6. The team posed for a photo, pleased as punch in their canary yellow garb. It was a fantastic look that raised the question of what might happen if, say, Geoff Marsh and Glenn Maxwell did some kind of mind and/or body swap between their respective eras.

Would the elder Marsh teach the modern Australian team how to ‘sheet anchor’ an innings, imparting wisdom on batting sensibly and steadily throughout an innings while the other, flashier batsmen batted around him?

And would Maxwell’s innovative strokeplay horrify bemused 1980s fans with its brashness and unorthodoxy, inspiring the following immortal line:

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“I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet…but your kids are gonna love it!”

Consolidation
Grade: B-

Australia’s adoption of all things retro didn’t end with the kit they’d chosen to wear. The selectors, embracing their ongoing role as the most beloved identities in Australian cricket, had their own retro moments as well, bringing Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon and Usman Khawaja back into the side.

It was an old-fashioned team in an old-fashioned kit playing old-fashioned one day cricket.

Aaron Finch was foolishly dismissed early, exactly what you don’t need from an opening batsman. As captain, he should know how important it is for the openers to build a platform and not lose a wicket in the first fifteen overs. If it was good enough for the time travelling Geoff Marsh and his wild-eyed scientist companion, David Boon, it should be good enough for Finch.

Aaron Finch

(Photo by Michael Dodge – CA/Cricket Australia/Getty Images)

Alex Carey, one of the seven co-vice-captains in the team, followed his skipper’s lead to leave Australia 2/41 in the tenth over.

Despite the loss of the openers, Australia consolidated with a series of half-century partnerships. Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh saw the side to the 29th over. Then Marsh and Peter Handscomb guided them to the 38th over before Handscomb and Marcus Stoinis reached the 48th over together.

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At no point did any of the batsmen panic. Or, y’know, try to accelerate the scoring. That’s such a 2018 mentality. Instead, they ensured that Australia would reach the vital mid-1980s goal of not being bowled out before the end of the fiftieth over.

And, to their eternal credit, they succeeded.

Glenn Maxwell
Grade: A-

One of the side effects of all this meandering batting was that it turned every Australian cricket fan watching into Milhouse, punching the floor in fury, demanding to know when they were going to get to the fireworks factory.

And by ‘fireworks factory’ we, of course, meant ‘the batting of Glenn Maxwell’.

Of course, this raised the question of why Maxwell was batting at seven in the first place. Is this an aspect of his game he needs to look at? He’s never going to make the centuries that Justin Langer expects from him when he only faces five balls. I mean, he might. If anybody could, Maxwell could. But it still seems unlikely.

Later that night, Maxwell’s first over went for nine runs. At that stage, he’d bowled one more ball than he faced and conceded two fewer runs than he scored. Genuine all-rounder.

Glenn Maxwell

(Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

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Early Wickets
Grade: A-

In response to Australia’s total of 5/288, India were 3/4 in the fourth over. Jason ‘Humphrey B’ Behrendorff took Shikhar Dhawan’s wicket in his first over before Jhye ‘Don’t Call Me Kane’ Richardson dismissed both Virat Kohli and Ambati Rayudu in his second.

In retrospect, a good thing Maxwell had only faced the five balls. It would have been unseemly had he faced more than Kohli.

Unperturbed, MS Dhoni joined Rohit Sharma at the crease. The early wickets had cruelly interrupted Dhoni’s late afternoon nap and he dozed through the first thirty-odd balls of his innings. Eventually, however, he woke up long enough to bring up his fifty only to then be almost immediately dismissed by a dud LBW decision.

Rohit Sharma
Grade: B+

The 137 run partnership between Dhoni and Sharma had got India back in the game. As 137 run partnerships tend to do. Sharma continued to get them further and further in the game as he raced to 133 runs of his own.

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Eventually, India were so far into the game that they came out the other side. Which is when they realised the match was over and Australia had won by 34 runs.

It was easily the weirdest ODI I’d seen this year. Presumably, the lesson Langer will take from it is that Australia were right to minimise Maxwell’s time at the crease. Expect him to come in at eleven in the second game of the series.