A number of issues have come to mind after the first Test between the Black Caps and Australia in Perth.
Hindsight is a great thing, but should New Zealand have selected Matt Henry ahead of Lochie Ferguson? Ferguson started very erratically and at one point was averaging six runs per over. He did improve, however, and finished with 11 overs and 0-47 at a run rate of 4.27. His only attribute is speed, but misdirected speed can be very expensive.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the guy, but is he going to end up a white-ball specialist like a Martin Guptill? Tim Southee, Trent Bolt and Neil Wagner are all in their 30s, so does Ferguson still have time to establish himself in the Test arena?
At one point during the Test a TV commentator said, “Let’s have a listen to the chatter from BJ Watling and the close infieldsman from the Black Caps”. Well, an eerie silence followed! We have become used to the incessant chat from Tim Paine and Rishabh Pant from behind the stumps with their continual support and motivation to their bowlers. Do bowlers really need so much uplifting chat to boost their confidence? “C’mon Gary” gets a little boring after a while.
Maybe the Kiwis have a point. Shouldn’t a Test-level bowler know his job and not need continual verbal support? Or does the self-effacing nature of the Kiwis mean they will naturally be a little quieter?
Is it time for substitutes to be used in cricket matches? Surely if a doctor can verify a player cannot continue playing, why not have a player take his role?
We have seen what has happened in the current Test with Lockie Ferguson and Josh Hazlewood being ruled out from bowling for the rest of the Test. A like replacement comes on, Matt Henry for Ferguson and James Pattinson for Hazlewood.
It obviously happens in all other sport, and in rugby, AFL and football it’s used as a tactical move. Both cricket teams are now at a big disadvantage and it just seems silly to not replace them. In the future it too could be used as a tactical weapon to liven up proceedings!
Jump on Twitter after a Tim Paine mistake and he soon becomes a trending topic. The continual haters don’t let up on him. And am I correct in saying that most of the haters are from areas who want their own candidate for captaincy appointed? Ex-players even jump on the bandwagon, including Brett Lee recently, who criticised Paine for declaring and not allowing Warner to reach 400 runs.
Paine has led Australia from having a reputation as one of the most disliked teams on the planet to now becoming a formidable, fair and reasonable team. Apart from George Bailey, Paine was the only candidate in Australia who could have achieved such a feat. And what state would those two be from? Are the critics Paine bashing or Tasmania bashing? Perhaps both.
Yes, his batting is not brilliant, but maybe Adam Gilchrist set too high a bar. All players make mistakes, so give the guy a break.
Wouldn’t it be great if commentators could show us their true personalities while talking about cricket? Kerry O’Keefe is the only one I immediately think of who gives us an insight into his personality. Jim Maxwell probably another. Show us your personality, stop the continual hyping up of players (we know how good they are), tell us stuff we don’t know and use humour (David Lloyd and Ian Smith I can imagine would be reasonably funny in person).
To quote Jeff Thomson’s autobiography, “I don’t enjoy doing TV commentary because you can’t speak your mind”.
The one commentator who I will mute on TV is James Brayshaw. On the other hand, most of the English commentators seem to get the balance right and appeal as being the best overall. Shane Warne and Ricky Ponting do a good job, but most of the others are annoying.
Currently the best three are O‘Keefe, Smith and Lloyd.
Neil Wagner after only half a Test gets my vote as favourite player of the series. What a machine! And he has the fast-bowler attitude too. Mitchell Johnson compared Wagner to one of the robots from The Terminator, and it was an apt description. Complete with a big heart and athleticism, he’s a thinking cricketer with plans devised to get batsmen out. He’s one of those guys to whom the skipper can throw the ball and know he’s guaranteed to get it.
These were a few of my thoughts about the current Test. I was thinking after the first two days that this doesn’t make the Pakistanis look so bad! Hopefully the Black Caps will continue to fight in more favourable conditions, but they’re up against a formidable team.