Don’t worry. I’m not proposing yet another fantasy team but asking a more concrete question: which 11 players constituted the best ever Test team taking the field on a single day, judged on previous form?
Hey, remember the Chappell-Hadlee trophy? Yeah, that’s on again. Yeah, in March for some reason. Crazy, right?
Here are the ratings for the First ODI between Australia and New Zealand.
After 86,000 fans turned out for the women last Sunday, the crowd for this match was extremely disappointing. The embarrassingly empty stands at the SCG left many critics openly questioning for how long the ladies were going to be expected to subsidise the men’s game. Surely it’s not sustainable indefinitely. The men will have to someday learn to attract an audience for their stand-alone matches.
Ha ha ha. No, of course not. In actuality, as part of the ongoing coronavirus situation, Cricket Australia had declared that the match would be played without any spectators. A fair enough decision, perhaps, but why not at least maintain the illusion of a crowd by simply projecting crowd holograms into the SCG stadiums? After all, Channel Ten had the technology for that way back in Big Bash 4, and they’re almost certainly no longer using it.
But no, instead the players played in front of an empty SCG, while the rest of the traditional cricket experience went on as usual. The big screen popped up a message: “Come on, Sydney. Make some NOISE!!!” Then the audio did the Freddie Mercury ‘ay-oh’ thing.
Finally, Kiss-Cam came on and lingered forever on two empty seats until a couple of police officers eventually made their way over there, tore them off their hinges and forced them to make out.
Despite this peculiar situation where we had cricket followed by… crickets, David Warner and Aaron Finch put on a century partnership for the opening wicket. Warner brought up his 50 but was unaware he’d done so without a crowd cheering the milestone. It raised the question: what would happen when he reached his century? How would he even know when to do his celebratory leap? Luckily, he was caught for 67 after a Lockie Ferguson ball took him by surprise. So that crisis was averted.
Finch also made a half-century. Although, to be fair, he got lucky, with New Zealand refusing to refer a pretty obvious caught behind that the umpire also missed. Perhaps, paradoxically, with the lack of crowd noise the edge had been too easy to hear. I know that makes no sense, but what does these days?
Later the Black Caps also refused to refer an LBW against Finch that ball-tracking showed was hitting. It was unclear why New Zealand were being so helpful to the Australian captain. There was no crowd to win over with their nice-guy antics. What’s their angle?
Nevertheless, after Finch was eventually dismissed, the Australian batsmen fell away in a hurry. It took the SCG testing positive to the coronamarnus, via a late half-century from a demoted Marnus Labuschagne, for Australia to scramble to a borderline respectable 7-258.
Overall, however, a disappointing batting performance from Australia. In a way, it was a shame that it wasn’t taking place at 3am like the rest of the white-ball summer.
Nevertheless, kudos to Cricket Australia for still making it as hard as possible to watch.
Despite Australia’s seemingly mediocre total, tight bowling from Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins had New Zealand under early pressure. Wickets were eventually added to the mix, which led to some unusual celebrations.
As part of the general sanitary precautions of the day, players from both sides did their best to resist the urge to high-five one another upon dismissing a batsmen. When New Zealand were bowling, they had mostly switched to tapping one another’s feet or promising to follow one another on Instagram to signify their satisfaction with taking a wicket.
The Australians, in contrast, seemed to mostly prefer elbow bumps as their new method of expressing wicket-taking joy.
A notable exception to this was Labuschagne, whose general excitability saw him invariably forgetting the new protocols, charging in from wherever he was fielding and leaping at his teammates, high-fiving 40 to the dozen. Still, that’s probably better than the alternative. Who knows how much damage Marnus could do to the side with an overly enthusiastic flurry of elbow bumping.
The other major exception was Alex Carey, whose gloves apparently allowed him to high five with impunity. I therefore look forward to the government fighting this pandemic by distributing wicketkeeping gloves to every home in the country.
Despite the early tight spells from the quicks, New Zealand still had an opportunity to chase down the target as long as Kane Williamson was at the crease. Understanding this axiom of cricket, Adam Zampa therefore came up with a neat solution.
That solution? He would bowl Williamson with a wrong’un to die for. The delivery utterly defeated the New Zealand captain, turning in between bat and pad to crash into the top of middle stump. It was a thing of beauty that gave all who witnessed it fresh hope that the myriad of troubles facing the world would soon be overcome.
With Williamson gone, New Zealand never really recovered, eventually spluttering to 187 all out and a 71-run defeat.
If that’s Adam Zampa’s wrong’un, I never want him to be right.