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Vas Venkatramani

Roar Guru

Joined June 2009

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Mark Waugh got dropped in November 2002 – Hussey was 27 at the time, and not averaging the numbers he was when he got in. Martyn was near about 50 at that moment, and ended with a not-so-shabby 46-odd. Blewett’s last Test was in March 2000, and Lehmann was a generation above Hussey for knocking on the door for his chance, which he did largely well with.

I might be harsh on Head, but in a two-tiered cricket economy, the guy has a HS of only 72 against India/England. His figures are mostly fattened up by hapless SL and NZ bowling attacks on Aussie pitches. This is what I mean when I say that while he doesn’t necessarily deserve the punt, neither should his place be considered safe, especially when there is a viable alternative available.

Your last question: no, if Burns and Wade get picked and do well, they shouldn’t lose their place. I’m a firm believer of rewarding good form. If that happens, then Green and Pucovski will have to either wait their turn, or take someone else’s spot. But the argument is here and now: two young blokes are in superb form, and if the rhetoric is about players knocking on the door, then it has to occasionally be matched by action.

Time to be brave with Pucovski and Green

Mike Hussey had to wait by virtue of six blokes who were all averaging 50+ against fine attacks. Gilchrist is a wicketkeeper, and had to wait for Healy to lose his form.

I agree with the principle of your argument, as it’s a sound one. But I don’t know what point there is of telling young players to perform and not give them an opportunity, especially if you contextualise that none of Burns, Wade or Head have done little to demand their spots be safe.

Looks like Langer will stick to Burns – it’s the wrong call, not because of anything Burns has done, but we’re overlooking a bloke who has the ability to be a mainstay for the next decade. His form demands selection.

Time to be brave with Pucovski and Green

Paul, fair question. The answer? Because Australian cricket at its best has had a history aimed at improving the team from positions of strength.
I hark back to the likes of David Boon, Ian Healy and even Stephen Waugh being pushed out the door. It wasn’t just ageism, but reflecting that the likes of Ponting, Gilchrist and Clarke were coming through. As a youngster, I found the notion of dropping Stephen Waugh sacrilegious. But he retired, and Australia had multiple options to improve the team at the time.
Like I said, Head, Burns and Wade are fine players all, but none of them have made a case so irresistible so as to avoid scrutiny. But the mindset of the Australian team has to be to integrate young players who are in form at the time. When else is an opportune time to get them in? When their purple patch dissipates and they are thrown to the wolves as a last resort? What better way to breed confidence in them than to say, you’re in form, and we’re picking you to take that form into a Baggy Green cap?
I’m not fully aware of the progress or status of some of the Indian players like Gill, so I’ll take a pass at making a judgement.
And finally, regarding the rankings. Can you or I with justification suggest that our current number 1 status is in any way indicative of us being superior to India or England? The rankings are an algorithm based on the matches that different countries play, with no inherent equity that determines that each match is valued the same as another. And with every country having uneven schedule of matches, the ICC Match Rankings are as flawed as the time the FIFA World Rankings had the United States as the fifth best team on the planet. So I’ll take the number 1 ranking with a pinch of salt.

Time to be brave with Pucovski and Green

Chris, I never said Australia didn’t care for allrounders pre-Flintoff. But selection policy seismically changed as a result of Flintoff’s influence in 2005. Before that, Australia were perfectly content with four frontline bowlers, with handy overs from the batsmen at times as you’ve alluded to.

When I use the term allrounder, I state it on the basis of a player being able to perform with bat and ball as fully and functionally as any regulation batsman or bowler could do. The likes of the Waugh brothers were definitely handy bowlers in their youth, but their bowling was definitely not good enough to make it as one of the frontline options.

But Flintoff changed our selection policy. Prior to the 06/07 Ashes, the selectors were desperate to include Shane Watson, and were only spared of that decision due to his injury, offering Michael Clarke a chance that he made count. But my point is that nowhere in Watson’s record did he warrant a spot over Clarke or other batsmen, and his bowling was never good enough in Tests.

As I mentioned, there is no way to tell if Cameron Green is the real deal. But my concern is that we give him his opportunity when either a) he isn’t in form, or b) as a desperation move from a position of weakness. And that can undermine his progress. Right now, Australia are entering a series with an opportunity to actually improve the team, both in terms of personnel and balance. Head and Wade are fine players, but their records are not so indomitable that renders Green an outside selection.

Green and Pucovski both deserve an opportunity – success for them could help solidify Australia’s position for years to come. But failure at a young age isn’t a bad thing – the likes of Langer, Hayden and Martyn all got early opportunities, failed and then came back. We shouldn’t be so myopic to discount the opportunity we have, where we can select young players in form.

Time to be brave with Pucovski and Green

Indeed – Swepson only features if there is a third seam option, and neither Starc nor Cummins’ batting is good enough to class themselves as a number 7. Green is almost a necessity at the moment in order to determine if some flexibility can be afforded in future selections regarding a second spinner.

Time to be brave with Pucovski and Green

There is a fair argument to state that putting two debutants would be a risk. But the risk you incur is also dependant on the risk of retaining the incumbents. Neither Wade nor Head have done overly much to warrant keeping their place. Wade’s record since the Ashes is iffy while Head rarely seems to make his starts count into something substantial.

Time to be brave with Pucovski and Green

There is an ethical issue around using public money to fund development of stadiums used by privately-owned enterprises, who then get to keep the profits generated by the stadiums, with government getting little ROI.

I pose this question – if multiple NRL clubs cannot sell out the stadiums they currently occupy, then what is the economic argument being mounted to redevelop the same stadiums into so-called “boutique” ones? There is no guarantee that this will bring about crowds.

If the NRL wanted to mount a worthwhile argument, it would come as a result of stadiums having to turn people away. That would be an argument for taxpayer-funded redevelopment, not the present scenario.

Until such time, NRL clubs should be subject to the same financial decisions that effect other private business, which is that if they want new infrastructure, they should primarily fund it themselves.

As an aside, I think all Sydney clubs should look to return to their suburban grounds. It will definitely come at less profit, but the big concern for the NRL right now is its cost base. Returning to spiritual homes is a far stronger argument for fans to return than pumping millions into infrastructure white elephants that could send entire economies broke.

The NSW stadium policy is in shambles, but there is hope

David, what is the merit of letting them return? Because the others who got caught didn’t face the same severity?

That’s the same line of thought when someone who smuggles drugs around Australia gets a fine/jail sentence, while if you get caught doing that in SE Asia, then it’s curtains.

Quite simply, CA made a decision to punish them, and they should stick to it. They disgraced the identity of Australian cricket by their low acts. I personally supported a lifetime ban being a firm deterrent for the future, but the decision was made, and nothing they have done suggests they should re-enter earlier.

Time for Cricket Australia to end the Smith, Warner and Bancroft bans

As a Liverpool fan, it’s been a pleasure to witness this unfold.

That aside, the malaise inside United is at the feet of both Mourinho and Woodward, who both have different strategies. Mourinho’s is that he should have a limitless budget to work with until he gets it right, like he previously had at Chelsea. Woodward’s is one of financial prudence, where he doesn’t mind spending money, and also is rightly asking the manager to make the most of the investment already made. Remember, Lindelof and Bailly are Mourinho’s own signings.

Finally, there is a general distaste among the United supporter base for the football being played. It’s not ideal for United base to be gazing towards the other half of Manchester or the red of Merseyside on the football there. The results haven’t been terrible, but the rise of City and Liverpool, plus the ongoing threats of Spurs and Chelsea, and the prospect of a renewed Arsenal should worry United supporters.

Only way this gets resolved is if Mourinho gets the punt and is replaced by someone who will play attractive football and gets some decent results. Right now, there is a cultural mismatch between Mourinho and United. The issue for Mourinho is there is no bigger job available than United – he’s done Spain, Italy and England. No German club will tolerate Mourinho’s persona – PSG is an option if Tuchel doesn’t fit.

Right on time, Mourinho’s third season syndrome is taking shape

Klopp is overrated? He is the only manager that since 2010 has taken the Bundesliga title away from Bayern Munich. Since being at Liverpool, he has been making a profit in the transfer market, despite the team being substantially better than the one he joined. His Liverpool team haven’t won anything, but neither did SAF for his first five seasons at United. In a more contemporary example, Pochettino hasn’t won anything yet for Spurs, but no question as to which manager more attack-minded players want to play for.

I wouldn’t say Mourinho is past it, but I do know that the Man Utd fans only have a limited tolerance for the football his team have shown. Manchester United fans are like Liverpool fans in the sense they are brought up on teams that play attacking and entertaining football.

Much has been made about United being second ahead of Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea. Well, most United fans would argue there is no difference being second or fourth. But there is a big difference between first and second. Most United fans would rather their team be fourth and be enterprising and motivated, as opposed to a club whose home ground has the atmosphere of a well-attended funeral.

Finally, look at the history of Jose Mourinho. He has only ever left two clubs on a high of CL wins, one being Porto, and the other being Inter. Aside from that, he’s been shunted out of every other club he’s been at, usually during the third or fourth season. Next year will be Mourinho’s third season at United, where he will either win the title, or set the place to flames.

Everyone talks about the hard task of following Ferguson’s winning era. It’s following Mourinho’s narcissistic destruction that’ll be the challenge.

Jose Mourinho: The chosen one is still the only one for Manchester United

Good call Scott.

One thing in our favour is that the second leg of the playoff will be at home, so if Australia can navigate a tricky first leg, you’d hope we could do the job here.

Socceroos vs Syria: World Cup Qualifier highlights, live scores, blog

Now can they defend for 15 minutes? One Syrian goal still takes them through…

Socceroos vs Syria: World Cup Qualifier highlights, live scores, blog

God help Australian football when Tim Cahill is no longer available…

Socceroos vs Syria: World Cup Qualifier highlights, live scores, blog

This has penalties written all over it. Syria down 10, disinclined to not commit too forward. Australia, man up, but know one goal against them, and it’s over.

If Syria go through, good on them. If Australia does, then Panama/Honduras will destroy us.

Socceroos vs Syria: World Cup Qualifier highlights, live scores, blog

Great thing for Syria is that whether they concede or not, all they need right now is one goal. Another goal from Syria I reckon will snuff out the Socceroos.

Socceroos vs Syria: World Cup Qualifier highlights, live scores, blog

Actually Anon, the Socceroos did secure a very impressive 1-0 win in Abu Dhabi in the early qualifiers last year. At the time, I wrote it as Ange’s finest game in management, given the oppressive conditions, the short build-up, and also the UAE at home would always be a challenge. At that time, I thought Australia would qualify easily if that was the template.

What has killed us were those three away draws – Saudis, Iraq and Thailand. If any one was of those were a win, then Australia would be booking tickets to Russia now.

Socceroos vs Thailand highlights: Australia escape with nervy 2-1 win in Melbourne

When I say second-string Matsu, I’m referring to Japan’s overall game intensity. Now that they’ve qualified, I’m expecting them to play it like a friendly, and ensure all their players come out unscathed without injuries or suspensions. That against a Saudi team who will be roared on by a willing crowd to make their first World Cup in 12 years.

Japan won’t be easybeats, but the Saudis have it all to play for.

Socceroos vs Thailand highlights: Australia escape with nervy 2-1 win in Melbourne

The key difference being – tech issues aside, you actually performed to expectation 🙂

Socceroos vs Thailand highlights: Australia escape with nervy 2-1 win in Melbourne

So, it all comes down to Jeddah. With Japan likely to field a second string, I’m expecting the Saudis to win, and force us to the playoffs.

Socceroos vs Thailand highlights: Australia escape with nervy 2-1 win in Melbourne

Actually 3, the qualification rules state that if two teams finish on same points and same goal difference, then the team with the higher goal tally goes through.

On that basis, another goal would still have the Saudis ahead.

Socceroos vs Thailand highlights: Australia escape with nervy 2-1 win in Melbourne

Maybe we’re all being harsh to the Socceroos. If France can draw at home to 136th placed Luxembourg, then should we be so harsh to our boys for struggling against the 130th team?

Socceroos vs Thailand highlights: Australia escape with nervy 2-1 win in Melbourne

Alan, they don’t need anymore. They have enough. They just now need to stack men behind the ball, play a deep defensive line, and if the Thais want to foray forward, then let them.

It may be against Ange’s philosophy, but I’ve never heard of a good football philosophy that is about stagnant principles.

Socceroos vs Thailand highlights: Australia escape with nervy 2-1 win in Melbourne

There you go – abandon your defensive principles in order to mitigate circumstances in another game you have no control over.

If Australia don’t make the World Cup, it’s just rewards. It may also be for our good.

Socceroos vs Thailand highlights: Australia escape with nervy 2-1 win in Melbourne

Surely the pragmatic approach is to concentrate defending the advantage while searching in measured fashion for a second? I’m afraid that in trying to make up the goal difference, Australia may give the game away – think of Crystanbul as Example A.

Socceroos vs Thailand highlights: Australia escape with nervy 2-1 win in Melbourne

Now that we’ve got the goal, not sure how worthy it is to expose our defence in the search for more goals. We still need three more if goal difference is going to matter at all.

Socceroos vs Thailand highlights: Australia escape with nervy 2-1 win in Melbourne