Apr 022014
 

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LEGENDARY batsman Mark Waugh is considering an offer to become a national selector.

Waugh will decide this week whether he will accept an offer from Cricket Australia to join the new selection panel in July.

It has been strongly rumoured current selection chairman John Inverarity will not seek reappointment after his contract runs out in June, although he claimed this week no decision had been made.

However, the biggest impediments to Waugh joining the selection panel are his media commitments.

Channel 10 confirmed they have re-signed Waugh, Adam Gilchrist and Damien Fleming, who gained favourable reviews for piloting Ten’s first season Big Bash coverage.

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Cricket Australia has always hoped either Steve or Mark Waugh, respected as fine talent judges with strong, to-the-point opinions, would accept a selector’s role. Until now their private commitments have not permitted them to do so.

Mark is uncertain whether time will permit him to accept the job but he is giving it deep thought.

“I am still speaking to them (Cricket Australia),’’ Waugh said. “I am weighing up the commitment to time away from home and how it will affect my media commitments.

“I am keen to get involved as a selector but I am not sure about the timing at the moment. It is quite a big commitment.

Mark Waugh and wife Kim Waugh on the red carpet of the 2014 Allan Border medal.

Mark Waugh and wife Kim Waugh on the red carpet of the 2014 Allan Border medal. Source: News Limited

“Every time the Australian team is overseas there has to be a selector there. Then you have commitments back in Australia, plus the Australia A side.

“You have to decide whether you want to juggle that and spend time away from home.

“I am definitely interested but I have not made up my mind yet.’’

Waugh said if he accepted the selector’s role there may be times when he had to choose his words more carefully as a commentator, but he believes he could do both roles.

“I enjoyed commentating on the Big Bash because they are a good bunch of guys and we get along well,’’ Waugh said.

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Apr 022014
 
Cricket Australia: Hodge Hints at International Retirement on Twitter

Australian batsman Brad Hodge has hinted that he might have played his last game in the Australian colours through a tweet he posted on Wednesday evening from his official account.

The 39-year old batsman stated on his official account @bradhodge007 that his “time for representing (his) country has ceased” before adding that he would be heading to the IPL which begins later this month. The tweet was retweeted by even the official ICC account and several former players, some of whom sent him congratulatory messages on ‘a great career’. Hodge had been a part of the Australian outfit in the ICC World T20 currently in progress in Bangladesh. The Australian team, however, has been knocked out of the tournament after a rather poor showing where they won only one out of their four games in the Super 10 stage and finished 4th in their group out of 5 times.

Hodge himself had a forgettable tournament where he only played one noteworthy innings (a 26-ball 35 against the West Indies) and was dropped in the last game – the only game that Australia won. The tiny right-hander had made a memorable comeback to the Australian side in the shortest version of the game at the age of 39 after some impressive performance in T20 leagues around the globe. It was expected that his success in the Bangladesh Premier League will make him an asset in the World T20. However, the dream comeback did not go as planned and despite some impressive starts in some games, Hodge failed to make an impact.

If this is indeed the end to Hodge’s international career, then he will surely be remembered as one of cricket’s unluckiest talents. For a man with a Test double-hundred and an average of over 55, he played very few Tests. Indeed, he did not make his Test debut before his 30th birthday. But when he did, he made the most of it scoring a fluent fifty on his debut before carving a second-inning double century on a fast Perth track against a South African bowling line-up comprising of Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini, and Andre Nel.

Rather surprisingly, Hodge was unceremoniously dropped after two more Tests as Australia turned to the likes of Michael Clarke and Damien Martyn. He did make a comeback for one Test in 2008 when he filled in for Mike Hussey but despite scoring his second Test fifty, never wore the baggy green again. Hodge also had an impressive run in the ODIs where he was a part of the side that won the 2007 World Cup, scoring a hundred against Netherlands during the campaign. But many felt he was underused (he batted only twice in the tournament) and was left out of the XI in the final.

In January this year, Hodge made his comeback to the Australian side after almost six years in the wilderness. In the meantime, he had given up on first-class cricket and this prolific scorer had reinvented himself as one of the best T20 players in the world, holding records like most T20 runs and half centuries. A powerful hitter of the ball, Hodge remains one of the best all-format players in recent times and perhaps, one of the most talented players ever not to attain glory for the country.

Hodge’s International Career at a Glance

Format

Mtchs

Runs

Ave.

SR

100s

High

Wkts

Ave.

Ctchs

Tests

6

503

55.88

52.12

1

203*

9

ODIs

25

575

30.26

87.51

1

123

01

51.00

16

T20Is

15

183

26.14

127.08

0

36

01

43.00

5

Mar 302014
 
Axed stars get deals, Doolan doesn’t

Which Test players will make the cut for Cricket Australia’s contract list?

Which Test players will make the cut for Cricket Australia’s contract list? Source: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix / AAP

THERE will be some Aussie cricketers with some very sweaty palms as Cricket Australia gets set to announce its contract list for the year.

CA will name 18 players who will be awarded full contracts, divvying up a pool of just under $15 million between them — a figure which was boosted significantly by Cricket Australia’s recent broadcast rights deal.

The Australian newspaper is reporting that Phil Hughes has retained his contract despite being dropped from the Test team last year.

However the news doesn’t appear to be so good for two other players who were axed during the disastrous Ashes tour of England in 2013, with batsmen Usman Khawaja and Ed Cowan reportedly missing out.

Cowan’s fellow Tasmanian Ben Hilfenhaus is also tipped to miss out on a contract.

The full list of players will be revealed at 1pm EDT, with chairman of selectors John Inverarity to hold a press conference about an hour later to explain the decisions.

The Courier-Mail’s Robert ‘Crash’ Craddock will join us for a LIVE BLOG at 1pm EDT to discuss the contract list and answer all your questions. Get involved in the conversation by using the comment box at the top of the blog below, or send in a question via Twitter using #askcrash.

Mar 122014
 
Cricket Australia: Harris Out for Six Months; Vows to Return

Even though he has been laid low for six months following a knee surgery, Australian paceman Ryan Harris has put an end to speculations about the possible end of his career due to a persistent knee injury, saying that he is ‘positive’ about a comeback to the side in time for the Test series against Pakistan in October.

Harris had been advised a corrective surgery on his troublesome right knee earlier this year but the 34-year old fast bowler opted to delay the procedure in order to take part in the heavyweight clash against South Africa. In hindsight, it was probably the best decision Harris took in his entire career, at least for the Australian team. Harris was the architect of the famous win at Newlands as he demolished the South African tail to give his side a historic series win against the world no. 1 side.

Having undergone the surgery on the knee in Adelaide on Tuesday, Harris has been ruled out of action for six months, which prompted many to speculate if he had already played his last game for Australia. Harris, however, quashed such rumours. “It’s nowhere near my career over,” he said. “I did this to prolong it more than anything. My knee is damaged – probably a little bit more damaged than the last time they went in a few years ago. But it’s still a good knee. After what I’ve put up with in the last few weeks, I can probably put up with just about anything now.”

The team physio Alex Kountouris said that “Ryan will be on crutches for a few weeks and we expect a long rehabilitation period.” The surgeon who operated on the injured paceman’s knee said that he was surprised at the size of pieces of cartilage that were floating in the knee joint. It speaks volumes of the Queenslander’s resilience that he not only managed to survive a full tour with such a severely damaged knee but also took crucial wickets in the final Test.

Australia are scheduled to face Pakistan in October for a Test series, most likely in the UAE, and Harris believes that his playing in that series is ‘a very realistic goal’ even though he would be 35 by that time. Harris currently the no. 2 bowler in the world according to the ICC rankings, behind South Africa’s Dale Steyn and ahead of compatriot Mitchell Johnson, who has been in red-hot form all summer. His heroics in Ashes and the South Africa tour have firmly established him as one of the foremost new-ball bowlers in the world, apart from lending weight to skipper Michael Clarke’s claim that Australia possesses the ‘best bowling attack in the world’.

Quite remarkably for a man as fragile as him, Harris has managed to feature in 12 consecutive Tests for Australia now, including back-to-back Ashes and the series in South Africa. If he manages to be fit for the first Test against Pakistan, it will be his 13th, a feat not many fast bowlers around the world have achieved of late.

Feb 272014
 
Cricket Australia: Warner Fined Over Ball-Tampering Allegations

Australian opener David Warner has been fined 15% of his match fee after he suggested that South Africa achieved their match-winning reverse swing in the Port Elizabeth through ball-tampering.

Warner had raised questions over South Africa’s handling of the ball during the 2nd Tests which the hosts emphatically won. The opening batsmen told a local radio station that he observed South African wicketkeeper AB de Villiers using his gloves to scrape the ball. South African bowlers, particularly Dale Steyn, generated enormous amounts of reverse swing on the 4th day of the Port Elizabeth Test, claiming 9 Australian wickets in a single session and levelling the series.

“We were actually questioning whether or not AB de Villiers would get the ball in his hand and with his glove wipe the rough side every ball. That’s another thing we have to try and bring up with the umpires.” Warner said, while referring to the South African side working on the ball during the game.

His comments caused uproar in the cricketing world with the South African management vehemently denying the allegations, and even Warner’s teammate Ryan Harris maintaining that the hosts were not at fault. Australia’s bowling coach and former fast bowler Craig McDermott also denied that South Africa tampered the ball or handled it in any suspicious way.

Consequently, the ICC match referee for the game Roshan Mahanama cited Warner under the ICC Code of conduct, for a level one breach of article 2.1.7. The  article deals with “Public criticism of, or inappropriate comment in relation to an incident occurring in an International Match or any Player, Player Support Personnel, Match official or team participating in any International Match”

According to Mahanama, Warner’s words were not only inappropriate but also disrespectful towards the opposition and the game. “I’m sure David will be careful when making public comments in future.” Mahanama added. Warner accepted the penalty, 15% fine of his fee for the Port Elizabeth Test, which amounted to $2880.

Warner’s teammate Ryan Harris was one of the first to refute these claims. Speaking to journalists, Harris said, “I’ve got no doubt what they did was fine, otherwise the umpires and the match referee would have done something.”

Image: BBC

Feb 082014
 
Sweeping alterations approved by ICC

The ICC Board has approved a comprehensive resolution relating to the governance, competition and financial models of the ICC at a meeting in Singapore.

Under the changed structure, a new, five-man executive committee (ExCo) will report to the board – who act as ‘the primary decision-making body’.

The ECB, Cricket Australia and the Board of Control for Cricket in India each have a guaranteed seat on the ExCo, with the other two to be elected.

It was also announced BCCI chairman N Srinivasan will be the chairman of the ICC Board for a two-year term, with Cricket Australia’s Wally Edwards chairing the ExCo and ECB chairman Giles Clarke continuing to do likewise for the finance and commercial affairs committee.

ICC President Alan Isaac said: “The board has made some significant decisions today which provide us with long-term certainty in relation to the future governance, competition and financial models of the ICC.

“This decision comes after extensive discussions between members that I helped initiate and were given impetus through a position paper presented by the BCCI, Cricket Australia and ECB in early January.

“Since this time a set of resolutions have been drafted, negotiated and modified – based on a set of principles agreed by the ICC Board on 28 January – and finalised at the meeting today.

“There were eight full members who were in a position to support the resolution today and the two who abstained have pledged to further discuss the issues with an aim to reaching unanimous approval over the coming weeks.”

There was important news, too, for minnow nations seeking a route into Test cricket with the announcement that winners of the next Intercontinental Cup will contest a play-off against the bottom-ranked five-day nation, with a place in the elite ranks at stake.

The planned World Test Championship, meanwhile, has been scrapped in favour of keeping the Champions Trophy.

Feb 052014
 
Cricket Australia: Victoria secure services of Muirhead

The future is bright for young legspinner Jason Muirhead as he signs on the dotted line for Victoria. The side have secured his services for the next four seasons on a long-term deal.

Having being plucked from the Melbourne Stars side during the Big Bash in order to play for Australia, he quickly showed the world his skills and didn’t let his lack of experience deter him. Having produced strong performances during the T20i series, showing good control, with substantial turn.

Muirhead has gained his first-class debut for Victoria last summer, however, no appearances have come for the leggy this season in the Sheffield Shield. Although plenty of opportunity for his chance to play when the Shield returns to action next week.

With only one person remaining unsure about the emergence of the leggy, with recently qualified bowler Fawad Ahmed’s: future looking uncertain, due to the success of Muirhead at the international level.

Having being touted as Australia’s possible spinner for their recent Ashes campaign, he failed to land his spot in the side and now his position on the spin ladder has dropped further.

Ahmed’s own figures in the Shield this season isn’t world beating, with the spinner picking up 14 wickets at 34.07. Whilst Jon Holland who has played both Shield cricket and represented Australia A during their fixture against England in Hobart also finds himself on the side-lines should CA persist with Muirhead.

With the pending World T20 in Bangladesh and Muirhead’s success in the recent T20i’s against England, the young spinner has done his chances of gaining a plane seat to Bangladesh no harm at all!

With Muirhead finding many possible suitors for his services, he feels being a player born and raise in Melbourne; he was very keen on pursuing his career in Victoria.

“I feel like Victoria is the best environment for me to develop my cricket,” Muirhead said.

“I was born in Melbourne, I live in Melbourne and now I can just focus on playing my cricket in Melbourne. We’ve got a great set-up, with the best coaches … so I’m very happy.”

While he isn’t the finished article by a long stretch, the coach of Victoria Greg Sheppard: believes the coaches in Victoria were looking forward to helping him reach his potential and develop his bowling and improve his understanding of the game over their time with him.

“We seem to be a bit of a factory of spinners at the moment,” Shipperd said.

 “So to have secured one of Australia’s most promising legspinners – someone who has already shown in the heat of international competition that he’s got the nerve and an exciting skill set – to have him commit to Victoria is a really positive move for our squad.”

Image:  (Getty Images)

Jan 202014
 
Cricket Australia: Bailey axed from Test squad, Shaun Marsh makes a comeback

George Bailey has been axed from Australia’s Test squad after playing in all the five Ashes victories this summer, with Shaun Marsh and Alex Doolan included for the upcoming tour of South Africa. Australia’s selectors have named a 15-man squad for the three-Test tour, which begins in early February, with Marsh, Doolan, James Pattinson, Jackson Bird and James Faulkner included from outside the Ashes XI.

Bailey was the only member to lose his place after been unable to make a big score in any of the five Tests against England; he finished the series with 183 runs at 26.14. A weakness outside off stump caused Bailey some problems during the Ashes and the national selector John Inverarity said that the South African conditions were unlikely to help him, where he would have had to face Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander, the top two Test bowlers in the world on the ICC rankings.

Doolan is the only uncapped player in the squad and will be battling with Marsh for a place in the top six for the opening Test in Cenutrion. Doolan had a breakout Sheffield Shield season last summer but this year has managed 391 runs at 39.10. However, his Shield form has been superior to that of Marsh, who this season sits 34th on the Shield run tally with 248 runs at 31.00, including only one fifty-plus score – it was a century – from his nine innings.

Ten days ago, Marsh described his Shield form as “really inconsistent this year” and declared that there were “a lot of guys ahead of me” in the Test queue, but the selectors seem to have disagreed. Marsh has scored half-centuries in the first two ODIs against England, although Inverarity said the squad was picked before Sunday’s game, and he does have South African Test experience, having played there on the 2011-12 tour.

National selector John Inverarity said Marsh, Doolan, Bailey and Phillip Hughes were the four contenders for two batting spots. Hughes can count himself unlucky to be missed out given that in the current Shield summer he has scored three centuries, including one double-hundred, and in his five Test appearances in South Africa he has averaged 53.00, including a score of 88 in the last Test Australia played there on the 2011-12 trip.

Hughes was dropped from the Test side after the defeat at Lord’s in July, despite the fact he had made an impressively mature 81 not out in the first Test at Trent Bridge when Ashton Agar nearly scored a hundred on debut. Since his axing, Hughes has made 671 first-class runs at the average of 61.00 from 11 innings, including a double-century and two other tons this Sheffield Shield season. Marsh, by comparison, has scored most of his runs in the shorter formats. Since he was dropped from the Test side in January 2012, he has made 675 first-class runs at 25.00.

The make-up of the attack was less tricky for the selectors, with Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon all the natural choices after their success in the home Ashes campaign. The addition of Faulkner, was no surprise either, which left them choosing two backup fast men from Bird, Pattinson and Nathan Coulter-Nile.

Inverarity said it was a close call but the selectors believed Pattinson could be a valuable member of the squad if he is able to continue making good progress on his return from a back injury. Pattinson made his return to the national side during Sunday’s one-day win over England at the SCG. Australia’s Safari hunt begins from Feb 12 in 1st of the three test series at Supersport Park, Centurion.

Australian Test squad for South Africa Tour : 

Michael Clarke (captain), Brad Haddin (vice-captain), Jackson Bird, Alex Doolan, James Faulkner, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Marsh, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson, Chris Rogers, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, David Warner, Shane Watson.

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