The wait is over and Australian cricket is ready to speed off for a season that will be one with high intensity and mighty challenges ahead in all forms of the game. The state season is also just around the corner with an earlier start due in order to acommodate the Big Bash League later this year (SMH – Usain Bolt for the Melbourne Stars?).
The first game against Afghanistan for the UAE tour was a victory and this was to be expected. I was only able to get a re-cap from Cricinfo.com this morning and read a few bulletins. Seems that the Afghans put up some resistance with their batting and made a game of it but looking at our score it would seem that a win was really optimistic.
This game also gave clear indication that our boys are in for a testing series against Pakistan and batting will not be easy, notably due to the sluggish tracks which Pakistan will definitely turn to spin – particularly to target our top order – and the unbelievable heat in humidity which makes batting extremely draining and the bowlers will be tested for fitness and stamina. Michael Clarke will need to be smart with his rotation for both tactical and safety reasons.
There were plenty of positives looking at the feedback.
I am proud to see Michael Clarke stamped down some authority with the number 3 role and this innings was driven by the class of our skipper, which we saw come to the forefront in 2007. Straight drives, brilliant footwork and bat speed against the spinners and cautious control within the state of the game. He managed to score 75 runs and will head into the ODI series with confidence within his own game and his leadership.
Matt Wade scored his highest ODI total but his struggles were noted. He struggled for rhythm, something we saw against England, and the conditions hammered him, but you can’t blame him in this regard!
All in all, he put runs on the board and would have learnt a substantial amount in a 131 run partnership with Clarkey.
With Brad Haddin making a comeback and Tim Paine also working on his return this is an important series for Matt to show he’s learning and adapting to the different conditions he’s been exposed to in a short time frame.
Michael Hussey was assertive and scored 49 runs from 37 deliveries. Good signs ahead of the ICC WorldT20 and a welcomed return for our middle order maestro. Pakistan know what he’s capable of!
The bowlers were made to work hard but it was the fast bowlers who got us over the finish line in the end. Mitchell Starc is continually building a strong profile in limited overs cricket for us as he took 4-47 with top order wickets.
James Pattinson has an opportunity to find a role as the dealer of new ball duties with Brett Lee now retired. I have always likened his attitude to that of Binga’s when he was a young man starting out for Australia and his figures suggest that he held his own out there with 3-46. Like Starc, this is a passage of learning.
Mitchell Johnson was the man called on the break up Afghanistan’s most threatening partnership and things ended well for Mitch which is really pleasing given his ODI recall in England was a bit of a nightmare. I still value him in ODI cricket and his figures were 2-34 at just 3.77 runs per over.
The victory came with a wicket to Xavier Doherty as Australia claimed victory by 66 runs. It’s a first victory on the board and the first step towards winning this series and regaining some pride after the fall in the UK.
Australia u19 lose the title to India:
On a slightly low note, the Australian u19s lost to India in the ICC u19 World Cup final in Australia.
It was a high scoring encounter and another lack of a top order partnership from our batsmen left the hard work to our middle order batsmen. India passed our total of 225 with 14 deliveries to spare, so it was a comfortable victory in some regards.
Spare a thought though for skipper Will Bosisto. In my opinion I have been impressed by his conduct and leadership of the side throughout this tournament. He’s worked with his team in a balanced manner and the stats would also indicate this as most of our victories came as a result of a balanced team effort, as opposed to individual’s saving the day.
Bosisto also held his own with his batting as he was unbeaten – playing an assertive, patient role in rescuing the side on a few occasions – with 87* runs. He scored 276 runs from 6 innings in the tournament, at an average of 276 runs owed to the fact he was only dismissed once and this was a run out during the semi final against South Africa. Definitely put himself on the map as a player for the future.
The young Western Australian, Cameron Bancroft, showcased his skills with a century and a fifty during the tournament. He had a dismal start to his career with WA in first class cricket last season but all these guys are just young men new to the step up in intensity with professional cricket. These two performances from him the series will hopefully change his mind set as he heads into the cricket season.
I was also impressed by Travis Head who should see himself find plenty of opportunities for the Redbacks this season, especially if he performs as he did against England during the tournament.
Plenty of positives witnessed with the younger players coming through the system and even though only a handful of these blokes will find a career within the game of cricket, we’ve seen many outstanding cricketers come through the system having represented the Australian u19 side. It’s always exciting to watch the journey of these players to see who will one day play for Australia at the elite level.
Names like Bosisto, Bancroft, Patterson, Turner and Head may very well be headliner names in the distant future. It all begins in tournaments like these.
For the series stats, you can read up on it all at ESPN Cricinfo.com, the source of all cricketing stats and facts.