Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Brief cricket update

The one day tournament in Sri Lanka goes on. In the last two games, New Zealand beat Sri Lanka in a close but low scoring game, and Pakistan beat New Zealand in a slightly more convincing fashion, although it was still tight. This has been a tournament of low scores and ball dominating bat. I don't know why the pitch is like this, but this is something worth investigating. Despite all three teams ending up with a won two lost two record, Sri Lanka miss out and Pakistan play New Zealand in the final on Friday due to Sri Lanka having the least bonus points. I think the bonus point system as it presently operates is quite fair (unlike the different system that was in operation until a year ago), as it means that Sri Lanka miss out because their defeats were heavy and their wins narrow. However, it seems somewhat redundant. Net run rate indicates this already, and if there were no bonus points and net runrate was used, the result would have been the same: a New Zealand v Pakistan final. I prefer systems that are as simple as possible (as long as they are fair), and net runrate is fair. The bonus points are just an unnecessary complication.

Meanwhile, the third game bewtween Australia and the West Indies is today. Australia have rested Adam Gilchrist and Brett Lee, and Michael Clarke and Nathan Hauritz come into the side. After his fine debut in January, Clarke has had to wait for his second game for Australia. Hopefully his response to all this will be to have a big game.

The first test between Zimbabwe and England starts at Lord's tomorrow. Lots of people are expected to show up to demonstrate against the presence of the Zimbabwean team. My sympathies are with the protestors.

Update: Clarke did all right. Batting at five, he came in at 3/79 in the 17th over and stayed to the end, scoring 75 not out off 100 balls as Australia scored 4/258. He was involved in two big partnerships, one with Symonds and the other with Bevan. Clarke looked a little short of match practice, but played one or two lovely shots. It may have been that Australia didn't get as many runs in the last 15 overs as they should have, as Bevan and Clarke both found the gaps in the field for the ones and twos without scoring that many boundaries. It's probably best to have someone who can hit fours and sixes (eg Symonds) in at the end, and batting Clarke and Bevan at 5 and 6 may sometimes not lead to this. Still, some good bowling from Hauritz removed much of the top order, Lara got out bowled to a bad shot of Bichel, Clarke took 3 catches (ultimately ending up with the man of the match award and Australia won by 25 runs. That's 20 one day games in a row.

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