The Green Machine Legacy

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From 1989 to 1994, the Canberra Raiders dominated the NSWRL, winning three premierships. While the Raiders haven’t won anything in first grade since, the Green Machine Legacy survives in the coach’s box.
Mal Meninga’s appointment as Australian coach makes him the fourth Raider to lead the Kangaroos and sixth Raider to coach at rep level. After coaching the Raiders from 1997 to 2001, Meninga led Queensland to eight consecutive Origin wins and nine from 10 overall.

Don Furner AUS 1986–1988
Don Furner was the Raiders’ inaugural coach. He was instrumental from dragging Canberra from their only wooden spoon in 1982 to their first grand final in 1987. Furner coached Australia during the “Unbeatables” 1986 Ashes tour, winning all 10 tour games, five Tests (three Ashes Tests and two against France) and a warm-up game against PNG. In 1988, he coached the Kangaroos in their 2-1 Ashes win in Australia. Don’s son David (a Raider from 1992-2000) coached Canberra from 2009-2013.

Tim Sheens – NSW 1991; AUS 2009–2015
Taking over from Furner, Sheens lead Canberra to their three premierships (1989, 1990, 1994). In 1991 he coached NSW to a 2-1 Origin series loss. After leaving Canberra in 1996, Sheens coached North Queensland (1997-2001) and the Wests Tigers (2003-2012). The Tigers beat the Cowboys in the 2005 grand final, giving Sheens his fourth NSWRL/NRL premiership. Sheens accepted the Australian role in 2009 after Ricky Stuart was sacked. Under Sheens, Australia won 26 of 31 games, including the 2013 World Cup. Sheens is currently the Director of Rugby League at the Salford Red Devils.

Ricky Stuart – NSW 2005, 2011-2012; AUS 2006–2008
A vital part of Canberra’s premiership run as a player, Stuart’s coaching record hasn’t been as successful. Stuart won a premiership with the Sydney Roosters in 2002 and Origin with NSW in 2005. He resumed the NSW role in 2011/12, with Queensland winning both series’ 2-1. Stuart started coaching Australia in 2006 and won the tri-nations that year (even though he was booed by a parochial Suncorp Stadium crowd). The role ended controversially after the 2008 World Cup loss to New Zealand. He was sacked after abusing referee Ashley Klein in the hotel following the game. After controversial coaching stints with Cronulla and Parramatta, Stuart rejoined Canberra in 2014. The Raiders finished in the bottom four that year, but had a vastly improved 2015, floating in and around the eight most of the season before finishing 10th.

Craig Bellamy – NSW 2008-2010
Known for his brilliant coaching record at the Melbourne Storm, it’s easy to forget Bellamy was a foundation Raiders player, with 148 games from 1982 to 1992, including the 1990 premiership (he also coached the Raiders President’s Cup team to a premiership in 1995). Over an incredible 328 games from 2003, Bellamy made the Storm premiership heavyweights, then helped rebuild after the salary cap scandal in 2010. The Storm has made the finals every year since Bellamy started (excluding 2010, when they were ineligible), despite constant criticism of their “boring” style of football. Bellamy couldn’t translate strong domestic form to Origin. It didn’t help that he coached against a powerful Queensland team from 2008 to 2010, winning just two games.
Laurie Daley – NSW 2013-2015
Daley was the first NSW coach to break Queensland’s eight series streak, finally breaking through in 2014 and beating former teammate Meninga. NSW won the first two games 12-8 and 6-4 and lost the dead rubber 32-8. Replacing former Raiders teammate Stuart, Daley was one of the first stand-alone NSW coaches, which had worked well for Meninga and Queensland. Daley played 244 games for the Raiders, including the 1989, 1990 and 1994 premierships.

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The West Indies’ Melbourne Woes

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The MCG Test is a time of celebration; Christmas is over and people are braving the Boxing Days sales or enjoying the holidays with family and friends. The MCG is the backdrop for these events. The iconic stadium is usually packed out on Boxing Day and everyone’s in a festive mood.
This Australia v West Indies match will test the marketability of Boxing Day; the Windies were flogged inside three days in Hobart and aren’t expected to improve. If their loss to the Cricket Australia XI is anything to go by, Australia could send out their “A” team and still win comfortably. Perth’s BBL game against Brisbane at the WACA that evening will arguably gain more attention.
The West Indies haven’t played at the MCG since the 2000/01 whitewash, with subsequent Test tours over before Christmas.
They have a poor record at the MCG, with three wins, 10 losses (including seven straight from 1931 to 1976) and one draw.
The West Indies’ wins came in 1979/1980, 1988/89 and 1996/97.
Dec 29, 1979 – Jan 1, 1980. West Indies won by 10 wickets
Following the humiliation of 1975/76, the West Indies were building their eighties power side. After the Brisbane draw, the West Indies won emphatically in Melbourne and Adelaide. By stumps on day one at the MCG, the West Indies were 1/103 with Michael Holding (4/40), Colin Croft (3/27) and Joel Garner (3/33) decimating Australia for 156 in 56.3 overs. Sir Viv Richards (96), Sir Andy Roberts (54), Gordon Greenidge (48) and captain Clive Lloyd (40) extended the lead to 241 early on day three. Kim Hughes (70) and Bruce Laird (69) stood up to Croft (3/61), Roberts (3/64), Garner (2/56) and Holding (2/61), but the damage was done.
Dec 24-29, 1988. West Indies won by 285 runs
Nine years later, the West Indies were the most feared Test team in the world and made the MCG their playground. Patrick Patterson (4/49) and Curtly Ambrose (4/60) gave the West Indies a 38-run first innings lead. A Richie Richardson century (122), supported by captain Richards (63) and Jeff Dujon (46) set Australia 400 early on day five. Patterson’s 5/39 (match figures of 9/88) destroyed Australia for 114 and sealed the Frank Worrell Trophy.

Dec 26-28, 1996. West Indies won by six wickets
Australia’s historic 1995 Caribbean win started the West Indies’ decline into mediocrity. While Australia won the 1996/97 series 3-2, the West Indies used Melbourne (and Perth) to remind Australia of past glories. Ambrose’s 5/55 dismissed Australia for 219 on Boxing Day, with Greg Blewett (62) and Steve Waugh (58) providing some resistance. Half-centuries to Jimmy Adams (74 not out), Shivnarine Chanderpaul (58) and Junior Murray (53) earnt a lead of 36, mostly restricted by Glenn McGrath (5/50). Australia’s reply lasted just 46 overs thanks to Ambrose (4/17), Kenny Benjamin (3/34) and Courtney Walsh (3/41). Chanderpaul’s 40 guided the West Indies home with few dramas.
This upcoming Boxing Day Test could be the West Indies’ last in Melbourne, as they’re likely to be demoted to pre-Christmas fodder on future visits. Nobody expects them to win, but hopefully they can put up a fight.

The Tale of Two Tests

 

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The last two Australian Tests have gone for three days: Adelaide lasted approximately 250 overs in four innings. Hobart approximately 220 overs in three innings.

As the first day-night Test, Adelaide was a winner on novelty factor alone; the absorbing and closely-fought result made it even better.

Hobart was like a cynical summer blockbuster; plenty of action but also mind-numbingly predictable and a little disappointing.

The standard of the opposition contributed to these results.

After a slim preparation, New Zealand was predictably outmuscled in Brisbane. They arguably had the better of the WACA run glut; with a record-breaking double ton to Ross Taylor giving New Zealand an unlikely first innings lead. The Black Caps were in their element with the pink ball in Adelaide. Trent Boult took seven wickets and Doug Bracewell took four. Defending 202, they had Australia 8/117 when Nathan Lyon was controversially ruled not out. From there, Lyon, Mitchell Starc and Peter Nevill pushed Australia to a 22-run lead. Off-spinner Mitchell  Santner scored 45 to set Australia a tricky 187. In the 14th over, Australia was 3/66. A 49-run stand between Shaun Marsh and Adam Voges and 46 between Shaun and Mitch Marsh got Australia home by three wickets.

The West Indies looked in massive trouble after losing to the Cricket Australia XI in Brisbane. Many expect the Hobart Test to be over by Saturday evening. It didn’t even get that far.

Batting first, Australia was wobbly at 3/121. The great West Indies sides would have smelt blood. Instead, Voges (269 not out) and Shaun Marsh (182) gorged on a 449-run stand. After debuting earlier this year, Voges’ spot was shaky during the Ashes, but a couple of fifties bought him time. Since then, he’s kicked on wonderfully. Good luck to him. Many were critical of Shaun Marsh’s selection for Adelaide. Surely he’s been given enough chances? Marsh toughed out 49 in Adelaide and cashed in at Hobart. Again, good luck to him.

The scariest part of Hobart was the West Indies’ batting. Darren Bravo scored 108 (from 223) in the first innings and opener Kraigg Brathwaite scored 94 (from 148) in the second innings. The next highest score was 31 with 13 single-figure scores. Take out Bravo and Brathwaite’s innings and the West Indies are out for 115 and 54. Josh Hazlewood took 7/78 and James Pattinson 5/95. The West Indies batted a combined 106.3 overs, compared to Australia’s 114.

Similar walkovers in Melbourne and Sydney are expected. They may even test the enthusiasm of the cheerleaders in the Channel Nine commentary box. Expect them to start spruiking the India ODIs and Twenty20s from Boxing Day.

Fortunately, Adelaide showed the way forward: Test cricket under lights bring in bigger crowds, a fairer balance between bat and ball (though runs are there if you dig in) and an absorbing contest.

Another innovation is a promotion-relegation system. The top six nations in Division One and the bottom four in Division Two.

Based on ICC rankings, South Africa, India, Australia, Pakistan, England and New Zealand would play in Division One; Sri Lanka, West Indies, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in Division Two. This would avoid horrible mismatches like in Hobart. Both divisions would play double round robin series’ (between two and five Tests), with the last team in Division One demoted and the winner of Division Two promoted. For the Division Two teams, we’d see who takes Test cricket seriously. While it puts the Frank Worrell Trophy (which Australia has owned since 1995) on hold, it’d be up to the West Indies to earn the right to contest it again.

While the shorter forms have their World Cups and Champions Trophies, the Test Championship – set for 2017 – was abandoned.  A two-division Test format would give the longest form some relevance. Develop day-night Test cricket and the future looks good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cricket in the Capital

 

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Canberra, home of our “beloved” politicians, Floriade, the Canberra Raiders and ACT Brumbies, is gradually gaining a foothold with Cricket Australia, campaigning to host a Test in the 2016/17 summer.

It’s been 15 years since the Canberra Comets played in the Mercantile Mutual Cup. Despite boasting former Test cricketers Merv Hughes, Mike Veletta and future Test cricketer Brad Haddin, they won three games in three seasons.

Canberra has continued their cricket involvement ever since. Manuka Oval has hosted the Prime Minister’s XI game since 1951, regular tour matches, NSW Sheffield Shield games (including the 2013/14 final), the 2014/15 Big Bash Final between Perth and the Sydney Sixers, the Comets in the Futures and ACT Meteors in the WNCL. Test off-spinner Nathan Lyon represented the Comets from 2008 to 2010.

Since 1992, Manuka Oval has hosted seven ODIs, with Australia to play India in the fourth ODI on January 20, 2016.

March 10, 1992, South Africa v Zimbabwe (1992 ICC World Cup). South Africa won by 7 wickets

South Africa’s 1992 World Cup is remembered for the heartbreaking semi-final loss to England. Before this, they enjoyed a comfortable victory over Zimbabwe.

Bowling first, Brian McMillan (3/30), Peter Kirsten (3/31) and Hansie Cronje (2/17) dismissed Zimbabwe for 163 in the 49th over. Seven Zimbabwe batsmen scored between 15 and 20.

After losing Andrew Hudson early, captain Kelper Wessels (70) and Kirsten (62 not out) complied 112 as South Africa coasted to victory with four overs to spare.

February 12, 2008, India v Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka won by 8 wickets

Sixteen years later, international cricket returned to Canberra, with India and Sri Lanka playing in the Commonwealth Bank Series. After nearly 40 years, the Tri-Series was losing its commercial appeal as non-Australian games were almost forgotten. On a rainy February Tuesday, Sri Lanka beat India by eight wickets. Rohit Sharma (70 not out), Gautam Gambhir (35), Sachin Tendulkar (32) and captain MS Dohni (31) piloted India’s 5/195 off 29 overs. More rain meant Sri Lanka’s target was revised to 154 from 21 overs. Tillakaratne Dilshan (62 not out) and captain Mahela Jayawardene (36 not out) got Sri Lanka home with two overs left.

February 6, 2013, Australia v West Indies.  Australia won by 39 runs

Canberra celebrated their centenary in 2013. Part of the celebrations included the first ODI featuring Australia and the first ODI under lights.

Shane Watson (122), Phillip Hughes (86), George Bailey (44) and Aaron Finch (38) helped Australia to 7/329. The West Indies gave it a good shot, with Darren Bravo (86), Dwayne Bravo (51), Kieran Powell (47) and Andre Russell (43) keeping the run rate above six. James Faulker took 4/48 as Australia won with 15 balls to spare.

November 19, 2014, Australia v South Africa. Australia won by 73 runs 

Australia returned to Canberra during the November 2014 ODI series against South Africa. Australia took a 2-1 series lead after a big win. Again Australia topped 300. Openers Finch (109) and David Warner (53) slammed 118, supported by Steve Smith (73 not out) and Watson (40). Chasing 330, openers Hashim Amla (102) and Quinton de Kock (47) scored 108 in 18 overs. From there Australia took control, with Mitchell Starc (4/32) and Josh Hazlewood (3/41) taking the bulk of the wickets. Captain AB DeVilliers scored 52, but it wasn’t enough.

February 18, 2015, Afghanistan v Bangladesh (2015 ICC World Cup). Bangladesh won by 105 runs            

Canberra’s first of three World Cup games saw Bangladesh comfortably beat Afghanistan. Wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim (71) and Shakib Al Hasan (63) helped Bangledesh to 267. Afghanistan never recovered after slumping to 3/3 in the third over, with pace bowler Mashrafe Mortaza taking 3/20, though captain Mohammad Nabi (44) and Samiullah Shenwari (42) put up a fight.

February 24, 2015, West Indies v Zimbabwe (2015 ICC World Cup). West Indies won by 73 runs

Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels dominated the West Indies’ huge win over Zimbabwe. Gayle (215) and Samuels (133 not out) scored all of the Windies’ 2/372. Opening bowlers Jerome Taylor (3/38) and Jason Holder (3/48) ensured the West Indies would romp home despite defiant half centuries from Sean Williams (76) and Craig Ervine (52).

March 3, 2015, Ireland v South Africa (2015 ICC World Cup). South Africa won by 201 runs

Nearly 23 years after their first Canberra win, South Africa outmuscled Ireland. Amla (159) and Faf du Plessis 109 complied 247 for the second wicket, followed by an unbeaten 111 for the fifth wicket between Rilee Rossouw (61 not out) and David Miller (46 not out) as South Africa cruised past 400. Ireland’s were 5/48 in the 11th over, though Andy Balbirnie (58) and Kevin O’Brien (48) fought hard against Kyle Abbott (4/21), Morne Morkel (3/34) and Dale Steyn (2/39).

 

KP the Star

 

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One of the attractions of the Big Bash has been the calibre of international stars.

Kevin Pietersen played for the Melbourne Stars last summer, one of the many Twenty20 domestic competitions he’s involved in. Viewed by many as “The Walking Ego”, KP turned skeptical public opinion with on-field runs and off-field charm. He’s back for the 2015/16 Big Bash.

Flashback to November 2013 and the return leg of the 10-Test Ashes marathon. KP was haunted by an ongoing knee injury and repressed by a toxic, bullying dressing room led by coach Andy Flower. While England lost 5-0, KP was England’s highest run scorer with 294 at 29.40, narrowly behind Ben Stokes (34.87) in batting averages. The fact KP was such a high achiever with relatively mediocre figures said a lot about England’s horror campaign.

The Sydney Test was KP’s last, a public scapegoat for the massive loss. Graeme Swann –struggling with an elbow injury – quit Test cricket after the WACA loss as KP stuck around, delaying necessary knee surgery to tough it out for his adopted country. KP did everything to play for England, even going through the humiliating “reintegration” process in 2012.

Of course, there was no sympathy among Aussie fans. While Stuart Broad was the pantomime villain for the crowd, KP wasn’t far behind.

KP’s signing for the Melbourne Stars could have been viewed cynically, ‘Look, the Walking Ego’s strolling into our comp after the Poms dumped him. I betcha he fails!’

Right from the start, KP showed the controversy-plagued “Walking Ego” would be left in the tabloids. He made an immediate impact with the bat, scoring 66 against Adelaide in the tournament opener, albeit in a losing cause. He followed it up with 25 in the Melbourne derby in January, and 54 at the MCG two days later, helping the Stars reach 150 then win in the Super Over. He scored 49 in the second Melbourne derby and scored an unbeaten 67 in the eight wicket win over Sydney Thunder as the Stars finished third. He finished his time with 31 in the semi-final loss against Perth.

Overall, KP scored 293 runs at 41.85 in eight matches with a strike rate of 122.59, hitting 25 boundaries and eight sixes.

For all his on-field deeds, KP really impressed off-field. He gave a fascinating interview with Ricky Ponting in a Channel Ten commentary stint during the Melbourne Renegades v Brisbane Heat game.

This was the real KP. Not the KP we saw on Ashes tours, filtered through media channels out for blood or desperate to confirm previously held biases. Not the KP demonized for looking “disinterested” in the field or crucified for reckless shots.

KP squashed the arrogance rumours, instead saying he was confident in his ability and in the dedication to his training. If you read his book KP: The Autobiography, he identifies Swann, Matt Prior, Jimmy Anderson and Broad as the dressing room head honchos.  What everyone loved about KP was his honesty, giving an insight into his world, the drama of Andy Flower’s England reign, his topsy-turvy relationship with Andrew Strauss, friendships with Australian players, his pure love of cricket, all topped with some fun banter. This was not a bitter ex-player taking pot shots at former teammates and opening old wounds for the sake of publicity, as some detractors may have hoped.

Yes, KP still isn’t afraid to make his views on world cricket heard (like his recent public defence of Ian Bell) but his greatest traits – his individuality and his confidence – made Big Bash fans fall in love with him. Strip away the Australia-England rivalry and the tabloid spin and the real KP comes through. Carrying the confidence of a man who’s made over 8,000 Test runs but not forgetting how he evolved from an off-spinner batting at number eight in South Africa.

This is the KP the cricket world deserves and the one it needs right now. Free to play as he feels, unencumbered by his controversial past and backed by a supportive crowd. Let’s hope we see more of it this summer.

 

Why Twenty20 is actually good for you

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On Thursday December 17, the fifth KFC Big Bash starts. The Frank Worrell Trophy will likely be overshadowed by the hype, colour and massive sixes. Channel Ten, who did a wonderful job last year, will hype the “you-know-what” out of it and crowds will flock.
For some, KFC sponsoring the Big Bash is appropriate, as Twenty20 is the junk food of cricket; mass marketed to families and youngsters, eagerly devoured, colourful and soon forgotten, with occasional bloating.
The Big Bash has changed domestic scheduling. Rather than the Domestic One-Day tournament and Sheffield Shield being run concurrently, the Matador Cap has been shovelled to October to make room for the Big Bash.
Kevin Pietersen is a huge fan of Twenty20. In his book KP: The Autobiography, he wrote ‘The IPL has given me the kind of experiences that I hoped for when I left South Africa…I’ve had so much fun that the experiences with England…often seemed to have happened while I was wearing a straitjacket. Even just sharing a hotel with the other foreign players in your squad is an experience.’
For all the controversy and corruption that’s plagued the IPL, you have to admire its straightforwardness. The teams are franchises and players and sold to the highest bidder. While some may mourn the death of loyalty and the pride of playing for your country, IPL – and the other global Twenty20 competitions – reward their players handsomely, both financially and with opportunities to play with some of the world’s best cricketers.
At the 2015 IPL auction, players from Australia (37 entered, eight sold), England (six and three), India (232 and 43), Ireland (one and zero), New Zealand (13 and five), South Africa (22 and five), Sri Lanka (17 and one), West Indies (13 and one) and Zimbabwe (two and zero) participated. Half of India’s players were made up of inexperienced locals (a total of 41 matches between them) and sold at 10 lakhs (or one million rupees) each for two-three months’ work.
When Twenty20 cricket began, some feared for the health of spinners. Surely this batsman-dominated game would see the poor old spinners slogged to all parts? They’d either revert to military mediums to survive or give up completely. While mediocre spinners can get flogged, the best spinners adapted and used the lack of pace to their advantage. The top two international Twenty20 bowlers are Shahid Afridi (88 wickets at 23.68) and Saeed Ajmal (85 at 17.83) – both spinners. “Mystery spinner” Ajantha Mendis (66 at 14.42) is ranked fifth and former English off-spinner Graeme Swann (51 at 16.84) is ninth.
Rather than killing Test cricket, Twenty20 has influenced the faster scoring rates. In the recently completed WACA Test, Australia and New Zealand combined for 1,672 runs, cashing in on a flat pitch. Australia scored 2/416 on day one (in ninety overs) and New Zealand scored 4/370 in 87 overs on day three. Ross Taylor (290) and David Warner (253) scored double tons while Kane Williamson (166), Steve Smith (138), Usman Khawaja (121) and Adam Voges (119) made centuries. Tests and Twenty20s work well together because they’re so different. Test cricket has tradition and the ebb-and-flow of five days on its side. Twenty20 is fun, colourful, has lots of action (usually) and innovation.
The biggest victim has been one-day cricket. Despite lots of tinkering, the format is criticised for being stale, formulaic and boring. The middle 30 overs of an innings are usually full of risk-free singles and bowling designed to restrict boundaries. If a team scores 300 batting first and takes a few quick wickets in the first ten overs, the game is over. At least one-sided Twenty20 games are over quickly, while lopsided Tests are usually over in three days. One-day cricket has been cynically exploited as a cash grab, with meaningless tri, quad and bi-lateral series (another seven-game series between Australia and India?) generating little interest outside of the competing teams, their families, friends, advertisers and broadcasters.
Crucially, Twenty20 is brilliant for developing nations. The 2015 Twenty20 World Cup Qualifiers included teams from Asia (Afghanistan, Nepal, UAE, Hong Kong, Oman), Africa (Namibia, Kenya), the Americas (Canada, USA), Europe (Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands, Jersey) and East Asia Pacific (PNG). Compare that to the 2019 ICC World Cup, which is restricted to the 10 “elite” nations.
Domestic Twenty20 has become an alternative format for freelance cricketers: Australia, Bangladesh, England, Ireland, Nepal, Netherlands, Scotland, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe host popular domestic tournaments, creating a new cricket community.

While one-day cricket may slowly die out, Test cricket will survive, especially if the marvelous day-night format is embraced, and be able to co-exist with Twenty20.

Aussies dominate in Tassie

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The Australian Test calendar is fairly predictable: Brisbane opens the summer in November, Perth and Adelaide host the pre-Christmas Tests; Melbourne has the traditional Boxing Day Test while Sydney finishes the summer with the New Year’s “pink” Test.

Then there’s Hobart’s Bellerive Oval, usually given the sixth Test in non-Ashes or Indian summers.
Australia’s opening Test against the West Indies at Bellerive (now known as Blundstone Arena) will be the 12th in Tasmania since 1989. Australia has won eight, with two draws and one loss.
Australia v Sri Lanka, Dec 16-20, 1989. Australia won by 173 runs.
Back in 1989, Sri Lanka was still a fledgling Test nation and were competitive in the first Bellerive Oval Test. Leading by eight on first innings, Australia were struggling at 3/77. Captain Allan Border (85) joined Mark Taylor (108) for a 163 run stand. Steve Waugh (134 not out) and Dean Jones (118 not out) helped Australia to 5/513 declared. Merv Hughes (5/88) sealed a comfortable win.
Australia v New Zealand, Nov 26-29, 1993. Australia won by an innings and 222 runs.
Four years later, Tasmanian David Boon scored a special century. Boon (106) was joined by Michael Slater (168) and Mark Waugh (111) as Australia reached 6/554 declared. Shane Warne (9/67) and Tim May (7/110) ensured it was plenty.
Australia v Pakistan, Nov 17-20, 1995. Australia won by 155 runs.
Australia made it three straight at Bellerive in 1995. With a 69-run first innings lead, captain Mark Taylor’s 123 set Pakistan 376 with two days to bat. Glenn McGrath (5/61) and Paul Reiffel (3/42) dismissed Pakistan in 84 overs.
Australia v New Zealand, Nov 27-Dec 1, 1997. Match drawn.
Hobart hosted the final match of the 1997/98 Trans-Tasman series, which Australia had already won 2-0. Significant rain on days one and three ruined any chance of a result. Matthew Elliott (114), New Zealand’s Matt Horne (133), Greg Blewett (99) and Mark Waugh (81) made runs as New Zealand was set 288 at lunch on day five. New Zealand scored almost four an over, but Shane Warne’s 5/88 kept Australia safe.
Australia v Pakistan, Nov 18-22, 1999. Australia won by four wickets.
Arguably the iconic Hobart Test, Adam Gilchrist scored 149 not out as Australia chased 369, justifying Gilchrist’s inclusion ahead of veteran Ian Healy. Trailing by 24 runs on first innings, Pakistan made 392 (Inzamam-ul-Haq 118, Ijaz Ahmed 82, Saeed Anwar 78). At 5/126, Australia looked gone. Then Glichrist complied 238 with Justin Langer (127) to turn the game.
Australia v New Zealand, Nov 22-26, 2001. Match drawn.
In one of the closest Trans-Tasman series, the Hobart Test was ruined by rain. Tasmanian Ricky Ponting (157 not out) and Langer (123) pushed Australia to 8/558 declared by the end of day two. Rain meant the Black Caps’ 7/243 was spread over three days.
Australia v West Indies, Nov 17-21, 2005. Australia won by nine wickets.
By 2005, the once mighty West Indies were a rabble, losing this series 3-0. Chasing 149, openers Mike Hussey (137) and Matthew Hayden (110) complied 231 as Australia made 406. Trailing by 257, Dwayne Bravo’s 113 at least made Australia bat again.
Australia v Sri Lanka, Nov 16-20, 2007. Australia won by 96 runs.
Not even Kumar Sangakkara’s 192 could stop Australia cruising to an easy win. Phil Jaques (150) and Hussey (132) scored first innings centuries and Brett Lee took 4/82 as Sri Lanka was set 507 to win. Lee (4/87) and Mitchell Johnson (3/101) kept the chase under control, though Kumar was denied a double ton attempt, incorrectly given out off a pull shot.
Australia v Pakistan, Jan 14-18, 2010. Australia won by 231 runs.
After Pakistan’s dodgy surrender in Sydney, this Test smelt funny. Ponting (209) was dropped by Mohammad Amir early, a supposedly simple catch. Amir was banned after the spot fixing scandal in England later that year. The bowler, Mohammed Asif, was also banned for seven years for spot fixing in the same series. Set 438 to win, Pakistan was dismissed for 206 (Peter Siddle 3/25, Nathan Hauritz 3/30).
Australia v New Zealand, Dec 9-12, 2011. New Zealand won by seven runs.
Australia’s only Hobart loss came in 2011. Set 241 in a low-scoring, rain-affected match, David Warner showed he could be a Test opener with 123 not out. An extreme lack of support, and Doug Bracewell’s 6/40, ensured the historic Black Caps win.
Australia v Sri Lanka, Dec 14-18, 2012. Australia won by 137 runs.
Australia rebounded from the New Zealand upset to easily beat Sri Lanka. Leading by 114 on first innings, openers Warner (68) and Ed Cowan (56) complied 132 to set Sri Lanka 393. Mitchell Starc (5/63) and Peter Siddle (4/50) did the rest.

The IPL Legacy

 

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This month, the new Indian Premier League franchises to replace the suspended Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals will be decided, with nine cities shortlisted by the BCCI.

Chennai and Rajasthan were banned for two years after a probe into illegal betting and match fixing. They join the Deccan Chargers and the Pune Warriors on the IPL scrapheap – albeit temporarily.

It’s another chapter of the IPL soap opera, known for its controversy and corruption as much as sparking the Twenty20 revolution.

When the IPL started in 2008, Twenty20 cricket was slowly growing. The first Twenty20 international – between New Zealand and Australia in 2005 – had a festive atmosphere, with the Black Caps in beige and Glenn McGrath jokingly recreating the underarm delivery.

The IPL transformed Twenty20 into a serious format. Originally designed to compete with the rebel Indian Cricket League, big money was thrown around, with the franchise auction reaping US$723.59 million.

The winning franchises were Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Chennai Super KingsDelhi DaredevilsKolkata Knight Riders, Deccan Chargers, Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab.

Shane Warne led the Royals to the first IPL title over Chennai. Over three millions fans attended the 59 matches. Played from April to June 2008, the tournament attracted current Test stars from India, Australia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, New Zealand, South Africa and the West Indies.

Who could blame the players for wanting to be involved in this exciting new competition? MS Dohni earned $1.5 million at the players auction and the cheapest player – Sri Lanka’s Chamara Silva – netted $100,000. Not bad for three months work. It created a new style of cricketer: the freelance Twenty20 player, competing in the various global tournaments.

Australia (Big Bash League), Bangladesh (Bangladesh Premier League), England (NatWest t20 Blast), Ireland        (Inter-Provincial Trophy), Nepal (Nepal Premier League), Netherlands/Scotland (North Sea Pro Series), New Zealand (HRV Cup), Pakistan (Faysal Bank T20 Cup), South Africa (Ram Slam T20 Challenge), Sri Lanka (Sri Lanka Premier League), West Indies (Caribbean Premier League) and Zimbabwe        (Stanbic Bank 20 Series) currently have Twenty20 tournaments, with Kenya (2008, 2011-13), Canada (2008, 2012-13), USA (2011, 2014) and Afghanistan (2013-14) previously involved.

The IPL’s goodwill wouldn’t last though.

After the 2010 tournament finished, IPL chairman and commissioner Lalit Modi was suspended by the BCCI on 22 charges and was banned for life in 2013.

 

The 2011 IPL was expanded to 10 teams:  Pune Warriors India and the Kochi Tuskers Kerala joined the original eight franchises, with Chennai beating RCB in the final, defending their 2010 title. The Tuskers won six games (finishing eighth overall) before being dropped for financial issues.

The 2012 season saw five cricketers banned due to spot fixing.  Deccan’s TP Sudhindra (life ban), Kings XI’s Shalabh Srivastava (five years) and Amit Yadav (one year), Pune’s Mohnish Mishra (one year) and the uncontracted Abhinav Bali (one year), were all caught by a sting operation run by India TV. Some of the players also received “black money” from the franchises’ owners.

More controversy came in 2013, with Shanthakumaran SreesanthAjit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan arrested for spot-fixing. The drama was exacerbated when Vindu Dara Singh and Gurunath Meiyappan were arrested for having links to bookies.

Despite the match fixing dramas, the IPL continues to attract elite cricketers. In this year’s tournament, David Warner (Sunrisers Hyderabad), AB De Villiers and Virat Kohli (Royal Challengers Bangalore) were among the top five run scorers, while Mitchell Starc (RCB) took 20 wickets. Warner and Starc were joined by Steve Smith, Shane Watson, James Faulkner (Rajasthan), George Bailey, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Johnson (Kings XI Punjab), Aaron Finch (Mumbai), Moises Henriques (Sunrisers), Sean Abbott (RCB) and Nathan Coulter-Nile (Delhi Daredevils).

The IPL’s ability to still attract elite cricketers after all the controversy shows that it can survive the Chennai and Rajasthan expulsions.