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November 29, 2008
An unwanted record
Matthew Hayden has become the 11th Australian to play 100 Tests but in his milestone match he entered the record books for an unwanted reason. When he was involved in a horrible mix-up with his opening partner Simon Katich and was comprehensively stranded out of his ground, Hayden equalled the world record for having been run out the most times in Tests. Allan Border was also caught short 12 times but that was over a 156-match career; when he played his 100th Test he had only been run out eight times. Even the world's most capped player Steve Waugh, who was involved in some memorable foul-ups with his brother Mark, only lost his wicket to that method four times.
Blog brings bouncers
Iain O'Brien has been busy blogging during the series and during the Gabba Test he gave Australia's bowlers something to file away for future use. His reflections on facing Mitchell Johnson included the line: "Bouncer, oh s*** I hate bouncers." No great revelation for a tail-ender perhaps but it was no surprise that when O'Brien walked out at the fall of the eighth wicket in Adelaide that his first ball from Johnson was aimed at his head. So was his first delivery from Brett Lee. O'Brien was out for a duck but he may have had another excuse; in his blog after day one he said he had sought the advice of the team doctor after feeling lethargic for a couple of days. He even ducked away during the afternoon for a blood test, hoping that there was no collapse in the meantime that would force Chris Martin to become the world's least qualified No. 10.
Haddin's hands hold firm
Brad Haddin's glovework has been under scrutiny since his challenging tour of India so it was with great pleasure that he pouched a couple of tough chances on the second morning to help wrap up New Zealand's innings. He ended the stay of his wicketkeeping counterpart Brendon McCullum with a low take off Lee that just carried and he followed with an athletic effort to remove O'Brien. Lee drew a thick edge from O'Brien and Haddin hurled himself to his right and grabbed the chance with both hands in front of first slip. He was relieved that the ball stuck - a similar opportunity diving to his left in front of Hayden in Brisbane had been spilled.
At a time when Australia's spin situation is creating headaches for the selectors, two of the more accomplished practitioners from times past were involved in a pre-match function at the Adelaide Oval. The offspinner Ashley Mallett has been a prolific writer since retiring from Test cricket and he was at the match to launch his 26th book, a biography of his spin mentor Clarrie Grimmett. Mallett published Clarrie Grimmett, the Bradman of spin in 1993 and the 2008 version, Scarlet is and updated and revised work. Grimmett's octogenarian son Vic was on hand for the launch, along with Donald Beard, the former South Australia team doctor who also played club cricket against Grimmett.
Clarrie the batsman
The common thread of recollections from Grimmett jnr, Mallett and Beard was that Grimmett, the great legspinner, was usually much more interested in offering batting advice than bowling tips despite having a Test batting average of 13.92. Mallett recalled how as a young offspinner he visited the Adelaide home of Grimmett, who by then was over 70, to ask for some help. Grimmett faced up to Mallett and defended the first ball off the middle of the bat. "Give up spin, you're too predictable," Grimmett said. He offered to prove his point by facing up blindfolded and promptly struck Mallett's next ball out of the middle of the bat. A point well made.
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