January 2, 2007

Fifth Test, Sydney

Postcards from the SCG

Gideon Haigh

GOING OFF IN BAGGY GREEN AND GOLD: Seen at Melbourne airport yesterday: the smiling images of Justin Langer and Glenn McGrath exhorting Aussie fans to ‘Go Off In Green and Gold’ this summer. A useful reminder: retirement not only denies Cricket Australia their services as cricketers, but as recognizable and marketable personalities. The rebuilding challenge was embodied in the photo’s third face: Shane Watson. Perhaps Central Casting was asked for a blonde called Shane. There’ll be one fewer in a week.

THE POWER OF GLOVE: They never keep track of the stats that matter. Today I decided to keep track of England’s glove touch rate. Strauss and Cook reached 20 in the ninth over; at one point, Cook was 0 not out with four glove touches. At this point I lost interest, but the standard rate seems to be something around two an over, usually between overs, with an occasional mid-over touch being the pretext for a particularly good leave outside off stump. Can anyone remember where this habit began? Does anyone feel, as do I, the urge to say ‘shazam’ whenever they see it? Do English cricketers now greet people socially with a jab of the fist rather than a handshake?

A BOUNDARY BEYOND: Most journalism is couched as criticism or complaint, so perhaps it’s worth saluting a worthwhile development in this series that may not be immediately obvious to viewers from afar. Cricket Australia have this summer finally reversed the steady tidal encroachments of the boundary rope. At each venue this summer, the rope has been in far enough to guarantee player safety but no more, so batsmen are working just a little harder for their boundaries and spinners have a little more margin for error. To the power of modern high-performance bats, this is an overdue corrective. Another testimony, perhaps, is the effectiveness of the short cover position, where Bell was caught in Perth, Collingwood in Melbourne and Pietersen might have perishing here: recognition that bats encouraging players to go through with shots for the sheer pleasure of the physical release might also tempt them into indiscretion.

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Posted by Chris on (January 4, 2007, 10:33 GMT)

So I am not the only one at the SCG thinking 'Shazaam!'

I did not count glove touches, but noted that the occasional boundary gave permission for one batsman to the the other's behind. I am not sure what happens if the boundary is a six.

Posted by Corey_Boardman on (January 4, 2007, 8:56 GMT)

Glove Touches.I was a bit young to watch the West Indies excelling at it,but the Indian Batsmen stick out like a sore thumb with glove touches.Just about every second ball they glove touch, it is frustrating to watch as they congratualte themselves for everything,well left,snick through slips to the boundary,well hit four,leg byes.........come to think of it Gideon, the Indian supporters are so fanatical, someone there would have the stats for glove touches!!!!!!!!This area of specialty would be best suited to David Middleton, the rugby league stats guru.

Posted by marcus on (January 3, 2007, 7:38 GMT)

I wouldn't worry about Trumper the cat; as the personal servant of two myself I know that I'd never dare to leave the house without their express permission. I'm sure the same's true with Gideon Haigh's master, Trumper.

Posted by Crullers on (January 3, 2007, 4:39 GMT)

Whenever I see the glove touch, I think "Wonder Twin powers - activate!"

Posted by doctorshoot on (January 3, 2007, 3:09 GMT)

touching reference to west indies invention version of high five. replaced the bottom slap which had other connotations not appropriate to modern male sporting. do women cricketers touch gloves? good gideon article at http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/sport/2007/01/03/beginning_of_the_end_shows_wha.html are you up to the test

Posted by slb on (January 3, 2007, 0:42 GMT)

Yes, we concerned Trumper fans would be relieved to see a photo of him next to a recent newspaper front page.

Posted by Gus on (January 2, 2007, 23:46 GMT)

I remember when the football world cup was on and seeing a breakfast cereal advertisement with what looked like footballers in the starring roles. I had no idea who they were; Harry Kewel maybe, Mark Viduka at a pinch...but the others? After the World Cup of course I could recognise most of the Aussie Heroes, although sadly I have since forgotten them again, or at best would attribute names incorrectly. Shane Watson would draw a blank too I’m afraid as would Tait, Jacques, Rogers, and Cullen. Stuart Clark is starting to make an imprint that would render him recognisable on a hording as is Mike Hussey. With the impending retirement of Messrs Warne et al there are a couple of vacancies in the "Cricket Hero" sector of my brain, lets hope there are replacements good enough to burn a permanent imprint.

Posted by Tadhg on (January 2, 2007, 22:37 GMT)

From where I was sitting, a lot of glove touches were coming as a form of congratulations from the non-striker to the striker. Usually, "Congratulations for not edging that one." Sure, it may show team spirit, which the Poms are so keen to keep talking up, but I'd rather just see the batsmen knuckle down like Steve Waugh and Justin Langer, get in, and then actually put the pressure back on the bowlers by scoring some runs! Good effort from England to be only four down at the end of play on day one, but if Flintoff had replaced Bell earlier in the day, or Bell hadn't monopolized the strike to the extent that Pietersen got frustrated, the score would've been higher.

Posted by Paul Bennett on (January 2, 2007, 21:35 GMT)

Good time for Langer to go in my opinion. I've never really heard him interviewed before but after hearing an interview with him earlier this series it seemed pretty apparent that he's been hit on the head a few times too many.

No offense Justin, old bean, but those slightly staring eyes and slurred speech rather suggest a man whose had more than his day in the sun.

Posted by Nail on (January 2, 2007, 21:07 GMT)

My memory is glove touching started with Greenidge and Haynes, certainly with that great West Indian side as it toured Australia in the 80's. They however only touched after 4's and at the end of the over. Can you imagine Greenidge walking up to Haynes and touching after a particularly elegant leave?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gideon Haigh
Born in London of a Yorkshire father, raised in Australia by a Tasmanian mother, Gideon Haigh lives in Melbourne with a cat, Trumper. He has written 19 books and edited a further seven. He is also a life member and perennial vice-president of the South Yarra CC.

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