Australia in South Africa, 2011-12 November 22, 2011

A Pythonesque Test

The Jo'burg Test was crazy twisted, but how to fill up those empty Test stadiums?
47

As the Johannesburg Test slalomed in a spectacular way towards its baggy-green denouement, the TV cameras pick out a placard in the crowd which posed the question: Is Test cricket dead? Perhaps on the reverse side, there was a range of multiple-choice answers, ranging from: (a) yes, it died the moment Australia won at The Oval in 1882; through (d) no, but it has been taken hostage by some angry-looking goons wearing IPL replica shirts and they do not seem especially keen on negotiating a civilised resolution to the stand-off; to (g) who cares, Mozart is dead too and his tunes are still damned catchy.

The cameras then resumed their more important regular task of zooming in annoyingly close as the ball is bowled to ensure that the viewer cannot fully see what happened until replays are shown, several of which have also been zoomed in to the point of perspective-obliterating meaninglessness, all the while prompting the watching cricket fan to ponder from the comfort of his or her sofa: Why is that, as televisions become bigger and bigger and better and better, TV cricket seems intent on showing a smaller and smaller part of the action?

I digress. Anyway, the evidence of the contest being played out in front of the placard suggests that the correct response was: “Is Test cricket dead? Is the Pope an aubergine?”

This was close to the perfect Test match, a game of constantly shifting momentum which contained more twists and turns than an ice-skating snake’s high-risk Olympic final routine. Innings of 30 or 40 were valuable, partnerships of 50 felt match-changing, every session saw the balance of the game wobbling from one side to the other like a drunken tightrope walker on a windy day.

On the evidence of the game, if not the crowd at the ground, Test cricket clearly is not dead. It might be in a nursing home, but, frequently, its faculties seem as sharp as ever. Admittedly, it does wish more people would come to visit it. And it is not entirely sure that it can trust all of its family members, some of whom seem to be scrabbling over its inheritance before it has even made its will.

Nevertheless, it was a little sad to see the final day this all-time classic match played to a stadium so sparsely populated that you wanted to give it a cuddle and tell it to keep its chin up. What can cricket do to attract fans to Test matches, without using military threats, or paying people twice their daily wage to attend?

I have met almost no cricket fans who do not claim Test cricket is their favourite form of the game (although I don’t get out of my house very much, so that is not the most scientific of opinion polls). There is clearly a healthy passive following for Test cricket, but in a world swamped by infinite competing distractions, coercing people to physically place themselves in a stadium for some or all of a five-day contest is a Herculean task. Given that cricket has still not worked out how to adequately police bad light and somnolent over-rates, I think even Hercules himself, the celebrity former 12-time Greek Labourer Of The Year, might balk at taking on the task of refilling its empty stadiums.

Australia showed remarkable skill and resolve, amidst outbreaks of their now trademark carelessness, to recover from their Newlands Nightmare, aided by Patrick Cummins making one of the most striking Test debuts of recent years (more of which in the next Multistat blog, later in the week). I cannot remember exactly what I was doing when I was his age, but I am fairly confident that it was not taking 6 for 79 on my Test debut and calmly slapping the winning runs in one of the most tense finishes in cricket history.

However, just as Australia tossed away a winning position in Cape Town, so at the Wanderers South Africa flung their superiority out of the window like an unwanted motorway banana skin.

The Proteas’ World Cup bid was fatally undermined by a middle-order megabloop that exposed a tail longer that the one Kate Middleton was so desperately trying to hide under the train of her wedding dress. They lost in Johannesburg for the same reason, flunking in the first innings from 241 for 4 to 266 all out, and then in the second from 237 for 3 to 339 all out. This followed their first-innings Cape Town calamity when they alchemised 49 for 1 into 96 all out, before being decisively out-calamatised by Australia’s brilliant counter-calamity.

In this series, the South Africans’ sixth to 10th wickets totalled a startlingly useless 138 runs in 15 partnerships ‒ 9.2 runs per wicket, the Proteas’ rubbishest lower-order series performance since 1907, and their fourth cruddiest of all time.

Since readmission, the lower middle-order had been one of South Africa’s great advantages over their rivals. Not anymore. Since 2006, South Africa’s Nos. 8 to 11 have collectively averaged 15.8, placing them sixth of the 10 Test nations, with no hundreds (all other teams have at least one, except Zimbabwe, who have only played three Tests), and just seven fifties in 55 Tests ‒ and three of those were by Boucher after a nightwatchman had bumped him down to No. 7.

From 2000 to 2005, South Africa’s lower order averaged a world-leading 20.3, with three hundreds and 16 fifties in 67 Tests. From 1992 to 1999, their 8 to 11 were way ahead of the field, averaging 19.8, with four centuries (as many as the rest of the world put together) and 19 half-centuries in 66 matches.

This new-fangled lower-order brittleness is one of the reasons that Smith’s team have let slip a one-Test lead in three series out of their last five, and, having seemingly scaled the peak of world cricket by winning in Australia late in 2008, have won just one rubber (in West Indies) since the start of 2009. Their team is still speckled with world-class players, but it has an Achilles heel visible from space (with a powerful telescope and access to Statsguru).

All in all, Cape Town and Johannesburg have provided the cricket-watching world with two unforgettable Tests, albeit that the memories most people will be not forgetting will be of a TV screen rather than a cricket ground. It has been a compelling start to the series, which is now perfectly set up for the remaining zero Tests.

EXTRAS

● This was the 13th successive Test between Australia and South Africa to end in a positive result. There has been one draw between them in 20 Tests over seven series this millennium, and the lowest overall scoring rate in any of those series has been 3.40. Cricket is showbiz nowadays. And there is a saying in showbiz: “Always leave them wanting more.” Cricket has done that. A third Test would be greedy. A fourth ‒ the height of indulgence. A fifth, and you might as well wake up Lenin and tell him he won the Cold War.

● Perhaps the 21st-century cricket lover should simply be thankful that at least these series happen twice every three or four years nowadays. In 91 years from their first meeting in 1902 to the resumption of southern-hemisphere hostilities after Apartheid, the Australians set their baggy-green feet on the veldt in just seven Test tours, with the South Africans heading over to Baggy Greenland just four times (they also made up a wet and one-sided corner of the 1912 triangular series in England). If there are legitimate complaints these days about cricketing overkill, it could equally be said that our cricketing forefathers were guilty of underkill.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anouar on March 2, 2012, 1:16 GMT

    India has ptnley of young talent. Wait five years and Australia will be missing Hayden, Hussey, Ponting, Hussey, Haddin, Lee, Bracken, Clark etc. Australia doesn't have a lot of good young players to replace these players, especially when it comes to batters. There's ptnley of experienced state players, but a lot of them will probably retire in the next few years.India has given a lot of their young players opportunities, so they know who is going to cut it at international level. Abdul Qadir is right, but it'll be a few years before what he said comes to fruition.If Australia somehow finds replacements, or gets some of the older players to consider not retiring, Australia will be hard to dislodge from the top spot. -2Was this answer helpful?

  • Wilo on December 6, 2011, 6:23 GMT

    Actually it was the extended analogy of Test Cricket being in a care home that stood out for me.

    Top piece as always Andy, even if it took me a while to get to it :)

  • Aneesh on November 25, 2011, 12:08 GMT

    "This was close to the perfect Test match, a game of constantly shifting momentum which contained more twists and turns than an ice-skating snake’s high-risk Olympic final routine.", "...every session saw the balance of the game wobbling from one side to the other like a drunken tightrope walker on a windy day."

    Do you stay up entire nights to think of such lines?!

    Outstanding. :D

  • Dirkie on November 25, 2011, 7:39 GMT

    One of your best articles. So true, and very very funny. You are a rock star Andy!

  • Krishna on November 24, 2011, 22:23 GMT

    before being decisively out-calamatised by Australia’s brilliant counter-calamity. - Andy, you're the best!!

  • david on November 24, 2011, 13:48 GMT

    Fine article, Andy. My two-penneth: A couple of simple measures would make Tests extra appealing to the general public (as opposed to cricket fanatics who will always love them.) Firstly, can one somehow disuade the teams from so readily settling for draws when a result is possible, particuarly being allowed to agree a draw with fifteen overs remaining, such as was discussed in your piece "Missing Last Chapter"? A case as abject as the one involving England and Sri Lanka last year was truly appalling. Secondly, increase the cycle-speed of particuarly fruity pairings: The Ashes, for example, should be on a three- as opposed to four-year rotation, with intervals of one-and-a-half years between series, as opposed to one-and-a-half years and two-and-a-half years. Thirdly, replace the toss at Test matches with an arm wrestle between captains, bare-chested and celebrated with canon-fire at the outcome. Two of these points are serious.

  • Anthony on November 23, 2011, 19:06 GMT

    @Stalefresh - Your rhyming was much better than mine, but what are you really trying to say?

  • Issam Ahmed on November 23, 2011, 5:58 GMT

    Loved it:

    "The Proteas’ World Cup bid was fatally undermined by a middle-order megabloop that exposed a tail longer that the one Kate Middleton was so desperately trying to hide under the train of her wedding dress"

  • Stalefresh on November 23, 2011, 3:11 GMT

    a good test match - is test cricket dead? a regular test match - is test cricket dead? too many people in the stadium - is test cricket dead? too few people - is test cricket dead? IPL - is test cricket dead? No IPL - is test cricket dead? New cricket writer - is test cricket dead? Seasoned cricket writer - is test cricket dead? pre match presentation - is test cricket dead? post match presentation - is test cricket dead? flat pitch - is test cricket dead? flatter pitch - is test cricket dead?

    Huh! Just enjoy the game!

  • Lord Page on November 23, 2011, 1:14 GMT

    Top stats in this blog, especially as they prove that New Zealand have the best tail in the world. A tail anchored by The Phantom no less!

  • Anouar on March 2, 2012, 1:16 GMT

    India has ptnley of young talent. Wait five years and Australia will be missing Hayden, Hussey, Ponting, Hussey, Haddin, Lee, Bracken, Clark etc. Australia doesn't have a lot of good young players to replace these players, especially when it comes to batters. There's ptnley of experienced state players, but a lot of them will probably retire in the next few years.India has given a lot of their young players opportunities, so they know who is going to cut it at international level. Abdul Qadir is right, but it'll be a few years before what he said comes to fruition.If Australia somehow finds replacements, or gets some of the older players to consider not retiring, Australia will be hard to dislodge from the top spot. -2Was this answer helpful?

  • Wilo on December 6, 2011, 6:23 GMT

    Actually it was the extended analogy of Test Cricket being in a care home that stood out for me.

    Top piece as always Andy, even if it took me a while to get to it :)

  • Aneesh on November 25, 2011, 12:08 GMT

    "This was close to the perfect Test match, a game of constantly shifting momentum which contained more twists and turns than an ice-skating snake’s high-risk Olympic final routine.", "...every session saw the balance of the game wobbling from one side to the other like a drunken tightrope walker on a windy day."

    Do you stay up entire nights to think of such lines?!

    Outstanding. :D

  • Dirkie on November 25, 2011, 7:39 GMT

    One of your best articles. So true, and very very funny. You are a rock star Andy!

  • Krishna on November 24, 2011, 22:23 GMT

    before being decisively out-calamatised by Australia’s brilliant counter-calamity. - Andy, you're the best!!

  • david on November 24, 2011, 13:48 GMT

    Fine article, Andy. My two-penneth: A couple of simple measures would make Tests extra appealing to the general public (as opposed to cricket fanatics who will always love them.) Firstly, can one somehow disuade the teams from so readily settling for draws when a result is possible, particuarly being allowed to agree a draw with fifteen overs remaining, such as was discussed in your piece "Missing Last Chapter"? A case as abject as the one involving England and Sri Lanka last year was truly appalling. Secondly, increase the cycle-speed of particuarly fruity pairings: The Ashes, for example, should be on a three- as opposed to four-year rotation, with intervals of one-and-a-half years between series, as opposed to one-and-a-half years and two-and-a-half years. Thirdly, replace the toss at Test matches with an arm wrestle between captains, bare-chested and celebrated with canon-fire at the outcome. Two of these points are serious.

  • Anthony on November 23, 2011, 19:06 GMT

    @Stalefresh - Your rhyming was much better than mine, but what are you really trying to say?

  • Issam Ahmed on November 23, 2011, 5:58 GMT

    Loved it:

    "The Proteas’ World Cup bid was fatally undermined by a middle-order megabloop that exposed a tail longer that the one Kate Middleton was so desperately trying to hide under the train of her wedding dress"

  • Stalefresh on November 23, 2011, 3:11 GMT

    a good test match - is test cricket dead? a regular test match - is test cricket dead? too many people in the stadium - is test cricket dead? too few people - is test cricket dead? IPL - is test cricket dead? No IPL - is test cricket dead? New cricket writer - is test cricket dead? Seasoned cricket writer - is test cricket dead? pre match presentation - is test cricket dead? post match presentation - is test cricket dead? flat pitch - is test cricket dead? flatter pitch - is test cricket dead?

    Huh! Just enjoy the game!

  • Lord Page on November 23, 2011, 1:14 GMT

    Top stats in this blog, especially as they prove that New Zealand have the best tail in the world. A tail anchored by The Phantom no less!

  • Reverse Swept Radio on November 22, 2011, 22:04 GMT

    Good point about SA's weakening lower order. The importance of England's much improved tail has often been understated.

  • Umair Hoodbhoy on November 22, 2011, 21:22 GMT

    I'm glad you mentioned the over zooming of the cameras. Often you can't even recognize the bowler during delivery. Thanks for bringing it up!

  • Ish on November 22, 2011, 19:39 GMT

    Crowds to test matches will continue to decline whilst the majority of supporters that can afford to go are limited to 20 days holiday a year. Being a stats man you of all people should understand not many fans can afford to dedicate a quarter of their annual holiday allocation on going to a single game. The combined attendance for the test is probably better than an ODI or T20

  • Ray on November 22, 2011, 18:50 GMT

    Great article Andy as always. @S A Raja - Could you tell me what has this article got to do with the Ind-Aus series.

  • Aman on November 22, 2011, 18:18 GMT

    It may be heartening to note that more Indians (including me) were tuned in to SA vs Aus matches than the India-Windies yawn marathons. Again, this is as scientific, based on general facebook/twitter skimming, as an explanation for why water is wet (ref: http://www.guardian.co.uk/notesandqueries/query/0,5753,-1725,00.html).

    Needless to say (but I shall continue nevertheless), the nail-biting intensity of the former compared quite favourably to the latter - where even the most compulsive chewer as well as the most cannibalistic gourmet connoisseur would be hard-pressed to intake digit(s) to exercise the mandibles.

  • roop ramdial on November 22, 2011, 16:45 GMT

    I hope that test cricket isn't dead, and maybe this recent match between Australia and SA is evidence that its alive and kicking! We in the West Indies are awaiting the awakening of our much loved team. Things are looking good in India although we lost the series. The younger players are improving by the day, but only time will tell. World cricket needs a butt kicking West Indies team. Its so sad to see the empty seats in India....wake up West Indies, the world needs you!

  • Shayan Abbasi on November 22, 2011, 16:24 GMT

    Test cricket is dying in India because of the dead pitches, in rest of the world, its safe and sound! I don't see how crowds matter to the security of test cricket, more people are watching on tv than ever.

  • Gary on November 22, 2011, 16:00 GMT

    So what if the stadium was empty on the final day - a Monday? People have to go to work and cannot afford to make advance plans to attend fifth days when there may not be a full day's play.(That didn't apply at Lord's against India in July though - I,like many, took a sickie). As Stephen pointed out, millions all over the world were following the game on TV or the Internet. Sparse final day crowds aren't a new thing anyway. Tests are remembered. I cannot recall what happened in one T20 beyond the start of the next one!

  • Anthony on November 22, 2011, 15:46 GMT

    The article in verse:

    A great start to the series, set up for the next 'no' tests.

    Australia choked in the first match, but South Africa still choke best.

    When stands of 50 seemed plenty, an 18 year old stepped to the fore.

    Don't remember what I was doing at that age, not taking six for seventy-nine, I am sure.

    Old test cricket is not dead yet, But I'll say one thing to you.

    It will slip into a depression soon, With no-one at the grounds to view.

  • Ashutosh on November 22, 2011, 15:16 GMT

    fantastic artical and fantastic match really enjoyed both reading and watching the match

  • Rowan on November 22, 2011, 15:09 GMT

    Unfortuantely for test cricket, South African support for the team has been significantly undermined by administrative bumbling and corruption (they struggled to even find a sponsor for the test and none for the T20) and egos unrepentant of their World Cup fiasco.

  • Mikki27 on November 22, 2011, 15:04 GMT

    @ S A Raja : India won series in NZ,W.I drew in SA and hve been competitive in all the overseas tours until the england one... you cannot judge a team on one tour..We were the no.1 test team for 2 years and all the series were not played in India...So come on.. :)

  • Shaheen on November 22, 2011, 15:03 GMT

    Though I am an Indian, I feel subcontinent is quite responsible for this state of Test Cricket. Most of the wickets are darn dead and the intention of the curator for most of the time is to produce a batsman friendly pitch and the outcome is most of the times is irrelevant.

    This test was a great advertisement for test cricket and it made me just wonder the courage shown by this Australian team. How can India ever justify it's attitude on the final day of the final test match when it visited West Indies. There was no intention of chasing down a target of 270 odd on not so threatning pitch with supposedly one of the best batting line up. Will a spectator not be disappointed by such a coward effort?

  • Mike V on November 22, 2011, 14:58 GMT

    Test cricket is still a great game. Unfortunately the television coverage is now so exceptional that for the true cricket lover it is now a much better game to watch at home than it is in the ground and its free. The only thing you lose is atmosphere but in exchange you get a comfortable seat, a brilliant view, detailed and knowledgeable analysis. As the coverage gets better and the seat prices go up there is ever less incentive to go to the ground, plus if you happened to have hit a bad day you just switch channels and watch a different sport !

  • Richard Appleyard on November 22, 2011, 14:37 GMT

    Isn't part of cricket's problem that it is actually a much better game to watch on TV than live? You see all the nuances of the action, whereas live the ball is little more than a blur - blink and you miss it. I like getting beered up and inventing humorous chants to goad humourless jobsworth stewards in the company of hundreds of like-minded oafs as much as the next guy, but if I actually want to see a game of cricket, TV is really the only option.

  • atanu sinha on November 22, 2011, 14:21 GMT

    "This followed their first-innings Cape Town calamity when they alchemised 49 for 1 into 96 all out, before being decisively out-calamatised by Australia’s brilliant counter-calamity".....this was a brilliant line......

  • bigwonder on November 22, 2011, 13:45 GMT

    Andy, you are correct, test is a dying breed. @S A Raja, keep dreaming for Australia wins in Australia - there is no cost for dreaming.

  • The Sleeping Ninja on November 22, 2011, 13:26 GMT

    S A Raja, wake up.

    In the last decade, India has actually been a better team to Australia in head to heads, geography considered. Australia has 2 wins, 3 draws, 5 losses in India, and 3 wins, 3 draws, 2 losses at home.

    Overall h-to-h summary of the last decade: 5 wins, 6 draws, 7 losses against India.

    Australians are lousier than Indians while touring. (20% won, v/s 25% by Indians).

    Australians are lousier than Indians at home too. (37.5% won, v/s 50% by Indians).

    Australians have the worse overall record of the two too, everything considered.

    In fact, it has been 8 Tests and counting since Australia won a Test against India, their last victory coming 3 years ago in the infamous Sydney Test in which they Bucknor-ed the Indians :)

    Since then, as tourists, they have lost 4 of their 6 outings against India and won NONE. Could it be true that it is actually Australia who are "only tigers on paper and on home turf, and useless overseas!!!" ? :) Again, wake up.

  • Ram on November 22, 2011, 13:25 GMT

    If test cricket is dead, then how come a game called Cricket still exists?

  • mohsin on November 22, 2011, 12:35 GMT

    i hav been commenting on this in other cricinfo articles abt zoomed-in ultra slomo replays. really funny piece as always.

  • Daniel on November 22, 2011, 12:29 GMT

    Brilliant article. Just one point, although attendance was not huge, it was significantly more than any wanderers test for years. Test cricket is recovering, not dying.

  • CHANDRAKANT G on November 22, 2011, 11:28 GMT

    Great one, Mr. Zaltzman and this sentence "This followed their first-innings Cape Town calamity when they alchemised 49 for 1 into 96 all out, before being decisively out-calamatised by Australia’s brilliant counter-calamity" is simply superb.

  • A S on November 22, 2011, 11:10 GMT

    very nice piece there Andy!!

    @SA Raja: what does your comment have to do about the article?? This entire article was about SA vs Aus, yet you manage to weasel in a jibe at India??!!!

    You must secretly love the Indian Cricket team, because it seems like they're all you think about!!!

    oh.. and PS, I'm not from India.

  • JohnMac on November 22, 2011, 10:58 GMT

    This is an issue I have pondered before. I love cricket beyond any sport and invariably sit watching 2 or 3 test matches on the go via cricinfo or my mobile Drifta (when at work) or from the couch at home. Unfortunately, for me, the stadium experience cannot compete with sitting on the couch with a cold drink close at hand, (mostly) world class commentators and ex test players analysing the game, multiple replays, hotspot, hawkeye and the rest and the ability to rewind the wickets I miss if I doze off. Nor do I have drunks, obnoxious louts or any other irritation to contend with. Why is the success of Test cricket measured by the number of people at the ground?

  • Ricky on November 22, 2011, 10:46 GMT

    I think the crowd on day 5 was slightly misleading. It rained the whole morning and didn't seem to be clearing up. It was also a Monday. On the contrary, I was impressed by the crowds over the weekend, particularly Saturday, when Wanderers was full, which I don't ever remember seeing for a test match.

  • Omkar on November 22, 2011, 10:26 GMT

    " A fifth, and you might as well wake up Lenin and tell him he won the Cold War." - hahhahahahahah! I just couldn't stop laughing. hahahahahahahaha

  • SafferN on November 22, 2011, 10:11 GMT

    Brilliant article!

    Unfortunately everyone HAS to work on a Monday in Joburg, so the ground was never going to be very full. This is simply a product of the modern age.

    But...

    In January I had to practically steal a ticket to get into the test match vs India at Newlands. It was fantastic being part of a capacity crowd at that beautiful ground. Difference is that test was during the holiday when people can actually AFFORD to sit and watch cricket for 5 days - there really is not much better than that.

    There are tons of cricket fans in SA, but they tend to disappear because the Proteas haven't really set the world alight with their performances despite the obvious potential to do so.

    Interestingly the Aussie fans are fading away with the recent bad results against England, and I saw this again just last week: I went to Newlands on day 2 of that epic test riiiggght after finishing my exam. Sure enough, I didn't have to buy a ticket since so many people were leaving the ground. Sad.l

  • Robski on November 22, 2011, 10:07 GMT

    Marvellous stuff as ever Herr Zaltzman - may your wand never wither.

  • gautham on November 22, 2011, 9:46 GMT

    Too good Andy. Love this line where you say "This followed their first-innings Cape Town calamity when they alchemised 49 for 1 into 96 all out, before being decisively out-calamatised by Australia’s brilliant counter-calamity." Killer line!!

  • Raks on November 22, 2011, 9:46 GMT

    Lovely peice Andy as always. @S A Raja - what is the reason for ur angst against India. This was a funny article and you want to start a firestorm by writing such stupid comments. Look where ur team is in the stats that Andy has mentioned.

  • Nuxxy on November 22, 2011, 9:09 GMT

    Maybe they must be more proactive about setting up the right environment at the ground on weekdays. We know people need to work, but there is so much space - how about making is that people can bring their laptops and access wi-fi hotspots and host luncheons at the ground - all for the price of a ticket?

  • Anoop Hosmath on November 22, 2011, 8:46 GMT

    Micheal "pup" Clarke begins his journey as the leader of the Aussie pack by morphing into the Battle cat and lifting his "cringing" team from the depths.He takes over the reins of his beleaguered team and his debut as a captain is as dashing and eventful as his personal one in test cricket.he has risen to the occasion and is the right man to oversee the "herculean" task of taking Australia back to it's zenith.Giving up the IPL for the team is a priceless sacrifice for the game of cricket itself.The fact that the loss in the T-20's didn't dampen the Aussie spirit shows where their priorities lie and the massive overhaul in the face of the Argus report findings augurs well for Aussie cricket.At times the "collateral" damage is unfortunate as seen in the premature termination of the careers of prominent players like Bevan and Katich but with such brimming talent the selectors tend to find it inevitable.With the Punter on the loose again it is game on tendulkar vs punter!!

  • Anoop Hosmath on November 22, 2011, 8:44 GMT

    While the whole world has been going on about the doomsday theory on the downfall of Australian cricket they have constantly reminded us that a team which truly loves the sport and has quality infrastructure and a strong grass roots domestic format will forever stay in the hunt.The current team may not have any stars but the collective effort is a testimony to their persistent pursuit of excellence.To date they are the only team to have won the champions trophy twice,never lost to South Africa in a test series in the proteas backyard,made it to last year's T-20 final when everyone had written them off.Critics and naysayer's imagining a Windies kind of oblivion are in for a disappointment because the Baggygreen hasn't lost it's fizz yet and having tasted "sweet" blood under the charismatic Steve Waugh they are not about to let go of a proud legacy and if the situation reaches it's nadir the sport may be abandoned altogether.

  • Govind S. Welling on November 22, 2011, 8:09 GMT

    Test cricket is not dead at all. I enjoy a test more than a T20 or ODI. It is the pristine form of cricket. Ask anyone who has played cricket. Creams are still in!

  • Stephen on November 22, 2011, 7:57 GMT

    It was sad to see such a sparse crowd at the ground, but is there anyway to see how many people were watching via tv internet etc?

  • S A Raja on November 22, 2011, 7:42 GMT

    Hey Andy,

    Fantastic as always.

    "If there are legitimate complaints these days about cricketing overkill, it could equally be said that our cricketing forefathers were guilty of underkill."

    Lovely Line Andy. Keep it Going.

    Hope the Indians get thrashed this year in Australia by Australia and let every one in the world know that they are only tigers on paper and home turf and are useless overseas!!!

  • Ishrat on November 22, 2011, 7:31 GMT

    Amazing article.... of-course we want more 3 test matches series...

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  • Ishrat on November 22, 2011, 7:31 GMT

    Amazing article.... of-course we want more 3 test matches series...

  • S A Raja on November 22, 2011, 7:42 GMT

    Hey Andy,

    Fantastic as always.

    "If there are legitimate complaints these days about cricketing overkill, it could equally be said that our cricketing forefathers were guilty of underkill."

    Lovely Line Andy. Keep it Going.

    Hope the Indians get thrashed this year in Australia by Australia and let every one in the world know that they are only tigers on paper and home turf and are useless overseas!!!

  • Stephen on November 22, 2011, 7:57 GMT

    It was sad to see such a sparse crowd at the ground, but is there anyway to see how many people were watching via tv internet etc?

  • Govind S. Welling on November 22, 2011, 8:09 GMT

    Test cricket is not dead at all. I enjoy a test more than a T20 or ODI. It is the pristine form of cricket. Ask anyone who has played cricket. Creams are still in!

  • Anoop Hosmath on November 22, 2011, 8:44 GMT

    While the whole world has been going on about the doomsday theory on the downfall of Australian cricket they have constantly reminded us that a team which truly loves the sport and has quality infrastructure and a strong grass roots domestic format will forever stay in the hunt.The current team may not have any stars but the collective effort is a testimony to their persistent pursuit of excellence.To date they are the only team to have won the champions trophy twice,never lost to South Africa in a test series in the proteas backyard,made it to last year's T-20 final when everyone had written them off.Critics and naysayer's imagining a Windies kind of oblivion are in for a disappointment because the Baggygreen hasn't lost it's fizz yet and having tasted "sweet" blood under the charismatic Steve Waugh they are not about to let go of a proud legacy and if the situation reaches it's nadir the sport may be abandoned altogether.

  • Anoop Hosmath on November 22, 2011, 8:46 GMT

    Micheal "pup" Clarke begins his journey as the leader of the Aussie pack by morphing into the Battle cat and lifting his "cringing" team from the depths.He takes over the reins of his beleaguered team and his debut as a captain is as dashing and eventful as his personal one in test cricket.he has risen to the occasion and is the right man to oversee the "herculean" task of taking Australia back to it's zenith.Giving up the IPL for the team is a priceless sacrifice for the game of cricket itself.The fact that the loss in the T-20's didn't dampen the Aussie spirit shows where their priorities lie and the massive overhaul in the face of the Argus report findings augurs well for Aussie cricket.At times the "collateral" damage is unfortunate as seen in the premature termination of the careers of prominent players like Bevan and Katich but with such brimming talent the selectors tend to find it inevitable.With the Punter on the loose again it is game on tendulkar vs punter!!

  • Nuxxy on November 22, 2011, 9:09 GMT

    Maybe they must be more proactive about setting up the right environment at the ground on weekdays. We know people need to work, but there is so much space - how about making is that people can bring their laptops and access wi-fi hotspots and host luncheons at the ground - all for the price of a ticket?

  • Raks on November 22, 2011, 9:46 GMT

    Lovely peice Andy as always. @S A Raja - what is the reason for ur angst against India. This was a funny article and you want to start a firestorm by writing such stupid comments. Look where ur team is in the stats that Andy has mentioned.

  • gautham on November 22, 2011, 9:46 GMT

    Too good Andy. Love this line where you say "This followed their first-innings Cape Town calamity when they alchemised 49 for 1 into 96 all out, before being decisively out-calamatised by Australia’s brilliant counter-calamity." Killer line!!

  • Robski on November 22, 2011, 10:07 GMT

    Marvellous stuff as ever Herr Zaltzman - may your wand never wither.