|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
September 16, 2004
For a while it seemed that all the talk of the phoney war being over, and the real Champions Trophy action starting today, was rather misplaced. New Zealand did a passable imitation of several previous minnows in this competition, and when they were 89 for 7 it seemed possible that yet another match would be over by lunchtime.
Glenn McGrath took three early wickets, but the best spell came from Michael Kasprowicz, who added the catch of the day for good measure - a well-timed dive forward at long-on to cling on to Brendon McCullum's smear. Kasprowicz is a deceptive player - faster than he looks from the other side of the boundary, and a great athlete in the field.
But we did get a half-decent game in the end. New Zealand possess something that the likes of Kenya and the USA don't at the moment - a strong tail and a lot of batting nous. McCullum, who was in the top three against England earlier this summer, is a handy man to have at No. 9, and Daniel Vettori looks more at home than Tony Blair at No. 10.
They dragged New Zealand to 198 - a total that was never likely to be enough, but did at least set the Aussies thinking. And after the first-over departure of Adam Gilchrist we might have had even more of a contest on our hands if any of three decent leg-before shouts by Kyle Mills against Matthew Hayden had been upheld. But Hayden survived, and crunched his way to 47.
Hayden's departure brought in Andrew Symonds, who started iffily against the spin of Vettori and the slowish allsorts of Chris Harris. He has a straight-limbed technique against the turning ball, rather reminiscent of those old films of Ranji and Victor Trumper from around the turn of the last century, and it's not hard to see why he struggled against Murali and his mates in Sri Lanka recently.
But once Symonds has his eye in, it's no fun being a bowler. He warmed up by slamming his second ball - a short one from Harris - for six, and there were three more that flew into the crowd: a savage wipe off Vettori, a flick over midwicket off Harris, and, when Mills returned at the end, a last-over drill over long-off. In between all this muscle, there was delicious delicacy too: he caressed one cut so late that it looked for all the world as if he was scooping the foam off his morning cappuccino.
At the other end Damien Martyn was almost invisible, and it was a surprise when he tickled what turned out to be his eighth four to reach another half-century. Together he and Symonds, the velvet glove and the iron fist, put on 100 and took Australia into the semi-finals of a competition which, as everyone surely knows by now, they have never won. Yet.
Steven Lynch is editor of Wisden Cricinfo.
The leave outside off stump has been critical to M Vijay's success since his India comeback last year. Contrary to popular opinion, such patience and self-denial comes naturally to him
Ishant Sharma has often been the butt of jokes, and sometimes deservedly so. Today, however, the joke was on England
They have to see a glass that is half-full, and play the game as if it is just that, a game; and an opportunity
Only 15 times in Test history has a player achieved the double of 300 runs and 20 wickets in a Test series. Going on current form, Bhuvneshwar could well be the 16th
In India's win at Lord's, Ishant Sharma took the best bowling figures by an Indian in the fourth innings of a Test outside Asia. Here are five other best bowling efforts by Indians in the fourth innings of Tests outside Asia
India's wretched run away from home began at Lord's in 2011. A young team full of self-belief may have brought it to an end with their victory at the same venue three years later
What's wrong with their cricket? Well, what isn't?
Alastair Cook did not bat like a leading man but the crowd applauded him for simply not failing
If England are going to win nothing, history suggests it might be worth their while to win nothing with kids
Why not you? Read and learn how!