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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Tuesday March 04 2014

My Ashes Lag is really being taken care of, by the South Africa Australia cricket, which is in South Africa, God bless it.  It starts at Really Early am London time.  Crucially, it keeps on doing that.  You don’t cure Ashes lag with just one virtuous wake-up.  You have to string a bunch of them together.  Nothing like a really good test series that starts at Really Early am day after day to do that.  It’s just a pity the series is not a fiver rather than a mere threeer.

Australia are crushing South Africa in the third and final game, just as they did in the first game, and just as South Africa crushed them in the second.  And I sort of told you so:

Mitchell Johnson won the first game for Australia, then did nothing in the second, but I think I heard that the pitch for the third game will suit Johnson, so maybe it will be an Australia win.

Well, not really, I mostly sat on the fence.  But, at least I am not surprised.  South Africa are 71-4 in their second innings, with Amla out but AB de Villiers still there.  At tea they were 15-3.

I really hope they have lots more one-day games, and that at least some of them start good and early.

The other really good news, aside from the Ashes Lag thing, is that South African captain Graeme Smith has now retired from internatioanal cricket, and can now devote all his energies to getting Surrey back on their feet.

Rather annoyingly, what with me trying to get other stuff done, cricket remained interesting all day, with Pakistan chasing a vast Bangladesh score, in the Asia Cup, or something.  The highpoint of that was the innings of Shahid Afridi which began like this, the W at the start being the fall of the wicket that brought him in:

W 6 2 6 1 |6 2 . 6 6

35 in ten balls, in other words.  At the start of all that, Pakistan were in a seemingly hopeless position.  After those two overs, the chase was doable, and they duly did it, despite Afridi having a bad back which meant he couldn’t stretch out and avoid being run out, just after he’d raced to fifty.

Tomorrow, the decisive SA v Aus action is likely to come at the start, so that’s more good news on the Ashes Lag front.  If early wickets fall, especially that of de Villiers, that will be it.  If they don’t, and especially if de Villiers hangs around for a decent time, South Africa would have an outside chance of a draw.  But, I doubt it.  South Africa’s only real chance is if Johnson gets hurt early in the day, just like Steyn got hurt early on day one.

Michael Jennings tells me there is a problem with the comments.  I am posting this to see if I can.

South Africa, at lunch, 122-5 and fighting hard.  ABdeV still there.  These are the times when number of balls faced is what matters, rather than number of runs scored.  deV is now not out 39, which is so-so, but has already faced 214 balls, which is a lot more than that.

I will now copy this, before trying to post it.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 05 March 2014

And it worked.  Strange.

As did this one.  I can add stuff by editing comments.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 05 March 2014

deV falls.  136-6.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 05 March 2014

It’s working for me now too.

Seven down, and about 30 overs for South Africa to survive. South Africa fighting in a way that England didn’t.

South Africa survived a final day in very similar circumstances in Adelaide a bit over a year ago. It will be annoying if they manage it again.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 05 March 2014

Yay for Ryan Harris. Two absolutely terrific balls to get those last wickets at the end.

One has to take one’s hat of for the amount of fight in the South Africans. Australia bowled really well all day, and the South Africans still nearly held out for the draw. One saw nothing resembling this amount of fight from England.

There are no 50 over games on this tour. Australia just have three 20 over games to play. I guess they organised it this way because the next big event on the cricket calendar is the 20 over World Championship and they want to get back into 20 over mode, and there was no time for anything else in between the Ashes tour and that tournament. Even this test series was squeezed into three and a half weeks.

There is a bit of a disagreement with respect to scheduling of matches between South Africa and Australia. Australia will not under any circumstances play away from home in December and January, especially on the key Boxing Day (Melbourne) and New Year (Sydney) dates. However, this is the centre of the South African season, too, and the South Africans would also rather play at home on these dates.

For the first few series after South Africa returned to world cricket, South Africa were willing to tour Australia December/January and put up with hosting Australia on less prime dates, but they have since changed their mind, and they are not willing to play Christmas / New Year in Australia unless Australia are willing to play Christmas / New Year in South Africa once in a while. Australia have flatly said no to this. Australia’s argument is that they have all the money, and they also have the spectators. Crowds of up to 100,000 will show up to a Boxing Day test in Melbourne, compared to only a few thousand in Cape Town.

South Africa see this as a slight, however, and therefore won’t budge. Therefore Australia v South Africa test series are played in little gaps at the beginnings and endings of seasons. This one Feb/March, the last one (in Australia) in Nov/Dec (finishing on Dec 3), and the one before that (in South Africa) in Oct/Nov. The quality of the cricket that the two sides always play deserves better than this.

Meanwhile, of course, India and Australia are conspiring (with the tacit approval of England) to freeze South Africa out the running (and the revenue streams) of world cricket. I don’t think this sort of prickliness on the part of South Africa is helping them much.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 05 March 2014
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