“Since about, I think 1985, people have been saying that there is too much meaningless one-day cricket. Maybe it’s finally time to do something about it.”
Rahul Dravid, delivering the Sir Donald Bradman Oration at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, December 2011
Let it never be said that the views of players aren’t taken into account. This week saw the first three of an incredible fourteen (and possibly fifteen if anyone can be arsed with a third final) ODI’s as Cricket Australia attempt to grind the casual cricket viewer into utter apathy. Following a Test series that was as uneven as Brad Haddin’s wicketkeeping, the addition of Sri Lanka for a marathon series hardly sets the pulse racing.
And yet, due to 51allout’s commitment to occasionally mention cricket that doesn’t involve the England team, we’ll attempt to bring you the gist of what’s going on in a series of round-by-round reviews. Although it might not be all that easy – this correspondent spent the last week on holiday, seeing the sights of Western Australia (such as ox-bow lakes, giant trees and the longest timber-piled jetty in the southern hemisphere) rather than actually watching the matches. Not to worry – we’ll figure something out.
The first game in the series was marred by rain, with Australia struggling at 35/2 after eleven overs before the interruption, David Warner having perished playing a shot so ugly it would have appalled Joseph Merrick. After the break, with the game reduced to 32 overs per side, Australia simply switched to T20 mode and racked up 216/5, led by 67 from debutant Matthew Wade and a very rapid 61* from David Hussey.
In reply, India seemed completely bewildered by how to approach their innings. Perhaps they were utterly confused by the results of the Duckworth-Lewis calculations, which seemed to think that it hadn’t rained at all and left the score unchanged. Regardless of the reason, they collapsed as if they were still playing a Test series, bowled out for just 151. Pick of the bowlers was Clint McKay, something of a forgotten man these days, with figures of 4/20.
While Sri Lanka were making a very mediocre 233/8 (led by 64 from Dinesh Chandimal), this correspondent was in Pemberton, climbing the Gloucester Tree. Standing at 61 metres tall, the Gloucester Tree is from the Karri family, which is the third tallest tree species in the world. It was pegged in 1946 so that people could climb it and use it as a watchtower for bushfires. Today it has become a very popular tourist attraction in the south west – and it’s definitely not for the faint hearted.
Following the successful climb (and descent) it was on to Walpole in time for dinner in the Top Deck Cafe Restaurant, described as ‘reasonably priced and the only choice when visiting or passing through beautiful Walpole’. The food was certainly reasonably priced, and it was indeed the only choice, due to everywhere else being closed. Meanwhile India made hard work of chasing down 234 to win, Virat Kohli’s 77 eventually proving key, assisted by a pugnacious 30* from man of the match R Ashwin.
The final game of the first round of fixtures was again at the WACA, as Sri Lanka took on their hosts. Having won the toss and chosen to bowl, the visitors did a good job in bowling Australia out for 231. While a number of batsmen got in, only Michael Clarke pushed on to any sort of sizeable innings, making 57. Of course, none of this was seen by your correspondent, who was otherwise engaged with tasting mead and honey-based ice cream at Bartholomew’s Meadery, followed by a trip to Elephant Rocks. These granite domes resemble elephants set off the shallow waters only a short walk from Greens Pool. It’s the perfect place for that holiday photograph.
Following the successful capture of said holiday photograph, it was on to the Southern End Brewery for lunch, an ideal venue for weddings, corporate functions, birthdays and other activities. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka struggled, losing regular wickets and finding themselves 180/9. Despite some late heroics from Angelo Matthews (64) it wasn’t quite enough to get Sri Lanka over the line, with the innings finishing six short of the target. Pick of the bowlers was Xavier Doherty, which sounds like it must be made up.
Early indications are that nobody seems at all interested in this series. Australia have looked to use it to rest and rotate players – giving debuts to Matthew Wade and Dan Christian, with Peter Forrest set to follow – while India and Sri Lanka already look to be deliberately competing for third place and the first flight home. Even Channel 9 have been messing about with their coverage, apparently only making some games available on digital. Plus for Sunday’s fourth game we’ve got a barbeque to go to.
See you all next week!
Nichael Bluth is not a tourism ambassador for Western Australia. But he could be – contact us if you want to pay him to write nice things about your tiny town in the middle of nowhere.