Sydney preview

Tom Parker, the curator at the SCG, has predicted that wicket no. 5 will be a spinner’s dream from day three. The ball may do a bit through the air during the first session of day one, but from then on the hard-packed Bulli soil will be a batter’s deck until the cracks start appearing.

This forecast, of course, is predicated on five days of glorious weather with no rain. I write this about hour after a thunderstorm descended upon Sydney, bringing a refreshing coolness and giving some relief to my beleaguered sinuses. More importantly though, there is still dampness in the air, and further showers are predicted tomorrow, with overcast conditions over the next two days.

Perhaps this might just be a good toss to lose.

In any event, it goes without saying that England go into this last Test better prepared for anything the weather may throw at them.

This is the last Test in a series in which the main prize is no longer up for grabs, but England will be striving for domination and a series victory as a further stepping stone on the road to the eventual goal of being Test cricket’s number one.

Australia will similarly be looking to lay stepping stones, but towards the more modest goal of emerging from a series that has seen the stuffing kicked out of them with a win that will give them some heart before they play Sri Lanka in August. Seven months is a long time for wounds to fester.

Australia will have Michael Beer; England have Graeme Swann. Swann has put this succinctly into perspective by saying he still doesn’t understand why NSW homeboy Nathan Hauritz was dumped so ignominiously. He believes Hauritz should have been Australia’s first choice spinner throughout the whole of this series, and he is not the only one.

Usman Khawaja, Australia’s new number three, looked relaxed and cheerful at practice today, and seems to be taking the hullabaloo over his selection as Australia’s first Muslim cricketer in his stride.

The papers recently have been full of articles about him. Khawaja reckons he is singled out for explosives checks at airports, and even at the WACA when playing in a one-dayer against the Warriors he was stopped by three security guards on his way to the dressing room who did not believe he played for NSW.

He laughs all this off and treats the whole thing with an admirable sense of humour; I think mine would probably have run out a long time ago.

He plays Call of Duty on his PS3 and plays his guitar in his spare time. The newspapers seem to be making a big deal out of the fact that he is a normal 24-year old (and why shouldn’t he be?) and at the same time investing him with the responsibility of being a role model and ambassador for Australia’s Islamic community.

I wish it did not have to be this way, where so much attention seems to be on his faith, but there it is. I really wish they would all just let the guy play.

Michael Clarke will be hoping to prove his naysayers – of which there are many – wrong as he becomes his country’s 43rd Test captain. Judging by his form of late, and doubts over his captaincy credentials, “Pup” must find his inner mongrel is he is to win his critics over.

England have an embarrassment of riches to choose from with their stable of quicks, but I expect the side to remain unchanged from Melbourne.

Paul Collingwood is this week’s ant under the batting magnifying glass, and needs runs desperately to avoid being sizzled to a crisp by the ever increasing glare of scrutiny. Few come tougher than him, though, and scrappers like Collingwood never stay down for long.

This Test will be an interesting one, imbued with importance, especially for Australia.

The urn is gone, but it is now their long-term future that is important.

Usman Khawaja and teammates in their Baggy Pinks at the SCG today

Usman Khawaja and teammates in their Baggy Pinks at the SCG today

2 Responses to “Sydney preview”

  1. superzaco says:

    again, i feel you are being a bit eager champ. your lot still hasn’t won a series in this country in 24 years. retain does not equal win. game on in six hours.

  2. legsidefilth says:


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