Day one of the Matador Cup, thank you very much

Travis Head acknowledges his double century (picture: Getty Images)

Travis Head acknowledges his double century (picture: Getty Images)

Domestic cricket is exciting.

With the condensed competition format, the Matador Cup started in blistering fashion on Monday – and it was mainly all thanks to willow on leather; although Mitchell Starc wanted to also have a say.

Putting aside the fact the opening three games were played on suburban grounds that are tiny compared to the likes of the MCG and SCG, the efforts of the batsmen cannot be understated.

The tournament itself was bolstered by the unexpected addition of the Australian test players due to the cancellation of the Bangladesh tour – but it was Travis Head who stole the show.

South Australian captain and now double centurion Head is not 22 until the end of this year.

However, his composure and eye for the ball resulted in a score of 202 off 119 balls, including 12 sixes.

For South Australia, it is only one game on a ground more akin to a postage stamp, but it’s the confidence boost the entire side will get at reeling in a 350+ target with several overs to spare that will get the Redbacks up and running.

He did it so clinically the Redbacks had Western Australian on the backfoot, and the Warriors bowling figures hardly look flattering against the powerful performance the left-hander displayed.

It is hard to go past the partnership he carved out with Callum Ferguson (112 from 118 balls); the 278 runs scored in a little over 32 overs – ticking along close to nine runs an over – was the catalyst for such a commanding victory.

Not that Western Australia didn’t crush the South Australians a few hours prior, with Cameron Bancroft and Shaun Marsh posting enormous centuries.

Bancroft and Head present themselves as part of generation next for Australia as the national side looks to rebuild.

Like any good performer, the key to both of these players is a strong season and a good conversion rate.

For Head, it is all about going on with starts and playing the captain’s role with a level persona.  He must do it now with the red ball, and confidently.

Bancroft finished with 896 Sheffield Shield runs in 2014-2015, and a huge 176 is a surefire statement to the selectors ahead of the first day of international cricket on November 5.

Elsewhere, seeing Mitchell Starc rip any side to shreds and shatter the stumps is always entertaining.

This time, seeing a CA XI put together from all the six state sides crumble so easily – to the tune of more than 270 runs – is concerning.

However, the side is the youngest in the competition and after one game in any sporting competition, trying to draw conclusions doesn’t work.  The side will get better with time but came up against a New South Wales side packed with test experience.

What has been proven today, regardless of ground size and bowling attack, is there are batsmen at state level who can step up and hit a groove to excite cricket fans – but must do it consistently.

The likes of Jimmy Peirson and Marcus Harris are still developing, and will take a lot from watching the likes of Steve Smith and Starc go about their business.

It won’t all be a batsmen’s show – expect the bowlers to come back in the later stages.  The likes of Jason Behrendorff and Gary Putland, perhaps the two best left-armers going around at the moment, can give it a red hot crack

Australia’s rampant rabbit isn’t losing the Ashes

(Picture: IB Times)

(Picture: IB Times)

For all the pomp and circumstance that surrounded the Trent Bridge debacle, the Ashes wasn’t really the catalyst, crux or anything in between.

It’s the regeneration.  Since the retirement of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and co, there’s been a rebuild.  The 2013-2014 Ashes was combed over by England’s dreadful performances.  Many of these have already been talked about, dissected and torn apart. Continue reading

Clarke’s career beats everything else

Clarke acknowledges the crowd (photo: from

Clarke acknowledges the crowd (photo: from

For all the rubbishing of Australia over their disastrous defeat at the hands of England at Trent Bridge, Michael Clarke has been at the centre of it in many ways.

The on-field leader, Clarke demands and takes responsibility for his now former charges, as of the end of the Ashes seriesContinue reading

Resurgent England still potentially rely on too few for too much

Joe Root plays through the off side in England's ODI win (photo: Getty Images)

Joe Root plays through the off side in England’s ODI win (photo: Getty Images)

As a feature of comparison, here are England’s test and ODI squads from the recent series against New Zealand: Continue reading

Drawn series, big wins, but England problems still remain

England's situation encapsulated by Gary Ballance (photo: Getty Images)

England‘s situation encapsulated by Gary Ballance (photo: Getty Images)

New Zealand catapulted themselves to victory at Headingley in the last match of their two-test series against England this week.  One game prior, at the revered Lord’s, they were brushed aside by 124 runs.

Social media was awash with fans giving New Zealand the upper hand headed into the first test.  Continue reading

Harris the weapon, everyone else playing follow the leader

Preparation is key.  Even more so for Australia’s line-up of pace bowlers as the Ashes series in England draws closer.

Some have already cemented their places with some fine performances over the past six months, Ryan Harris included.  Continue reading

England’s dizzy heights, and a new future coach: the time is now

Andrew Strauss & Peter Moores: into the fire (photo: PA)

Andrew Strauss & Peter Moores: into the fire (photo: PA)

After what has been a tormenting and agonising period in world cricket for England, both on and off the field, there’s the slightest glimmer of hope.

Peter Moores, sent packing by the England Cricket Board in the last week, continued to tread on razor-sharp glass shards as each day passed.  Continue reading

If England want the Ashes – or cricket – back, they can’t do it quibbling over the counter

Peter Moores, Paul Downton and Alastair Cook say it all (photo: Getty Images)

Peter Moores, Paul Downton and Alastair Cook say it all (photo: Getty Images)

Forget that there’s a changeover at the top of the chain in May; England will still look like a pack of seagulls fighting over the last delicious hot chip.  Except that chip isn’t delicious, and the men in blue aren’t close to setting themselves back on the rails just yet.

Welcome to the Ashes 2015, where the most dangerous issue on the table is whether England’s A-team will turn up in Cardiff for the first test.  Continue reading

You cannot switch out new for old; cricket is no different

Steven Smith celebrates a century against India (photo: Getty Images)

Steven Smith celebrates a century against India (photo: Getty Images)

After his first test in charge of the Australian test cricket team, Steven Smith showed poise, humour, tenacity, grit, and positivity.

Michael Clarke watched on from his home in Sydney, live tweeting his thoughts about the game.  The crowd and audience were glued to the action in earnest and suspense; more so after India were able to post a competitive total with the bat. Continue reading

Brisbane: India tries and misses; Australia triumphs amidst last innings wobble

Says it all: Mitchell's Marsh and Johnson celebrate a win, as India look away (photo: Getty Images)

Says it all: Mitchell’s Marsh and Johnson celebrate a win, as India look away (photo: Getty Images)

Thank you, India.

You have come to Australia with a desire to be competitive; yet, in the thick of things, that has proven to be a bit of a shaky statement.

Australia sealed victory in the second test at Brisbane on Saturday by four wickets, mainly thanks to Chris Rogers (55) in the second innings.  It was, however, somewhat overshadowed by the fact the hosts were a fair way behind at the end of day two, which set the match up for a very intense finale. Continue reading