|Issue No 108||24 August 2001|
The Locker Room
Jim Marr Fires Up
Why, pray say, have so many been pointing the bone of blame at Adam Gilchrist over Australia's fourth Test loss in England?
Yes, he was the captain who left the Poms a target of 311 on the final day, that's accepted. But surely, that was a matter for congratulation rather than criticism.
Gilchrist's decision was a natural continuation of the trend set by injured skipper Steve Waugh and Waugh, in a few short years, has changed the nature of Test cricket for the better.
By dint of a relentlessly positive approach Waugh has brought about a regeneration of interest in the five-day version of the game. So thorough has been his influence that long-accepted wisdoms and even some careers have perished along the way.
Michael Atherton is a likely case in point. England does not possess a more admirable competitor and the doughty Lancastrian has been cruelly served by umpiring standards in this series.
Atherton is not yet a cricketer of the past but only because the rest of the cricket playing world is still a decade behind the Aussies.
No longer is it acceptable to toss away 25 percent of each day's play by going into your shell and turning down scoring opportunities half an hour before every lunch, tea or stumps adjournment and nor should it be.
No longer, in an age of real professionalism, is it acceptable for bowlers to proudly have no idea how to hold a bat, nor for batsmen or quick bowler to have to be hidden in the field.
Night watchmen and endless hours of tieing up an end have been have been given the raised finger.
Certainly, the policy has had its reverses. India last year and Leeds last week being the most recent examples.
They are minor reverses, however, in a ledger that boasts over 20 Test victories since Waugh took the helm.
And, while little consolation for Australia, three of the Waugh-era defeats have been engineered by sensational individual innings, knocks that have left the game in better heart for having been played.
Brian Lara smashed 153 against the odds in Barbados, then VVS Laxman produced a 281 that will live forever in the minds of all priveleged to have seen it. Last week Mark Butcher, as unlikely a hero as you would want to see, moved into their company.
Cricket is a strange game and that is more than just a cliché.
Few sports make provision for constant and thorough-going dominance to be undone by one contribution of sheer brilliance. In none of our rugby codes is it possible to be comprehensively outplayed for 80 percent of a match and still turn the tables in the final 16 minutes.
It can be frustrating for those on the receiving end but it remains one of the sport's charms.
Back to Gilchrist, let's examine the facts at his disposal when he pulled out on the fourth afternoon.
1) Australia was 3-0 up in a series in which its opponents had failed, in six attempts, to register 300 runs.
2) The wicket was playing tricks, some balls keeping low while others soared above a leaping wicketkeeper.
3) In his armoury he possessed arguably the best spinner of all time, not to mention two of the best four or five quick bowlers in the game, and an up-and-comer of raw speed.
4) The weather forecast pointed to more of the disruptions that had had the contestants on and off the Headingley surface.
In those circumstances Gilchrist, or any other captain for that matter, would have been extraordinarily negative if he had opted to bat on.
One critic argued, with some justification, it wasn't so much the declaration, as the constant pressing forward in the field, that revealed Gilchrist's inexperience. Well, to be fair, inexperience is something most first-up skippers are entitled to a bit of.
That critic argued that histories greatest generals has based their strategies on mixtures of attack, defence and holding measures.
True enough, but while war has long relied for its survival on commercial sponsorship it is not, generally, quite as dependent on attracting paying spectators.
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The CFMEU's Phil Davey meets up with Communist Party cadres in Chile who led the underground resistance to Pinochet.
History: Race and Australian Labour.
Australian unionists have long been questioning notions of a “White Australia”, even before the colonies united with it as the central feature.
Economics: Global Regulation
Public sector unions from around the globe are taking the first steps to work internationally against the deregulation agenda.
Satire: Niche Identified in Left-Wing Publications Market
A marxist-feminist activist has discovered a gaping hole in the lucrative left-wing publications market.
Review: The Fight for Equal Pay
In this extract from her new book, Zelda D'Aprano looks at the contribution Kath Williams made to the struggle for equality.
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