Australia v Pakistan – Fourth ODI Ratings

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at 2017.01.23
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As the summer careered towards an out-of-control conclusion, cricket fans everywhere did their best to summon enthusiasm for yet another ODI in this 19-match series between Australia and Pakistan.

Here are the ratings for the Fourth ODI between Australia and Pakistan.

Home Grounds
Grade: B-

After Steve Smith won the toss and chose to bat, Dave Warner raced to 50 off just 35 balls and, eventually, an impressively tedious run-a-ball century. For long-time fans of the game, his rapid scoring in this ODI brought to mind the century before lunch that a younger Warner had made at the same ground in a Test that took place perhaps fifteen – hell, maybe even twenty – days ago now.

When Warner followed his batting efforts up with some fine-to-spectacular catching in the outfield, the commentators began to talk about how much he thrived playing on his home ground.

Although, as is so often the case with the Nine commentary team, their musings did draw into question the very premise underlying their discussion. I mean, in what sense is the SCG David Warner’s home ground? How often does he actually play there in any given summer?

Unless, of course, they mean ‘home’ in the sense that it’s the ground that’s closest to the room containing Warner’s OLED TV. In which case, fine.

Glenn Maxwell
Grade: B+

The partnership between Warner and Smith had helped Australia to 212 in just the 36th over. This was after Usman Khawaja was out dabbing one through to the keeper for just 30. Cool AF to be dismissed in such a fashion, obviously. And the kids loved it. But he’ll want to work on his execution.

Still, with Warner and Smith having laid a batting foundation that appealed more to the 35-54 age demographic, Australia needed Glenn Maxwell to be promoted to bat at number four in a madcap bid to chase down Warner’s score of 130 in the remaining fourteen overs. When dressing room miscommunication meant that Travis Head was sent out to bat at four instead, Smith allowed himself to be given out LBW two balls later so that Maxwell could come in at five.

Great leadership.

Maxwell started frantically, swinging wildly at everything before he eventually reverse-swept himself into form. He and Head then blasted Australia past 300. Like Ghost Rider, for you Marvel fans, or Firestorm The Nuclear Man, for those of you who prefer DC, it was a case of Head being on fire, as he made 51 (36).

Maxwell was not to be outdone, eventually being last man out on the final ball of the innings for 78 (44), caught on the boundary heroically trying to hit the 53 he needed to go past Warner.

Pakistan’s Fielding
Grade: F

Helping Australia to their final total of 6/353 was inept Pakistan fielding. Apparently, the playing conditions of this ODI meant that Pakistan were forced to try to catch a ball made of soap, as catch after catch slipped through their fielders’ hands. Still, if the ball was made of soap, that would explain some of the clean hitting, wouldn’t it?

Another dropped catch during the Australia v Pakistan Fourth ODI 2016-17

Another dropped catch during the Australia v Pakistan Fourth ODI 2016-17

Of the six or seven dropped catches in the Pakistan fielding performance, only Hasan Ali had an excuse, as he understandably dropped a top-edged sweep from Maxwell due to being unsure of what laws of physics Maxwell had chosen to apply to his mishit.

But the rest of the dropped catches were maddening, driving Pakistan fans to despair. You could see their supporters in the crowd with head in hands after each poor effort in the field from their team.

Although it was a bit unfair of them to react that way, since those same fans had also had Head in their hands earlier in the innings, when they dropped a six that the left-hander had slogged over the boundary.

Let he who is without sin clumsily drop the first stone.

Peter Handscomb
Grade: C

Peter Handscomb apparently played this game as a specialist backup wicket-keeper. He didn’t bat. He didn’t bowl. He might have fielded the ball a couple of times. He might not have.

Ugly Australians
Grade: D-

Pakistan made a decent stab at chasing down the 354 runs they needed for victory. In particular, Sharjeel Khan, who had seemingly mistaken the match for a T20 International, motored along to 74 runs off just 47 balls as Pakistan scored their first 100 runs at more than the required rate.

But Australia, as is shamefully so often the case, stepped over the line yet again. Where Pakistan had the common decency to drop catch after catch, amusing the crowd with their clown-like antics, the ‘ugly Aussies’ kept holding almost all of the chances that came their way. Even the very tricky ones.

In a way, it’s a form of cheating, isn’t it?

Is it worth winning a game if you’re going to resort to such negative tactics as bowling a line and length that makes it difficult for the opposition to score? Doesn’t saving a boundary with a showy piece of fielding contravene the Spirit of Cricket? When Josh Hazlewood bowled Junaid Khan first ball to end the game, did he even think how that would come across to kids, many of whom have also been bowled first ball by somebody?

Shame, Australia, shame.

(Originally published at http://www.theroar.com.au/2017/01/23/the-liebke-ratings-australia-v-pakistan-fourth-odi/)

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