Time in the middle the key to beating Pakistan

Matt Renshaw faced more than 110 balls in Queensland’s eight-wicket loss to Western Australia last week. Image: ABC Grandstand

The Roar: It was really interesting hearing David Warner talking this week about his need to “adapt” to the way his new opening partner Matt Renshaw plays, and how he can better read the signals coming from his still very green colleague at the top of the order.

Renshaw, the young Queensland opener outrageously criticised for his scoring rate in the second innings in Adelaide – you know; his Test Debut, pink ball, all that – is Warner’s eighth career opening partner in his 56 Tests played to date.

And you’d think it shouldn’t be a major issue for Warner, adapting to a contrasting style. Renshaw’s ‘real opener’ method, to borrow Richard Hinds’ favoured term, is the perfect foil for Warner’s natural game, and Warner’s longest and most productive opening partnerships have been with Chris Rogers and Ed Cowan; neither of them likely to give Warner a run for his money in strike rate terms.

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Wanted: one national goal-kicking coach. Must love frequent flyer points.

For the Tour, Foley kicked 19 goals from 25 attempts, a success rate of 76%. It’s marginally down from his 2016 success rate of 76.3%, and down further from his career figure of 76.8%. Image via Wallabies Facebook

For the Spring Tour, Bernard Foley kicked 19 goals from 25 attempts, a success rate of 76%. It’s marginally down from his 2016 success rate of 76.3%, and down further from his career figure of 76.8%. And it’s all indicative of a wider problem in Australia. Image via Wallabies Facebook

The Roar: Bernard Foley’s Spring Tour goal-kicking was far from the only issue the Wallabies need to address in 2017, but it did raise a broader issue that has afflicted Australian rugby at the highest levels for several years now.

In reality, Australian kickers just haven’t reached the lofty – or ‘match-winning’, to put it another way – heights of 80% for any consistent period, never mind over their career.

And in this day an age where specialist skills like scrummaging, and lineout throwing, and indeed, kicking out of hand have specialist coaches charged with their oversight, why is it that Australian goal-kickers haven’t progressed from that fair-to-middling pack?

 

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Maxwellgate: Cricket Australia now as much to blame as anyone

Glenn Maxwell may well play in the third and now dead rubber match in Melbourne on Friday, but regardless of his status in the XI, the awkward line of questioning remains. Image: ABC Grandstand

The Roar: I honestly thought this Glenn Maxwell-Matthew Wade thing would’ve blown over by now, but by not picking him in the first two ODIs v New Zealand, Cricket Australia have only helped to fuel the fire.

In what was largely a state issue, CA bought into the saga when they – and not Victoria – decided to hand down the ‘thou shalt not wail on a teammate batting too high’ fine last weekend. As far as I can tell, the only ‘national’ crime that Maxwell committed was that he was wearing a CA shirt and cap when he gave his now infamous press conference responses when asked about his chances of a Test recall.

He was left out of the Australian side for the first ODI of the summer in Sydney on Sunday, though the mail even by the time the first ball was bowled was that Maxwell would play the second match in Canberra on Tuesday.

This was CA’s opportunity to kill the matter dead. Playing Maxwell would’ve turned the heat directly back on the player himself, with a clear message to put up or shut up…

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England loss had its roots set back in June

England beat the Wallabies on Sunday morning (AEDT) not just because they were the better team, but because they could play according to their game plan for longer. Image: ABC Grandstand

The Roar: Ah, the Wallabies. They giveth, and they taketh away. Often in the same match.

So it was again, for the fourth time this year, that a chronic lack of plan B proved their great undoing in the final match of the season. A little over a week ago, a 2016 record of eight wins-seven losses looked very possible, and there’s no doubting Wallabies fans would’ve been thrilled after the way the year started.

The sporadic signs of improvement over the back-half of the year would’ve genuinely pointed in the right direction with an 8 and 7 record, and though the Cook and Bledisloe Cups were long gone, the season would’ve finished in much better health than it started. Heck, even seven wins-either losses probably would’ve have been swallowed in time, for much the same reason.

But 6 and 9 doesn’t quite wash, does it?

 

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