Island Cricket

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Testing times, Murali, yobbo fringe

Interview by Dave Hall

November 07, 2007

IN a exclusive, former Test stars and respected cricket pundits Bob Simpson and Tony Greig share their thoughts on the Australia-Sri Lanka Test series.


BS: The selectors have taken the safe way. They’re going to be influenced by whoever’s bowling the best. Unfortunately, Stuart Clark hasn’t been bowling as well as he can, but he has had very little cricket.

TG: I was a bit surprised. I just had a chat with Neil Harvey, who used to be chairman of selectors here, and he said, ‘You really should be picking 12’. To take two spinners up, knowing you’re going to play one, it seems to me creates a little bit of a problem. You should bite the bullet and pick the team, and go for it. Stuart MacGIll deserves a go. I have some sympathy for Hogg, because he’s bowling really well at the moment. But MacGill has done such a good job waiting around he deserves a go.


BS: Mitchell Johnson’s bowled well, home ground, have to consider that an advantage. Brett Lee’s been a bit wayward, and it doesn’t matter if you’re wayward or on a good or bad wicket, you’ll still be in trouble, so there’s still a little gamble. On the other side, the Sri Lankans may think that’s not a bad idea for them. They’ve got some good solid bowlers; Vaas could be the top performer. He’s got a fantastic record, when you look at the wickets he’s got and the dead pitches he’s got them on.

TG: It’ll be a lively pitch and we may even see the Sri Lankans struggling with the short ball, but they’ve got to be a little careful because the Sri Lankans themselves have got some good fast bowlers.


BS: I wouldn’t underrate them. They’ve got a pretty good new-ball attack, which seems funny to say about the Sri Lankans. If they swing the ball around, which they can do, then they’ll worry the top-order batsmen. If you look at our batting in the last few years, we’ve had problems with the swinging ball. We did in England, we did here against India when Ajit Agarkar did so well. Obviously you’d expect Australia to win but with Murali there, it’s going to be a tough task.

TG: I'd expect a bit more than normal, because they a balanced attack. They’ll miss Kumar Sangakkara big time, because he’s a really good player and he gives them a lot of confidence but their attack could test a few of the Aussie batsman – but I still think the Australians will win.


BS: When you look back on it, his action didn’t comply with the laws of the game in the early days, now it does. Whether that’s good or not we’ll have to wait and see. One of the problems of that is we might see too many people emulating these people. I don’t know how umpires can adjudicate on the difference between a 14-degree bend or a five-degree bend. It’s very, very difficult.

TG: Murali has played in fewer Test matches than Shane Warne and he’s got more wickets than him - or will have. And that’s all you can go by. I don’t concur with the view that Murali doesn’t deserve it (the record). Murali will go on and take a thousand wickets in Test cricket, which is absolutely incredible. Regardless of what anyone thinks of his action, they ICC has allowed him to play, he’s done what he’s had to do, and he’s a great bowler, great example to youngsters, a wonderful cricketer.


BS: I honestly think Murali will get a reasonable time out here. He’s a great fellow, I was fortunate enough to have him at Lancashire for one season. He’s a wonderful young man and he’s totally devoted to the game of cricket. He loves the game, he loves playing, he loves mixing, and that will rub off on the fans. They’ve had a go at him a couple of times, but I don’t think, unless they’ve had too much too drink, they’ll do too much.

TG: I think the Australians will behave badly, as they have done in the past. Some of the worst behaviour I’ve ever seen if the collective no-balling of Muralitharan. I don’t think that’s on. But it comes mainly from a drunken element and if that happens again, hopefully they’ll realize before too long that it’s not appropriate.

- Simpson and Greig were talking at the annual Lord’s Taverners lunch in Sydney


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