Cricket

Shane Warne casually writes off NZ’s pace attack

Memo to the Black Caps pace attack: Shane Warne thinks you're rubbish.

It’s a marvel on many levels, but it’s the endlessly bombastic and unfailingly arrogant commentary of the former players behind the Channel 9 mics where Ashes test cricket truly sets itself apart.

Having studied at the feet of the masters – Tails, Heals, and the simpering import Mark Nicholas – Shane Warne has now graduated from a promisingly bellicose cheerleader into a full-blown douche.

A Warney snippet from the third session on day one of the third test in Perth provided the perfect insight as to where the 5th-ranked test team on the planet really ranks in the eyes of the Australia cheer-squad.

Moved by the half decent effort of English opener Mark Stoneman to occupy the crease for 110 balls and scratch out 56 in the face of the most ferocious bowling attack ever to lace them up, Warne felt the time was right to offer some encouragement to a plucky but inferior foe.

In the time it took to bowl a single dot ball, Warne managed to:

—Damn Stoneman with faint praise

—Write off the Englishman’s next five innings 

—Make it quite clear he had no clue who England face next

—But insist they would certainly be worse than Australia

—Underline the point that Australia is the only decent cricketing nation on the planet with the only decent bowling attack

—Belittle New Zealand’s opening bowlers

—Twice 

Here’s Warney’s offering, deconstructed for the benefit of Trent Boult, Tim Southee, and Neil Wagner (Sportsroom’s commentary in italics):

“I think the one thing with Stoneman, I think he looks an organised player, he looks a good player, someone that England should stick with.”

Good stuff. Please stop there.

“The other thing, when you walk away and this series is over, he might not have made a hundred.”

Damnit. In five innings in the series, Stoneman has made scores of 56, 18, 36, 53, 27. He will likely have five more innings but, despite promising signs, these will be failures. Warney can see the future.

“But he’ll go back…this has been tough cricket. It has been good bowling in the Australia series.”

It’s always tough cricket in Australia, because Aussies are tough cricketers. Always.

“The next series will be a lot easier. He’ll find it a lot easier.”

Warney has no idea who England are playing next. Or he would have said so. But he doesn’t need to. He knows it will be easier batting because it’s not Australia bowling.

“When you have a tough tour and face quality bowling in different conditions you always walk away a better player. You might not have got it done.”

You never really had any chance of getting it done, because you had to face Australian bowlers. In Australia. And they are the quality. (Side note: England somehow ended the day on 305/4.)

“But Stoneman is one where you can put a big tick to it and say ‘he’s done well in this series so far’. It’s not easy against a quality attack with a new ball.”

Stoneman is the only one who deserves a tick. Well, a half tick. More of a squiggle than a tick, really. The rest are rubbish. But don’t worry. There is really only one quality attack in the world. That’s Australia. And you’ve just failed against them, so you won’t have to do that any time soon. As I’ve said, the next series will be easier, because you won’t face a quality attack.

Which brings us neatly to Trent Boult, Tim Southee, and Neil Wagner. Because, as Warney was at pains not to point out, England’s next test assignment is against New Zealand. They’ll play a day-night test in Auckland in late March, where Boult and Southee won’t swing the pink ball at all, followed by a test in Christchurch in April where the ball won’t hoop around in near freezing conditions while the batsmen squeeze heat packs in the hope of warding off frostbite to the fingers they can no longer feel.

So it’ll be easier, Mark, don’t worry about that.

For the record, Australia is currently the fifth-ranked test cricket nation in world. New Zealand, somehow, ranks fourth.

Australia’s pace attack of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood and Pat Cummins have taken a combined 315 test wickets at an excellent average of 26.49.

New Zealand’s pace attack of Tent Boult, Tim Southee, and Neil Wagner has taken a combined 552 wickets at an also excellent average of 29.32.

The combined individual rankings of Australia’s pace attack is 57 (Hazelwood 6, Starc 8, Cummins 43).

The combined individual rankings of New Zealand’s pace attack is 36 (Boult 13, Southee 16, Wagner 7).

But don’t worry, Mark. Batting will be a doddle when you get here next year. Because, as Warney knows, this country’s bowlers lack the one quality that would prevent them from being rubbish: they aren’t Australian.

AUSTRALIA PACE ATTACK STATS

Mitchell Starc: Ranking 8. 38 matches 162 wickets @ 27.54

Josh Hazelwood: Ranking 6. 33 matches 125 wickets @ 25.97

Pat Cummins: Ranking 43. 7 matches 28 wickets @ 25.96

TOTAL 78 matches, 315 wickets, @ 26.49

NEW ZEALAND PACE ATTACK STATS

Trent Boult: Ranking 13. 52 matches 200 wickets @ 28.56

Tim Southee: Ranking 16. 58 matches 208 wickets @ 31.54

Neil Wagner: Ranking 7. 34 matches 144 wickets @ 27.87

TOTAL 144 matches 552 wickets @ 29.32 

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