Boxing Day Test at MCG, the ultimate high for an Oz cricketer: Dean Jones

Friday, December 24, 2010

SYDNEY - Former Australian cricketer Dean Jones has said that for an Australian Test batsman to walk onto the MCG on Boxing Day is the ultimate high.

However, he adds: “If you’re not too careful, it could turn out to be the most frightening and worst experience of all.”

In article for the Sydney Morning Herald, Jones says: “There are rules batsmen must follow for each Boxing Day Test. If you’re batting first, the main thing is to collect your thoughts before you face your first delivery. If you don’t, the walk back to the rooms with a duck over your head is the most embarrassing moment in your life.”

Once you’ve arrived at the crease you must start to breathe. It’s amazing that with everyone cheering you that you can forget to breathe. Go through you routines as you would for any other Test. The pitch will feel somewhat tacky with your spikes, and marking your guard is very easy. That tells you straight away that you have a big job here and batting will not be easy.

You must watch your driving in the first session. Every ball that is pitched up in the first session has to be treated carefully. It might look like a Christmas present, but treat it as if it has a bomb in it. No matter how good it looks, do not drive it. These deliveries tend to stop, and easy catches can be offered to loose driving.

If the ball is short then give it the kitchen sink. Please understand that you will not start driving until after lunch. If a spinner is bowling before lunch, be very aware that it will turn sharply and it will bounce.

If your team is 0-35 at lunch then you are winning. Wickets are the priority, not runs. Don’t panic because you will make hay after lunch when the pitch settles down. You must back your defence, and let the bowlers bowl to you. Batting gets easier on this pitch as the game goes on, and that is proven by the fact the Bushrangers love winning the toss and sending the opposition into bat. They believe they can chase down any score in their second innings.

The biggest thing that blows you away at the MCG is the noise this great stadium creates. So running between the wickets with helmets on is a major problem.

Bowling first on day one can reap rewards if the fieldsmen are in the right spots. First, you must take wickets with the new ball because batting gets easier after every over. Pitch the ball up, and make the batsmen drive. Concentrate on your grip pressure and relax. Make sure the slips are a half a step closer to the batsmen than usual because the ball seems to not carry as much in the first session. Having short covers or short mid-wicket fieldsmen has brought many catches over the years here, and they can be more useful than an extra slip at times. Be aware of your captain at all times in the field. Watch him closely for signals because he can’t yell out with the crowd so loud. From my experience, skippers tend to get grumpy if they are waiting for you to look at them.

It is a privilege and an honour to play in this great stadium. But there are heaps of distractions, and you can easily be swallowed up in its presence. Still, take time for a quick glance at the Great Southern Stand. (ANI)

Filed under: Boxing

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