There are ten cricket-playing nations out of which eight will be in display in upcoming series. Pakistan and Zimbabwe would be the only two teams not are playing any cricket. But all that glitters is no gold. There will be fixtures will be keenly fought. Then there few which wouldn’t be that exciting. One does know from previous experiences where the series of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh would be heading. The same is true for West Indies tour of New Zealand.
English tour of India.
England vs. India is about to begin within a weeks time. The last time they played, they tied Tendulkar down and he was stumped for the first time. There was a huge cry over the tactics used by Nasser Hussein the then English captain. The B.C.C.I. twisted I.C.C.’s arm and made sure there were some menial changes in the game. The series ended in favour of the Indians but England fought back well in the series and posed threats to India many a times during the series. The India went to England, lost the first test. Tendulkar was again under pressure to perform. He did that again. India managed to level the third test played at Headingley. There were runs galore. Dravid after being bruised and battered hit a defiant 148. Ganguly (yes, I do remember) hit a fluent 120 something and tore Ashley Giles. Tendulkar blasted the bowling and hit a 170 odd. Then it was all Kumble show and India won that watch with an innings to spare. The also played well to draw the second and the fourth test. It was then Dravid started churning on hundreds and double hundreds. He hit a double century at the Oval, which was the highest record overseas for an Indian then.
It is now a new series. England won back the Ashes, which seems a long time ago now. They were beaten comprehensively on the Tour of Pakistan. There are statements flying all over the place. India should back there strengths and make a spinner friendly pitch. Then play three spinners. I am queuing up to see Kevin Pietersen and Vaughan. Trescothick is expected to score some runs. Andrew Strauss looks not to be the greatest player who has ever played the spinners. Collingwood should get a look in. The English have a tendency to collapse. There has always been this type of tendency. I mean imagine yourself watch England, they would be cruising and all of a sudden a brilliant bowling spell see England collapsing. This kind of situation is always on the cards. This time would be no different. There are six innings in three matches were England would be fighting to keep likes of Kumble and Harbhajan at bay let see how the series would unfold. The English bowlers are not particularly enjoying the Indian tour. The only things on their hands are tissue paper & antibiotics.
They may just be in to give Indians a few surprises.
Sri Lankan tour of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh won a match against Sri Lanka. It has equalized the series 1-1 and final match is yet to be played. I wonder if I will be surprised if Bangladesh will lose the series. Bangladesh was granted Test status by the I.C.C. It was not the best decision that they took. There is no fuss about it because I.C.C. is not known to take many wise decisions on its part. If Bangladesh keep winning as many times, as Tricolour is hoisted on the Red Fort I don’t see the game going anywhere. I hope there is a system is there in place where we get quality players who perform under the load of performances and things that go with it.The test series result is not a mystery to many. The like of Murali, Vaas and Jayasuriya are good enough to tilt the scale in favour of Sri Lanka. If Bangladesh is to win this series, I see Jayasuriya hanging his gloves.
Bangladesh is perhaps one of the greatest place to play but I am not sure if they are the greatest team to ever have played cricket.
Sri Lanka won the One Day series 2-1
They also lead the Test series 1-0
West Indies tour of New Zealand.
West Indies batsmen other then a certain Brian Lara look like Alice in Wonderland. The last time West Indies toured, they had an opening partnership of 285 to see West Indies collapse to 365 all out. There bowlers not have enough firepower to dislodge the Kiwi batting to win the series. The bowling doesn’t look threatening. I fail to recall West Indian bowlers apart from Mervyn Dillon and Correy Collymore. The Kiwi batting line up has some really good batsmen with like of Vincent, Flemming, Astle and all rounder like Brendon McCullum, Vettori and Styris. The bowling will rally around a Bond, Shane Bond. There could be some form of resistance from Sarwan and Gayle but one may not bet there life on them. They seem to “ready steady go and come back.”
To no ones suprise they have not won anything yet and have seen 4 defeats.
Australia’s tour of South Africa.
This is a return leg of Australia and South Africa. The Aussies won 2-0 against the Proteas in the last series when South Africa toured Australia. Ricky Ponting is in the form of his life. Is he a batsmen who will score or is it the bat? One thing Graeme smith can do is to borrow graphite-lined bat of Ricky Ponting may be Smith will start scoring again. The lack of variety in bowling as well as batting and a traditional vulnerability to the spinning ball poses the Proteas a major threat of a whitewash at home. If McGrath tours with the Aussies, then the series could be one side affair. The Aussies struggle to take wickets in absence of Warne and McGrath. There winning ratio is not the best in absence of McGrath or Warne.
There is no quality spinner in South Africa to test the Aussies. The seam bowling is good but in patches. Shaun Pollock should not be assumed to win this series alone. There is marked difference in the team led by Hansie Cronje. He led them brilliantly only to be caught up with match fixing scandal. The poor man had to pay for it with his life. The team has also new faces but are they good enough to stamp authority over Australia.
They will struggle in absence of McGarth.
* Edit on 2 March 2006