The Reverse Sweep: Everything Cricket This Week

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In this week’s Ashes filled edition of the Reverse Sweep – the week in cricket, we look back at the record-breaking draw in Brisbane, before looking forward to the 2nd Test at the picturesque Adelaide Oval on Friday. Outside the Ashes, we also focus on Darren Sammy’s promising start as West Indies captain, the immense promise of Virat Kohli and how Bangladesh have been brought back down to earth by Zimbabwe. 

The Reverse Sweep is an irreverent and acerbic round-up of the week that was in cricket. For similar musings on the sport that God would play, please visit our blog also entitled The Reverse Sweep – selected as one of the 50 best cricket web sites in the world by The Times. Alternatively, you can follow us on Twitter @TheReverseSweep

Resilient England ahead on points after Gabba comeback
At the close of the 3rd day in Brisbane, we like most England fans were thinking “here we go, again” with Australia finishing the day in complete command and the England openers in the early stages of chiselling off a 221 first innings deficit. But the ‘Gabbatoir’ became Australia’s slaughterhouse over the next two days as first Strauss and Cook, and then Cook and Trott wrote their way into the record books. How could we ever have doubted you, England?
There has been a lot of talk since that England now have the momentum going into the 2nd Test at Adelaide. We’re not so sure about that as in the end, both teams only took 11 wickets in Brisbane and neither side can be confident about taking 20 wickets on good pitches. However, the Australians were unable to make scoreboard pressure count in England’s 2nd innings and with the notable exception of Peter Siddle, their attack looked impotent, threadbare and in Xavier Doherty’s case simply not good enough. Unlike Anderson and Broad, Hilfenhaus and in particular Johnson, could not claim that they were unlucky in terms of beating the edge on several occasions, falling victim to umpiring errors or suffering from dropped catches.
Whereas we would judge that neither side has the edge in momentum, we would suggest that England ticked more boxes over the course of the five days. The top three all scored hundreds, Pietersen and Bell both looked in fine fettle and Anderson proved that he can be a potent weapon on good pitches when there is little or no swing. For Australia, on the other hand, only Hussey and Haddin – with majestic hundreds, Ponting – with a feisty 2nd innings fifty and Watson of their top seven looked in good form with the bat.
Serious questions marks exist over North, Clarke – whose 9 off 50 balls was painful to watch, Hilfenhaus – who was good in the first over of each innings but innocuous thereafter, Doherty – who looked every inch a bowler with a first-class average of 50 and Johnson – who was horrendous. England’s only real problem centres on Swann, who had a poor match to bring back all the question marks over the effectiveness of off-spinners on Australian wickets.
So, England move on to Adelaide having once again displayed the resilience that has become all too frequent during the tenure of Andy Flower and having managed to not lose a test match in Australia for the first time since January 2003.
A scoreboard to make every England cricket fan smile

As seen on Day Five at the Gabba…
Now: England put Australia to the sword in their second innings at Brisbane
Adelaide – time to bury the memories of 2006
Adelaide 2006. The nadir of England’s disastrous tour of Australia when after starting the day 97 ahead with nine second innings wickets left on a flat track, England went into a strokeless shell and contrived to hand Australia the match and effectively the Ashes they had fought so valiantly to win in 2005.
So what can we expect four years later? Well, despite having experienced its coldest winter for decades and having had rain this week, the beautiful Adelaide Oval is likely to produce what it always does – a flat track made for batsmen to fill their boots and for bowlers to toil remorsely on. And with both teams looking like they will struggle to take 20 wickets on good pitches, the draw would appear to be the most likely result.
Both sides will hope to win the toss and post a big first innings score to see if they can exert some scoreboard pressure on their opponents. It will be fascinating if it is England that bats first and posts a 500+ score as Swann may well prove more effective in this scenario and Australia have developed a frequent propensity for batting collapses in recent times. North has taken Hussey’s stool in the last chance saloon and will be hoping that he exits from the same door as his fellow Western Australian. Johnson too – if he plays, will have to produce a much improved performance if he is to keep his place for his hometown test in Perth.
England are likely to be unchanged – although we would move Bell up to five ahead of Collingwood, whilst Australia may bring in Bollinger and/or Harris for the aforementioned Johnson and/or Hilfenhaus.
Promising start for Sammy
We found the statements Darren Sammy made on being appointed the West Indies captain wonderfully endearing. Sammy talked about putting a smile back on the faces of the long-suffering West Indies supporters, but no-one gave him much chance for his first assignment – a three Test series in Sri Lanka. However, his side had the better of the 1st test – thanks to Chris Gayle’s triple hundred and after a rain-affected 2nd Test, go into the final test level with a Sri Lankan team that usually wins at home. After day one, West Indies are 134/2, so a win or draw seems possible, which would be a surprisingly positive start for Sammy.

Virat Kohli – a new Indian batting prince in waiting?

India must have wonderful strength in its batting ranks if Virat Kohli is unable to get a place in the test squad. The 22 year old has a first-class average of 60 and has made a strong start to his ODI career. he hit his fourth ODI hundred in the first of a five match series with New Zealand in Guwahati at the weekend. Kohli now averages 46.55 in 36 ODI and would seem to have cemented his place in the side for the forthcoming World Cup even with Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag to come back into the XI. It can only be a matter of time before he gets a chance in the Test side and we predict a long and glittering career.

Bangladesh brought back down to earth by Zimbabwe

There was much celebration recently when Bangladesh walloped New Zealand 4-0 at home in a ODI series. So, you would have thought that a home five match series with Zimbabwe would be a formality. Not a chance as the visitors won the first match of the series by nine runs in Mirpur. It seems Bangladesh still have some way to travel before they can say they have arrived at the highest level.

Quote of the week
It is not only the critics who are lauding Alastair Cook to the rooftops at the moment after his mammoth 235 not out at The Gabba as evidenced by Graeme Swann’s worrying admission on Twitter

“I love him more than is healthy right now,”

That’s all for this week folks.

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