Welcome to the third (and slightly delayed) installment of World Cricket Weekly. Much to discuss in the world of cricket this week, so let’s get going…
England v Sri Lanka
England 486 & 7dec335 drew with SL 479 & 3/127
After an extraordinary capitulation in the final innings of the first test, Sri Lanka simply had to show some fight in the second test at Lords. Now, whilst they didn’t show as much as Matt Prior who not only made a tremendous century, but also threw his bat through a window, which hit a supporter, Sri Lanka did hold on for a fairly impressive draw. Certainly Sri Lanka’s standout performance came from Dilshan, who fell agonisingly short of his 200, and now looks in doubt for the next test.
England on the other hand had good performances from Steve Finn, Cook and Prior, but they would be most pleased with Kevin Pietersen, who managed a pretty scratchy, but impressively stubborn, 72 in the second innings. Long gone are the days that KP smashed runs for fun, but his record is still amazing, and England would dearly love him to turn this innings into a run of good form.
The final point I’d like to make about this match is the inept state of Sri Lanka’s bowling stocks. I guess in retrospect, Sri Lanka have never had a ‘bunch’ of quality bowlers, but have instead relied on the unbelievable abilities of Murali, Chaminda Vaas and Lasith Malinga. With these three gone, the lack of penetration is all too clear to see. Of particular concern is the form of Dilhara Fernando, who I thought was a bowler just waiting to show his merit by leading the attack, but was basically toothless right through the test.
West Indies v India
Whilst the Pakistan tour of the Windies provided us with two fairly matched teams, this series just seems to be way too favoured to the touring Indians. Perhaps the best indicator of this is that batting at 5, 6 & 7 for India are Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Yusuf Pathan. Compare this to Marlon Samuels, DJ Bravo and Carlton Baugh, and you start to get the idea. So, whilst the young Indian top order faltered in the first ODI, they were saved by that strong middle order and won with 5 overs to spare.
In the second match, the Windies got off to a great start, with strong half-centuries from Lendl Simmons and Ronnie Sarwan, but (as usual) lost 7 for about 50 and only managed 240. In reply, India calmly knocked off a revised total, with good runs from Virat Kohli.
What is most interesting to note about this series, is the inexperience of both line-ups. So, it will be fascinating to see how the ‘next generation’ of both West Indian and Indian players are looking. We all expect India to come out on top, but hopefully the Windies can show some fight on home soil.
Finally this week I’d just like to make mention of a hot topic from Australian cricket. The announcement of the central Cricket Australia contracts is usually a time to see what fringe players have dropped out and which youngsters CA obviously have their eye on. But, the announcement was met with widespread astonishment this week when stoic opening batsman Simon Katich was dumped from the list. Whilst Katich is 35 years old, the feeling in Australia is that he provided a fairly flashy batting line-up much needed stability. This is even more the case since he was joined by Shane Watson, who seems to rely heavily on Katich to play the defensive anchor role, so he can attack. I presume Phil Hughes will replace Katich, which will leave Australia with two overtly attacking openers.
Furthermore, Katich and Watson have enjoyed a great time of late, averaging over 40 as a pair, and Hughes’ contribution in the Ashes was completely uninspiring. Katich as 10 centuries for his country, and averages over 45, as well as chiming in with useful left-arm spin and is a fine short-leg fieldsman.
The decision adds to a worrying trend of seemingly bizarre decisions by Cricket Australia of late, and seems to reinforce that feeling that Australia is on the downward slope. This used to be the kind of call made by other teams (perhaps like England), but now it is Australia’s turn to make blunder after blunder.
Anyway, all that aside, congratulations on a great Australian career Simon, your grit and determination will be missed.
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