One month to go until the T20 World Cup kicks off in Bangladesh. Hang on, there’s two big Test tours cracking on so don’t miss out on this action. Some massive battles are to be waged before the slog-festival begins.
As England lick their wounds, shuffle coaches and controversially scuttle international careers, the giants of world cricket India are currently in the trenches in New Zealand and Australia collide with world number 1 South Africa.
The night before the first Test in Auckland I noticed that a few betting agencies were offering 4-1 odds or $4 for India to beat the Black Caps in the first Test. I fancied taking a massive slice of that. New Zealand are on the up and have some great young players, but I think post-Tendulkar India are also on the up.
Some of their new batsmen look the genuine goods. Cheteshwar Pujara, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli are quality players and India boast some excellent spin stocks and proven pace bowlers. I’m glad I forgot to throw my wallet at the betting agency because New Zealand have galloped straight out of the barricade at Eden Park.
NZ made 503 despite their best batsman Ross Taylor surrendering for 3. A hundred from young number 3 Kane Williamson and an unbeaten double century by Captain Brendan McCullum puts NZ in an almost impenetrable position in the first of this two Test series. India are ranked 2 in the world, if they wish to be number 1 for a sustained period they must win away from home. They are currently 2/5 in response to NZ’s massive first innings total.
Australia in South Africa
Meanwhile on the other side of the southern hemisphere Australia prepare for the first Test against South Africa in Centurion. Make no mistake this 3 Test series will deliver frantic drama and cricket right out of the top drawer. The Proteas remain strong favourites for me, but Australia are bouncing after defeating England 5-0. It will be an awful series to be a batsmen with two extremely fierce bowling attacks chomping to rip into willow wielders. Australian captain Michael Clarke has asserted that Australia has the best bowling attack in the world. I can’t accept this.
Dayle Steyne is the best fast-bowler on the planet and he is backed by worthy co-stars Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel. Philander has a ridiculous record; 20 Tests averaging 18 with the ball. He is a wicket machine. Aggression, pace, hostility is South Africa’s bowling attack. Where’s the weakness?
Jaques Kallis recently retired. The best all-rounder ever to play cricket. His absence will reverberate and South Africa already look a little familiar. Are they on the way down?
Australia’s batting is still not proven in the toughest of circumstances. The 5-0 against England was achieved among many top order collapses and lower order saves.
It should be a hard fought close series. I’m tipping a 1-1 draw. Enjoy the battle!