An Observer is someone who looks at the game of cricket without favour. Thanks to everyone who has emailed through their comments about this segment, some of your views will be expressed in this month’s edition.
I thought we’d start off this month by looking at England and India. Number two and three respectively in the world test rankings provided an interesting few days of test cricket. England, no where near full strength managed to salvage more than a little pride from a tough tour of the sub continent, sparking suggestions from most of our English Fans that their county circuit contains depth and talent. Fair deal, so well done to England and India on a great series. Of course, we’re now amidst the ODI series, which is proving to be a little more of a one sided contest. India are always a tough proposition on home turf, and England by own admission are not the strongest One Day Team. It is worrying though from an English selection point of view, how much their test line up differs from their One Day Line Up. Surely, your best team is your best team. India’s line ups are almost identical, England (when not plagued by injury) are completely contradictory…
The Greatest ODI of all time? Probally. One of our South African Readers emailed through the day after the match to describe the atmosphere at the Wanderers on March 12th. At 14:OO when Ricky Ponting and his men had surged to 434, the host on the Loud Speaker urged the crowd to enjoy their lunch and be back in their seats by 14:30 to see South Africa attempt their run chase of 435. The entire stadium broke out into fits of laughter. Bookmakers were offering a price of 26:1 for a South African victory, and a price of 1,06:1 for an imminent Australian victory. This means, a wager of ten thousand dollars would have won you six hundred dollars, a wager at least three Australians lost on.
Ponting’s innings was in a word sublime, Gibbs’ was just plain unbelievable. Smith’s innings however should not be underestimated, 90 off 55 balls would have set him up for one of the world’s fastest hundereds. India delayed their news broadcast to catch the end of the match. Rumor has it that Ponting hit such a massive six over mid wicket, he smashed a window in the flats next to the stadium. So the question is, will we ever see anything like this again? Possibly, the introduction of the 20/20 matches gives it a good chance, although 8 runs an over to be consistently scored by both teams for fifty overs is a tough ask. Remember, Gibbs was dropped on 130 by Bracken. An interesting note though, the entire 300 balls yielded only 3 unconvincing LBW shouts, an indication that the pitch was as flat as a national freeway. My prediction: South Africa will hold that record for a while to come still…
Australia are once again proving why they are ranked number one in the world. Forget about Langer, Hayden, Marytn and Symonds, I maintain that if Pointing, Hussey, Warne and Lee were selected to play any team in the world, they’d come up tops. What is it with Hussey? South Africa cannot get him out! It’s almost a pity he’s now over 30, if he made his debut at 23, what records will he hold!? It appears he just doesn’t have and weak areas, and an impeccable leaver of the ball.
Then we have Ponting- the right handed Brian Lara. For those of you who have seen Lara and Ponting play live, you would notice exactly how far across they get from off stump. Bowlers really have to get the ball to nip back significantly off the seam for a plausible LBW shout, or to move away significantly for an edge.
I truly believe that Ponting is a better batsman than Tendulkar, Lara, Kallis, Flemming, Strauss, Sangakara and Ul Haq. With a few good years left in him, Ponting could go on to break some pretty significant records, and I wouldn’t be all that surprised!
And, to wrap up this month’s issue, and interesting point from one of our Australian readers, noted that the Post Match Presentations are becoming redundant with respect to the likes of West Indies, Bangladesh and South Africa. These three teams have been on the losing end of many a recent test match, and after every one, the captain always says, “we came close and take a lot of positives from this match and hopefully move forward to the next match”. If South Africa took something from each of their previous 5 losses against Australia, surely they’d be winning by now? Come on Smith, use some imagination.
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Next Month: Aus v Ban
SA v NZ
Eng v Ind
Pak v Sri