Monday, 4 May 2015

Filthy Deliveries – The ZEITlies Cricket Blog


1.       West Indies have a bowling attack again
Ok sure, it might not be Holding, Roberts, Marshall and Garner, but the current West Indies bowling line-up looks to have more promise than in recent times. The veteran Jerome Taylor has always been capable of match winning performances; and backed up by the burly speedster Shannon Gabriel, and the lanky fast-medium pacer Jason Holder, the trio form an impressive seam battery. The Windies do lack an obvious first choice spinner, but Benn, Permaul and even Narine (?) offer interesting options.

Gabriel watches an England batsman leave the crease for the last time.
2.       New Zealand might have their best test side ever
The World Cup showcased New Zealand’s limited overs talents to the wider world, but they have been making quiet progress over the last twelve months. The impressive home series win in 2014 against a beleaguered India side showed exactly what the Kiwis could do, with Captain McCullum hitting a typically belligerent treble-hundred. They head to England next week for the start of a two test series and they will be feeling confident. They comprehensively humiliated England in the World Cup and with the English stuttering to a drawn series with the West Indies in their last outing, the Kiwis will be looking to take advantage. A good run out would seem them rise to their highest test ranking ever.

3.       Loads of Ashes series have made the Aussies the best side in the World
Once upon a time there used to be a marquee test series fought between two cricketing behemoths. Every few years one would come around and there would be so much anticipation, by the time the first ball was bowled, the cricketing world was literally shredded with excitement. Now however, Ashes series happen once every two months, so no one really cares when Australia beat England again. In being presented with yet another opportunity to do so, the Aussies may score the points needed to topple South Africa as number one test side in the World. Whoop di doo.

Steve Smith offers his thanks to the ECB.
4.       Seriously, Ashes again though…..?
By the time this summer’s Ashes series is concluded, Australia and England will have played each other in 15 tests in two years. This is more than three times more frequently than they have ever played each other in tests since the late 70s. The England-Australia has become, wait for it, a more frequent date in the international test calendar than India-Sri Lanka! In fact, no other test teams have met each other more frequently than the English and the Aussies over the last two years.

England learn that they have a test series against someone other than Australia,
5.       India could be on the rise
After an absolutely miserable twelve months under MS Dhoni, India’s test team, under new captain Virat Kohli could be in for a slightly more pleasurable ride. Back to back home series against Sri Lanka and South Africa could see them secure their first test win in nine outings climb their way out of seventh spot in the test rankings. Also a strong performance in the world cup, on the back of some promising signs in the test series against Australia has given the young side a measure of deserved confidence.

Hoping for a bit less of this in 2015.
6.       Should someone do something about the Kookaburra ball….?
In the first test of the series between Bangladesh and Pakistan recently, the hosts responded to a Pakistan first innings lead of just-under three hundred by posting a second innings total of 555 for 6. The match was drawn and the innings scores read: 332, 628 and 555. In the final innings on the fifth day, Bangladesh managed to pass 300 without losing their first wicket, all against quality bowling like Junaid Khan, Wahab Riaz and Mohammed Hafeez. This match used the Kookaburra ball, as games between these sides tend to. Conversely, in the final test of the West Indies- England series, 18 wickets fell on the second day. Now sure, the pitches were different and the teams were different, but the ball was different too. The Dukes ball used by England and the West Indies gives the bowlers much more to work with, as the recent low-scoring test showed. In an age where batsmen have so much advantage, would it be the worst thing in the world to make all teams use a ball that gave bowlers just a tinie tiny bit….?

The seam bowler's dream...
7.       Four day tests?
In some respects, the recent proposal of a four day test as made by the ECB seemed little more than the latest display of their obsession with fours, having also proposed a 40 over world cup. But, the more you consider the proposition the more appealing it appears to be. It will reduce the pressure on groundsmen prepare pitches that will hold together for five days, hopefully reducing the need to make lifeless batting roads for the first few days. It will also make it easier for the crucial sessions of a test match to be decided in front of large crowds, rather than Monday finishes played out in front of a few ground staff and job seeker’s allowance claimants. Not something we’ll see this year, but in future, who knows…

8.       Bangladesh need to win a test match
The recent draw against Pakistan showed that the Bangladeshi batting had a great deal more resilience than line-ups in the past, but many still expect much more of a nation that has now had fifteen years of test cricket under its belt, particularly with associate nations like Ireland, Scotland and Afghanistan clambering for test acceptance. Though they have registered a series win recently against Zimbabwe, fans are desperate for a ‘big’ win. Bangladesh has one further test against Pakistan, before two back to back home series against India and South Africa. Though the opposition will be 
tough, this year presents their best opportunity to register a big head-turning win in years.

9.       Impact players from the IPL go on to become test captain…
It was meant to be nothing more than a gawdy hit and giggle in front of deliriously misinformed people, which would never last more than a season. Eight years on and it’s turned into a serious competition, fought for tooth and nail by the world’s best. Unsurprisingly, it has become a global stage for showcasing new talent from across the world. Not just T20 talent, but actual cricketing talent. The proof is in the number of IPL impact players who have gone on to become test heavyweights; players who when they began their IPL careers were considered little more than bashers. Eight years on, people’s opinions of players like AB de Villiers, Angelo Matthews, Virat Kohli and Brendon McCullum are very different to what they were when these big hitters were snapped up by IPL franchises.

Not looking to defend the ball to mid-off.

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