Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The men are back

As the soap opera called the IPL meanders towards a conclusion not too many people care for, a couple of interesting test series seem to be unfolding. Well, interesting because there is at least some test cricket happening. And interesting because of the way the tests seem to be panning out. Two contrasting match-ups, one evenly matched no-contest and the other turning out to be a surprisingly matched slug fest.

I suppose it takes an IPL to make an England-New Zealand series seem exciting. A journey man team against a workmanlike team (take your pick on which team is which). A contest (such as it is) between two teams more likely to hope against defeat than bet on winning. And if the weather came to the rescue of both the teams at Lord’s, there was no such respite at Old Trafford, as the match ended in England’s favour on the last day. But thanks to the general ineptness of both teams as collective entities, it turned out to be a fairly even battle. The match card suggests England won, so it must be so. Does that mean they have turned the corner? Are they ready for the next season’s Ashes? Well, Andrew McGlashan hits the nail in the head when he suggests that England mustn’t hide behind victory.

A similar sentiment is not unlikely to prevail in Australia. They embarked on the Caribbean tour thinking all they need to do was to land up at the appointed time to wrap up the series in a clean sweep. Well, how else would you explain the selection of Simon Katich and Stuart McGill? Any way, an overnight Aussie card of 18 for 4 was as chilling as it was delicious to savour. Unfortunately, Andrew Symonds bludgeoned his way to a bit, and with a fairly healthy first innings lead to build on, the Aussies have almost (as I write this) got to the finish line first. Are the cracks beginning to show? Is the opening pair (even after Mathew Hayden’s return) suspect? Notwithstanding the presence of such he-men as Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey and Symonds, is their middle order just a touch soft? Do opposition teams just need to see off Brett Lee and Stuart Clark and feast on the rest of the Aussie bowling? Or is this just a glitch in the Aussie juggernaut? Will they wipe England out again next year?

Ah, test cricket. Where were you all these days?


Hitesh said...

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Alan (Think Googly) said...

I think there will be more variation in Australia's performances, given the enormous changes in personnel (Martyn, Langer, Gilchrist, Warne and McGrath) and success will be harder to achieve .... but there is no way the wheels will fall off as they seem to find a way to win more often than not.

I have a feeling that the desire to right the 'wrongs' of 2005 asap, which saw a 5-0 thrashing in Australia, will continue to burn until they have repeated the dose in England.

Geetha Krishnan said...

Thanks for the tip, Hitesh. I guess I'll pass it for now - I write not so much for an audience as to just to get rid of those thoughts from my head.

Alan - much as I don't like to admit, I fear you're right. The Aussie cricket machine seems just too well-oiled and individual-independent. Though it's hard to see them do a 5-0 in England, weather and all.

Straight Point said...

Ah, test cricket. Where were you all these days?

but, GK, where it gone exactly to stage 'come back'...??

Geetha Krishnan said...

Straight Point: there have been so much by way of these IPL games that it seemed as if there had been no test cricket for a long long time. Hence that sigh.

RamG R said...

Couple of points on why the two Tests were interesting:
WI vs Aus - The Test was played at Sabina Park - a ground where you'll bet that the Windies will come to the party because of the bouncy nature of the wicket and they played 3 genuine quicks. It was a matter of bowling well in tandem which they did.

Eng vs NZ - They are both equally matched (lack of flair) - on paper the English team was stronger, but lack of consistency of the English top six evened things up! And it was left to the greatest left-arm spinner (if you let the English media to drill it in you) to set things right.

By the way, it may sound premature, but the Aussies are no longer invincible without the services of McGrath and Warne (I am leaving out Hayden, Gilchrist, and Langer)! It showed when we toured Australia for the Test series. I hate saying this, but I have a feeling that England have a (realistic) chance of regaining the Ashes in 2009. The Aussie batting relies too much on Ponting and Hayden to get the big scores AND they struggle in swinging and seaming conditions. I dare say that the Ashes result will be determined by one factor (all things even) - if Michael Clarke steps up his game, the Aussies are winning, otherwise they are struggling!

Rob said...

England beat New Zealand despite themselves. They were buried at half way and only a touch of class from Panasar saved an embarrassing defeat.