There was cricket galore this weekend (and a pretty important rugby match but we won't go there), only the West Indies and Zimbabwe, who were involved in the worst test match I have seen in donkey's last week, were not in action of the ten Test playing nations.
|Broad...back to his best?|
Let's start with England in New Zealand. This series is turning into a yawnfest to be honest. Cricket in New Zealand is struggling enough as it is, especially the five day format. Sponsors turning their back on the game, dwindling crowds abound, and this series will hardly inspire them to come back in their droves. Brendon McCullum as a skipper is the antithesis of his batting. More conservative than the most staunch Etonian, he chose to make England bat on a wicket that didn't do a lot. The wickets have been slow and the quality of cricket, especially the batting, has been about as rich as Martine McCutcheon's bank balance.
Both teams have failed to grasp the initiative though it has to be said and the blame should not lie fully at the Kiwis door. New Zealand have scored their runs quicker than England in both matches so far.
Compo helped himself to another ton, as did Jonathan Trott, and Matt Prior nearly did. Cook and Monty had a bit of a 'monty' over field placings and it was pleasing to see Stuart Broad return. Not only did his pace return to near what we know, but he also managed to get six wickets. It then pissed down with rain for a day and a half ruining any chance of a result. Cyclone Sandra, like many a lady we know, came on a Saturday morning, blew hard and left the sheets damp!
I can see why New Zealand are doing what they are with regards to the pitches. Firstly, they need to get up the Test rankings. Secondly, having the Barmy Army there for five days in your ground sampling the Steinlager is good for the local economy. Thirdly, going in 0-0 to the last and deciding Test gives them a chance of winning the series. However, please, please produce something a bit different for Auckland on Friday? Saying that the last thirteen games there have produced a result on the drop in pitches they use. Fingers crossed!
Elsewhere, Pakistan are in South Africa and both sides are putting on a show. South Africa posting over 300 in their pink kits (for breast cancer) and Pakistan coming very close with Boom Boom Afridi thwacking the ball to all parts of the ground - utilising the aerial route in a similar way to Rod Hull albeit with a far safer end product! A thriller in Centurion. One thing has not changed; Kamran Akmal is still very very ugly.
South Africa, have brought in the wonderfully named Quentin De Kock in for the next match. Let's hope he squirts less than Phil Hughes' knock against India which was as streaky as your average bacon sarnie.
India won the third test against a depleted Australian side, a side that are so down and out of form and ideas, they even gave Steven Smith a bowl. I have not seen an international cricket bowl so many hip high full tosses since Ian Salisbury. In fact I would even go as far as saying that I've seen women pee standing up with more accuracy!
|Siddle...moving gingerly in the outfield!|
Shikhar Dhawan got the quickest hundred on debut ever in just 85 balls. Even the commentator observed that it looked like he was having a net, what do you expect when you are playing against net bowlers?! That is with the exception of Peter Siddle who bowled like a man possessed. I did like the comment from the Indian commentator who said that he was moving gingerly in the outfield! Two things haven't changed; Steve Smith is not an all-rounder and Steve Steve Smith is still ugly.
The Aussies have Shane Watson returning for the next game. I know it is nearly Easter but even Jesus didn't resurrect his career that quickly!
Sri Lanka are hosting Bangladesh in a series where there are runs a plenty. A lovely way to boost your average. The hosts nicked the series thanks to knocking off the 160 odd they needed with ease.
Onto Auckland, and England awaits...