Some Thoughts on Australia, the Kiwis and England

1 04 2010

Australia’s quest to keep the pressure on as they build towards the Ashes in December has resulted in a convincing 2-0 win over New Zealand. Next they play Pakistan in a ‘home series’ for the sub continental team, and if as expected they complete a clean sweep here, preparation for England could not have gone much better.

In the just completed series against their rivals across the Tasman, New Zealand’s lack of top quality players was unfortunately shown up. As we wrote previously, the Kiwis will never be accused of not trying, or buckling too easily. Yet unfortunately, with one or two exceptions, they lack the depth of talent Australia have. In what was Vettori’s 100th game for the Black Caps, they had Australia under pressure for a day and a half (having been trounced in the first game), but with support for Taylor’s remarkable 138 sadly lacking we always felt that the game would drift away from them.

For us here at the CH, the highlight of the series was indeed this innings by Taylor. With his hundred coming off only 81 balls it was a brilliant display of calculated hitting. It is true that it was not without luck and certainly not chance less, yet in the context of the game it was brave and inspiring. Comparing this innings to David Warner’s 107 for Delhi Daredevils which, despite being made off substantially less balls, illustrated why test cricket will always be the superior form of the game. A boundary, let alone a 6, is worth infinitely more in a test than in a 20/20 game as it requires a great deal more bravery and provides a significantly higher shock value.

Having written an article about the dearth of bowling talent in the world yesterday, we are reluctantly forced to admit that Australia’s arsenal is looking decidedly threatening, and is possibly an exception to the general rule of toothless attacks discussed in said article. The 95 mile an hour liquorice allsorts that Johnson delivers, have propelled him to the record of the quickest to 150 test wickets ever. Bollinger is also looking useful and with Hauritz improving to the extent we are prepared to call him a threat, the Aussies look in great shape. (Perhaps this is our English cricketing pessimism coming through, years of hurt and all that, but they are looking threatening all the same….)

The Kiwis will keep battling on and praying for another Shane Bond to come through sooner rather than later. As Ponting admitted afterwards, a Kiwi attack with Bond is a decidedly different prospect to one being led by that bowling non-entity Chris Martin. Ponting didn’t put it in those words exactly, but you understood what he meant exactly! Their batting has some promise with McCullum scoring runs more regularly and Guptill showing promise to compliment Taylor in the middle order. A couple of openers and that’s a useful line up!

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The England World Cup 20/20 squad has been announced and as usual with this form of the game there are a handful of, if not outright surprises, selections worthy of a second glance.

Hampshire’s Michael Lumb has come into the squad after performing well in February for England A in the UAE, Craig Kieswetter is included following his hundred in the final one day match in Bangladesh, and James Tredwell’s solidity and reliability wins him a call up. Ravi Bopara is given another chance, perhaps due to some decent showings for Kings XI Punjab, which could be the first occasion performances in the IPL have been taken into account.

The big name missing of course is Jonathan Trott and the Compulsive Hooker can admit to having a little cheer when we heard this news. And not entirely because he is South African. Unfortunately Trott is one of these characters that are intensely irritating to watch. Whether it is his prolonged and totally unnecessary pre ball ritual, or his habit of grinding out tear inducing 50’s against mediocre attacks, or indeed the total opposite when grinding is what is needed (see his bizarre innings in the 3rd South African tests), it all comes together to irritate us. His innings in the final 20/20 against Pakistan in Dubai when opening the batting, was an exhibition of how not to bat in this format so it is a logical decision. Indeed in all formats he is looking flaky which is particularly surprising when you consider how well he batted on his debut.

Trott is likely to be replaced at the top of the order by two other players of South African origin, Lumb and Kieswetter, which could be a highly exciting all action partnership. We caught Lumb batting in the IPL for Rajasthan Royals and were highly impressed by what we saw. He has the ability to pick the ball up and hit cleanly over the top anywhere between cover and mid wicket.

All in all this squad has some serious potential and with 20/20 being quite a lottery in many ways, don’t quote us but….. we actually have a sneaking suspicion that England have a serious chance.

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