Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Upcoming Tests

The next week or so will see the commencement of three test series’, all of them likely to be equally fascinating, albeit for different reasons. Whilst Australia take on South Africa at home in what can be termed as a top of the table clash, New Zealand entertain the West Indies in a quest to discover whether they can top their fellow Islanders when it comes to mediocrity stakes. India on the other hand will be looking to live up to their recently acclaimed top billings at the expense of a courageous yet am sure terrified England.

Before getting into cricketing details, I must mention that England’s decision to tour India in this time of turmoil is indeed commendable. I am not sure the Aussies, the Kiwis or the South Africans would have even so much as ventured anywhere near Asia, let alone the Indian subcontinent. It’s difficult from where we are to judge the state of affairs from the perspective of touring nations and I don’t think anyone could have faulted England had they refused to tour. Agreed, like Steve Waugh said, this might be the best time to tour the subcontinent considering the heightened security, but the families of the English players having watched the events of the past couple of weeks unfold on their television sets will hardly be brimming with confidence at the prospect of the players touring India. Considering the circumstances, especially the more recent threats to Indian airports, the decision of the England cricket team to go ahead with the tour is extremely admirable. I for one loved the picture of Kevin Pieterson showing the thumbs up sign with a huge smile on his face from the team bus after the squad arrived in Madras.

The terror cloud apart, the tour is still not going to be an easy one for the Three Lions, who having been beaten convincingly in the ODI series find the odds stacked up against them. Their test team though possesses a better balance and a more positive look about it. In spite of being trumped by the Proteas at home, I continue to believe that England possess a solid test team who could well give a decent fight to the Aussies for the Ashes next summer.  But playing in India is a different story all together. Having said that, if the wicket in Madras is anything like it was when the South Africans toured earlier this year, England could well head to Mohali or wherever the second test is held, with the honours still even. India for their part would be hoping that the curators at the M.A. Chidambram Stadium can conjure up a pitch that will have something in it for the bowlers right from day one. If the pitch standards are up to the mark, we might well have a fascinating contest on our hands.

Down under, world number one Australia take on world number two South Africa in what should hopefully be an enthralling series. The victory over the Kiwis by itself wouldn’t have done much to improve the confidence of the Aussies, who are still surely reeling from their loss to India. South Africa who have traditionally never done well in Australia will see this as their best chance of putting up a good challenge and perhaps even getting the better of the Australians. Although the Proteas have done fabulously in spite of Jacques Kallis’ poor form, they will be hoping that their ace all-rounder can restore normal service come December 17. In my opinion Kallis needs to perform with the bat if South Africa are to have any chance of success in the upcoming series. Both the teams possess a fair bit of bowling depth, but the series could well come down to Dale Steyn versus Brett Lee. These two are crucial to the chances of their respective teams and if one of them fails the other’s team could well taste sweet success.   

I am not going to go on in length about the other contest down under in which the disgraced Black Caps take on a beleaguered West Indies. The two of them will be fighting a relegation battle of sorts and it’s very important for the Kiwis who have slipped below the Windies in the ICC test rankings to ensure that they win at home. With a lot of players having retired in the recent past, New Zealand wear a typically insecure look and will be banking on the performance of their captain Daniel Vettori who in many ways looks to be waging a lone battle. Although the Black Caps look good to edge this series, the teams’ mediocrity could well ensure an absorbing contest.

Call me a traditionalist if you please, but I am certainly hoping that watching men attired in white clothing playing cricket in its purest form would add some of the gloss that the game has lost in this day and age of T-20.



Rahul Saha said...

Whose going to attck Madras anyway. The place is a damn liability.

A Couch-side View said...

I am told Maradona was thinking on similar lines about Calcutta prior to his visit of the city and apparently his opinion hasnt changed since.

Rahul Saha said...

What rot. I can point you to a news report stating that Maradona was genuinely concerned about the security in Calcutta and came only after reassurances from the highest level.

Anyway Maradona, Pele, Oliver Kahn have all visited Calcutta. Whose gone to Chennai? You'd be lucky to get Bhaichung to visit.

A Couch-side View said...

Madras is home to the world's greatest chess player and the world number one tennis player has visited Madras consecutively for the last four years. Not to mention the likes of Becker, Rafter, Moya all former world number ones who have graced the city. The Woodies, inarguably the greatest doubles pair have also played in the city. I think this says enough.

Rahul Saha said...

So a tennis city versus a football city. Enuf said.