Australia runs over South Africa

Just a little post to mention how well the Australians came back strongly to win the test series in South Africa sweetly avenging their home series loss a couple of months ago.

The big difference between the two sides has been Mitchel Johnson who ran in with all his energey ball after ball and over after over to stun the South Africans with some exceptional fast bowling. Ponting’s captaincy was superb as well after he was hit out at by the Australian media and ex-cricketers recently. They also found a good bowling combination with spinners and part timers doing a good job.

If Brett Lee comes back to this side, Australians will be able to reign their number one position for some more time though South Africa will keep challenging them once they figure out what was missing this time!

PS:- The South African cricket seems to be a in a little bit political mess recently with coach Mickey Arthur and captain Graeme Smith having differences with Mike Procter, the new Convener of Selectors

The REAL Test Cricket only in Australia, South Africa and England?

If you check the difference between the ongoing Australia-South Africa test match and the Pakistan-Sri Lanka one (or West Indies-England) you will understand one thing. One is real test cricket where as the other two are comedy cricket choreographed for the respective flat-pitch heroes in those countries.

Quality of pitches

It is really pathetic that countries like Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and now West Indies as well are making one sided pitches that suit only the batsmen. Of course, majority of the fans do like big scores but that doesn’t mean that a 5 day match can accomodate only two innings of 600+ runs per innings. The first two tests in West Indies during the past two weeks were pathetic. Even worse was the Karachi encounter of the Sri Lankans last week where Younis Khan became a greater hero. The batting records of the current leading test batsmen are actually farce compared to the greats like Sunil Gavaskar, Greg Chappel or Garry Sobbers. At the moment mostly people get to play in flatter tracks and hence a realistic comparison based on batting average or records is not really worth that effort.

South Africa – Australia Series

The first test match between the touring kangaroos and proteas is looking really awesome where fortunes changed every day. The commitment of these two countries towards test matches is amazing and the battle between them makes me skip every other stupid match around. Only in England I can see the same level of interest which basically means that only Australia, England and South Africa are really serious about test cricket where as other countries are busy selling Twenty 20 cricket or creating a generation of flat pitch bullies.

I wish they spent 10% of the money saved from IPL etc to create 4 or 5 test quality sporting pitches!

South Africa – All set to become Number One

I just finished watching the third ODI between South Africa and Australia. These South Africans are really up to something and it was a display of pure prowess and power during this series! I can see the way they are turning out to be such a big fighting side having a good blend of experience and youth!

Despite Smith‘s absence Botha is doing an excellent job of leading the side and he’s setting examples every now and then with good catches, fielding, bowling and patient batting when he has to hold the side together. Albie Morkel, is turning out to be a major ODI all-rounder. If Gibbs is there to exploit the opening power-plays, Albie seems to be mastering how to power away to winning positions by leaving the opposition clueless during the batting team’s power play option.

If things continue the way it’s happening now for South Africa, they are sure to be at Number #1 at all forms of the game soon!

As for Australia, they need to really prove that their confidence is not fully lost!

A Historic Series Win for South Africa in Australia

It was just amazing to see the way the South African bowlers ran through the deep down under Australia to win the boxing day match at Melbourne and hence the series. With just one test remaining in Sydney next week, I would not be surprised if the South Africans go for the kill and win the series 3-0. This would also mean that South Africa can be the #1 team on the ICC rank table soon.

Everything is right about S.Africa

The only missing factor in this South African test side was Shaun Pollock who was magnificently replaced by Dale Steyn. The aggressive Smith lead from the front even in fourth innings’ and youngsters Duminy and De Villiers came in too good both with bat and exceptional fielding. And the rejuvenated team even inspired Jack Kallis as he was an unnaturally aggressive player through out this series. So bowling, batting (despite missing Prince) and fielding was exceptional and the team spirit (just like the current Indian test side) without too many old faces out there outplayed the oldies like Hayden, Symonds and an injured Lee.

What is going wrong with Australia?

Right from the top order, with Hayden failing, Australia is having troubles. Michael Clark played a couple of good knocks but the ever-reliable Mike Hussey was not in good form and that was the main difference. To make things worse, Australia recalled Symonds who looked overweight and out of touch. Looks like the Australians have not fixed their main problem for the Sydney test team selection as well except for sitting out Lee and Symonds. They really need to get rid of Hayden who is no teenager anymore!

Difference between India’s & South Africa’s outings down under

India could not win the series down under earlier this year. The main difference was captaincy. Anil Kumble may have been a match winner for years for India but he was not aggressive enough in Australia this year. This is the era of aggressive test captains (Ponting, Smith, Pietersen, Dhoni etc) and hence, if not for Kumble as the captain, I thought India could have won the series despite the controversies

Going forward, I strongly believe that Australia’s dominance is over and the top four test teams Australia, South Africa, India and England may now compete each other for the top spot.

Once again Kudos to Proteas!

Yet Another Fantastic Win: Is Australian Cricket Nose-Diving?

We got to see yet another fantastic test match chase a couple of days ago when the Proteas beat Australia in their den – that too at the much heralded and ‘fiery’ WACA (Perth) pitch. In fact, before getting into the details of the match let me tell you that this is not the Perth pitch that I have enjoyed watching (on TV) as a child. There’s fiery bounce here anymore and pace factor is only as much as that of any batting pitch in England. But that does not take the credit away from the South Africans who chased 414 successfully to enjoy their Christmas this year.

Exceptional start by the Proteas

South Africa gave the indications of beating Australia in the first 15 minutes of the match itself when they took 3 quick Australian wickets for a mere 15 runs. Hayden & Ponting’s bad form continued though the middle and lower middle order along with Katich managed to push Australia to an excellent 375 runs under 100 overs, despite Ntini’s heroics. This seemed like a great score for Perth. In between, S.Africa has their excellence in the field with Duminy and De Villiers taking exceptional catches and saving runs in stunning acrobatic fielding.

Mitchel Johnson rips through

In the absence of somebody like Ashwell Prince, the South African batting order looked pale and it proved to be so as they were all out for 281 runs giving almost 100 runs lead to Australia in the first innings. Mitchel Johnson was exceptional with the cherry when he ripped through the South African batting lineup and took 8 wickets. Bret Lee looked to me like a mediocre medium pacer trying to prove himself in the international cricket. With this kind of a lead, on Day three-first session, anybody would have picked Australia as a clear winner in Perth but cricket is all about uncertaininty right?

In the second innings, South Africa had some success in the first thirty overs when they took four Australian wickets. Hayden and Ponting again were ineffective so was the middle order but Brad Haddin‘s gem of an innings take them to 319 setting an (almost unachievable) target of 414 in exactly five sessions.

Smith, Kallis, De Villiers, Duminy…

Graeme Smith and Kevin Pietersen have quite a few things in common – Both are South Africans, they bowl part time spin, both are aggressive captains even when they play test matches and they are from the same age group. Smith started the fourth innings with a lot of aggression and scored a fine century and the rest of the team just carried that aggression but in a controlled way. However, I thought it was Jaques Kallis‘s gem on Day four end that underlined what S.Africa was eyeing to do on the fifth day. His vigorous pulls off Siddle in an over resulted in a Six and a Four that left South Africa at 227/3 on Day 4. This meant that only less than 190 runs to win on the fifth day with 7 wickets remaining!

The grand final day

On any other day against the erstwhile Australian team, the South Africans would have lost this match. But the debutant Duminy supported an in form De Villiers – amongst aggression and sledging from Lee and co – to take the Proteas to a famous Perth win and a 55 thousand strong WACA crowd was still figuring out whatever happened – so was Ponting and co.

Is it Perth?

Though I do not want to take any credit away from the Proteas, the pitch looks pretty placid for Western Australian standards. One may recall that India convincingly beat Australia on Perth less than a year back and hence this pitch is no more the Australian strong hold.

Mr. Punter slammed the pitch for their defeat but I would like to ask him why then his batsmen failed in the beginning itself. Even if the pitch was bad, the S.African batting was not that strong (with Prince missing) compared to the Australian side and why could not they take 6 wickets on Day 5?

The reason is very simple. Just like Harbhajan Singh is a big zero without Anil Kumble, since Shane Warne and McGrawth there’s nobody on the Australian side who could lead the attack. Their bowling team is just trying things on their own individualistic ways and not as a team. On some day’s Clark clicks and some other days Johnson. But the most experienced bowler, Bret Lee, being out of form their bowling attack looks weak

As long as they don’t fix this and find a proper replacement for Matthew Hayden, the Australian cricket is bound to go down the ranks soon enough. Hayden’s exit is imminent post this series and Ponting‘s captaincy may not stay for more than an year from now.