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    January 07, 2011

    The end of an enthralling period of test cricket

    From November, we've been witness to enthralling test cricket action, with the Ashes being followed by India's tour of South Africa.

    I feel an enormous amount of schadenfreude for the position Australia, and especially Ricky Ponting, find themselves in. Australia have, over the last 3-4 years, failed to find replacements for Warne, McGrath, Hayden, Gilchrist, and to a lesser extent Martyn and Langer.

    It was never ever going to be easy to replace players of that calibre, but it didn't even seem like those in charge were trying. That's why we now have Shane Watson opening with Simon Katich. The lack of planning is the reason why as many as 7 options have been tried out since Warne retired, and none of them have worked so far.

    As for Ricky Ponting, I've believed for a very long time that he was a pathetic captain. Over the past 3-4 years, he's done his best to prove it. I've enjoyed watching him bat, but his captaincy is generally ridiculous. Add in the number of times he's had run-ins with umpires, and got away with it almost all the time, and I just get more ammunition to hate him in general.

    England have thoroughly deserved to win. They seem to have planned better, and more importantly, executed so much better in all departments. Strangely, I don't feel any sort of disbelief or revulsion at England's win, in total contrast to 2005.

    In 2006, I wrote that a series win for India in Australia would be be my #1 preference, followed by one in South Africa. India've done exceptionally well over the last few years. The scoreline in Australia read 2-1 to Australia, but it could (and should) have been 1-1. The last time India went to South Africa, the scoreline should have been 2-1!

    The fact that the 1-1 draw in the just-concluded series can be considered a failure for India is an indication of how India fluffed their lines when it mattered most, on day 4 at Cape Town. 130/6! Heck, even 233/7 would have been ok, because it would have meant a chase of 250 in an entire day.

    At the same time, South Africa seemed afraid of losing. Why would you not declare with 3-4 overs to go before stumps when India was quite vulnerable to a burst just before stumps with Sehwag & Dravid not in any sort of form and Gambhir injured?

    Before the series, I'd predicted to a few folks that the scoreline would be 2-0 in favour of South Africa. I'll gladly take 1-1!

    There are worries though - the batting form of Sehwag & Dravid, the over-reliance on Zaheer and the general inconsistency of the other bowlers. Dravid's knock yesterday was really pressure-soaking. But his inconsistency is worrying. The next test series is in the West Indies (June). I wouldn't be surprised if he quits soon.

    As for the bowling, in Zaheer's absence, the bowling unit seems totally clueless. Harbhajan's inconsistency, and inability to spearhead the bowling attack, means that he is going to be effective only once in every 3-4 tests, with the ball. Sreesanth mixed brilliance with pathetic stuff. I don't care how often he gets fined or banned if he can keep producing the brilliance and become more consistent.

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 11:09 pm |
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    By Anonymous Anonymous (09-Jan-2011, 10:52:00 am)  

    The series puts in perspective the cumulative value of players like Warne, McGrath, Hayden, Gilchrist etc.

    By Anonymous (18-Jan-2011, 11:20:00 pm)  

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