SA Tour Preview

There are some interesting things going on in the cricket world at the moment. What we thought may have been established trends a few months ago might not be so established after all : Australia is improving, England is faltering and Pakistan is performing in its usual enigmatic way.

The good news for Australia is that some good young kids are coming through. Pat Cummins, James Pattinson and Mitchell Marsh are all terrific prospects and will be stars in various forms of the game for years to come. The two quicks are exciting for lots of reasons, but none more so than that they have great attitudes to the game. They are not mollycoddled kids but full-blown competitors already. Marsh could be another Andrew Symonds in limited overs cricket, and hopefully will develop his batting to become a genuine first-class player.

While Cummins and Pattinson must wait their turn in the pecking order, there is no reason to believe that playing a one-off Test match at this early stage will harm their careers. If it is decided after the first Test in South Africa that Copeland has run his race as a containing bowler and the team needs strike power, throw Cummins in. Of course Johnson, Siddle and Harris get first bite, but back-to-back Tests invariably require changes to be made.

We should expect Australia to do well again in both the ODIs and the Tests. Michael Clarke must maintain the momentum he started in Sri Lanka and continue to impose himself on the team. The South Africans are vulnerable  –  Smith isn’t a shadow of the player he once was, and De Villiers will be desperately missed  – and there is already the feeling that the Proteas are again in a state of flux with self-doubts always lurking.

Meanwhile, England have lost their mojo in India. They never have been much of a one-day team, and the whitewash in the one-dayers in England was misleading : two games were fortuitiosly won on Duckworth -Lewis run rate, and one game was a tie. But the Indians are getting their revenge, and Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar are loving it. A 5-0 series loss looms for the Poms.

The England bandwagon has been railroaded by Pietersen and Trott. Pietersen is playing atrociously in his endeavours to re-establish himself in the team, while Trott is just too self-centred a player to be influential in one-day cricket despite his impressive stats. Quite simply, both Pietersen and Trott destroy the game for their teammates, and it is having a damaging effect on the embyonic captaincy career of Alastair Cook.

India have been interesting to observe. In the absence of the old pros their young guns have shrugged off the humiliation of the England tour and played with gusto. They have unearthed a couple of handy seamers, and Kholi is a star. It certainly doesn’t make up for their 4-0 Test loss a few months ago, but it is just a reminder that India has some emerging talent in the shorter forms of the game which have become its obsession in recent years.

Finally, a couple of cautionary notes for Australia as it battles to reassert itself on the world stage :  Copeland and Lyon have bowled 91 overs between them at the Adelaide Oval since Saturday and taken two wickets for 274 ; and Pakistan is thrashing Sri Lanka. But I think we’re on the right track.



  1. Peter Flynn says

    Agree with the cautionary notes Brendan.

    Off-spin bowling is a tough pursuit in Australia.

    I’d consider playing Cummins in the 2nd SA Test. He’ll need managing.

    The perfect timing is to play him against NZ.

    For the reasons you mention, I reckon Aus will go OK in SA.

    Clarke is providing tactical acumen and Ponting is doing a good job as cheerleader.

  2. Perhaps Pietersen and Trott could go back and bulster South Africa.

    What was that joke a few years ago?

    Question: ‘Where do the England players stay when they tour South Africa?’
    Answer: ‘At home with their parents.’

  3. Brendan, I do like the long list of bowlers on the scorecard when Clarke is skipper: a la I.M. Chappell when he use to throw Stacky the ball, and whip a few leggies through himself. Hussey having a roll and even the former skipper who hasn’t bowled forever.

  4. Steve Fahey says

    Interesting observations as always Brendan, and I agree with the cautionary notes. There is still a lot of pain ahead on the spin front I fear (notwithstanding Flynny’s well-made point re offies in Australia).

    We have to pick bowling attacks for wickets (and take into account back to back Tests) and Copeland’s selection will depend a lot on these factors. Can’t help but hypothesise if he’d be playing if Johnson wasn’t – Copeland’s metronomic and predictable accuracy and containing skills are a counterbalance, albeit valuable in any attack with wicket takers.

    England’s ODI form continues to bemuse. Cook’s ODI form is pretty ordinary and it was a bold move to pick him as captain. If I were skipper (1) they would be doing a lot worse (2) Pietersen would be opening in ODIs partly because to take advantage of the fielding restrictions and partly because he can be hard to build an innings around in the middle.

  5. Steve, I remember you were a pretty good captain at RCC and even bowled some offies yourself!!!.

    Don’t play Cummins in South Africa – he should be playing quite a few Shield games and if he plays well then pick him for NZ tests. I see Katich was the best performed spinner in the recent Shield game, bring him back as a bowler and you automatically lengthen the batting order. He does have a ‘5 for’ in test cricket. It is not beyond Hilditch to do this!!

  6. Steve Fahey says

    Lubes you hit on a good point with Katich and Hilditch. Katich is younger than spin debutants Holland and McGain (obviously he wouldn’t be making his debut) !! We did send Cameron White to India as a spinner, so anything is possible !

  7. I’ve never seen Cameron White spin the ball.

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