Over the last few weeks, and across several continents, there has been plenty of international cricket to get stuck into. Pakistan have trounced Australia in the United Arab Emirates and are now taking on New Zealand at the same venue. Australia meanwhile no sooner got back home from those chastening matches than they got ready to face South Africa, with the ODI series now taking place. The Proteas have already been to New Zealand and won an ODI series there. And that’s not even mentioning the clash of the titans between Zimbabwe, going on as we speak…..
To the UAE first, and another capitulation by Australia in the face of some quality spin bowling. Both Test matches really were incredibly one-sided, with the Aussie batsmen looking incapable of making runs, while their flagging bowlers looked incapable of either taking wickets or keeping the Pakistani batsmen under pressure. Even the normally electric Mitchell Johnson (destroyer of England in the Ashes) underperformed in the bowling department, while captain Michael Clarke, who is actually having a very poor year with the bat, failed in both Tests.
Whether these results have any bearing on either the World Cup next spring or the Ashes in England next summer remains to be seen (both will be held in markedly different conditions), but frankly England will probably take all the optimistic news they can get right now!
South Africa are their next opponents, with the ODI series on currently and a short Test match series to follow. These ODI’s will give us more of an indication as to which of these two pre-tournament favourites has the upper hand at the moment, with both among the sides believed to be serious contenders to win the trophy next March.
New Zealand will also be there or thereabouts in the World Cup, and they are currently playing Pakistan in the UAE. Despite also being drubbed by Pakistan in the Tests, arguably the format to concentrate on is the ODI’s – with next year’s tournament being held in New Zealand as well as Australia they will be particularly keen to impress.
India have also been in action, and their autumn has been more eventful than most. They were due to take on the West Indies for 5 ODI’s, a couple of T20’s and 3 Tests. However, the West Indies only made it to the 4th ODI before a shambolic dispute between them and the West Indies Cricket Board over their pay saw them refuse to play the remainder of their matches. The team is now back home, with their place at next year’s World Cup in jeopardy, and the Indian cricket authorities extremely displeased.
India therefore had to find another opponent, and settled for Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankans will play England at home in a few weeks, but for now are taking on the worlds best ODI side, in their own backyard. So far India have won 3 matches out of 3, and with 2 more to go will no doubt feel very confident about inflicting a whitewash. The Indians are looking ominously good in limited overs cricket ahead of an extremely busy year for them, and even though the WC next year is being held in Australia which has very different conditions they will feel very confident about retaining the trophy they won so dramatically in 2011.