With Test cricket being played simultaneously on three continents it appears an opportune time to take a brief look at the matches on display.
In the South Pacific, England confounded the critics and perhaps themselves by storming back from 1-0 down to take the series 2-1 after their impressive win in Napier today.
Considering the English top order is as sturdy as a sandcastle on a windswept beach the win was even more commendable. Obviously, Ryan Sidebottom was the stand-out performer and his continued improvement should have even the most cynical English supporter excited. The biggest disappointment for England would be the form of their captain Michael Vaughan who averaged 20 at a strike rate of 37 in the three Tests.
With no intention of depreciating the MCC’s first away win since the South African tour of 2004/05 it is painfully obvious that Kiwi cricket is in crisis. Administrative bungling and obstinance has led to the once proud and fiercely resolute Black Caps now resembling a rabble. Given time they will bounce back but it will be a long, hard road to repair the damage done to the favourite pastoral game of the Polynesian nation of Aeteoroa.
In South America, Mahela Jayawardene’s Sri Lankans lead by 341 runs needing nine more wickets on the final day of the First Test. The West Indies only just avoided the follow-on and the Lankans scored quickly in the second dig to set up what should be an entertaining final day. With Murali trying to winkle out the Windies and with Chris Gayle, Wayne Bravo and Ramnaresh Sarwan sure to go for the win it promises to be an entertaining day’s Test cricket. Even if the attacking batsman fail Shiv Chanderpaul is sure to dig in with the tail and I cannot wait till the match gets back underway in less than an hours time.
In Chennai, the Proteas got their tour off to a bright start putting the over-hyped Indians to the sword on the first day of their three Test series. Graeme Smith and makeshift opener Neil Mackenzie played superbly in the opening session and by the end of the day South Africa were cruising at 304/4. The increasingly impressive and equally modest Hashim Amla is 85 not out at stumps and with AB de Villiers they will be looking to continue the good work and set a huge first innings total in excess of 500. Amla (pictured) is a rising star in world cricket and I expect that South Africa’s results will hinge on his performances in the years ahead.
Play is under way in Guyana so I must retreat.