Ball One – Jerome Taylor may not be fit for the West Indies’ match over in St Lucia, but he’s fit enough for the Pune Warriors. Like Chris Gayle and Keiron Pollard, he’s surely good enough to be in the West Indies best XI for ODI cricket, but fitness issues over a whole ODI series, protection from burnout and the desire to blood new players will increasingly play a part in national team selection. Having said that, England fans would not be sanguine about Strauss, Broad and Tremlett playing IPL cricket while a home ODI series is underway.
Ball Two – On this day exactly ten years ago, Mike Hussey was playing for Northamptonshire at Chelmsford in a drawn match against Essex. About to turn 26, he was still two and a half years away from getting his chance in international cricket. Like all Australians, Hussey would have been backing his ability all those years ago, but I doubt that he would have predicted what would happen to him or what would happen to the game in the ten years to come.
Ball Three – Suresh Raina is a talent, but can he forge an international career with a clear weakness against the short ball and a temperament that can lead to impulsive shots – like the one to which he surrendered his wicket? Perhaps one flaw can be managed but, given the competition for places in the Indian upper order, two flaws might be one too many.
Ball Four – After MS Dhoni has hit you for two consecutive fours and with the charge well and truly on, it takes some cojones to toss up a leg-break. But that’s what Rahul Sharma did, and he was rewarded with a stumping he’ll be telling the grandchildren about, with the added bonus of a couple more dot balls to new batsman Albie Morkel. At well over six foot, Sharma gets the bounce all leg-spinners need and, at 24, has time to learn his skill. Expect to see him join Ashwin in the queue behind Harbhajan for a slot in the ODI side.
Ball Five – Like Darren Bravo, Jesse Ryder has the potential to be a great of the game. Bravo is elegant and classical, where Ryder is more of a muscle batsman – a squatter Chris Gayle if you will. Both young lefties are finding ways to get out and need to work on a defensive game to complement as full a repertoire of attacking strokes as possessed by anyone in the game. When exactly they will have chance to do so is not clear – cricket’s treadmill doesn’t pause very often.
Ball Six – There’s analysis been done in the US on quantifying the advantage that accrues to the home team across a range of sports. In cricket, home teams usually know conditions better and sometimes have more opportunities to practise on or near the square. But in the IPL, those advantages are minimal at most. What is not minimal in any sense is the atmosphere created by the crowd’s voluble support. Should it get to experienced players? Probably not – but I bet it does.
The Tooting Trumpet, whom you can often find at Testmatchsofa.com and on Twitter at @garynaylor999.