Ball One – Not so long ago, Tamim Iqbal had the world at his feet. Like a Bengali Chris Gayle, he left-handedly smashed the new ball to all parts and looked to be exactly the kind of young charger that Shakib al Hasan needed to provide confidence to his young charges. He has not scored a century for Bangladesh since his two in a week vs England in the early summer of 2010. His scores this week vs West Indies of 11, 21 and 1 are sadly indicative of a talented player in a slump.
Ball Two – Not in a slump is 18 year-old quick Patrick Cummins, who continues to impress with genuine pace and no little skill. With fast bowling stocks around the world at what might be an all-time low, Cricket Australia will have to handle its asset with great care. He’ll pick up injuries – young pacemen do – but if workload and rehab is managed sensitively, Cummins can be Australia’s Dale Steyn. If he backs up last season’s great Big Bash season with another, it’s his back that’ll be taking the big bash. He could win The Ashes for Australia – something I don’t see any of his compatriots doing. But only if he, and the holders of his contract, really want to.
Ball Three – Doug Bracewell made his debut for New Zealand in their almighty McCullum propelled demolition of Zimbabwe. I remember seeing his father, Brendon, make his international debut as an impossibly fresh faced 18 year-old in this ODI at Old Trafford in 1978. We should enjoy our cricket while we can, because the time passes very rapidly indeed.
Ball Four – More than most sports, cricket has the capacity to throw up oddities that make you wonder. How about this one? In a match in which no other batsman scored more than 55, Western Province’s Weshaam Keraan scored 189*. Interesting, I thought, probably an old pro who never quite made it to the international squads cashing in on his experience against a young attack. The reality was rather different.
Ball Five – A fine Sheffield Shield match on Perth’s not quite as fast as it used to be but still bouncy WACA wicket, saw the island state just fail to get up to the target set by the home team. That was largely due to Mitchell Johnson, whose second innings figures of 29-10-69-5 show an admirable economy rate and good penetration, knocking over both openers with the new ball. Is he back?
Ball Six – One man who is back is MS Dhoni, who underlined his good end of English season form with a very decent knock in the First ODI vs England. Is normal service resumed now India are in their own backyard? MS Dhoni has the look of a proud man who seeking payback – his side, more than half of whom have played fewer than 50 ODIs, will be looking to support their still unchallenged leader.