Ball One – On debut in the First ODI of the series, Rob Nichol scored an unbeaten ton to get New Zealand up to Zimbabwe’s 231, but he was eclipsed by Zim’s captain, Brendan Taylor, who has two tons in the first two ODIs, both unbeaten. Like Bangladesh, Zimbabwe will always produce players more than capable of holding their own in international cricket – whether they will ever produce enough of them at once to forge teams capable of holding their own in world cricket is no more settled now than a decade ago.
Ball Two – The aftermath of the World Cup is the time for ODI debuts and another young man made his mark this week. Pat Cummins is 18, looks like Mitchell Johnson and bowls about his pace too, but with a repeating action that reminds me of Chris Tremlett’s. He hits the seam, and the splice, hard. Hashim Amla showed no respect for Cummins’ growing hype hitting the youngster’s first ball in ODI cricket over the offside boundary for six, following that by belting his fourth ball to the boundary too. Cummins then showed what he was made of by getting rid of Kallis and Duminy in his second over, both beaten for pace. He dropped a sitter later, but Australia have a player, and a win.
Ball Three – In the Third ODI between West Indies and Bangladesh at Chittagong, West Indies had Keiron Pollard at Five, Darren Sammy at Six and Denesh Ramdin at Seven – all arguably two slots higher than they should be. Add to that two openers with just 8 appearances between them, and it looked a tough assignment for Sammy’s men when they were asked to bat. No excuse for a score of 61 though. Cricket needs the West Indies – it’s not so big a sport that it can stand by while one of its traditional powers is so inconsistent for so long.
Ball Four – While England’s men search for a winning formula for ODI cricket played away from home comforts, England’s women continued their good form with a comprehensive win vs South Africa. The victory was built on undefeated tons from Lydia Greenway and Arran Brindle who scored 232 runs between them at better than a run a ball. With a score like that behind them, England will back themselves to bowl and, especially, field well enough to beat any side, and they were too good for South Africa, who were in the match until the last fifteen overs when the squeeze proved too much. Two more ODIs left in that series.
Ball Five – Rhinos vs Eagles sounds like a good match-up in the animal kingdom, and it proved a good match-up in cricket too, as the draw proved once more that it’s not always dull. With Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance again impressing with the bat, his Rhinos team probably felt they were a bit short in leaving the Eagles 158 to get in what proved to be 27 overs. But fourth innings chases are not T20 slogfests and the Eagles lost four wickets (three run out) as they tried to score the ten runs they needed off the last ten balls. Number 11, Tatenda Manatsa, couldn’t hit the winning boundary off the last ball, but preserved his wicket for the draw. 350 overs effort boiled down to the last ball – it’s a grand game this.
Ball Six – Sri Lanka draw in Abu Dhabi with Pakistan. A double century for Kumar Sangakkara is no great surprise, but Taufeeq Umar has not always suggested he had the potential for scores nearer 250 than 200. There were also 64 maidens over the five days play. England are due there in the new year – Alastair Cook, and Jonathan Trott, will have taken note.