Ball One – It’s always nice to get a score on debut, so Manprit Juneja must have been pleased to get the nod for a first class debut on the Ahmedabad road. He certainly cashed in though, bashing his way to a double ton, in red ink to boot. Quite what that tells us about his potential I’m not sure – the match scores were 698-8, 539 all out and 100-0. Even I might have got a few. Unlike Parthiv Patel, who kept wicket for a mere 181 overs, then opened then batting and lasted nine balls. One can take leading from the front too far.
Ball Two – The first matchof the Big Bash League brought a scorecard entry that turned back the clock – Hayden b MacGill 29. I’m not sure it’s an entirely good thing that men of a previous generation are quite as prominent as they appear to be in Australia’s new sports-entertainment hybrid, but I know that Stuart MacGill is twice the bowler that Steve Smith is and will be for a few years yet. 4-0-21-2 vs 2-0-25-0 rather backs up that view.
Ball Three – To absolutely no surprise at all, Rahul Dravid’s Bradman Memorial Lecture has been universally praised for its erudition, its judgement and its sensitivity. Coming less than six months after Kumar Sangakkara’s tour-de-force in his Cowdrey Lecture, it has set me wondering whether any other sport offers such platforms for current players to speak, free of any obligations to anything beyond the game itself. I don’t think they do – though I stand to be corrected – and, perhaps, they should. Maybe Derek Jeter or Raul might not match the oratory of the two men from the sub-continent, but John Eales and Jose-Maria Olazabal might have spoken as well in their day. Perhaps it’s just another example of cricket’s glorious exceptionalism in a sporting world dominated at the top level by sponsors’ spokesmen and media training.
Ball Four – I’m all for attracting new audiences to cricket and can even stomach most of the marketing-speak that surrounds the Big Bash (but I’ll draw the line at The Hayden Way). However – Knights vs Titans in a first class match? Of course, not every team has bought into the hyped up names.
Ball Five – David Warner is in a rich vein of form in diverse formats and proving the doubters wrong. Like Eoin Morgan, his arrival in international cricket was hardly a seamless progression through the expensive development systems put in place by armies of coaches and administrators. Pakistan produce great talents by default as much as design too. It’s a glory of this most wondrous of games that talent will out wherever and whenever it turns up.
Ball Six – A little Twitter debate with which you may wish to join in below the line. How many 80s Test sides would beat their 2011 equivalents given the same support, preparation etc? I’ll say NZ, SL (just now), Aus (late 80s), WI (obviously), Pak (obviously), Zim. India 2011 would beat 80s India, SA 2011 too (though not 70s SA) and England 2011 would probably do 80s England because of the bowling. That so few current sides would beat the previous generation is quite an indictment of current standards, I suggest. Or maybe I’m donning the rose-tinted spectacles that I favour from time to time. What do you think?