Cricket can be a confusing old game to follow these days. There’s an ODI series here, a franchise tournament there and an anti-climatic two Test series squeezed in between. Sometimes, as Mike Atherton suggested this week, it can feel impossible to keep track of everything going on.
Well, never fear, the Bouncer is here with our new weekly round up of all that is happening in the cricketing world to help you make sense of it all.
England slumped to a crushing 347 run defeat in the one-off women’s Test match in India. It certainly seems very unfair to expect players to master the skills required in the Test game when they are exposed to it as rarely as female cricketers are. The fact that even as fine a player as Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur was playing in only her fourth Test at the age of 34 underlines the absurdity of the situation. Even her English counterpart Heather Knight was only playing in her 12th Test match in a 13 year international career. Sadly, with ICC chairman Greg Barclay declaring that he does not see women’s Tests as “part of the landscape moving forward”, it is a situation that is unlikely to change any time soon.
England certainly had the worst of the pitch in this match, with India racking up 428 in the first innings while the wicket was relatively flat before bowling the tourists out for 136 and 131 when the surface broke up and became a raging turner. Knight is not the first English captain in recent years to complain of “super extreme” conditions prepared by groundsmen in India. With the BCCI preparing to host Ben Stokes’ Bazballers in the new year, one fears she may not be the last.
Elsewhere, David Warner began his farewell Test series with a brutal 164 in the first Test against Pakistan at the cavernous Optus stadium in Perth. Many portrayed his performance as an answer to his critics, chief of whom had been former teammate Mitchell Johnson, who suggested that both Warner’s form and reputation meant he did not deserve such an elaborate send off from the international scene. However, the innings simply served to re-inforce people’s views of this most polorising of cricketers. If you believe David Warner to be one of the finest openers to play for Australia then it proved his greatness once again, in the face of criticism. If you believe, however, that he is a flat-track bully who pulverises weak attacks at home and consistently fails in alien conditions then this century against an ill-disciplined Pakistani attack will merely convince you further.
At the time of writing, Australia look to be on course to complete a routine victory over the tourists. One fears more one-sided games will follow for the rest of this series and in the one to follow against the West Indies.
Irish cricket received a much needed boost this week with a superb performance from Josh Little in the second ODI in Zimbabwe. Little is the hottest prospect to emerge from the Irish game in years and underlined this with a national record 6-36 as the men in green recorded a 4 wicket win. With the first ODI washed out and one game left to play, Ireland are in a great position to record an ODI series triumph to go with the 2-1 victory they achieved over their hosts in the T20I series a week ago. For Zimbabwean cricket the problems continue, after the nation’s shock failure to qualify for the T20 World Cup last month.
England’s men continued to resemble rabbits in headlights this week, falling to a further two defeats to the West Indies in the T20 internationals. The collapse of form and confidence in Sam Curran has been particularly sad to see, with one over in the second match on Thursday disappearing for 30 runs. One hopes this most enjoyable of cricketers will recover some of the spark that made him a key part of both England’s red and white ball teams a few years ago.
Today, we have the third T20 in the Caribbean to look forward to as well as the first ODI between South Africa and India. The T20 series was tied this week, with Suryakumar Yadav and Kuldeep Yadav starring in a crushing victory for the tourists in the final game. For those who want to burn the midnight oil, there is also the chance to see Test history as Nathan Lyon stands on 499 wickets ahead of the fourth day of the Test match against Pakistan. With Australia resuming on 84-2 in their second innings, 300 runs ahead of the tourists, there is the chance that Lyon may get to bowl tonight. Few finger spinners have achieved as much as the New South Welshman in the game’s history and deserves to be recognised among the game’s greats. David Warner’s place in that pantheon is still open to debate.