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Cricket 38: Ashes Openers Crash and Burns

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England's bowling looks miles better with Rashid and Ali back in the side. Tom Curran with some good death bowling too, Chris Jordan not quite as good.

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Clean sweep for the Black Caps. That was impressive. 

England look to have made the right moves with their squad for Sri Lanka (dumping Jonny, bringing back Foakes). But the continuing unavailability of Mo is a shame. I'd love to see him make a big comeback this summer. 

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And Faf quits as SA captain.

I do worry about the stress on QdK if he's appointed captain across all three formats. Someone like Graeme Smith was given the captaincy at a young age but he had a very unique character and was surrounded by talent. This is almost the reverse scenario: QdK is the main talent in a somewhat talent-bereft side. 

Also...Moeen has looked in great touch since being back in the limited overs side. 

Edited by Paxter

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19 minutes ago, Paxter said:

Also...Moeen has looked in great touch since being back in the limited overs side. 

In fairness he was a bit up and down with his batting but he was always fine in the ODI team. It's whether he deserves a regular test spot that's really in question. You'd probably take him to Sri Lanka if he's willing to go of course.

The T20 series to finish the South Africa tour was surprisingly entertaining, with two games coming right down to the wire and the decider featuring a great chase from England. The only downside was the amount of KFC advertising definitely went a long way over the top. I definitely don't care about interviews with random fans in the 'KFC big bucket'.

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1 hour ago, ljkeane said:

The T20 series to finish the South Africa tour was surprisingly entertaining, with two games coming right down to the wire and the decider featuring a great chase from England. The only downside was the amount of KFC advertising definitely went a long way over the top. I definitely don't care about interviews with random fans in the 'KFC big bucket'.

Haha. That's par for the course in Australia. Sky has probably insulated you from the worst of cricket advertising. 

Back on Mo, my understanding is that he's gone for Sri Lanka. It's a shame as he would have been a clear starter on that tour. English conditions are trickier as you either have to: (1) trust Mo as the lone spinner; or (2) play two spinners but sacrifice a pace bowler in swing/seam-friendly conditions. 

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13 hours ago, Paxter said:

I do worry about the stress on QdK if he's appointed captain across all three formats. Someone like Graeme Smith was given the captaincy at a young age but he had a very unique character and was surrounded by talent. This is almost the reverse scenario: QdK is the main talent in a somewhat talent-bereft side.

I agree De Kock will have an uphill battle with the captaincy given the current state of the side. Captaining across three formats while also keeping wicket is virtually unheard of - Dhoni did it for a while, I guess?

I would have thought the steadier choice would be Elgar given his greater experience and he has been interim captain on a couple of occasions. Maybe they could have made Elgar the Test captain while having De Kock as ODI/T20s captain. But Elgar's recent form hasn't been great so maybe that scared them off.

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Fascinating little series about to start in NZ. Ordinarily I would put NZ as slight favourites in these conditions, but I'm worried about Wagner's absence (he has a great record against Kohli) and also the Black Caps' poor form line in tests (they got flogged by Australia). They really need Boult and Southee to fire in this series.

Will also be interesting to see how Shaw goes in his first test since that incredible debut in 2018. And I'm expecting Rahane to perform very well (as he almost always does outside of India). 

ETA: +1 for Elgar as test skipper. 

Edited by Paxter

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Oh dear India. Rahane doing his thing but lots of loose shots from players around him. This is a great opportunity for NZ, but India’s bowling will be a challenge.

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Great upset by India to defeat Australia in the Women's T20 World Cup opener.

This dominant Australian team is still strong but the difference compared to previous World Cups is that the other women's teams are getting better. Previously it used to be Australia and the rest (with maybe England leading the rest of the pack) but India are right up there and in the warmup games some of the lesser teams (e.g. Sri Lanka) pulled off upsets too.

Could be a great World Cup.

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Imperious victory for the Black Caps against the top-ranked test team. India was at full strength while NZ was missing one of its premier fast bowlers. That’s really impressive stuff, hope they can back it up in the second test.

ETA: I had to look twice when I saw that Thailand qualified for the Women’s T20 WC. Pretty cool for them!

Edited by Paxter

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Looking forward to the second NZ v India test. It will be another stern test for the World #1s, with Wagner back for the hosts and Ishant out for India. 

Meanwhile Australia made light work of SA in a few T20s, with meaningless ODIs soon to follow. 

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This NZ-India Test is well-poised. India's effectively 6/97 down isn't as bad as it looks given one of them is a nightwatchman, so they might still be able to post a total in excess of 180, which I think would test this NZ side given their batting performance in the first innings. An intriguing game setup where one big partnership from India, or one crucial innings from Williamson could tilt it one way or the other.

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Yes, that Christchurch test is on a knife edge. Fascinating contest.

SA upset Australia in the first ODI. A bit surprising after the Aussie bowlers got on top early. I know Smith made a 50 in the chase, but I do think he’s looked a lot more human on quicker pitches since the Ashes. Quite a few LBWs show that he does have a weakness there, but it’s obviously much easier to exploit on faster decks.

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Unfortunate for Latham, he deserved to be there at the close of this one. A brace of 52s. 

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Posted (edited)

Pretty awesome comeback by NZ after that T20 series. First a clean sweep of the ODIs, then repeating the dose in test matches. Fantastic win from those Black Caps. They could have easily lost that second test, but managed to wrestle back at key moments. 

That was India's first test series in NZ for six years...no wonder they don't like touring there!

Edited by Paxter

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

After that Australian series, this really begs the question about test matches becoming dominated by home teams.

Perhaps. Of the 10 series played since the start of the Test Championship last year, six have been won by the home side, with two draws and two away wins.

Smallish sample size I'll admit, but there were some good away performances in that mix (Australia's Ashes defence and England's mauling of SA).

Edited by Paxter

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It's pretty hard to follow cricket in New Zealand too closely in UK with the way the time differences are but, wow, that went badly wrong for India. Just looking at the scorecard it looks like they were doing ok on a tough pitch in the first innings then it's all fallen apart for them second time round.

 

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On 3/2/2020 at 12:19 PM, ljkeane said:

It's pretty hard to follow cricket in New Zealand too closely in UK with the way the time differences are but, wow, that went badly wrong for India. Just looking at the scorecard it looks like they were doing ok on a tough pitch in the first innings then it's all fallen apart for them second time round.

NZ's bowlers deserve a lot of credit for that win. They unsettled India's batsmen (especially Shaw, Kohli and Rahane) with short stuff and had most of them playing from the crease. Then all they had to do was pitch the ball up and let the swing and seam take care of the rest. 

A surprising result in the SA/Aus ODI series with the hosts demolishing Australia in the first two matches. Most of SA's top six are newbies!

I wonder if Finch will come under some pressure for the captaincy. Australia had a decent World Cup but has lost 4 of 5 matches since then and should be looking towards a long-term rebuild of the 50-over side. 

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A fun distraction amid the cricket cancellations going on ATM: theguardian.com/global/video/2020/feb/25/sachin-tendulkars-name-proves-tricky-for-trump-in-india-video

We did see some behind-closed-doors action in Australia last night, with NZ again capitulating against Australia in an ODI. The Aussies really have their number at the moment...

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