March 8, 2013
Australia are in deep trouble at the halfway stage of their test series in India, following comprehensive defeats in Chennai and Hyderabad. An angry Michael Clarke is demanding more from his team; fellow batsmen are foremost in his line of fire. In his opinion, they have sold their wickets cheaply and, in doing so, have been guilty of woeful shot selection. In an effort to steady the ship, Clarke has promised to bat higher in the order in the remaining matches. Meanwhile, India, in a position of strength, have taken the surprising decision of omitting veteran opener Virenda Sehwag from the squad for the remainder of the series. Explosive Sehwag, always a potential match winner, has failed to reach 50 in his last nine test innings and may now have played his last game for his country. His sacking leaves skipper MS Dhoni an ever increasingly powerful figure in the Indian set-up.
Pakistan have exacted some sort of revenge on South Africa for their humiliation in the recent test series by turning the tables in a one-off T20 encounter in Pretoria. Led by skipper Mohammed Hafeez (86), they racked up 195-7 in 20 overs to which the Proteas could only respond with 100 all out. A five match ODI series, which should be more evenly contested than the tests, starts in Bloemfontein on 10 March.
It is advantage New Zealand at the halfway stage of the first test in Dunedin. England, dismissed for under 200 for the fourth successive time in the first innings of an overseas test series, have looked distinctly undercooked with both bat and ball. New Zealand, well ahead with their first innings still not completed, are happy to be playing cricket, rather than talking about recent off-field misdemeanors of certain players.
A flare-up of an old elbow injury has forced England’s Graeme Swann out of the test series. He will now head for the United States and go under the knife in of the same surgeon who recently operated on Tim Bresnan. An intense period of rehabilitation will follow as Swann aims to recover fitness in time for the forthcoming Ashes double-header. Maybe, as pipe and slippers time approaches, Swann should consider reducing his workload, perhaps by retiring from T20 and ODI formats.
Peace has broken out in the contract dispute between the Sri Lankan players and their cricket board following meetings with former captain turned politician, Sanath Jayasuriya. Cricket can now return to the top of the agenda as Bangladesh arrive to contest two tests, three ODIs and one T20. Thilan Samaraweera, who rebuilt his career after being shot in a terrorist attack on his team bus in Pakistan in 2009, has retired from international cricket after being dropped for the opening Test.
Mervyn Westfield, the former Essex seamer, who is currently serving a five-year suspension for his part in match fixing in a county game, seems reluctant to make himself available to provide evidence for the ECB against Pakistani test player Danesh Kaneria in his appeal hearing against a lifetime ban from cricket. Westfield may well feel aggrieved at the severity of his sentence handed down by the ECB; his non-appearance could pave the way for Kaneria’s successful appeal.
And how are Zimbabwe getting on in the West Indies? A T20 whitewash has followed comprehensive defeat in the ODIs, but don’t worry Zimbabwe – no one is watching.
The Scoop 08/03/13