New Zealand vs Sri Lanka
The two best international sides, with both sides having a strong core at the moment and more than being competitive in spite of ‘the odds’. A healthy, sunbaked crowd on a grass bank. Winning the toss, Sri Lanka get New Zealand 3 down with less than 100 on the board. Enter Kane Williamson’s solid accumulation. Enter Brendon McCullum smashing an almost double ton at a rate I don’t think I’ve seen before, en route becoming the first Kiwi to reach 1000 Test runs in a calendar year.
A quiet word about James Neesham. He’s had a ‘nice’ start to his Test career, coming in after the strongest middle order trio in perhaps New Zealand’s history. Yet after 6 Tests he’s averaging a tad above 44, and he’d be disappointed to have fallen 15 runs short of his third Test ton last night. Another nugget unearthed?
Australia vs India
Two of the self proclaimed Big Three, and two sides it’s always quite nice to see struggle. Almost 70 thousand souls within the glorious MCG. India have managed to remain competitive in this series in spite of not looking like actually winning a match, which is a bit of a bonus. I actually quite like their quicks at the moment and, combined with Ashwin who bowled nice and tight through the day, they won’t be too distraught at the scoreline. The issue they have is Steven Smith, who has completed an unlikely ascent and emerged a weaknessless, immovable object at the crease. A ‘crucial first hour’, cliché etc, to come.
South Africa vs West Indies
By god, the Windies are a listless bunch. I don’t know what to do about them. They need help, support and direction; they’ve got the WICB, the WIPA, and the self-proclaimed “Big Three”-led ICC. They could die. I have no answers.
On the other hand, South Africa’s system possibly isn’t a fair one, but it produces some darn good cricketers. I wouldn’t even recognise half of the current team, but they certainly appear to be of the same metronomic ilk as their predecessors. I’m interested to see how the black lad does on debut. I don’t particularly like singling someone out as a result of their race, but it feels important at the moment – in the absence of practically any “top level” black players worldwide.