New Year’s Tests
Paul is quiet, on New Year’s Day.
Collingwood may sit out of the Newlands Test and Michael Carberry, a left handed batsman from Hampshire is being talked up as his replacement. Why not simply give Luke Wright a look in when he’s available and served time playing ODI’s?
Graeme Smith has said that “the right selections need to be made” for the third test and one can only assume that this means Ntini will be dropped and Friedel de Wet brought in for the third test against England to be played at Cape Town although the spinners are expected to be the main men here.
Paul Harris and Graeme Swann have both been crucial in the campaigns of their respective sides; Swann played a crucial role even with the bat in the first test and rightfully deserved the two ‘Man of the Match’ awards he won. Stuart Broad bowled brilliantly alongside as England ambushed South Africa in the second innings.
Strauss will be relieved that his two biggest worries in the batting department, Cook and Bell came good and scored centuries. Smith will find a hard time deciding the fate of Ashwell Prince who has been terribly out of sorts in the opening slot and bringing Herschelle Gibbs back into the squad would be a huge risk. Morne Morkel has bowled well alongside Dale Steyn while Ntini has been ineffective and needs to be dropped if Smith wishes to remain in contention for this series.
In the other new year’s test, Pakistan’s batting is as precarious as it can be and yet the selectors have not taken a call on whether Younis Khan should be flown in to join the squad. Mohammed Yousuf, Umar Akmal, Salman Butt and Misbah got runs but failed to build on their starts as Australia cruised to a 170 run win. Their inconsistency made Ponting’s declarations look good. Mohammed Aamer and Asif worked hard but were let down by their batsmen and were left playing catch up. Farhat is expected to retain his place for the second test while Gul and Kaneria will replace Rauf and Ajmal respectively if they are fit in time. Sami will get a game thanks to the injury to Aamer.
Shane Watson had a brilliant test overall with scores of 93, 120*, two catches and a wicket as he took home the man of the match award. Watson improves as a series goes on so this could be a blockbuster series for him. Nathan Hauritz and Mitchell Johnson bowled brilliantly and they were well aided by Doug Bollinger. Peter Siddle returning to form can only be better news for them. The only batsman Ponting will be worried about is Marcus North who has generally struggled since his match winning century in the fourth Ashes Test at Headingley, Leeds.