• I have always said that playing in India is the sternest test a side will encounter, but touring South Africa will provide an extremely difficult challenge for England.

     

    Andrew Strauss's side were adept at performing when it really mattered in the Ashes series this summer, and they will need to be equally as clinical against the Proteas.

     

    Graeme Smith is an exceptional leader and his side reflect his ruthless and uncompromising personality: they will not give England any cheap runs or wickets, that is for sure.

     

    It would be easy for some people to get carried away with England having won the Ashes, but the fact is that South Africa are above Australia in the Test rankings.

     

    Smith's side have been more consistent than Australia and they have every bit as much talent, if not more, than Ricky Ponting's players.

     

    Despite the Ashes only having been this summer, the England side which will play in South Africa will be pretty different.

     

    It is obviously a huge bonus to have Jonathan

    Read More »from South Africa sterner test than Ashes
  • Even the most lustrous batting line-up in the game today has to have the backing of the bowlers and fieldsmen, if India are to avoid the kind of scare they had to endure at Rajkot.

     

    And Mike Young the newly appointed fielding coach from Australia certainly has his hands full as he attempts to raise the catching and ground fielding standards of the Indian cricketers.

     

    A team should not huff and puff after amassing 414 and it would be tempting to blame the fielders rather than the bowlers who clearly had an uphill task on a pitch that was a batting beauty.

     

    Indeed, though the final figures might not show it, Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan kept their nerve and bowled their yorkers admirably in the death overs and besides the swashbuckling batting of Virender Sehwag and MS Dhoni, this proved to be a vital factor in India's victory in the first ODI against Sri Lanka.

     

    And when it came to the crunch, even the shoddy fielding rose to the occasion and the run-outs effected by Virat Kohli

    Read More »from Full marks to the visitors
  • Every time Yuvraj Singh in typically swashbuckling style puts the bowlers to rout in limited overs cricket - like he did the other day at Mohali - I am at a loss to understand why he can't pull off the same pyrotechnics consistently in Test cricket.

     

    There is considerable difference in his figures in ODIs' and Twenty20 on one hand and Test cricket on the other and there is no reason to believe why this gap can't be bridged. The prodigiously gifted left hander who has earned the highest praise from the experts seemed destined to be the Maharaj of Indian cricket but at the moment thanks to his inability to perform up to his full potential in the longer version of the game he is still the Yuvraj (heir apparent).

     

    Of course, he is already the Maharaj when it comes to the shorter versions of the game and is already regarded as one of the hardest hitters of the ball in the game. Ever since he burst upon the scene in Nairobi nine years ago with that electrifying 84 against Australia, he

    Read More »from Yuvraj – a batsman born to rule

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