Australia is currently doing battle with the University of West Indies Vice Chancellor’s XI in a three day match and will start the Third Test on 1 May. But in the mean time, there are some other series in progress.
New Zealand are playing Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka and in the first Test Stephen Fleming made a staggering 274 not out. This from a batsman who for a long time has struggled to convert half centuries to centuries – prior to this Test he had 33 half centuries and just 4 Test centuries and had a top score of 174 not out (also against Sri Lanka). Fleming did play one of the innings of the recent World Cup (134 not out) to help NZ overhaul a daunting target set by South Africa – perhaps that was a turning point. Whatever, 274 is a huge score and the second highest score for New Zealand (behind Martin Crowe’s 299 in 1990/91 (also against Sri Lanka)).
South Africa is “doing battle” with Bangladesh in what promises to be another farcical series. The only real areas of significance are that, like it or not, this is a new fixture for South Africa on the ICC Test Championship table and will lift their rating, and, it gives the South Africans the chance to set a few records, personal bests, that sort of thing… And of course, let’s not forget that cricket is the game of statistics and series like this can have the serious statisticians drooling!
South Africa won the first Test by an innings and 60 runs. South Africa lost just two wickets in their only innings with Rudolph (222 not out) and Dippenaar (178 not out) building an unbroken 3rd wicket partnership of 439. I can’t be bothered checking but I’m sure that constitutes several records.
And who remembers the “Frog in a Blender”? Paul Adams. He hasn’t played a Test since the 3rd Test against Australia in Durban, March 2002 but he’s back. And with a vengeance, turning in career best figures of 5/37 and a career best match analysis of 10/106.
Enough said on South Africa and Bangladesh.
If South Africa wins the series against Bangladesh (very likely), by my calculations, its ICC Test rating will rise to 1.611 and if Australia wins its series against West Indies (also very likely), its rating will rise to 1.615. So it really will be Australia by a whisker.