I hope the readership will indulge me in a personal message to kick things off: Greetings to all of you whom I haven’t been in touch with for a while!
Tomorrow is the first day of the new year and the first day of cricket season!
The first Test between Australia and Sri Lanka starts in Darwin tomorrow. The big (recent) news is that Ponting will miss the Test for family reasons. One of his relatives in Tasmania has died and he will take leave to attend the funeral. Taking his place as captain will be Gillie. Boof Lehman will deputise. Matthew Elliot deservedly earns a recall after a scintillating Pura Milk Cup season last summer. Elliot has not played a Test since the West Indies tour in 1999 – more than five years. Although this is a top order spot, I suspect that Martin Love is no longer in the queue. Who else is towards the top of the middle order in waiting would be a good guess? Probably Michael Clarke.
Of course, the other big news is that Murali is a no show. I can’t be bothered discussing a world record holder who has been allowed to cheat for many years, except to say that I’m amazed. Murali has shown a thick skin for many years – why would he now pass up the chance to take more wickets and even allow Warne to get in front again. And we all know that he won’t even be subjected to the villainous Australian umpires in the Tests.
The pitch in Darwin last year was slow without much bounce. Hopefully there will be some pace in the track this year as batting was tedious to watch last year.
Play starts at 10:00 am EST. Forecast, not surprisingly, is for good conditions.
My tip: Australia to make 500 and hand out a good, old fashioned thrashing. Sri Lanka will really struggle to bowl Australia out without their main man.