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Test Cricket Comes Roaring Back

Test cricket is back and so is dongles. It’s been a very long time since my last post. The few days have confirmed to me that I still love cricket, specifically Test cricket. I have been absent from cyberspace in recent times due to other interests grabbing my attention more than the monotonous diet of limited overs cricket. I’m in a cricketing mood today because I’m off to the Hobart Test next week, the first day of the Australian Test summer kicked-off and there have been some excellent matches on the world stage.

A few days ago, Bangladesh celebrated its first victory over England and indeed, one of its few Test victories over any team. The two Test series was drawn 1-1 and both Tests were very even. Bangladesh lost the first Test by an agonising 22 runs but came roaring back, winning the second by 108 runs. England was set 273 for victory – a serious challenge as 300 had not been reached in the series – and started well, reaching 100 without loss. Bangladesh then took all 10 wickets in a single session for a famous victory.

Just yesterday, the West Indies had a very creditable win over Pakistan. Sure, it was a dead rubber (Pakistan took the series 2-1) but to put the win into perspective, consider this: The West Indies had not won a Test against a team ranked higher than them since 2007 – nine years. And Pakistan is very highly ranked – currently number two, having only recently lost the number one ranking to India. This was young Jason Holder’s first win as captain, in his 12th attempt.

It was not a one-man show for the West Indies but one man, opener, Kraigg Brathwaithe had an epic match. One for the ages. But for a few spells off the field during Pakistan’s innings, Braithwaite was on the field for the entire match. He carried the bat in the first innings, scoring 142 not out over six and a quarter hours. He then made 60 not out in a nervous run chase. The West Indies won by five wickets in the end but had stumbled to 5-67, still requiring almost 90 for victory.

Australia started its summer yesterday in fine style against South Africa, in Perth. This is the last “big ticket” match at the WACA so it was nice to see a pitch with some life in it. Australia dismissed South Africa with good bowling and catching for 242. Then, from the comfort of my own armchair in Sydney (I love Tests in Perth), I watched a Davey Warner special. He is 73 from 62 balls, with 58 coming in boundaries. Naturally, the Australian press is crowing but it is early days. This is why I love Test cricket. Australia batting last, is still more than 130 behind South Africa. It is quite possible that South Africa will break through in the morning, when the pitch is fresh and expose Australia’s brittle batting. Test cricket is for the long haul.

One of my functions over the years has been to make sure the punters know of important events. One such is event is some changes in the DRS rules. Number one is that if the fielding side refers and is unsuccessful because of a no-ball (that was not called), that referral is not lost (we saw that yesterday with Warner). More significantly, the stumps have been made bigger for lbw referrals. Not really, but the strike zone has been expanded to all of the stumps. Less balls will be “clipping”. It used to be that more than half of the ball had to be hitting the inside half of the stumps. This has been changed so that all of the stump is included, increasing the bowler’s chance of success by 19mm. it doesn’t sound much but it is significant and is good for the game, I think. The same applies to adjudicating if the batsman’s pads were struck in line with the stumps. This video explains it very well if you care to take a look.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/story/1058755.html

I will be attending the first two days of the second Test in Hobart – my first visit to Bellerive Oval (I refuse to call it that other name).  I am almost excited about this as my birding daytrip to Bruny Island (which should give you a hint about my new number one pastime). Now if I can just remember my password, I can upload the post to the dongles blog.