At the beginning of a One Day International (ODI) match, the teams would list 12 players, where the twelfth man actually could make a tangible impact in the game — The Super Sub.
They could either replace a bowler and finish their quota, be picked as a wicketkeeper (which usual substitutes could not without special permission) or could replace a batter for the remainder of the game.
The SuperSub Rule briefly lasted between 2005 and 2006, but due to its controversial nature, was removed by 2006.
Why did the SuperSub Innovation Fail?
The Super Sub rule failed due to the rigidity in the system.
The substitute player had to be picked before the toss. Hence, variations in the game could nullify the substitute selection. What if a team went with four pace bowlers and the ball started to stop a bit? What if a team needed an extra batter after an early collapse? The Super Sub could not flow with the game and hence, it failed to bring the results it once promised.
In addition, teams brought specialist fielders to replace bowlers to keep energy in the field, which was frowned upon by the opposition.
The X Factor Rule in Big Bash
The Big Bash is now trying out some innovations like the X-Factor.
The X-Factor has the chance of substituting a player after the 10th over in a T20 game, thereby giving both teams a fair level playing field and flexibility.
If ODI Cricket is to Survive, SuperSub and Other Innovations Need to Comeback
At a time when ODI cricket is struggling to find relevance, South Africa are willingly forfeiting an ODI series and jeopardizing their World Cup direct qualification chances to accommodate home grown T20 Leagues, innovations like the SuperSub should be added again.
If the ICC doesn’t act now, the ODI game is good as over.
What do you think? What other innovations could make the ODI game relevant again?
At the beginning of a One Day International (ODI) match, the teams would list 12 players, where the twelfth man actually could make a tangible impact in the game — The Super Sub. They could either replace a bowler and finish their quota, be picked as a wicketkeeper (which usual substitutes could not without special permission),or could replace a batter for the remainder of the game.
Who Was the First SuperSub in Cricket?
Vikram Solanki, pictured above, was the first SuperSub. On July 7th, 2005 he became the first SuperSub after replacing Simon Jones.
Why did the SuperSub Innovation Fail?
The Super Sub rule failed due to the rigidity in the system since the substitute player had to be picked before the toss.
How long did the SuperSub rule last?
The SuperSub rule lasted about one year, between 2005 and 2006.
And indeed, they did. Over the next hundred years, several of these challenging problems were either completely answered or partially solved. However, some of these problems remain unsolved even after a few centuries and failed attempts by great mathematicians.
At this point, you must be thinking, “Why I am reading four paragraphs of math when I signed up for cricket?”
Don’t worry. Here comes the cricket.
2021 had a fair share of its problems for cricket—The Azeem Rafiq scandals, Tim Paine’s sexting exit, Thailand women losing a spot in the World Cup due to a flawed system, Glenn Maxwell, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Tom Banton taking time off due to mental health, Quinton de Kock’s kneeling issue in the T20 World & then retiring from Test cricket at the age of 29, the dissolution of the ODI Super League, New Zealand & England pulling out of Pakistan, the Afghanistan crisis, The Hundred Vs County Cricket debate, and just a general overdose of the IPL & cricket.
For a full read on these issues, check the following articles out:
Today I propose a list of 15 problems that will keep the cricket community (ICC, administrators, and cricketers themselves) busy for the next decade.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Neither do I have any monetary reward for you. I offer possible solutions—some of them you might like. Others? Not so much. So, then what is the point of all this?
The point is to churn up debate and conversations in the cricket community so eventually some of these solutions reach the upper echelons of the cricket boards and ICC. Comment below on your thoughts and ideas. Who knows, your idea might one day change cricket altogether.
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1. Need for a Global Cricket Calendar and T20 Leagues
The Problem: How can the cricket calendar provide space to the three international formats—Test, ODI, and T20I—as well as the growing T20 leagues?
These days, cricket is here, there, and everywhere. Today, we have the BPL, PSL, IPL, Global T20 Canda, T20 Vitality Blast, The Hundred, CPL, Shpageeza Cricket League, T10 League, SLPL, MSL, Super Smash, and the Big Bash running from January to December.
Cricket will hit its ceiling in the next 5-10 years. With new T20 leagues growing around the world, IPL becoming a 10-team venture (twice a year IPL also proposed), T10 leagues, The Hundred, a ‘Ninety-90 Bash’, & other retired professional leagues adding to the calendar, what is the limit?
And don’t get me wrong. Leagues are not necessarily a bad thing—more opportunities for Associate cricketers, professional life for players who cannot make their international XIs, and more match practice & auditions to make comeback cases, but it does threaten the existence of international cricket as a whole.
Two-Three month reservation for the pinnacle of international cricket (T20/ODI WC, WTC Final), without T20 leagues during this period.
Reinstatement of the Champions League as the center of the T20 yearly calendar.
Enforcement of maximum of 3 leagues per year for a nationally contracted player.
Eventually, cricket may need to adopt the soccer (European football) model.
International games reserved only for ODI World Cup qualification, WTC matches, and some friendlies/warm-ups. As many have suggested, bilateral T20Is should be scrapped totally.
Players contracted by year-long leagues. They take leave to play a couple of international games every now and then until the World Cup, which dominates the summer every couple of years.
Experimental formats like T10 cricket and ‘Ninety-90’ Bash should end. Who knows, we might be playing a Super Over league at this rate.
The Indian Premier League and the BCCI holds a bit of influence over the cricket finances. If they reject any of the calendar limits, that may the end of any negotiations even though all the other cricketing nations might agree.
2. Decisiveness and Pathways on Olympics
The Problem: The ICC on cricket’s inclusion in the Olympics—Yes, No, maybe so?
For too long, cricket has dabbled with the idea of being in the Olympics and are closer than ever in making a decision. The 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games will include a women’s 8-team T20 tournament. USA Cricket hopes for the inclusion of cricket in the 2028 LA Olympics and the 2032 Brisbane Olympics being ICC’s long-term goal.
However, what format will it be? T10? T20? If it is T10, does that mean cricket will have a fourth international format? How will qualification work? At this point, there are way too many questions and zero details on a path forward.
If cricket is serious about being in the Olympics, the administrators need to get their acts together. One or two meetings a year just doesn’t cut it.
It is worth a try regardless of the format. Ideally T20 cricket, starting from the 2028 LA Olympics (building upon USA’s Major League Cricket) would be great for the game.
The format of soccer’s 4 group of 4 is a good template (16 teams in the Olympics instead of 32 in the FIFA World Cup to keep the WC as the pinnacle product). If the T20I WC expands to 16-24 teams (both men/women) in the next decade, the Olympics can start with 8-12 teams with the best 2-3 teams qualifying from each region.
Not every country has cricketing infrastructure. To create a consistent following, cricket at Olympics can only succeed if it is at every iteration. Unless cricket stadiums are built in every nation on earth, the ICC will have some complications in the early years at the Olympics.
Another tricky slope to navigate is the West Indies. Since each nation like Jamaica and Barbados will play the Olympics as its own nation, those teams will be significantly weaker in strength than the West Indies cricket team.
3. Expansion of the Women’s Game and Need for WIPL
The Problem: Women’s cricket is now mainstream, but is the structure in place to take the game forward?
Between 2017- March 2020, women’s cricket enjoyed a sort of golden era. The quality of cricket and broadcast in the 2017 ODI World Cup brought new fans to the game, and a record 86,174 attendance at the MCG for the 2020 WT20 Final proved that women’s cricket was on the rise.
However, the pandemic has exposed several gaps in the women’s game. For almost 12 months, women’s international cricket was largely halted around the world while the men’s IPL happened twice. Several smaller boards like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have not seen much gameplay. Although India have played a few internationals, there does not seem to be a plan for women’s domestic cricket. And a request for the women’s IPL is falling on deaf ears.
Add to that, the crisis faced by Thailand, one of the rising teams in women’s cricket. When omicron abruptly cancelled the qualifying tournament, it was tough to not see them qualify for the ODI World Cup despite being #1 in the group since their ODIs were not given ODI status.
Surely the structure and expansion in women’s cricket needs more thought, structure, and investment.
In order for the multi-format series to become the standard, more Test cricket and 3-day practice matches have to become the norm, which will take time.
4. Planned T20 Exposure for Cricket’s Growth
The Problem: Roadmap and resource management needed for the rapid growth of T20I cricket in emerging markets.
While women’s cricket and the Olympics are avenues to cricket’s global expansion, the ICC is utilizing T20 cricket for the spread of the game. In 2018, T20I status was granted to every cricket team (As of January 2022, 91 men’s teams and 53 women’s teams are in the T20I rankings). Further, a regional qualifier structure was provided for future T20 World Cups, which will be held every two years.
All this is good, but how are the resources going to be divided among these nations? Will they get professional international stadiums, broadcasting rights, DRS, and facilities? Will they be able to host tournaments? (like the earlier ICC Knockout tournaments). Step in the right direction, but a lot of work to do in the decade ahead.
Just like a major Asia Cup tournament, each continent should set up their own major tournament (separate from the regional qualifiers). This will ensure that there is a systematic ranking/room to grow for the newer teams in each continent, and they are not here just to make up the numbers.
If teams ranked at the very bottom continue to lose, they might leave the game altogether. Some sort of incentive needs to be provided to these lower ranked newer cricketing nations.
II. Standard of Cricket
5. Standardization of Pitches in Test Match Cricket
The Problem: How Can We Balance Pitches to Minimize Boring Draws and 2-Day Tests?
In the 2000s, stellar middle orders and flat pitches combined for some high scoring matches and boring draws. Over the last 5-10 years, a great crop of fast bowlers (and spinners in the subcontinent) combined with pitches suited to the home side has made 2-day and 3-day Tests a recurring event.
Keep the pitches suited to home teams with 4-Day Tests (more on this later)
Preparing pitches suited to overseas conditions in domestic cricket (example: More spin tracks – weather permitting – in England’s county circuit) or encouraging/funding spin from an age group level (How India progressively became a better fast bowling nation, England can do that in the long run).
ICC standardize the pitches across the globe.
The beauty of Test cricket is in its variety. If the batters cannot overcome the challenge, so be it. That is life.
6. The Toss
The Problem: Is the toss leading to too many predictable results?
It was clear in the IPL and the 2021 T20 World Cup in the UAE that teams winning the toss and batting second had a higher probability of winning.
The beauty of the toss is in the uncertainty, and when things start to get predictable, innovation becomes the need of the hour.
Tosses impact T20Is and Test cricket more than ODIs. So, one thought is to start experimenting with various ideas (listed below and more) in T20 leagues or domestic 4-day cricket, while leaving ODI cricket the same as it is now.
Each team alternates decision to bat/bowl in a series. (If an odd number, last match is decided by a coin toss…)
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Cricket is already complicated, why make it more complicated?
7. Bat Vs Ball Debate
The Problem: The Eternal Debate—How Can We better balance bat vs ball advantage?
This is the Riemann Hypothesis of cricket. A seemingly intuitive problem that is always up for discussion, has never been solved, and is the unproven underlying assumption that is the basis of strategy for the rest of cricket.
In limited overs cricket, the bat dominates (bigger bats, flat pitches, stronger players, etc.). In Test cricket over the last decade, the ball has dominated.
I have a truly marvelous solution to this, but the margins are too narrow to contain for my answer [Fermat’s Last Theorem].
Just kidding! Here they are:
Abolish wide behind leg side in limited overs. Small margins really do hurt the bowlers.
In Test cricket, one more review to the batting side instead of the bowling side.
In limited overs, one bowler can bowl a couple of overs more than the maximum limit of 10 overs (ODI) or 4 overs (T20I)
As players get physically stronger and technology increases, the balance will always remain one side or another. However, as spinners have shown in the middle overs in a T20 or fast bowlers during the death with the slower balls, adaptation of skill is required, not so much the mechanics of the bat and ball.
III. Survival of Test & ODI Cricket
8. Disparity Between Level of Performance in Test Cricket
The Problem: How can the gap between top and mid-tiered teams be reduced?
The gap between top and mid-tiered Test nations is gradually eroding confidence in Test cricket. Even though some spectacular matches in the last five years have reinvigorated Test cricket, gaps in skill level between the top sides and mid-tiered/bottom ranked teams makes for a boring viewing on the other end of the spectrum.
Social media’s pendulum swings from “Test cricket is the best format” claims to “Is Test cricket dying?” every few months.
Case and point: Men’s Ashes 2021-2022. Except for Jonny Bairstow’s 4th Test, there was absolutely no resistance. There have been several subsequent calls for the 5-Test Ashes to be reduced to a 3 or 4 match affair. If England, who play 10-15 Tests a year, are not properly utilizing resources and are behind the golden standard, how can we expect the likes of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland, and Afghanistan to compete?
Regularized international schedule should dominate bilateral agreements. Australia’s refusal to host Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, and now Afghanistan (for other reasons) does not help smaller teams get the experience. The more the Top 4 countries play the mid-tiered teams, the better they will get in the long run.
Prioritizing domestic funding over white ball funding (County cricket vs white ball dominance)
Abolishment of two-Test series (The smaller countries only get to play 2 Tests while the Big 3 and South Africa gets 4-5 matches per series).
Relegation-Promotion system (details outlined below) in three brackets: Bracket A (#1-6), Bracket B (#7-12), and Bracket C (non-Test playing nations)
Money, money, money. Even the World Test Champions like New Zealand cannot afford to host more than two Tests due to finances. Ideally, we would like an equal distribution of Test match cricket, but if there are no finances, there is no cricket.
9. Associate nations, the ODI Super League, and the Expansion of Test Cricket
The Problem: Lack of clarity is hurting the survival of Associate nations, the backbone of global cricket.
The ODI Super League provided Ireland and Netherlands much needed game time against the top eight teams. Ireland actually has done a pretty decent job and Netherlands’ cricketers received much needed stability, but the inexplicable cancellation of the ODI Super League has stumped many. The World Test Championship has flaws, but the ODI Super League was a step in the right direction.
Yes, T20I is the right vehicle for growth in globalization of cricket, but should teams like Ireland be alienated, who have invested in ODI cricket and want to play Test cricket?
The ICC suggested that they may trial teams like Scotland and Netherlands into Test cricket as a temporary Test status. That might be a good move if it actually happens, but here are some other solutions:
Touring Associate and new Test nations before embarking on a 4-5 Test tour (playing ODIs/T20Is vs Scotland/Netherlands & 1-off Test vs Ireland before a series in England, vs Afghanistan before India, vs PNG before NZ & Aus, Namibia/Zimbabwe vs SA). This is happening more and more with Ireland’s progress, but it is only the beginning.
Revival of the Tri-Series? Similar idea as above, but to reduce logistic and travel issues, two full members plus an Associate nation for an ODI tri-series in a common location.
Mandatory 1-2 Associate players per squad per T20 league. Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, Tim David, and Sandeep Lamichanne are great templates. These players will be a boon for the franchises, not a burden.
10. 4-Day Tests for Men, 5-Day Tests for Women?
The Problem: Making Test cricket accessible for spectators without jeopardizing the game.
The Decision Review System (DRS) and pink-ball day-night Tests have now been adopted as major innovations in the game which had resistance in the early days. In the age of technology and innovation, cricket has to find ways to re-invent itself and stay relevant every 5-10 years.
One such suggestion is 4-day Tests (plus a 5th day for rain affected games) for men’s cricket, while expanding to 5-day Tests in women’s cricket, especially since they do not play as many Tests.
Just like D/N Tests were tested one Test per series every now and then, similarly one of the Tests can be scheduled as a 4-day game (and vice-versa for women)
Draws. One of the major drivers for 5-matches in women’s Tests are the number of draws. This forces teams to declare early (even when they are trailing) and enforce follow-on more often. If men’s game introduces 4-day Tests, then strategies will similarly begin to change and/or draws will increase.
11. Fixes to the World Test Championship
The Problem: Test matches are now better contextualized, but a lot is still left to be desired in achieving a better system.
We have already provided several solutions for World Test Champions in our earlier articles (shown below), so here is a summary:
Number of Tests Played is uneven: In the first WTC cycle, England played 21 Tests, while West Indies, South Africa, and New Zealand played 11 each. Marquee series like Ashes, Border-Gavaskar, Basil D’Oliveira Trophy, etc. are 4-5 Tests each while SL & NZ only play 2 Tests regularly.
Currently no distinction is made for Home/Away advantage: Bangladesh winning in NZ, West Indies winning in Bangladesh, India winning in Australia, or Australia drawing in England should be worth more than home wins.
All-or-Nothing System:Test matches occur over 5 days or a max-of-15 sessions. One session can have a huge impact on the series. Yet, the points are awarded on an all-or-nothing basis.
No system is every going to be perfect, but at least more of an attempt can be made. One of the other pitfalls is the pandemic. This has severely restricted travels between countries and longer, more straining quarantine rules. Hence, even more uneven number of Tests are begin played.
IV. Other Concerns
12. Mental Health Support & Overkill of Cricket
The Problem: Mental Health Awareness A Necessity in Today’s sport
Non-stop cricket alongside heavy quarantine is changing the commitments of a professional cricketer. Itis no longer feasible to play three international formats, travel around the world, away from family, and still have a sane mental health.
Marcus Trescothick, Glenn Maxwell, and Ben Stokes are some of the many high-profile players who have taken time off the game to focus on their health. They have paved a way for many others in the future to follow. The real question is, does the cricket fraternity have the support each player needs and deserves?
Support Groups/Staff, Paid Leave
Separate teams for separate formats (Maximum of two formats per player)
Mental health is still looked as taboo in many cultures. Even though awareness is increasing, some players may still keep things to themselves, which is detrimental.
In addition to mental health, physical health is also a concern as more research is done on concussions in general. Concussion substitutes were a great innovation to the game, but it took the death of Phillip Hughes for the radical change. Let us make sure to be proactive before any such incidents. Injury prevention and player health should be duly monitored.
13. Spot Fixing and Associate Nations
The Problem: Match-Fixing for the Next Decade
Brendan Taylor’s story illustrates that even in the year 2022, match fixing & spot-fixing is still an issue cricket needs to be careful against. After the spot fixing that emerged from Pakistan’s tour of England in 2010 and the growth of T20 leagues, there is a lot more education and maturity in ICC’s anti-corruption unit.
However, teams like Zimbabwe and Associate nations, whose players do not earn a survivable income or cash flow from leagues, are easy targets for corruptors (as seen in the UAE). So the nature of match fixing might have changed since the 1990s, but it is still a problem that threatens the core fabric of the sport in one way or another.
The structure of the ICC anti-corruption unit and education before every major tournament shows that cricket has already matured in most of this regard. The real responsibility now lies on the players for self-reporting such approaches.
Healthy compensation for Associate players can also prevent such instances.
In the age of technology, new forms of corruption might appear (cyberattacks, ransomwares, NFTs?) ICC needs to be proactive and take actions earlier.
The Problem: ICC and cricket boards’ philosophical stand on the Afghanistan women’s team and the status of the men’s team.
Post the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in September, cricket’s stakeholders have been sending mixed messages. Australia rescinded their invitation to Afghanistan for a Test match due to a lack of a women’s team/Taliban’s stance on women. However, requirement for a women’s team was waived off when Afghanistan became a Full member four years ago.
The ICC allowed Afghanistan in the 2021 T20 World Cup at UAE and many Afghani players are contracted around the world despite the drama. On the other hand, Zimbabwe was not allowed to qualify for the 2019 ODI World Cup due to crisis in the Zimbabwean government.
Why are players/ sports’ teams penalized for government interference? Why is different approach taken against different countries? Who sets the precedent?
Afghanistan is a cricket-loving country, and we should not stop its growth despite political tensions. They have now qualified for their 2nd U-19 semi-finals in the last three attempts. Let the men’s team continue to blossom while promoting cricket in age levels for women’s cricket if situation allows.
Each country might have a different political relationship with Afghanistan, which may mean a conflict of interest. As a byproduct, the relationship between other cricket boards can get strained.
15. Player Behavior
Problem: Similar Player Behavorial Issues, Different Consequences
As players gain more power over administrators due to financial security and unions, there have been some side-effects. Players have been acting up a lot lately.
Shakib Al Hasan’s antics (not much backlash), Ollie Robinson’s tweets (socially alienated), Alex Hales & Joe Clarke (not selected in the national side), Sri Lanka’s players in England (suspended for six months), Steven Smith, David Warner, & Cameron Bancroft’s sandpaper gate ball tampering scandal (banned by Cricket Australia for 1 year), Netherlands’ ball tampering (4 matches ICC), Quinton de Kock defying teammates (kneeling and not playing) and Virat Kohli shouting at the stumps (no consequence).
Digging up old tweets should be removed as a cultural practice.
For major offences, a uniform code of conduct that applies to every player regardless of the cricket board they are playing under.
An impartial body assigned to monitor and judge player behavior for uniform convictions
Each circumstance is different. Uniform offences might not be ideal. On the other hand, ICC vs national boards hierarchy will become muddled if ICC centralizes power.
This is not the end. More avenues and ideas to explore for sure. Please bring in your comments. Would love to hear YOUR opinion. Thanks everyone for reading ❤ Anyway, time to go the duel or swim across the shores of France…
*Thank You Credit: In conversation with my friend, Vandit. Thanks for listening to my ideas and engaging in meaningful discussion.
We bring to you the list of best Test matches over the past four years. Thrilling finishes galore! Who said Test matches are boring?
by Nitesh Mathur, 08/27/2021
West Indies’ 1-wicket victory against Pakistan and India’s comeback at Lord’s have added another couple of great matches in our memory banks. We have seen some exhilarating Test cricket in the past couple of years.
If there was ever any doubt on the quality of Test cricket, here are 18 matches that have revived Test cricket in the past 4 years.
Match Summary: Pakistan: 376 & 174/8 declared; West Indies: 247 & 202
Player of the Match: Roston Chase
After 95 overs of resistance, with only 7 balls to go for a valiant draw, Shannon Gabriel heaves Yasir Shah and gets bowled. Roston Chase stranded on 101* (239) after batting for an epic 366 minutes. Strategic stroke or brain fade from Gabriel?
In their first innings, Australia had collapsed from 161-1 to 202-10. In the second innings, they had 462 runs to chase or 140 overs to bat. And 140 overs they batted. The man of the hour was Usman Khawaja – 85 (175) & 141 (302), batting for a total of 766 minutes (around 13 hours) to give Australia one of their most savored draws.
“It was assumed that Australia would lose that Test match. What Australia was looking for…was a test of character” – Amazon Prime The Test
This was Australia’s first true moral victory since Steve Smith & David Warner were banned. Usman Khawaja had never truly solidified his place in the Australian XI, but this innings ensured his career would always be remembered due to this legendary knock.
Match Summary: South Africa: 235 & 259; Sri Lanka: 191 & 304/9
Player of the Match: Kusal Perera
In a mammoth chase of 304, Sri Lanka were struggling at 110/5. What followed was a knock for the ages. Kusal Perera hit a miraculous 153* (200) with 12 sixes & 5 fours. The last wicket partnership between Perera & Vishwa Fernando was 78*, with only 6* (27) coming from Fernando’s bat.
“He’s done it! He absolutely does it. One of the greatest see from a Sri Lankan outside Sri Lanka…What a historical day at Durban.” Watch the winning moment here, a contender for the greatest Test match innings of all time.
Sri Lanka go on to win the series 2-0. First time anAsian team won a Test series in South Africa.
Match Summary: Australia: 179 & 246; England: 67 & 362/9
Player of the Match: Ben Stokes
Despite being a wonderful series to watch all around, the thunder was stolen by Ben Stokes’ 135*, Jack Leach’s glasses, Nathan Lyon’s run out opportunity, and Tim Paine’s missed DRS review. A 76* (62) partnership for the final wicket. Oohs & Aahs. Reverse sweeps, scoops, and hoicks. Just a great day to be a cricket fan. One of the greatest innings of all time.
“Cut away. Cut away for 4. What an innings. What a player. Take a bow Ben Stokes. The Ashes well and truly alive because of one cricketer & that cricketer is Benjamin Stokes.” (Nasser Hussain) Entire Day 5 minute highlights
This series had so many moments. Stuart Broad 23 wickets & dismissed Warner 7 times. Steve Smith’s legendary masterclass was breathtaking. 774 runs, 3 tons, 3 fifties, best of 211, 110.57 average. Jofra Archer’s Test debut, Smith’s concussion, and Marnus Labuschagne’s entrance as cricket’s first concussion substitute—353 runs, 4 fifties at 51.00. Not a bad start, I say. Ideal beginning for the World Test Championship, a 2-2 Ashes series.
Match Summary: England: 204 & 313; Sri Lanka: 318 & 200/6
Player of the Match: Shannon Gabriel
It was a Test match that went all the way to session 3 of Day 5, which became a common theme for Test matches post the COVID break. After Shannon Gabriel’s 9-fer & #1 all-round Jason Holder had given West Indies the advantage, they characteristically lost it on the final day. The Windies had collapsed for 27/3 in a chase of 200. Then an inspirational 95 by Jermaine Blackwood 2.0 brought WI back with the supporting cast of a hobbling John Campbell & the engine room—Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich, and Jason Holder.
Commentary/Winning Moment (None other than than Ian Bishop)
“Victory for the West Indies. A most significant moment for Jason Holder and his team. Great credit to their skill, their commitment. The West Indian people and world credit owes them a great debt…” Commentary Video
The coronavirus had hit and ravaged the world. Worldwide lockdown was in-effect and sports had closed its doors for months. Thanks to the West Indies & England cricket boards, players, the support staff, & essential works, cricket made a comeback via bio-bubbles.
Match Summary: New Zealand: 431 & 180/5 declared; Pakistan: 318 & 200/6
Player of the Match: Kane Williamson
With a chase of 373 at hand in tough New Zealand conditions, Pakistan were 4/2 at tea on Day 4.One of those one-sided home victories for New Zealand again? Not this time. Not with Fawad Alam. With support from the ever dependable trio Azhar Ali, Mohammad Rizwan, and Faheed Ashraf, Alam scored 102over 6 and a half hours. Yet a Pakistan-esque collapsed followed after surviving 123.3 overs. Pakistan lost with only 4.4 overs to go. What a jumping catch by Santner as well for the last wicke.t. The drama.
“[Catch it] Oh he’s done it. He’s pulled a hander! Mitchell Santner has done it! Mitchell Santner has finished the game for New Zealand. Look at the scenes!” Commentary Video
Last match of the decade. Turning point for Test cricket. Brilliant rearguard effort despite the loss. And Fawad Alam. What a story. Dropped after 3 Tests despite scoring a 168 on debut. Criticized for scoring hard, ugly runs with a weird stance. Left out for a decade. . Grinded in domestic cricket. Runs after runs. Till he could be ignored no more. Has now scored 4 hundreds since his comeback. Patience is, indeed, the key to success.
India had won the 2018 series 2-1 on the back of Pujara’s toil – 521 (1258). Could they repeat the magic in 2021 with Warner & Smith?
It began with the 36 All-Out at Adelaide. Spectacular bowling performance from Australia. Then Rahane’s century & calm captaincy rejuvenated India at Melbourne. Show of resilience and immense mental strength followed from Vihari-Ashwin after the Pujara-Pant show to secure a draw in Sydney. Finally the young brigade breached the Gabba Fortress. Shubman Gill, Shardul Thakur, Washington Sundar, Mohammad Siraj, and Rishabh Pant the stars.
“Pujara, to a younger generation is just a curiosity. As the game moves more and more towards T20, which is the modern savior of our game, the word resilience starts to go out because there is no time for resilience. ” – Harsha Bhogle on Pujara in Amazon Prime’s The Test
The 2018 victory was the first instance an Asian team has won a Test series in Australia. The 2021 series? Arguably the best Test series since Ashes 2005—This series had everything—bowling excellence, centuries, youngsters, experience, banter, sledging, draws, collapses, and chases. Even with a so-called injured ‘third string,’ squad, whenever India were down, they came back with new hope & stars.
Match Summary: Sri Lanka: 135 & 359; England: 421 & 76/3
Player of the Match: Joe Root
The Joe Root Vs Lasith Embuldeniya series. On paper, does not look too close, but the 1st Test was actually engrossing to watch. In chase of 74, England were 14/3 with Joe Root run out (the only way he can get out these days). Jonny Bairstow & Dan Lawrence took England home but the tension was high. 4 innings, 446 runs for Root, 15 wickets for Embuldeniya. Individual brilliance.
“Massive, massive. This is massive. England in a spot of bother.” (After Root’s dismissal) Commentary Video
Start of Root’s magical year; English fan stranded in Galle cheers from the fort; England won the series 2-0 to extend their overseas winning streak to 5 after they had won 3-1 in South Africa earlier. They would win another in Chennai before Axar Patel decimated England’s subcontinental dreams. (England had also won the 2018 tour of Sri Lanka 3-0 in this same timeframe).
Match Summary: Bangladesh: 430 & 223/8 declared; West Indies: 259 & 395/7
Player of the Match: Kyle Mayers
Imagine that you are not sending your 1st XI to Bangladesh, a spin-heavy nation that has had an impeccable record in the past 5 years. No expectations before hand.Bangladesh would have been happy with their effort with centuries from Mehidy Hasan Miraz & Mominul Haque. They even declared in the second innings.
A successful chase of 395 runs followed in 127.3 overs with twodebutants, Kyle Mayers (40 & 210*) & Nkrumah Bonner (86)sealing it for the West Indies with a remarkable partnership of 216 runs. Fourth innings match-winning double century on debut in the subcontinent. Wow.
Commentary/Winning Moment (Ian Bishop Again)
“A win to warm the hearts of every West Indian wherever you are in the world! New heroes have emerged from the ashes..” Commentary Video
West Indies won the series 2-0 in Bangladesh with a depleted squad. The greatest chase of all-time?
Match Summary: India: 217 & 170; New Zealand: 249 & 140/2
Player of the Match: Kyle Jamieson
Under difficult batting conditions and rain all around, both teams fought it out till the very end. The WTC Final was expected to be a boring draw two rains and bad light. Instead, it became a thriller that went deep into Day 6, final session. With a chase of 139, Latham-Conway had departed to spin trial by R Ashwin. Reversed DRS decision, maidens, and a dropped catch later. At 44/2, anything could have happened the way Ashwin was bowling. When the time came, the experienced duo Kane Williamson & Ross Taylor came together, soaked in the pressure, and after took New Zealand home safely.
Match Summary: Pakistan: 217 & 203; West Indies: 253 & 168/9
Player of the Match: Jayden Seales
168 target. West Indies collapse to 16/3. After a classic 55 by Jermaine Blackwood, West Indies slip to 114/7. Pakistan needed 3 wickets. West Indies 54 runs. Then Kemar Roach came to the party and had to the take the responsibility of ‘batting with the tail.‘. Roach’s 30* and a valiant 17-run partnership between the mentor-protege pair, Roach-Jayden Seales guided West Indies to a memorable 1-wicket victory.
Match Summary: India: 217 & 203; England: 253 & 168/9
Player of the Match: KL Rahul
Day 5, All Results possible. England Favorites. India, not known for their tailender run-machines, unleash Mohammad Shami (56*) & Jasprit Bumrah (34*). 89* partnership as India declared with 2 sessions to go. Then, the pacers fire in unison as India wreck England for 120.
“Unbelievable performance from India. They were up against it. England were favorites coming into Day 5. Kohli an his men have turned it all around.” Commentary Video
Victory at Lord’s. Another display of fighting it out and not giving up for Team India. Australia tour was not a fluke. This Indian team is on the rise.
Match Summary:India 345 & 234/7 declared; New Zealand 296 & 165/9
Player of the Match: Shreyas Iyer
By Tea on Day 5, the main batters for New Zealand—Latham, Williamson, and Taylor had all departed. Somerville’s 36 (125) delayed what seemed inevitable for India. Little did India know that they would run into Test debutant Rachin (Rahul + Sachin) Ravindra—18* (91) & Ajaz Patel 2* (29) to hold out for a memorable draw.Add bad light to the drama as well.
“For a long period of time, New Zealand have struggled to find wins or draws in this country. There is a lot of respect between these two sides. Lot of respect between the skippers.” Commentary Video
Match Summary:New Zealand 328 & 169; Bangladesh 458 & 42/2
Player of the Match: Ebadot Hossain
After Bangladesh took lead in the first innings, but Will Young-Ross Taylor had taken NZ to 136/2. In the next hour, 136/3, 136/4, 136/5, 154/6, 160/7, 160/8, 161/9, 169/10. The hour that changed it all feat Ebadot Hossain.
“There it is! Finds the gap and Bangladesh have finally conquered the World Test Champions. And have their first ever Test victory over New Zealand, home or away. It has taken 16 attempts against New Zealand but historic ground has now been broken.” Commentary Video
The greatest comeback of all time? World Test Champions, undefeated at home for a few years, against a team not known for winning overseas. The best part of all? Bangladesh dominated the entire Test and new heroes emerging—Mahmudul Hasan Joy, Mominul Haque, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Liton Das, Mehdiy Hasan Miraz, Ebadot Hossain. No Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, & Mahmudullah, and Mushfiqur Rahim only scoring 12 & 5.
Match Summary:Australia 416/8 declared & 265/6 declared; England 294 & 270/9
Player of the Match: Usman Khawaja
England 3-0 down in the Ashes series. Very likely the series could have become 5-0. First innings, Australia scored 400+, courtesy Khawaja’s comeback century. England came out with a positive attitude, with Jonny Bairstow recording England’s first ton of the series. Khawaja followed with another ton, which set the Test beautifully for Day 5, fifth session. Last batter to go, Labuschagne and Steve Smith bowling leggies in tandem. Against Stuart Broad & jimmy Anderson. Mouthwatering stuff.
“Last ball…He’s done it! He’s survived it. England have survived it. They’ve batted out the day. They’ve batted a hundred and two overs.
Last shining moment for the Broad-Anderson duo? In terms of Test cricket, this week (starting on January 43rd, 2022) was the peak. NZ vs Bangladesh, Ashes 4th Test, and Ind vs SA 2nd Test, all classic thrillers.
Match Summary:India 202 & 266;South Africa 229 & 243/3
Player of the Match: Dean Elgar
India had won the first Test of the series comfortably. This was India’s best chances to conquer South Africa. Successful overseas victories in Australia and England, an unparalleled depth, and a South Africa team at their lowest point. In a low scoring series, 202 & 266 were decent scores. Day 4, 240 monumental target for SA against a bowling line up of Bumrah-Shami-Thakur-Siraj-Ashwin, and what happens? Elgar takes body blows, does not hesitate, and makes a glorious 96*. No captain Kohli. India succumbs to defeat by 7 wickets.
“That’s it! History has been made at the Wanderers. and South Africa have fought back brilliantly! Take a bow, Dean Elgar….Fantastic effort, leading from the front. He’s worn a few on the body but hasn’t bothered him. Shown character and desire, grit & determination to get his team over the line. And set up the series beautifully.” Commentary Video
A win against India at Wanderers at last. First 200+ chase for SA in a decade. After losing the first Test of a series, this was truly a comeback of the ages. India missed their golden chance due to some tough cricket from the Proteas. Third Test, captain Kohli came back. Rishabh Pant scored 100*, but Keegan Petersen’s 72 & 82 meant that SA chased 212/3 yet again.
Match Summary:Australia 337/9 declared & 216/7 declared; England 297 & 245/9 declared
Player of the Match: Heather Knight
Heather Knight’s Test, but Australia had the upper hand. After they declared for 216/7 in the 2nd innings, England took on the challenge for the chase of 257. At 218/3 with Nat Sciver & Sophia Dunkley, it seemed that England might win this. But Alana King, Beth Mooney’s catch, Sutherland’s bouncers, and a run out ensured England’s collapse. Last ball, full toss, England 245/9. The narrowest of draws.
“And it’s a full toss. It is a drawww! And it is one of the very best Test matches we have seen in women’s Ashes.
In Women’s Test cricket, this was a friendly reminder that Test cricket can flourish if given the chance and plenty of opportunities, both at the domestic and international level. With focus on the 4-day vs 5-day debate, this Test came at hte right time.
Why Are We Seeing Close Test Matches So Frequently?
For an away team to win a Test match, it takes an immense amount of effort and equal amount of fightback from the home team. Hence, winning an away Test usually means going deep into the 4th of 5th Day, which makes for an interesting viewing. On the other hand, home team in friendly bowling conditions mean Test matches can end within 3-4 days (even 2 days).
More away victories or draws means more close Test matches.
What do you remember about Test cricket in the 2010s? Mitchell Johnson 2013, the advent of the Day-Night Test, Smith-Warner saga, South Africa’s blockathon in Delhi, and excellence from the South African team, Dale Steyn, Anderson-Broad, Boult-Southee, Starc-Hazlewood-Lyon-Cummins, Jadeja-Ashwin, Virat Kohli, Joe Root, Steve Smith, and Kane Williamson.
Above all, though, I remember disproportionate margins by which home teams won. India losing in England 0-4 (with RP Singh flying from Miami due to excessive injury list) & Australia 0-4 (2011). India came back to England with 1-3 (2014), and 1-4 (2018). Their record in South Africa and New Zealand, remains disastrous till today. England and Australia were either swept apart or struggled to make a mark in India or Bangladesh. Meanwhile, Pakistan had made UAE their fortress under Misbah-ul-Haq.
Post the 2010-12 England generation (think Alastair Cook Ashes 2010 & England victory 2-1 in India), except for South Africa, no other team seemed competitive overseas. Only Faf du Plessis’ Adelaide debut & England’s defiance via Matt Prior against New Zealand (2013) stretched to the end of Day 5.
From the list above, we can see that the tide is finally turning. Even in England’s disaster tour of India earlier this year (1-3), they won the first Test in Chennai.
Rise of Away Wins, Sporting Declarations, and Pakistan/West Indies
So why have we seen a resurgence of overseas victory?
It can be attributed to 4 factors – (1) Increase depth in cricket teams in general, (2) sporting declarations (#1, #2, #5, #8, #13, #15, #17), (3) captains like Virat Kohli focusing their resources and energy on Test cricket, (4) the rise of the West Indies/Pakistan.
One might argue that West Indies still have a dismal Test record. However, we can see that they made it in this list 3 times. They have definitely become a competitive force under Jason Holder although consistency is now needed. ‘Second tier Test’ teams like West Indies, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Africa and Sri Lanka punching above their weights and winning overseas matches adds to the excitement (A Relegation-Promotion System in the World Test Championship might help out).
Anyway, here is to more great Test matches. Yes, live audience in Test cricket is decreasing and overkill of cricket/new formats might threaten Test Cricket, but as long as the cricket is good, Test matches will remain alive.
PSL finished its post-COVID leg of the tournament, and the IPL will soon have its post-COVID leg in the UAE ending just a few days before the T20 World Cup begins. The BCCI has even proposed a 10-team IPL or two IPLs in a year from next year.
Where does this stop? T10 & T20 leagues are popping left and right. Tournaments beginning, stopping, and resuming whenever they feel like. What is the result? Debatable rotation policies, career-threatening injuries, early retirements, and players choosing leagues over international cricket.
Champions League T20 (CLT20) was an intriguing experiment held between 2009-2014 that unearthed stars like Kieron Pollard. Modeled on European football, what could possibly go wrong when the best T20 teams in the world competed together?
Yet, even with such good intentions, the tournament failed—Cluttered international calendar, revenue shortfall, growing success of the IPL, and the initial failure of other leagues were prominent factors.
The strength of the IPL contract meant that if a player represented multiple teams that qualified, they would be obligated to play for their IPL team.
By 2013-14, it was evident that the Indian Premier League was miles ahead. In 2013 (MI vs RR) & 2014 (CSK vs KKR) editions, both finalists were IPL teams. In 2014, 3 out of the 4 semifinalists were IPL teams (KXIP). The domestic teams from Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, West Indies, Sri Lanka, and South Africa failed to get this far after a decent show between 2009-2012.
CLT20 catered towards the IPL, and that is why it failed.
Why is the Revival of the Champions League Needed?
Seven years later, it is time to rethink the T20 calendar. The Big Bash is now a decade old. CPL & BPL are 8 years strong. PSL is 5 years old, and even Sri Lanka, South Africa, and England have formed stable leagues.
Half a decade ago, there were just a few T20 specialists—Brendon McCullum, Brad Hodge, AB De Villiers, Yusuf Pathan, and the World Cup winning West Indies generation. Now we have T20 specialists everywhere like Babar Azam, Tom Banton, Finn Allen, Dawid Malan, Tim Seifert, Mohammad Rizwan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, James Vince, Alex Hales, Paul Stirling, David Wiese, Rovman Powell—talented players that do not make the XI or even squads of the IPL teams.
Last year, Trinbago Knight Riders were undefeated to their CPL title –12 consecutive wins. Imagine a TKR versus Mumbai Indians Champions League battle? Will be a cracker of the contest if it is a fair contest—Which team does Trinbago’s captain Pollard play for?
How Can The International and T20 Calendar Coexist?
Here are some possible solutions:
If the player is contracted by a national team, they should be obligated to represent their domestic T20 league in case of a conflict. Hence, Pollard would play for TKR instead of MI.
For a nationally contracted player, maximum of 3 leagues per year should be enforced. This would keep conflicts to a minimum.
Boards should accept responsibility and postpone the league till next year’s window in case the league is suspended.
This would lead to an interesting mix of international players in the leagues. Since NZ/Australia do not play much between June-October, players might choose IPL-the Hundred/CPL-BBL, while English players might choose PSL-IPL-The Hundred.
The Ideal Cricket Calendar
ICC has announced its tournament calendar for the next eight years. Each year, either a T20 WC, ODI WC, World Test Championship Final, or Champions Trophy will occur. A couple of months should be sidelined as the pinnacle of the international calendar.
Here is how the T20 calendar stands so far:
Bangladesh Premier League (BPL)
January – February
Pakistan Super League (PSL)
February – March
Indian Premier League (IPL)
March – May
Global T20 Canada (GT20)
June – July
T20 Vitality Blast
July – September
July – August
Caribbean Premier League (CPL)
August – September
Shpageeza Cricket League/ Afghanistan Premier League (APL)
September – October
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
November – December
Lanka Premier League (LPL)
November – December
Mzansi Super League (MSL)
November – December
December – January
Big Bash League (BBL)
December – February
If the Champions League needs to be revived, September-October is an ideal month subject to the dates of world tournaments that year.
The debate between T20 leagues and international cricket is over. The leagues are here to stay, so why not coexist in a peaceful manner? At the moment, everything is disorganized, so why not organize it for the greater good of cricket.
Champions League History (2009-2014)
# of Teams (# of Nations)
New South Wales (AUS)
Trinidad and Tobago (WI)
New South Wales, Victorian Bushrangers (AUS) Sussex Sharks, Somerset Sabres (ENG) Deccan Chargers, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Delhi Daredevils (IND) Otago Volts (NZ) Cape Cobras, Diamond Eagles (SA) Trinidad and Tobago (WI) Wayamba (SL)
Chennai Super Kings (IND)
Victorian Bushrangers, Southern Redbacks (AUS) Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore (IND) Central Districts Stags (NZ) Warriors, Highveld Lions (SA) Wayamba Elevens (SL) Guyana (WI)
Mumbai Indians (IND)
Royal Challengers Bangalore (IND)
Southern Redbacks, New South Wales Blues (AUS) Somerset (England) Royal Challengers Bangalore, Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians (IND) Warriors, Cape Cobras (SA) Trinidad and Tobago (WI)
World Test Championship Final Review – Welcome to my 150th article! New Zealand lift the World Test Championship trophy via Jamieson, Conway, Williamson-Taylor show.
After two long, pandemic induced years, the inaugural World Test Championship has finally come to an end. The Kiwis are the world champions, and they thoroughly deserved it.
Traditional English rain, Dinesh Karthik’s meteorology/commentating debut, gritty Test match batting, tall and lanky fast bowlers, de Grandhomme’s hair, a reserve sixth day coming into play, BJ Watling’s retirement, a bit of Ashwin—we saw it all.
The run-rate might have been slow, but the tussle between the top two Test teams was intense. Bowlers bowling consistently in the channel & fighting it out. Great exhibition of Test cricket, ebb and flow throughout.
Here is the World Test Championship Final Review—Match summary, review of India and New Zealand’s key performers, a THANK YOU to our audience, WTC Prediction Results, 3-match Final Debate, Stats, and WTC XI!
Before we dive into “What Went Wrong For India” or “How did NZ Win,” let us discuss what made this Test match riveting. Amidst the rain when nobody expected a result, the fast bowlers from both team delivered.
Commentators had analyzed why Shami had been ‘unlucky’ in the last tour of England. Bowled beautifully but without any returns. Not anymore. In one of his later spells in the first innings, he changed the game. The BJ Watling bowled was the ball of the match. Ishant Sharma was at his consistent best. The way he bowled maidens after maidens to Devon Conway, which prompted an uncharacteristic loose shot, was brilliant. Even though Bumrah was not at his best, his final day spell almost brought India back if not for the Pujara drop.
R Ashwin will definitely go down as an all-time best. He has rediscovered himself of late, ending up as the highest wicket-taker in the WTC. Performed across all conditions, saved a Test match in Sydney, scored a century anplug 9 wickets in his home, Chennai, and kept India in the game in the 4th innings (10-5-17-2).
New Zealand – An All-Time Attack
What are the best all-time attacks? Think West Indies’ 1980s generation, Australia’s 2000s attack, Steyn-Morkel-Rabada-Philander for that one series, Anderson-Broad, and India now getting there.
Southee-Boult-Wagner-Jamiesonsurely rank among the top. Southee’s ball to dismiss Rohit Sharma was an epic change-up in his 4-fer. Boult chipped in with Pujara, Jadeja, Rahane, & Pant’s wickets. Wagner’s intensity was breathtaking and his setup of Rahane & Jadeja was magnificent. Jamieson took the wickets but his economy rate is what suffocated India. An economy of 1.40 after 22 overs in the 1st innings and 1.25 after 25 overs in the second took the steam out of the Indian batting. Add Colin de Grandhomme in these conditions, there was no respite on offer.
1. Rohit Sharma As an Overseas Test Opener: Great or Just OK?
Rohit Sharma was criticized for his Southee leave in the 2nd innings that had him LBW, just a few overs before close on the penultimate day.
Sharma has come into his own as a Test opener in the last couple of years. With 2679 runs in 39 Tests with 7-100s, 12-50s, and a best of 212, this looks like pretty decent career after a bumpy start.
The criticism comes from the lack of hundreds in recent overseas Tests.
Overall Record (last year): 44.83 average, 161 Vs England
Overseas Innings (last year): 26 (77) & 52 (98), 44 (74) & 7 (21), and 34 (68) & 30 (81) in the WTC Final
I think he did his job pretty well. Think Aakash Chopra 2003 or Joe Denly 2019rather than Sehwag-esque performance. Rohit tired the bowlers and took the shine off the new ball but has not been hitting those daddy hundreds fans at home have become accustomed to. Just the batters after him did not follow suit and NZ have four world-class bowlers to rotate through.
Shubman Gill has always looked calm, composed, and classy on the crease in his little career, but only 3 fifties in 15 innings with the best of 91 shows that Indian openers have a conversion problem.
2. The Pujara-Rahane Conundrum
What can India do about Pujara & Rahane? Pujara’s 8 (54) & 15 (80) in the final does not inspire much confidence. His last three centuries came on that 2018 Australia tour. In this WTC cycle, he has hit nine fifties, played those against the pressure innings, taken some blows, and became a perfect foil to Pant in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, but nothing in between.
Rahane top-scored for India in the first-innings with a good-looking 49 (117) & briefly revived India with 15 (40). The concerning matter is his dismissals. First innings, Wagner had employed his troops into position. Short ball barrage was about to begin. First ball, Rahane top edges but safe. India 182-5. Next, another short ball, a lose pull, straight to the fielder. Rahane trapped. India collapse. 217-all out.
Second innings – same story. From 72-4 to 109. Good looking shots. Mini-revival after Pujara-Kohli were dismissed and Pant was dropped by Southee. Then out of the blue, he gets caught behind on the leg-side by Trent Boult. Just manages to get out in different ways.
Apart from his glorious overseas hundreds (& 96) or the twin tons in Delhi, there is not much to show. With KL Rahul, Hanuma Vihari, Abhimanyu Easwaran, and Mayank Agarwal in line, questions will be asked of the vice-captain.
Meanwhile Kohli’s hunt for his elusive 71st ton continues. His 44 was actually a good innings, but he did not convert either. When none of your middle order goes big, you are not going to win a Test, especially a final.
India 5/182 to 10/217 & 5/142 to 10/170. Ten wickets combined within 63 runs. New Zealand 5-162 to 10-249. 87 runs via Jamieson, Southee, & Boult.
That was the difference.
India has become a world-beater team with fast bowlers galore & growing depth over the past couple of years, but they have yet to counter the Sam Currans or Kyle Jamiesons.
1. Conway & Jamieson: Cricket Is A Piece of Cake
International cricket is a piece of cake for Devon Conway & Kyle Jamieson, isn’t it?
In the context of tough low-scoring match, a 70-run opening partnership between Latham and Conway was crucial. Conway’s 54 (153) was the highest score of New Zealand’s first innings. His mode of dismissal would concern him, but otherwise, pretty good start this.
3 Tests, 379 runs, 63.16 average, 1-100, 2-50s, best of 200 (at Lord’s debut)
3 ODIs, 225 runs, 75.00 average, 1-100, 1-50, best of 126
14 T20Is, 473 runs, 59.12 average, 4-50s, best of 99*
What about Jamieson, the man of the hour? He was literally head and shoulders above everyone. Rohit, Kohli, Pant among his first-inning wickets, 30-run 7th wicket partnership with a 21 (16), and finally breaking the game with Pujara-Kohli wickets on the final morning.
2. When The Time Comes, Kane Williamson & Ross Taylor Deliver
Kane Williamson & Ross Taylor are the two senior pros of the New Zealand batting lineup. Taylor has been there for 15 years, through unfortunate run-outs, tied finals, DRS decisions, captaincy controversies. In ICC knockouts, both have scored a few 30s and 40s, but never a match-changing innings.
Cometh the hour, cometh the men.
Williamson’s scratchy 49 (177) exuded his class. Despite not timing the ball and struggling, he stayed in the game and stitched the partnerships that got New Zealand to a respectable total.
In the fourth innings chase, the Kiwis were struggling at 44/2 in 20 overs. R Ashwin at the other end operating with his guile. Anything could have happened. The senior statesmen soaked in the pressure, with dot balls and maiden overs building.
After surviving the rough patch, they rotated the strike. A few overs later, the singles & doubles turned into boundaries. Couple of dropped catches signaled the end. Finally, the moment came with Ross Taylor hitting the winning runs. A fairytale script. What’s more? An iconic picture of brothers-in-arm to cap it off.
3. Catches Win Matches Feat Tom Latham & Henry Nicholls
In the preview, we said to watch out for Tom Latham & Henry Nicholls, the New Zealand of the New Zealand team. Nobody ever talks about them, but they have been consistent performers in the last couple of years. With the bat, except for Latham’s 30, there was not much of note.
It is the fielding where these two came alive. Latham’s three catches and fielding efforts almost saved 35+ runs. Nicholls’ running backwards-diving catch off Pant was the moment of the match for me. India’s hopes ended with that catch.
And what about BJ Watling? Perfection behind the stumps in the first innings (no byes given) and kept wickets through injury in the second. The runs might not have come, but New Zealand’s greatest ever keeper retires on a high.
Little contributions, but in a close low-scoring affair, these moments makes the difference.
Ecstasy. Team spirit. Absolute Joy.
Here are some of my takes from the final moment:
Tribute to the Legendary Commentating Crew
From a fan’s point of view, the commentating and analysis put this final on another level. The Sky Sports crew has always been amazing with Nasser Hussain & Michael Atherton, but Ian Bishop, Sunil Gavaskar, Kumar Sangakkara, Isa Guha, Simon Doull, and debutant Dinesh Karthik took it to another level.
Analyzing batting techniques, debating who won each session, and playful sledging at its very best. Mohammad Shami’s “chances created vs wickets” analysis was especially intriguing.
Here is a look from DK, the weatherman, on the first couple of days updating social media with regular Twitter & Instagram updates.
150th Article – Thank YOU
Before I move to the Prediction Results section of the article, a brief thank you to our viewers. We have reached our daddy hundred—the 150 is up!
I wanted to take a moment and thank all of you for the support. The Broken Cricket Dream blog began exactly 11 months ago, when the 1st Test between West Indies & England ended. What a chase that was.
The Broken Dreams
That game reminded me of the love of the sport, what I had been missing in the months right after the coronavirus hit. So the journey began, word by word, paragraph by paragraph, blog post by post. The goal of this platform was to share our own dreams, hopes, and love of the game with each other. We all have dreamt of being a cricketer at some point in time but life does not go to plan. That is okay though, things happen for the better. Here is a list of Broken Dreams by our fellow cricket lovers. For me, writing about cricket itself is a dream come true.
None of this would have been possible without our fans and followers. I thoroughly enjoy the discussions and little debates. Keep them coming. Love the interaction!
Anyway, 150 articles and 158,000 words later, Broken Cricket Dreams is still going strong and will continue to grow. We have now spread to several social media platforms. Feel free to check them out below. COMMENT BELOW of your thoughts on the WTC Final, your Broken Dreams, or any feedback!
If you want some encouragement and life lessons from cricket, check these out:
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World Test Championship Final Review – Prediction Results
Andrew Williamson: “Just hoping the winner isn’t going to be Noah and his Ark. If there is enough play, I think New Zealand have the attack to trouble India, on what should be a track with a fair bit in it for the quicks. Kane or Taylor will have to go for NZ to succeed.”
Halsey Nim: “May need a sporting declaration somewhere along the way.”
Jonny: “Pujara vital for India (assume they bat first as NZ best chance is to put them in), Ashwin with important late runs, Boult to shine. Latham grinds out runs, Kane obs, BJ won’t want to fail. Indian wickets spread evenly. Kohli 100 2nd innings. NZ fall just short…”
The criteria is the player has to be the best at that position. Kane Williamson & Labuschagne both were excellent #3s, but I had to pick Labuschagne at the expense of the WTC winning captain. Labuschagne was the best batter in the WTC – most runs (1675), most hundreds (5), and fifties (9).
Jamieson & Labuschagne were the finds of this WTC cycle, so they walk in the XI.
Rohit Sharma just edges out Dean Elgar for the opening spot. I was tempted to go with Elgar since South Africa is a tougher place for openers, but with Karunaratne already at the top, I went with a left-right, defensive-aggressive combination. Both Root & Smith were excellent, but Smith’s iconic 774 runs in the Ashes puts him at the coveted #4 position.
The #5-7 spots were interesting. Ben Stokes’ Headingly show, relentless bowling spells, and 4 tons/6 fifties gives him the all-rounder spot. I initially had Rahane, the fifth highest scorer in the WTC and highest for India but instead, went with both Rishabh Pant and Mohammad Rizwan. Pant has mastered a couple of iconic chases, and Rizwan has been a revelation in the last year with his overseas rearguard innings. Quinton de Kock was also close behind in the keepers race.
Finally, the bowlers were the toughest to pick. My XI coincidentally had good batters as well. Mohammad Shami (40 wickets at 20.47), Josh Hazlewood (47 @ 20.54), Neil Wagner (35 @ 22.97), Jimmy Anderson (39 @ 19.51), Tim Southee (56 @ 20.82), Ishant Sharma (39 @ 17.75) had better averages, Anrich Nortje & Kemar Roach were brilliant throughout. I have not even talked about Trent Boult, Kagiso Rabada, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, and Shaheen Shah Afridi—all wonderful bowlers who had a decent couple of years without lighting the world on fire.
What an era to live in.
World Test Championship Combined XI
Dimuth Karunaratne (C)
Rishabh Pant (WK)
For more World XIs, check out the articles below!
World Test Championship Statistics
Finally to cap it off, here are the statistics. Ashwin went up to #1, Rahane and Rohit Sharma remained at #5 & #6 respectively. Rahaen, Taylor, Watling, and Pant show up in the catches/dismissals section.
Marnus Labuschagne – 1675
Ravichandran Ashwin – 67
Joe Root – 34
Tim Paine – 65
Joe Root – 1660
Pat Cummins – 70
Steve Smith – 27
Quinton de Kock – 50
Steve Smith – 1341
Stuart Broad – 69
Ben Stokes – 25
Jos Buttler – 50
Ben Stokes – 1334
Tim Southee – 56
Ajinkya Rahane – 23
BJ Watling – 48
Ajinkya Rahane – 1159
Nathan Lyon – 56
Ross Taylor – 21
Rishabh Pant – 41
World Test Championship Final Review – Statistics
Best Bowling Figures
David Warner – 335* (Vs Pakistan – Adelaide)
Lasith Embuldeniya – 7/137 (Vs England – Galle)
Zak Crawley – 267 (Vs Pakistan – Southampton)
Ravichandran Ashwin – 7/145 (Vs South Africa – Visakhapatnam)
After two long years of Test cricket & coronavirus interruption, the World Test Championship Final is finally here.
Rising Kiwis are slightly better prepared against world beaters India with a series against England. India has been in England for a few weeks due to quarantine but have only played an internal practice match.
Two of the best teams on show, finally some context for Test cricket, BJ Watling’s retirement, but will rain spoil it all?
The idea of the World Test Championship is not a new one.
World Test Championship was supposed to become a reality in 2009, 2013, & 2017, but each of those iterations were cancelled in favor of much more lucrative, ICC ODI Champions Trophy.
Imagine an Indian team comprising of Sehwag, Sachin, Dravid, VVS Laxman, MS Dhoni, Zaheer Khan competing against McCullum’s 2015 team or even better, the golden South African era of Jacques Kallis, Graeme Smith, AB De Villiers, & Dale Steyn earlier in the decade.
Anyway, World Test Championship finally came into existence in 2019 and began with the England-Australia Ashes series. 58 matches later, India and New Zealand are deservedly in the finals, carrying bench strengths of envy.
India began by routing West Indies in the Caribbean, before securing points at home against lackluster South Africa & Bangladesh teams.
Then came the tours Down Under. While Kiwis routed India in swing bowling conditions, India delivered a masterclass of ages in Australia. After 36/9 in Adelaide, Rahane’s century resurrected India in Melbourne. Then, the Pujara-Pant-Vihari-Ashwin show ensured India survived the 3rd Test, and the youngsters Shardul-Sundar-Pant-Siraj broke the Gabba fort to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Finally, the England home series was a completely one-sided event even after Joe Root’s classic gave England a headstart at Chennai. Ashwin’s all-round magic at home & Axar Patel’s memorable debut ensured India ease past England.
World Test Championship Final Preview – India’s Road To Glory
*Signifies away series
New Zealand’s road to glory was much more formulaic.
The Kiwis started with away tours of Sri Lanka & Australia. While they put on a good show in New Zealand, winning one match, they were hammered in Australia (barring Neil Wagner’s intense series).
At home, it was same old. Swinging conditions. Boult, Southee, and debutant of the year, Kyle Jamieson, wrecked havoc against India and West Indies. Only Pakistan provided any semblance of resistance with Fawad Alam’s classic fourth innings ton going in vain with four overs left in the Test match.
World Test Championship Final Preview – New Zealand’s Road To Glory
World Test Championship Final Preview – The Teams
Watch out for Ajinkya Rahane. He has a tendency to perform when it matters the most although his lack of consistency is frustrating. Rahane’s leadership & century in Melbourne was the catalyst for India in the memorable Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Since then, his form has gone hiding. England will bring back nice personal memories, and he is probably India’s best batter in swinging conditions. It is high time he shows up.
There were rumors that Mohammad Siraj would play in place of one of Mohammad Shami or Ishant Sharma, but that did not happen. India’s bowling has variety with Bumrah’s accuracy, Ishant’s seam, and Shami’s reverse swing. Looking forward to watch Ishant, who is in his 4th and most rewarding phase of his career. His 7-74 at Lord’s in the last tour was especially spectacular.
Tributes have started flowing in for BJ Watling in his retirement match. This one is my favorite, especially his mom’s statement. Watling has been a symbol of this rising team’s resilience and stability. Always solid behind the stumps, he will go down as Kiwis’s greatest keeper, but what I will miss the most is his rearguard action. NZ’s middle order rarely collapsed, but when it did, Watling was at the rescue. The question is, does he have one fighting innings left in him?
This is a very understated team, but do you know who is the New Zealand in the New Zealand team?Tom Latham & Henry Nicholls. When the Conways, Williamsons, or Taylors make huge scores around them, you can guarantee that Latham-Nicholls will provide ample solid support. Expect one of them to rise to the occasion in the finals.
Watch Out For
Sharma-Shubman Vs Pace brigade of Boult-Southee-Jamieson: This might as well set the tone for this match. A Mumbai Indians mini-match between Boult & Rohit Sharma.
Latham-Conway-Nicholls Vs R Ashwin: Ashwin has been India’s most successful bowler in this WTC cycle and has performed across all conditions (with both bat and ball). Conway is in the form of his life and the Kiwis have 2 other left-hand batters in the Top 5. Expect to see a lot of Ashwin.
The slip catching.England’s dropped catches were on show in the last series and they have been one of the worst slip catching sides in the past two years. So I am glad Ind-NZ are playing this week. Both teams have legendary fast bowlers, so the ball will go to the slips more than usual. Rest assured, the catches will be taken. Rahane, Taylor, Rohit, Kohli, Latham should do the job.
India has revealed its XI ahead of time. Shardul Thakur, Washington Sundar, Mohammad Siraj, Hanuma Vihari, Axar Patel, Mayank Agarwal all played crucial roles in the lead up to the WTC Finals, but unfortunately did not make the final XI. This is also the first time that Jadeja-Ashwin-Sharma-Shami-Bumrah will play together. What a mouth-watering lineup.
Squad: Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha (WK), Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Siraj
New Zealand’s lineup selects itself, but the crucial question is the #7-8 spot. Matt Henry, Neil Wagner, & Ajaz Patel performed admirably in the England series and Colin de Grandhomme has been out for a while, so will they go for a four-fast bowler strategy? Ajaz Patel should have done enough in the England series for a spin option in this Southampton pitch.
Tom Latham, Devon Conway, 3. Kane Williamson*, 4. Ross Taylor, 5. Henry Nicholls, 6. BJ Watling (WK), 7. Colin de Grandhomme/Kyle Jamieson/Matt Henry, 8. Tim Southee, 9. Neil Wagner, 10. Trent Boult, 11. Ajaz Patel
Squad: Will Young, Tom Blundell (WK)
Mitchell Santner, Daryl Mitchell, Doug Bracewell, Jacob Duffy, and Rachin Ravindra failed to make the final cut.
I honestly cannot see a way past the weather. Both teams have excellent bowling options, so unless both teams suffer collapses twice, a result would be very hard to attain.
Would love if we get a full game, but for now, going with a Draw.
Verdict: Draw 0-0
If the game does happen, what am I excited for the most? Neil Wagner’s intensity, Colin de Grandhomme’s hairdo, Williamson-Kohli-Southee’s continuing journey from U-19 World Cup, Pujara-Pant combination, Ross Taylor’s wisdom, an emotional sunset to Watling’s wonderful career, and in general, just a hard-fought sporting final.
World Test Championship Final Preview – Prediction
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COPYRIGHT @Nitesh Mathur, aka Nit-X, 06/18/2021; Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
World Test Championship Records
Are there are records that can be broken in the World Test Championship Final?
It is really interesting that even though NZ made it to the finals, there is nobody in the top 15 run-scorer. Combination of several players standing up and the fact that NZ did not play as many games. Kane Williamson is at 16th with 817 runs and Tom Latham is 25th with 680 runs.
India, on the other hand, have 5 batters in the Top 15:
Rahane – 1095 (5th)
Rohit Sharma – 1030 (6th)
Kohli – 877 (11th)
Agarwal – 857 (12th)
Pujara – 818 (15th)
Ashwin is on #3 with 67 wickets and Southee is New Zealand’s best at #5 with 51 wickets.
Kyle Jamieson – 36 (12th)
Ishant Sharma – 36 (13th)
Mohammad Shami – 36 (14th)
Jasprit Bumrah – 34 (16th)
Trent Boult – 34 (18th)
Neil Wagner – 32 (20th)
Fielding and Dismissals
Both teams are pretty close on this list with BJ Watling – 43 dismissals (4th) and Rishabh Pant – 40 (5th).
In terms of catches, Rahane – 22 catches (4th) and Ross Taylor – 18 (5th) are at the top with Rohit Sharma – 16 (6th) and Virat Kohli – 16 (7th) close behind. New Zealand’s next best is Tom Latham – 14 (12th).