India’s golden oldies return and Nick Compton’s unfinished business — talking points
Cricket writer Osman Samiuddin provides the biggest talking points from the world of cricket.
Is old still gold?
At 34 and 36 years of age, respectively, what to make of the respective returns of Yuvraj Singh and Ashish Nehra to India’s Twenty 20 squad for a series in Australia?
A little surprise at Yuvraj’s recall, perhaps? Though he played for India as recently as 2014, in the last World T20, it was a chastening experience. He had only one significant score through the tournament, a strike rate of less than 100 and it culminated with a momentum-sucking 21-ball 11 in the final.
Though he retains Indian Premier League purchasing power, his exploits in the league have been ordinary. He has been recalled on his form in the 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Nehra’s return, after a four-year gap, makes more sense. He was one of the stories at this year’s IPL, bowling with pace and plenty of intelligence through the season.
His 22 wickets in 16 matches helped push Chennai Super Kings to the final and himself back into national reckoning.
Return of @thecompdog
Nick Compton’s England career always felt like a bit of unfinished business.
A Test average under 32, from nine matches, and a failure to cross 20 in his past six Test innings does not scream retention, for sure.
But it always felt as if Compton was in the right place just at the wrong time.
The England batting order of 2013, with Alastair Cook, Compton, Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell as the top four, was perhaps not dynamic enough and, of the four, Compton was always going to be the most expendable.
A couple of years on and England could actually do with a little less dynamism in that order.
Joe Root, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes and maybe Alex Hales, as Cook’s opening partner, is an exciting, modern line-up but it needs an anchor.
Compton will probably play at one down at Durban for the first Test against South Africa starting on Boxing Day and could be just the foil against the likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.
Big Bash West Indies
Australia and West Indies will begin their second Test in Melbourne. It is one of the cricket calendar’s most memorable dates — the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.
On the same day, the Perth Scorchers will be taking on the Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash League in Perth. Neither side are among the glamour ones in the league but what are the chances that not only more people turn up to watch that game, but take a greater interest in it?
It is not only because it is the shorter game, the one easier to attend. So poor is the West Indies team right now there cannot be much appetite to go watch as one-sided as Test as Melbourne may be — even if it is Boxing Day. It is only one day and one game, but it feels emblematic of the state of the game currently.
New Zealand v Sri Lanka
First Test New Zealand won by 122 runs (New Zealand lead series 1-0). Sri Lanka’s tour to New Zealand always looked like it might be a tough one for a transitioning side. They were never really in the first Test at any stage, though in getting to nearly 300 in the fourth innings of the first Test, they did salvage a little pride and provide a little entertainment.
Player of the week — Dinesh Chandimal
2015 has been a pretty good year for him, for so long hailed as the new star in Sri Lanka’s batting. The second half has been especially prolific, and a pair of half-centuries in the first Test against New Zealand and then a rollicking 47 in the first innings of the second.
New Zealand v Sri Lanka
2nd Test Monday and Tuesday, 1.30am (UAE time)
Australia v West Indies
2nd Test From Saturday
South Africa v England
1st Test From Saturday
Defeats in Asia, inadequacies against spin exposed: both South Africa and England will be happy to be back in non-spinning combat.
Players to watch — Dale Steyn
The South African is on course to return from the groin injury that curtailed his India tour, and is likely to be in the team for the Boxing Day Test in Durban. His presence in India would have made a difference, and it will do so here.
Stat of the week
34 — The number of sixes hit in Australia’s Big Bash League, after the opening three matches. After the same number of matches in last year’s competition, the total hit was 31.
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Published: December 20, 2015 04:00 AM