Going On Abroad

With winter showing its hand in England and little happening on the cricket front - apart from Fletcher flogging his revelations around the nation's TV and radio studios - the eyes turn to what's been going on abroad. India keeping their noses ahead of Pakistan in their ODI series, Australia putting Sri Lanka to the sword at the Gabba, and Graeme Smith's Proteas making short work of a New Zealand side which looks overmatched, especially now Shane Bond is heading home.

It was gratifying, if not surprising, to see Phil Jaques make his first Test hundred. He's played a lot of county cricket in recent years, and, after seeing him make one of his routine double hundreds at Worcester in the summer of 2006 I was sure he was going to be the next opener off the Baggy Green rank. For such a classy operator he's starting his Test career late at 28, but Adam Gilchrist was around that age when Ian Healy finally allowed him into the side, and he hasn't done too badly in the years since. I reckon the world's bowlers will be seeing a lot more of Jaques over the next few years.

In South Africa it was Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn who caught the eye; I've paid enough tributes to the remorseless and peerless Kallis for the time being. The Wanderers innings may be the start of something big for the man with the finest international cricket beard since Saeed Anwar, while the pacy and aggressive Steyn also seems to be settling in for an extended run in the side, taking some of the pressure off the indefatigable Makhaya and dovetailing nicely with the less pacy but more aggressive Nel.

For all these sides it'll be a long English winter. This is just the start.

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