Further Exposure

ODIs, World Cups and international Twenty20 competitions may come and go with his participation questioned or absent, but, as soon as the ball's red, the kit's white and the game lasts a maximum of five days, Jacques Kallis clicks into gear. His twin centuries in South Africa's first Test win in Karachi took him to 26 in Test cricket, and, whatever the desultory nature of his strike-rate (around 43, Cricinfo tells me), his average and the sheer technical impregnability of his batting mark him down as one of the finest batsmen in the world today. I can understand the questions (and the fact that his highest Test score remains below 200 tells part of the story), but, for sheer weight of runs, where would South Africa be without him?

I've waxed lyrical about Kallis before, but I've had fewer opportunities to write about successful England one-day sides. Yesterday's victory in the second ODI at Dambulla was hugely impressive, even if it may have been predicated on some Sri Lankan complacency. But then, if you'd played England goodness knows how many times in limited-over cricket in the last twenty years or so and steamrollered them repeatedly, you'd probably be complacent too.

Ryan Sidebottom fired in his customary new-ball spell from left-arm over and Graeme Swann showed the type of technical ability, competitiveness and temperamental solidity which completely justified his selection (and raised questions about his extended absence under Fletcher) and should see him back on the island for the Tests before Christmas, while Owais Shah continued to cement his grip on the tricky number six position. When Shah was growing up in the Middlesex side his chief problem appeared, as with many young players, to be knowing which of his many shots to play and when to play them. Almost 29, he seems to have all that taped now, and, while his right-hand dominant technique will never be a thing of beauty, his deep well of innate talent should ensure that he stays around the side for a while. Tests are a different matter, but he sure ain't doing his chances of further exposure any harm.


Tim said...

Interesting stuff. The three Ss have all been terrific. Sidebottom should be the no1 pick amongst the seamers for the Tests on current form.

Brian Carpenter said...

Thanks, Tim. I think the reselection of Sidebottom, and his subsequent success, has been one of the stories of the year in English cricket. And there are noticeable similarities with Swann, who was also cast into the wilderness for years by Fletcher but has come back much, much stronger.

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