2017 is a big year for these batsmen

Joe Root: 

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With it looking more and more likely that Alistair Cook will resign the test captaincy, 2017 could be a phenomenal year for Joe Root. I see Joe Root amongst the top 4 batsman in the world at the moment (Kohli, Root, Williamson and Steve Smith) , the other three players who are comparable are all captains, so making Root captain looks to be a good move. Don’t be surprised if the England selectors decide to make Root the captain in ODI’s also.

England have a big year which they start in India for an ODI series, then the Champions Trophy on home turf, followed by Sri Lanka and South Africa at home, ending in an exciting Ashes series down under.

Usman Khwaja:

202627-1For some reason Khwaja had been sidelined from the Australia squad after initially impressing when he first came in. He now is back in the side and was the top performer against South Africa and Pakistan. Australia need him to be firing next December for the Ashes series if they are to have any chance. A good year could see him become one of the worlds top test players.

 

Jos Butler: 

213837-1In my opinion Jos Butler is the most exciting batsman in world cricket alongside AB Devilliers. They way he can change a game so quickly is a real asset to any side that he plays in. His test place is in the balance, but I would keep him in because of his ability to change a game. He will be looking to do big things in the IPl with Mumbai Indians as well as have a good Champions Trophy. He will have some sort of part in Australia for the Ashes also.

Karun Nair:

222699-5There will not be many tests for India in 2017 for Nair to show his undoubtable talent. He will want to consolidate his place ahead of the likes of Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane as well as pin down a place in the Indian ODI team. A good IPL will help him to achieve this. A good year could see him become the future face of Indian cricket.

 

Matt Renshaw: 

219875-1With Australia’s sporadic form of recent times, they need a young player to come into the side and inspire the nation. At the age of 20 and with lots of talent Renshaw, could just be this guy. Having lived in England for a lot of his life and playing club cricket with Joe Root he would know a lot about the England side, this could be invaluable during December’s Ashes series.

 

Haseeb Hammed:

220339-1The 19 year old took to the test cricket like he had been playing for the last 20 years. The nickname Baby Boycott is not given lightly and we saw just why in the few appearances we did see of him.  The innings where he marshalled the tail whilst having a broken finger was very Boycott like. The six he hit in his first test innings was Boycott 2.0. In 2017 he will have to fight off Keaton Jennings for the opening spot, but it is for sure that England have the replacement for Cook already sorted.

Bowling the issue for England

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England were well and truly sent packing home from India after the recent test series. This after Ian Botham and Nassir Hussain celebrated the draw in the first test as if it was a sign that England would win the series.

There is no question that English cricket is on the up, especially the shorter formats where England now have an exciting group of younger players. What I noticed in the test series was a pretty poor bowling performance.

James Anderson had his little moan about Kohli and the pitches, almost suggesting that he is a flop outside of India. Well he forgets that Virat Kohli has centuries in Australia, South Africa and West Indies. He also forgets that outside of English conditions where the ball swings he is actually not very affective anymore.

For the sake of debate lets just say that Anderson and Broad are currently the best bowlers in world cricket (I don’t believe this!!) If we compare the performance of Umesh Yadav against that of Anderson or Broad in this series they were seriously outclassed. Okay Yadav, Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar need to show this outside of India, but recent performances have been positive.

What happens to England’s bowling once Broad and Anderson go? There is Stokes who has also outperformed the earlier mentioned due throughout the Asia tours, then the inconsistent Finn and a lot of young inexperienced fast bowlers.

On the brightside for England they seem to have found two more star batsman for the future in Hammed and Jennings to add to Cook, Root, Bairstow and Butler.

Rahane’s 2017 battle to get back in the test side

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Injuries and a lack of form have come at the wrong time for Ajinkya Rahane. From being one of the first names on the team sheet, he now finds his place in the test side under threat, this may well follow with his exclusion from the ODI side.

The former test vice captain could only watch as younger players Karun Nair and KL Rahul stole the show in the last test. What made his agony more was the fact that prior to being injured he had three bad matches. Unfortunately for Rahane India hadn’t played test cricket for a while before this, so his past form is not remembered. The vice captain role will also be hard to claw back off Ravi Ashwin who is on the form of his life.

Looking at Rahane’s test career his stats are excellent, most recently Ganguly has stated that he is as good as Kohli. The talent is undeniable, but the question for Rahane that will need to be answered by the selectors for the Australia series is how much does past form and experience count over recent form?

Ajinkya Rahane’s test stats:

Age Tests  100’s 50’s Average
28 32 8 9 47.33

The Indian test side has an abundance of batting talent now, that is capable of dominating test cricket. Rahane’s rivals are Pujara (who has consolidated his number 3 position), Kohli (the captain who is undroppable on current form), Nair (who is the form batsman) and Rohit Sharma (who also missed the series due to injury).

Rahane could also open the batting, but would have to uproot Vijay and KL Rahul, he would also have to push ahead of Dhawan and Gambhir (who both are off form). There is a tough decision to be made prior to the Australian series in February.

There is no doubt that the classy batsman will be back one day, for now it might be a waiting game. He will have to work hard and once again prove himself in domestic cricket and try to get back into the minds of the selectors with a good IPL.

An outsider looking at Australian cricket

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As a young man in my late 20’s I can remember the days where Australia simply had to turn up to win a match. The diminishing of this so called invincibility was inevitable after the retirement of some of the games greatest players, but the manor of the decline is shocking.

After the retirement of Warne, McGrath and Ponting et al, there was a period of time where Australia were still considered one of the best test sides. They were amongst a crowd of teams that would dominate teams on their home turf. This list includes England, India and South Africa. Further retirements to players such as Johnson dented the Aussie team, with a group of young players chucked in learning the hard way.

It now seems that Australia have been thrust in to the group of teams below for test cricket, with a number of below par performances in Sri Lanka and in particular the home series against South Africa.

The problems lie with team selection, at the moment the selectors seem to be trying a ‘chuck a player in’ method. This is that they are trying out a player in one match, if that player fails he is out.

The selectors are in fear of another batting collapse, which has seen good wicketkeeper Peter Neville dropped from the side in place of Matthew Wade who is not so good behind the stumps.

Nathan Lyon who is having a confidence loss instead of being taken aside by Shane Warne for mental coaching is also under threat of being dropped. This very public way of conducting their business surely can’t be helping him. It was not long ago that he was being considered the best spinner in the world, that to by playing on Aussie grounds made for seem bowling.

Is there no stand out players in Australian state cricket at the moment? It once world boasted players who were of a high international class that could not get into the Australian side. Players such as Stuart Law could have starred for any other international country.

Steve Smith, Darren Lehman and even vice captain David Warner have to take some blame, there is no clear leadership from these three. Warner in particular playing care free as if he has no responsibility.

As a fan of cricket it is sad to see Australia so poor in the longest format of the game. Test cricket needs a strong Australian side to keep the game alive.

Kohli enters the top 20 of century makers

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It seems that Virat Kohli is intent on making the most of his time as an international cricketer, by breaking as many records as he can. With his double century in the last test he has now climbed into the all time top 20 of century makers. The question is where can he finish in the list, when his career ends?

Country Centuries
1 Tendulkar  India 100
2 Ponting  Australia 71
3 Sangakkara  Sri Lanka 63
4 Kallis  South Africa 62
5 Jayawardene  Sri Lanka 54
6 Lara  West Indies 53
7 Dravid  India 48
8 Amla  South Africa 48
9 AB de Villiers  South Africa 45
10 Jayasuriya  Sri Lanka 42
11 Chanderpaul  West Indies 41
12 Hayden  Australia 40
13 Mohammad Yousuf  Pakistan 39
14 Dilshan  Sri Lanka 39
15 Gayle  West Indies 39
16 Younus Khan  Pakistan 39
17 Waugh  Australia 38
18 Ganguly  India 38
19 Sehwag  India 38
20 Kohli  India 38

Kohli joins some of the greats of the game on the list, and has over taken some other talented cricketers in the process. He has leap frogged both Graeme Smith and Michael Clark with his last two centuries.

It is interesting that out of all the players playing currently he is the youngest. The likes of Gayle, Amla, De Villiars are all significantly older. It should also be noted that Virat Kohli is potentially only 2 centuries away from being in the top 10.

If we were to compare only ODI centuries, then Kohli would be number 5 in the list. Since India’s failed tour of Australia last winter it seems that Kohl has also taken great steps in the longer format of the game. He currently has the same amount of centuries as two Indian greats and the great Steve Waugh.

I have calculated that if he continues to play for the next 7 years taking him up to 34 years of age scoring an average of 5 centuries a calendar year he will be just ahead of Rikky Ponting. Finishing around the 73 century mark, the calculated figure is actually relatively conservative as it seems that Kohli could play for much longer given his fitness.

I personally think Virat Kohli will finish up a lot closer to the 90 century mark. Lets just wait and see what happens.

Please let me know of your prediction of how many centuries he will make below.

Should Indian players play T20 abroad?

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The IPL has for a while been the go to place for all the world stars on T20 cricket to descend, but the Indian players have never had the opportunity to go and play abroad in other top leagues.

Players from South Africa, West Indies and Australia have benefitted the most from playing T20 cricket abroad, with young stars from these countries now a household name worldwide. It is now time for Indian youngsters, fringe players, and older players who are out of the national side to explore their options abroad.

Yuvraj and Harbhajan Singh are two players who would light up leagues such as the Big Bash or the CPL. Not only will it be a big pay day for the players but it will either be the first exposure to other pitches across the world or a last hoorah for certain players.

The BCCI should look at realising certain players for these tournaments, especially those who are not in the Indian side currently.

Go Gujarat & Delhi Darkhorses

dhoni-raina-m.jpgThe IPL is back and this season it seems better than ever. With the top players already starring, new teams and new young players this is getting good. The most impressive side so far are Gujarat Lions, while I also have a great liking for the way Delhi Daredevils have improved this season.

For years on end it was said that Suresh Raina was being protected by MS Dhoni, being one of his guys that always played if he did. This season has shown that Raina has come out of the shadow of his national skipper and the result has been fantastic to watch. Showing strong leadership on the field, making important fielding decisions. It is clear to see that Raina is an intelligent cricketer. Not saying that he will ever be India’s captain but its nice to see a guy proving people wrong.

His side on the field can only be an asset to his captaincy, having McCullum, Finch, Faulkner, Dwane Smith and Bravo in his side its hard to see a weakness in the batting or fielding. It will be very interesting to see if GL can continue the form throughout the rest of the tournament.

The other new boys Rising Pune Supergiants led by MS Dhoni, have struggled. It is a surprise to me that they have struggled so badly when we look through the team line up. Kevin Pietersen is a miss for them though.

The dark horses for me have to be Delhi, after a poor start they have come back really well. The batting is well marshalled by Quinten De Kock, who for me is only just behind Virat Kholi and Joe Root in terms of ability. Any team that has Andre Russell will be one of the favourites in a T20 competition. I think he has won every other big competition this year.

My predictions: 

Final: GL v DD – With DD winning it this year. (Long, long way to go)