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India vs Australia 2nd ODI Preview

Written by Maverick White for @HollywoodbetsFollow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

India vs Australia | Wednesday 16 October | Jaipur | 10:00

While tours to India comprising of the five-day variety of the game have generally ended in misery for the Australians, they have achieved success in their limited overs stints on the subcontinent. They have begun this tour no differently, despite losing out in the final over of their T20 fixture. Australia took the opening ODI by 72-runs as India had no answer to their powerful batting display and raw pace. India’s number one ODI ranking is on line in this series, though admittedly they would have to lose it 1-6 to be stripped of the title. It would be miraculous for the Australians to achieve such a feat, but a series win looks well within their grasp.

Pakistan vs South Africa 1st Test Preview

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Pakistan vs South Africa | Monday 14 October | Abu Dhabi | 08:00

With a firm and sturdy grip on the test mace, the Proteas venture to the subcontinent, a place that could be considered the final frontier left to conquer for the number one side in the world. They haven’t lost an away series in a startling seven years and in that time frame managed to win in Pakistan, draw twice in India and once in the UAE. Their goal now will be to convert those draws into wins. However, opponents Pakistan will be seeking revenge and confident of it ahead of thrashing England 3-0 last year, when the visitors were still considered the top test side. The searing heat which is bound to beat down on the players will test both fitness and mental strength over the five days. Whoever comes out victorious will be forced to dig deep.

India vs Australia – Only T20 Preview

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India vs Australia | Thursday 10 October | Rajkot | 15:30
Australia return to the scene of a demoralising 4-0 test drubbing at the hands of subcontinent giants India. It was an almost farcical series, with former Australian coach Mickey Arthur dishing out homework assignments and subsequent suspensions amid landslide defeats. This time, their arrival is for a seven-match ODI series and a solitary T20. India possess, without a doubt, the strongest limited-overs squad on the planet. One would expect that the Australians would need to be fully focussed on the task at hand in the face of such a daunting prospect, but with the Ashes sequel at looming at the end of November, attention has already been diverted. Indeed, this series is far from adequate preparation for the few test players involved.  

CLT20: Chennai Super Kings vs Trinidad and Tobago Preview

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Chennai Super Kings vs Trinidad and Tobago | Wednesday 02 October | Delhi | 16:30

Weather once again intervened in a major tournament, knocking out the Sunrisers Hyderabad and effectively ending South Africa’s last hope of Champions League glory. The future of the Titans in the competition hinges on this top of the table fixture between the dynamic Chennai Super Kings and resilient T&T. In Ahmedabad, where a double-header was washed out earlier in the tournament forcing a shuffling of venues, the Titans fell six runs short on Duckworth/Lewis against Trinidad. They required 36 more from three overs at the time, and with AB de Villiers at the crease, who knows what could have happened?

CLT20: Rajasthan Royals vs Otago Volts Preview

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Rajasthan Royals vs Otago Volts | Tuesday 01 October | Jaipur | 16:30

While the final semi-final spot hangs in the balance in Group B, the same uncertainty pervades Group A. The home side in this encounter are already through, the Royals keeping their unbeaten record in 2013 in Jaipur intact throughout this tournament. The surprise package of the competition, New Zealand’s Otago Volts, will book their place in the next round with a victory here. This is no easy task and if they slip up, the Mumbai Indians will need to beat the eliminated Perth Scorchers, at the same time aiming to better the already impressive net run rate of the Volts. While Otago will be confident after a string of wins, the Royals will not be giving up a game at their fortress without a fight.

CLT20: Chennai Super Kings vs Sunrisers Hyderabad

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Chennai Super Kings vs Sunrisers Hyderabad | Thursday 26 September | Ranchi | 16:30

It’s a top of the table clash in Group B, both sides recording wins in their opening fixtures against tough opposition. Last week I earmarked both of these sides as potential contenders for the CLT20 title, and both proved their ability to navigate pressure situations. The Sunrisers lost to Otago in the qualifying rounds, but dispatched Kandurata Maroons and Faisalabad Wolves by eight and seven wickets respectively. It was against Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday that their team dynamic shone through. The Super Kings chased down a big Titans total in their usual fashion, and will come into this fixture full of confidence.

CLT20: Brisbane Heat vs Titans Preview

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Brisbane Heat vs Titans | Tuesday 24 September | Mohali | 12:30

The CLT20 is already beginning to look a daunting task for those less accustomed to the vagaries of the T20 game. For the IPL sides and Trinidad and Tobago, teams who are well-versed at this level and employ the correct tactics in the subcontinent, the competition has begun as planned. Mumbai Indians are the exception, beaten by Rajasthan Royals in a fiery opening encounter. They will have an opportunity to turn their tournament around when they meet the in-form Otago Volts in Group A. However, when the Brisbane Heat meet the Titans, a loss may effectively spell the end of one team’s competition. With T&T and Chennai looking exceptionally strong and the Sunrisers yet to make an appearance in Group B, a win here will go a long way in establishing confidence ahead of a tricky run of fixtures.

CLT20: Rajasthan Royals vs Mumbai Indians Preview

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Rajasthan Royals vs Mumbai Indians | Saturday 21 September | Jaipur | 16:30

The Champions League T20 commences properly in a matchup between two IPL giants. With the qualification stages yielding success for both Sunrisers Hyderabad and the Otago Volts, it bumps the number of IPL teams up to four, India now representing nearly half of the squads competing. If one needed further illustration of the financial might of the BCCI and Indian cricket, here would be a good place to start. Nevertheless, losing out in Qualifier 2 of the IPL, the Rajasthan Royals would love to put one over the reigning IPL champions. The home side won all their IPL fixtures in Jaipur and are fortunate enough to be playing all their league fixtures at the fortress.

Champions League T20 Preview

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I much prefer the Champions League T20 to the IPL shenanigans. Although this is yet another opportunity for the BCCI to capitalise on a marquee 20-over tournament featuring a plethora of the world’s best, the format makes a great deal more sense and the two week duration a lot more palatable for the viewer. For the punter however, it can be another minefield of unpredictability. At this stage, it is not yet confirmed who will be featuring from the teams yet to qualify. However, I’ll be keeping all of them in mind while I attempt to seek out some value, and my prospective winner. This tournament is never short on drama in the weeks preceding, with the loyalty of certain players put to the test as contracts between IPL sides and national unions clash. Kumar Sangakkara has been the man in the spotlight, opting out of the Sunrisers Hyderabad to represent Sri Lanka’s Kandurata Maroons. Tendulkar and Dravid will feature in limited-overs for the last time, Steyn is back from injury. All in all, it looks set to be a humdinger.

England vs Australia 3rd ODI Preview

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England vs Australia | Wednesday 11 September | Edgbaston, Birmingham | 15:00

Dreary clouds in Leeds gave way to brighter skies, with a short drive down the A62. In Manchester, Australia stamped their authority on a belated start to the ODI series with a comprehensive victory over the hosts. England looked out of their depth following the decision to rest many of their key players, but it seems doubtful that anyone in the camp, other than captain Eoin Morgan, will mind too much. The English press will question and lament the team selections, as they are paid to do, but secretly all will be aware that the only focus of the EC at present is the return Ashes series later in the year.

England vs Australia 1st ODI Preview

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England vs Australia | Friday 06 September | Headingley, Leeds | 11:15

With an almost barren international cricket calendar for the next month or so, the ODI series between rivals England and Australia will be forced to centre stage, despite it being clear that all the English care for at present is retaining the Ashes in Australia later in the year. Zimbabwe also take on Pakistan at home, but with the series previously poised to suffer a boycott and Zimbabwe’s subsequent loss of their top bowlers to unpaid salaries, there is little chance of the hosts overturning the visitors. So the focus will remain in England, with a drawn T20 series last week intensifying the need for fifty-over triumph.

England vs Australia 1st T20 Preview

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England vs Australia | Thursday 29 August | Southampton | 19:30

With the dust barely settling on a ferocious and controversial Ashes, two T20 matches, plus an ODI series, will attempt to serve as adequate distraction to the return contest Down Under. Indeed, the two squads will hardly bear resemblance to those that lined up in their whites for a particularly dry English summer. However, the Australians will welcome a return to the gold uniform and a chance to redeem themselves in front of the English public. With the verbal jousting and proverbial ‘pissing matches’ taking centre stage in the aftermath of the Ashes, it is doubtful that the T20 version will be any less exhilarating.

The Ashes: England vs Australia 5th Test Preview

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England vs Australia | Wednesday 21 August | The Oval | 12:00

With England having not only retained the Ashes but wrapped up the series, it seems a prime time for reflection. International teams tend to compartmentalise their aims into individual series, not getting too far ahead of themselves in order to maintain minimal complacency. However, for coaches and captains, the bigger picture is always in play. And with little more to add to this series, the intentions of writers will gravitate in the same direction. However, the action in the middle with be as intense as ever, with neither side looking to give an inch. No quarter is given between old rivals.

The Ashes: England vs Australia 4th Test Preview

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England vs Australia | Friday 09 August – Tuesday 13 August | Chester-le-Street | 12:00

While England may have retained the Ashes, at least until they meet the Aussies in a return series Down Under later in the year, they did so in far from convincing fashion. If not for the temperamental weather in Manchester, Australia would surely have romped to victory, setting up a tantalising encounter at Chester-le-Street. However, not all is lost. Australia’s vastly improved showing in Manchester may have exorcised some of their demons regarding performance and instilled the belief that they can win test matches against their oldest foes. It may prompt some of the best cricket to be seen in the series in the final two matches, Australia now released from the pressure of returning the urn. And if the officials keep to their standards, it shouldn’t be short of controversy.

Sri Lanka vs South Africa 3rd T20 Preview

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Sri Lanka vs South Africa | Tuesday 06 August | Hambantota | 15:30

The Proteas have managed to regain some much needed pride and confidence in the T20 leg of their tour to Sri Lanka. South Africa were dead and buried for most of the ODI series, succumbing 4-1 to the hosts. They’ve turned things around in the shortest form of the game, following strategy better and dealing with pressure situations. The Sri Lankan side have opted to rest one of their three senior players in each match, in an attempt to force the youth to shoulder more responsibility as the side prepares for the World T20 in Bangladesh next year. While the Proteas will be pleased to have wrapped up the T20 series so quickly, fans should realise that they still have a long way to go on the journey to becoming a top limited overs side again.

The Ashes: England vs Australia 3rd Test Preview

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England vs Australia | Thursday 01 August | Old Trafford, Manchester | 12:00

In my entire cricketing memory, I’ve never seen an Australian side this frightened. The Australians I remember were confident and cocksure and operated with the swagger that accompanies a winning mentality. On Sunday evening, driving home through suburbia, a puppy that could not have been older than a month flashed through the glare of the vehicle headlights. Coming to a stop, the little creature cowered beneath the car, soiled and shaking with fear. While we were able to provide rest and respite for the poor animal, the Australians are not as lucky. It will take some time for them to build a side reminiscent of the country in its pomp and in the meantime, they will continue to wander alone in the dark, hoping for some sort of cricketing miracle to relieve their woes. No amount of tinkering and talk will help them compete, as a side they are simply not good enough and do not learn from their mistakes.

Sri Lanka vs South Africa 5th ODI Preview

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Sri Lanka vs South Africa | Wednesday 31 July | Colombo | 11:00

Just as captain AB de Villiers explained away South Africa’s fielding mishaps in the latter part of the Sri Lankan chase as “hard to keep your head in the game when they need to knock off 60 odd runs off 80 balls with eight or nine wickets at hand”, it’s pretty difficult to keep my own interest high after a tour which can only be described as a nightmare. The final ODI has the feel of impending doom that accompanies moments which inspire dread, South Africa’s record in Sri Lanka speaking for itself. The Proteas have managed to squeeze one victory on the tour so far, rendering the whitewash a non-entity, but it will be little consolation to an ODI side desperately low on both confidence and discipline.

Sri Lanka vs South Africa 3rd ODI Preview

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Sri Lanka vs South Africa | Friday 26 July | Pallekele | 11:00

The incredible stretch of losses in Sri Lanka for the Proteas continues to grow. Of the twelve completed one-day internationals in the country, South Africa have won only one. Almost two decades ago, Kepler Wessels captained the side to victory. Now he commentates over the makeshift setup that continues to be outdone on the tiny subcontinental island. I discussed in the previous match write-up the challenges facing such a weakened South African side, but at this stage, I fear even the return of the likes of Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla would make hardly a difference. Dale Steyn’s return from injury is a must, but blame must befall South Africa’s unhealthy relationship with spin.

Sri Lanka vs South Africa 2nd ODI Preview

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Sri Lanka vs South Africa | Tuesday 23 July | Colombo | 11:00

It seems South Africa’s limited overs woes are far from finished. New coach Russell Domingo’s tenure began on a poor note in Sri Lanka, the Proteas suffering a crushing 180-run loss in the first ODI. Despite the urgency to reject the captain’s pathetic excuses regarding the heat in Sri Lanka, it must be noted that the South Africans are operating with a side crippled by injury and full of inexperience. Realistically, coupled with the Proteas’ terrible record in Sri Lanka, expectations should not be high. However, losing by embarrassing margins cannot be tolerated. There is no doubt that the innings from Kumar Sangakkara was a special one and better attacks would’ve fallen to his swashbuckling enterprise last Saturday. But capitulating to 140 all out from 31.5 overs is simply criminal.

Sri Lanka vs South Africa 1st ODI Preview

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Sri Lanka vs South Africa | Saturday 20 July | Colombo | 11:00

Russell Domingo’s first task as the new South African coach is a difficult one. He’ll probably be pleased that it doesn’t involve defending the number one position in test cricket and rather focuses on the various conundrums facing the limited overs portion of the game, away from the limelight. However, Sri Lanka would not have been hovering near the top of his list of places to travel. South Africa have only won a single ODI in the country, coming in 1993, losing nine and having one contest marred by rain. Opportunities for success will be slim and Domingo’s job has already been labelled a baptism of fire.

The Ashes: England vs Australia 2nd Test Preview

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England vs Australia | Thursday 18 July – Monday 22 July | Lord’s | 12:00

It seems fitting that a test marred by uncertain use of the DRS and poor on-field umpiring decisions ended on a hopeful gamble by England to remove Brad Haddin. After the faintest of inside edges interested only the men behind the bat, the man handling it not even aware of the touch, captain Alastair Cook referred it to the third umpire who signalled the end of Haddin’s defiance, and the test. Australia had proved they were up for the challenge in England, fighting to the wire time and again after the match looked all sewn up. While they can be proud of the achievement of coming within 14 runs of their counterparts, their top order largely failed again and the onus was on the lower-order to keep Australia in the game. It has been a narrative prevalent in Australian cricket in recent times but will surely lose its lustre as the series continues.

The Ashes: England vs Australia 1st Test Preview

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England vs Australia | Wednesday 10 July – Sunday 14 July | Trent Bridge | 12:00

The most coveted prize in the game, draped in the prestige of cricketing tradition and exclusive in its ownership. The famed Ashes urn, only 11cm in height, has come to represent the pinnacle of English and Australian cricketing achievement. If born with an extraordinary gift in handling or swotting a hard leather ball and birthed in the right country (or in both cases, having ancestry and subsequent citizenship), the lifting of an ODI World Cup pales in comparison to the glory of being part of a winning Ashes squad. This year, for the first time since 1974/75, sees two series back-to-back due to other major sporting events lined up for the future. Although ten tests this year won’t lead to apathy on the part of the avid cricket fan, it may detract from intensity if dominance becomes apparent. While England are clear favourites given the form and disciplinary problems in the Australian squad, the Aussies are by no means down and out. Knowing the spirit of Australian cricket, one of sport’s greatest rivalries will be as dramatic, sublime and emotionally moving as ever. This is a promise.

Tri-Nation Tournament: India vs Sri Lanka Preview

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India vs Sri Lanka | Tuesday 02 July | Kingston, Jamaica | 16:30

All hail Marlon Samuels, omniscient prophet of the cricketing world. Prior to the Tri-Nations tournament, when all were looking at the new generation of Indian stars, Samuels proclaimed West Indian cricket to be “going back on top.” His own batting style being a good example of the ‘ol Kansas City Shuffle, few would’ve taken his words with more than a pinch of salt. That’s until the West Indies creeped over the line against India after trouncing Sri Lanka. Being ‘on top’ of the table with nine points, their opponents on zero, with this encounter concluding the Jamaican leg of the tournament, Samuels can feel comfortable that his prediction at least satisfies the most short-term goal of his long ambition. However, there’s still some way to go in this competition and this match may be able to illuminate what lies in the near future.

Tri-Nation Tournament: West Indies vs Sri Lanka Preview

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West Indies vs Sri Lanka | Friday 28 June | Kingston, Jamaica | 16:30

Moving from one exciting competition to what looks likely to be another, the ICC Champions Trophy winners and undeniably the limited overs side to beat, India, compete against the West Indies and Sri Lanka in the Tri-Nation Tournament in the Caribbean. The teams will play two games each in Jamaica before repeating the scenario in Port of Spain, where the final will be held. The opening match features the two underdogs, West Indies and Sri Lanka, before tournament favourites India come into the equation. The two teams didn’t meet in the Champions Trophy and haven’t since 2011 in Sri Lanka, where the hosts won a three-match series 2-0.

ICC Champions Trophy: England vs India Final Preview

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England vs India | Sunday 23 June | Edgbaston, Birmingham | 11:30

I don’t think anyone can dispute that the two teams pitted against each other in the final edition of the ICC Champions Trophy are the sides most deserving of their place. India have tossed aside all and sundry in the quest for glory under the cloudy English skies, while the hosts, although dropping a game against Sri Lanka, have predictably looked the best in their home conditions. It has been a Champions Trophy fraught with drama, from rain interruptions and Duckworth/Lewis ties to batting meltdowns and ball tampering allegations. It will be competition sorely missed by cricket fans, who rather are fed congested six-week T20 tournaments that, in my opinion, impinge on the quality of the international game.

ICC Champions Trophy: India vs Sri Lanka Semi-Final Preview

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India vs Sri Lanka | Thursday 20 June | Cardiff | 11:30

The second semi-final will be an all-subcontinental affair in Wales, as perennial dark horses Sri Lanka come up against India, who must now be fancied the tournament favourites. India have fired since game one and are the only team left unbeaten in this instalment of the competition. Sri Lanka have found their feet at the right time following their early blip against New Zealand and seem to be uniting in that characteristic Sri Lankan big tournament demeanor. It is a clash of contrasts, India are riding on a high of exuberant youth while Sri Lanka still rely heavily on the proven skills of their stalwarts. In the battle of age vs beauty, who will come out on top?

ICC Champions Trophy: England vs South Africa Semi-Final Preview

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England vs South Africa | Wednesday 19 June | The Oval | 11:30

Although my Champions Trophy has not gone quite as well as expected, England still topped Group A and at this stage, I’ll take what I can get. Australia were bumped out of the competition by perpetual bridesmaids Sri Lanka and although I naively had them out as tournament winners, few could’ve predicted the shambles that accompanied David Warner’s punch-up and Michael Clarke’s telling injury. At the end of the group stage proceedings England narrowly held on to top spot, with redeemed Duckworth/Lewis survivors South Africa clinching the second semi-final spot in Group B. It sets up this World Cup 1992 repeat scenario, albeit not in Sydney and not with an utterly absurd rain rule in place.

ICC Champions Trophy: South Africa vs West Indies Preview

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South Africa vs West Indies | Friday 14 June | Cardiff | 11:30

The Proteas live to fight another day. As it has transpired in Group B, Pakistan is now out of the tournament and can only attempt to salvage pride with a pointless dead rubber against India, who are already through to the semi-finals. That leaves the last semi-final spot up for grabs and this fixture between South Africa and West Indies to decide it. The Windies looked dangerous against Pakistan but came up short against India, as did the Proteas. In both sides, the bowling attack is the strength at the moment and this could serve up a fascinating encounter on English pitches that are on the unexpectedly slow side.

ICC Champions Trophy: England vs Sri Lanka Preview

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England vs Sri Lanka | Thursday 13 June | The Oval | 14:00

For the English, the first stage of their Champions Trophy mission is complete. Victory over the Australians would’ve been foremost in their minds for both a strong start to the tournament and the psychological edge in the upcoming Ashes. At home, the English would back themselves against lesser ranked Sri Lanka and New Zealand and Australia really loomed as the pre-tournament pitfall. Their opponents, historic tournament wonders Sri Lanka, are off to a poor start after losing to New Zealand and will know that anything less than victory will surely knock them out of the tournament. Adding intrigue to this fixture is the potential for rain to affect the Trans-Tasman encounter on Wednesday. Group A is shaping up for a fantastic finish.

ICC Champions Trophy: Pakistan vs South Africa Preview

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Pakistan vs South Africa | Monday 10 June | Edgbaston, Birmingham | 14:00

Both sides find themselves in the same desperate situation as the Proteas and Pakistan face off on Birmingham’s hallowed Edgbaston. Both lost their opening matches, South Africa making the best of a big run chase but more for the virtue of net run rate than any real challenge for victory. Pakistan’s batting lineup came unstuck against a pacy and wily West Indian attack, and although they continued to look impressive with the ball, the bulk of the run-scoring cannot be left up to one or two men. Really, it’s a scrap for survival between two sides who have seen quite a lot of each other over the past months. South Africa’s injuries see the sides more or less levelled and it is bound to be a tooth-and-nail affair.

ICC Champions Trophy: England vs Australia Preview

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England vs Australia | Saturday 08 June | Edgbaston, Birmingham | 11:30

With the Champions Trophy well and truly underway, premature predictions are proving tough to defend. In Group B South Africa are looking a very flimsy bet to top the table, although in Group A my personal opinion is that it is still between England and Australia. They meet on Saturday on a glorious batting wicket and the result of this early fixture could well decide the winner of the group. England have been humbled at the hands of an ODI series loss to New Zealand but restored pride with a confident victory in the final encounter. Australia looked to be flying in their warm-up against the West Indies but came badly unstuck against a disciplined Indian attack. I’ve already covered the non-importance of these warm-ups and although reading too much into them can be dangerous, there are certain trends that remain apparent.

ICC Champions Trophy: India vs South Africa Preview

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India vs South Africa | Thursday 06 June | Cardiff | 11:30

With the underwhelming warm-up matches attempting to build anticipation for the main event, one would be forgiven for the sinking feeling of dread that accompanied South Africa’s loss to Pakistan on Monday. Cricket is a game of emotion, much the same as any sport, and the support of your country can often cloud judgement. While, admittedly, it does not bode well when a top order fails under no pressure to perform, apart from perhaps the fight for a place in the side, the fact of these warm-up fixtures is that they are not as they appear. The real cricket starts on Thursday, when the Proteas meet the world champions.

ICC Champions Trophy Tournament Preview

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The clouds that accompanied the early English summer during the test series between England and New Zealand seemed symbolic of the swirling demise of the ICC Champions Trophy. However, as the sun has baked the pitches flat in the ODI series and warm-ups, so the final tournament is looking more intriguing than ever. This will be the last installment of the Champions Trophy as the powers that be move towards implementing one championship per format in the not so distant future. With plans for a World Test Championship of some sort, the Champions Trophy became the victim of the proverbial chop. However, the English incarnation of the tournament looks set to be a feast of sumptuous cricket. Indeed, with the top eight teams in the game divided between two competitive groups, there’s bound to be some humdingers in wait. The bookies are having a tough time in marking out a clear favourite but from my vantage point, the crowd for the final at Edgbaston is looking less likely to be cheering on their hometown heroes by the day. I’ll be looking at my selected semi-finalists and earmarking a winner.

ICC Champions Trophy: Group B Preview

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India | South Africa | Pakistan | West Indies

Group B is another tight affair, awash with rivalry and tense competition. One of the hallmark fixtures in the group will occur when the South Africans, favourites to take the title, meet India in the opening game. However, the fixture of most interest takes place when subcontinental adversaries India and Pakistan fight it out for what is likely to be a place in the semi-finals, bar any West Indian swashbuckling upsets. Which, as it happens, are always on the table. The Windies have been going from strength to strength and have been slowly building a solid group of performers. So where does the punter look to make money from this group? Let’s take the plunge.

ICC Champions Trophy: Group A Preview

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Australia | Sri Lanka | England | New Zealand

With the summer slowly but surely creeping into the United Kingdom, England and Wales will host the last of the ICC Champions Trophy tournaments. It’s bound to be a bumper summer for the English public, with the Champions Trophy following the New Zealand tour and setting up good interest before the monumental Ashes. In Group A, a veritable minefield of rivalry and knockout prowess awaits. In a microcosm of the Ashes, England will meet Australia, while the two lesser fancied sides, Sri Lanka and New Zealand, are historically strong in fifty-over tournaments. With little room for error and no easy fixtures, the Champions Trophy is the ultimate test of consistency. Let’s take a look at who is likely to progress to the semi-finals.

IPL 2013 Qualifier 2: Indians vs Royals Preview

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Mumbai Indians vs Rajasthan Royals | Friday 24 May | Eden Gardens, Kolkata | 16:30

As with every year, the IPL has been a long and winding road. The Chennai Super Kings have claimed their rightful place in the final and it is up to these two consistent performers to decide who joins them. This has perhaps been the best IPL since inception for the Mumbai Indians, who have spent recklessly in the past and come away with nothing except one final appearance. They’ll be looking to convert the dollars spent into prestige and this year, go one further. The Royals won the first IPL under Shane Warne but have been inconsistent since. They’ll be hoping for a more unified team performance on Friday.

England vs New Zealand 2nd Test Preview

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England vs New Zealand | Friday 24 May | Headingley, Leeds | 12:00

It only takes one poor hour in the test arena to ruin days of toil. New Zealand found that out the hard way last week, a shocking short period of shameful batting comprising a very competitive three days. With all the praise flying around for James Anderson and Stuart Broad, in particular for the fourth day spell from the lanky Englishman, the focus has shifted somewhat from the spineless actions of the Black Cap batsmen. It was quite a woeful look of panic on the faces of the New Zealand top order, completely losing comprehension of the location of their respective off-stumps. They misjudged length and hung their bats at a few, frankly average, deliveries. That is not to take anything away from the few jaffers that were deserving of wickets; these were bound to occur in the conditions. I feel coach Hesson nailed it. “I think the occasion…got to us.”

IPL 2013 Eliminator: Rajasthan Royals vs Sunrisers Hyderabad Preview

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Rajasthan Royals vs Sunrisers Hyderabad | Wednesday 22 May | Delhi | 16:30

It has been a fairy tale tournament for the Sunrisers Hyderabad. The same cannot be said for the Rajasthan Royals. Their joy of reaching the knockout stages would’ve been somewhat tempered by the latest spot-fixing scandal, wreaking havoc within their changing room. The Sunrisers have emerged from the dust of the Deccan Chargers and proved successful; indeed few would’ve thought they could make it this far. But now it’s time for the real deal. The loser of this encounter takes their leave from the tournament. The winner still has another hurdle before the final.

IPL 2013 Qualifier 1: Chennai Super Kings vs Mumbai Indians Preview

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Chennai Super Kings vs Mumbai Indians | Tuesday 21 May | Delhi | 16:30

In the IPL’s characteristically showy manner, instead of the usual format of four top qualifiers meeting in a pair of semi-finals, they’ve found a way to squeeze yet another fixture into the congested tournament. Qualifier 1 sees a battle of equals, as table-topping Chennai Super Kings meet fellow competition leaders Mumbai Indians. They are exceptionally similar, both coming off untimely losses and both relying heavily on their batting units. You will also be seeing both of them again, as the winner of the Qualifier is sent straight to Kolkata for the final, while the loser takes part in the second Qualifier against the winner of the Eliminator. Convoluted, and beginning to sound eerily like “Gladiators”.

England vs New Zealand 1st Test Preview

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England vs New Zealand | Thursday 16 May – Monday 20 May | Lord’s | 12:00

After a lengthy break in the international calendar to allow for another abundance of T20 fervour in India, seemingly endless, it’s with delight that I allow my attention to wander to an engaging test series in cricket’s homeland. It has become difficult for your intrepid writer without the finer form of the game, the IPL producing its usual indifference coupled with confusion. Is this an extended highlights package, or am I watching live? Didn’t these two sides play each other, like, just the other day? Wait a second, where are we…are we even halfway? Who really cares anyway? If I were in the shoes of Brendon McCullum or Ross Taylor, I’d be quite pleased to be leaving the tournament early. Then again, if I received the equivalent of their IPL paycheck, I’d likely be on a beach somewhere sipping some obscure brand of island rum and getting to work on a mediocre novel.

Sunrisers vs Super Kings Preview

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Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Chennai Super Kings | Wednesday 08 May | Hyderabad | 16:30

The table-topping Chennai Super Kings are, as expected, well in control of the IPL log. They’ve reached the magical nine wins, despite a recent crushing loss to the Mumbai Indians, and bar any real catastrophes, will find themselves in the playoffs yet again. Sunrisers Hyderabad have been the surprise package of the tournament, their home form earning them a place embroiled in the mid-table battle for the remaining playoff slots. They are one of four sides all sitting on fourteen points and will probably require another three wins from their final five matches to seal themselves a trip out of the group stages in their first year of the competition.

Getting Over the Line – Proteas Squad Announcement

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As the Proteas close in on another knockout tournament, the reasonable expectation is not high. We’ve all heard the ‘chokers’ moniker being bandied about for years now: with it comes the deflated spirits of a nation accustomed to under-performance. It wouldn’t be so bad were the Proteas top of the ODI game, akin to the All Blacks entering a rugby World Cup, where their superiority is undisputed and even with another failure, a place atop the rankings a suitable consolation prize. Indeed, the situation is more dire, as South Africa have been below their best in the limited overs arena for some time, the home series loss to New Zealand the most recent reminder. The aforementioned consolation prize, although not quite satisfactory, is still far from grasp. With the squad for the Champions Trophy in England announced, it allows your intrepid writer the opportunity for pre-tournament dissection. Buy the ticket, take the ride.

IPL: Super Kings vs Sunrisers Preview

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Chennai Super Kings vs Sunrisers Hyderabad | Thursday 25 April | Chennai | 16:30

There’s little surprise in seeing the Super Kings near the top of the table, but the same cannot be said about the Sunrisers Hyderabad. The surprise team of the tournament so far, they find themselves level on points with the Super Kings and joint second place. Both sides have played seven and won five, with the Super Kings above the Sunrisers by virtue of a slightly superior run rate. This is a clear illustration of the importance of this encounter as a win will take the side victorious level on points with Royal Challengers Bangalore at the top of the table.

IPL: Knight Riders vs Indians Preview

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Kolkata Knight Riders vs Mumbai Indians | Wednesday 24 April | Kolkata | 16:30

How quickly the seas of change can sweep through this tournament, wrecking ambitions and preconceived notions entirely. Almost default pre-tournament favourites and notorious big spenders, the Mumbai Indians have only a 50% win ratio after six games, losing their last two on the trot. Defending champions the Kolkata Knight Riders lie in the same predicament of inconsistency, but have won a game fewer. They now reside towards the bottom of the table. However, as we already know, the tournament is a long one. Even the basement dwelling Delhi Daredevils have an outside shot at making the playoffs. But as we near the halfway stage, it is important for both of these sides to gain traction as all sides begin to settle into their strategies.

IPL: Royals vs Indians Preview

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Rajasthan Royals vs Mumbai Indians | Wednesday 17 April | Jaipur | 16:30

The table-topping Mumbai Indians take on the Rajasthan Royals on Thursday, who are equal on points with the Indians but below on net run-rate. It seems none of the sides sitting on six points (Indians, Royal Challengers, Royals and Sunrisers) have been able to advance past this figure and none can claim the top of the table as their own. One of these two sides will begin staking a claim at the top following this match, and both the Royal Challengers and the Sunrisers will have their opportunities prior. The congestion in the IPL table is leading to a close and interesting tournament where no match or opposition can be taken for granted.

IPL: Super Kings vs Indians Preview

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Chennai Super Kings vs Mumbai Indians | Saturday 06 April | Chennai | 16:30

This season’s IPL started off explosively with a trip down memory lane. The first delivery to Unmukt Chand (the man I had tipped to top score) was a Brett Lee masterclass, moving viciously away off a length to rattle the middle and off stumps. It was exactly the type of delivery that struck fear into the hearts of opening batsmen around the world when Lee was in his heyday. That’s what this tournament is all about, a mingling of the cricket community, young and old, in stormy, frenetic competition. No surprises as Kolkata disposed of Delhi, but a nail-biter saw high-spending Mumbai edged out against Bangalore. This weekend, the Indians seek revenge against the tournament juggernauts.

IPL: Knight Riders vs Daredevils Preview

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Kolkata Knight Riders vs Delhi Daredevils | Wednesday 03 April | Kolkata | 16:30

And so it begins. The world’s premier T20 competition has arrived, with internationals and Indians alike gearing up for what is sure to be a long and gruelling campaign. The Kolkata Knight Riders, defending champions, take on the tournament’s perennial underachievers, the Delhi Daredevils, in the first match of the competition and with both sides carrying international injuries, neither will field a side they had planned on prior to the tournament. Home form is still a question surrounding Kolkata and they will need to rectify this if they are to follow the lead of the Chennai Super Kings and secure back-to-back titles.

IPL: From Bollywood to Hollywood

As another season of the IPL rolls around, one would be forgiven for questioning why one might take interest in yet another showy round of 20-over fantastical cricket. When the IPL shows up, it’s almost as though your eccentrically alcoholic Uncle Rhubarb has come over to stay for a few days, a few days being weeks and his brash, uncouth and loud nature eventually leads you to avoid him. However, much like your drunk uncle, the IPL is not without its perks. This year already has seen an explosion of media attention regarding scandals of recreational drug use and political unrest. Sri Lankan players and officials will not feature in the Chennai leg of the competition. This to go with the continued ban of Pakistan from the IPL makes the tournament a controversial one. You really can’t make this up.

India vs Australia 4th Test Preview

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India vs Australia | Friday 22 March | Delhi | 06:00

As I expected, the Aussies have been drawn and quartered on their trip to the subcontinent. Admittedly, they haven’t made it any easier on themselves with team politics taking centre stage prior to the third test. However, a mere glance at the makeshift squad they had at their disposal, history and the series that England won in India recently tells a story. Australia do not have a strong enough squad to do well on the road, in conditions largely foreign to their own. Even Australia’s greats have struggled on the subcontinent. And the only way to win tests here, is to beat India at their own game.

New Zealand vs England 3rd Test Preview

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New Zealand vs England | Thursday 21 March | Auckland | 23:30

This has been a test series competed between three entities. The English cricket team, the Black Caps and the all-powerful weather. One would hesitate in saying that the weather has benefited the Black Caps the most, though they weren’t in any position to win the second test. They were in the throes of quite a formidable comeback however, and can take heart from the way they have conducted themselves on home soil. They’ll be looking forward to the final test in Auckland, knowing they have played some of their best cricket there in recent times.

South Africa vs Pakistan 4th ODI Preview

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South Africa vs Pakistan | Thursday 21 March | Kingsmead | 10:00

Both captains left the Bull Ring pleased on Sunday following the Proteas’ victory over tourists Pakistan, despite Misbah’s side going one down in the series. Pakistan’s leader expressed happiness with the way his charges attempted to chase a mountain of a total after the world’s top two ODI batsmen both recorded centuries. AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla’s record third-wicket stand of 238 was pure limited-overs magic, yet the intrepid tourists made sure the match turned out to be a thriller. Misbah is understandably hopeful of a series comeback, but his bliss should not extend too far. Costly mistakes are the bane of a Pakistan captain’s existence and should be acknowledged accordingly.

South Africa vs Pakistan 2nd ODI Preview

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South Africa vs Pakistan | Friday 15 March | Centurion | 14:30

A comfortable and convincing victory over Pakistan in the first ODI will reignite public admiration for the Proteas in the limited overs arena. There’s already talk of how settled they looked, how in control of the game they were and how the ‘fringe’ players in the side stepped up to the plate following doubt in their abilities at international level. That is not to say it is not admirable but in my opinion, Pakistan simply made too many mistakes. Whether the tourists have the ability to rectify these mistakes is another question entirely, one that will surely be answered at Centurion.

India vs Australia 3rd Test Preview

India vs Australia | Thursday 14 March | Mohali | 06:00

With the Australian camp in a state of disarray; beaten, broken and now divided, the Indians are only one step away from wrapping up a simple series. The Indian side is not without its own misadventures but these seem to be overshadowed by the breakdown in the Australian line-up. It seems the high expectations of the side constantly reinforced by the likes of Clarke and Arthur are a bit unrealistic with the players at their disposal and the conditions they find themselves in. Australia have only won one series in India in the last forty years, were they really expecting a resounding victory this time around? Perhaps they merely wanted to put up a better fight.

New Zealand vs England 2nd Test Preview

New Zealand vs England | Wednesday 13 March | Wellington | 23:30

Another poor series start for the English, but one they will take heart from considering the match situation they found themselves in. They can also thank the gods of cricket for the washed out first day of the first test, without which they may have found themselves one-down in the series. Andy Flower has taken it upon himself to rectify the trend of early series capitulation, while Alastair Cook still searches for answers. New Zealand may well be heartened by Brendon McCullum’s brave words and pride shown in his band of misfits, while also believing that they dictated the terms of the test match. The truth is that the weather dictated the terms and once the English has been suitably embarrassed in their first innings, responded with a consummate display. The draw has set up a tantalising second test.

South Africa vs Pakistan 1st ODI Preview

South Africa vs Pakistan | Sunday 10 March | Bloemfontein | 10:00

Well, it’s clear that the Proteas need a lot of work when it comes to the T20 format. Many reasons, some bordering on excuses, have been thrown around but the fact of the matter is that those who follow the game would’ve seen it coming. South Africa’s T20 cricket has looked dismal for a while now, masked by a high win percentage in one World Cup. Look, I’m not the biggest advocate of the format or its success and if you read anything I write, you’ll know that by now. However, when your country is thoroughly beaten on home soil and has the appearance of veritable rabbits in the T20 game, it’s bound to get your back up. Pride knows little bounds. And it is exactly this which the Proteas will be fighting for in what is certain to be a close ODI series.

New Zealand vs England 1st Test Preview

New Zealand vs England | Wednesday 06 March | Dunedin | 23:30

England sealed the limited overs portions of the tour despite encountering resistance and now enter what would previously be considered their favoured format. England’s test form has dwindled somewhat over the past year but saw a resurgence against India on the subcontinent. They strike me as a more dangerous limited overs unit these days but still cannot be underestimated in the test arena, following a successful integration of new blood. New Zealand will recognise the hint of an opportunity for upset following the victory for the New Zealand XI against the England XI, the one opportunity the English had to shake the rust from their test-hardened players who did not feature in the T20s and ODIs.

South Africa vs Pakistan 1st T20 Preview

South Africa vs Pakistan | Friday 01 March | Kingsmead | 18:00

The Proteas are the undisputed champions in the test arena, but now enter a format in which they have been notoriously indifferent. Inconsistency and poor game-planning has seen up-and-down results in T20 internationals over recent years, culminating in a disappointing exit from the T20 World Cup. Pakistan made the semi-finals of that competition, losing out to Sri Lanka, and sit sixth in the ICC rankings, one spot and ranking point below the Proteas. However, it seems to me that Pakistan have been the more consistent side of late and have also been a source of South African misery in the competition between the world’s best. This one is going to be tough to call.

India vs Australia 1st Test Preview

India vs Australia | Friday 20 February | Chennai | 06:00

Australia face a daunting task as they travel to the subcontinent to face an Indian side seeking revenge against the West. England’s unprecedented test series victory will have heaped significant scrutiny upon the Indians by their ruthless media and certain changes in their squad signal this intent. The Australians come against the inevitable subcontinent spin challenge and do it with an unstable squad on unstable bodies. Michael Clarke has voiced his concerns of this being his toughest leadership challenge yet. Unless the Australians spinners can replicate the exploits of Swann and Panesar for England, I tend to agree with him.

South Africa vs Pakistan 3rd Test Preview

South Africa vs Pakistan | Friday 22 February | Centurion | 10:30

This test may be a dead rubber, but there is still an important historical aspect to consider. I’m not one who peruses Sport24 articles with regularity for reasons I’d rather not mention here, but I did stumble across one yesterday that caught my attention. It explained how the great Australian test side of the 1990s and 2000s would often lose dead rubber tests. Actually, frighteningly often for a side who dominated the era with such conviction. Whitewashes became as common as an Aussie with impeccable table manners. Would it not be benchmark of comparison for this great Proteas side, potentially beginning an era of dominance, the ability to win fixtures of little overall importance? It would show a ruthless streak required for ranking dominance, akin to the iconic West Indian side of old.

New Zealand vs England 2nd ODI Preview

New Zealand vs England | Wednesday 20 February | Napier | 03:00

Well, you can’t say I didn’t warn you. New Zealand seem as though they’ve been on a quest to empty my pockets in recent weeks, pulling off upset upon upset. Perhaps I just don’t see the potential in their ranks, perhaps it is me to blame for short-sightedness in this regard. Following their victory over the English in the first ODI, captain Brendon McCullum has spoken of New Zealand’s “fighting spirit” and it being important to “keep fighting and scrapping like this.” It underlines my previous point last week about the Black Caps having the psychological edge when they feel they have already been written off in the fixture. They revel in their status as underdogs. But how long can “fighting and scrapping” overcome superior ability? In essence, that’s what we’re here to find out.

New Zealand vs England 1st ODI Preview

New Zealand vs England | Sunday 17 February | Hamilton | 03:00

I spoke last time about the consistently inconsistent. I’ve had a tough stint writing about New Zealand of late. In the ODI series against South Africa I suggested betting against them, perilously. I expected England to dominate the T20 series, which they did, with the exception of the second encounter, where I had suggested punting on the English win. The beginning of this ODI series is a daunting prospect for a tipster. The English tick all the boxes and the Black Caps still seem hopeless, but it is the psychological certainty within the New Zealand camp that they’re the underdogs, that this unpredictable side seems to thrive on. Well, here goes…

South Africa vs Pakistan 2nd Test Preview

South Africa vs Pakistan | Thursday 14 February | Newlands | 10:30

It may be Valentine’s Day on Thursday, but there will be no lost love between these two sides. The Proteas dished out a resounding win in the first test, continuing their fantastic form in the test arena and leaving little doubt in their dominance at the top of the rankings. It’s not only the team who tops the test rankings now, they cover all of the top spots in the individual categories as well. Pakistan will need to find ways to survive against the South African pace barrage. This is becoming a prospect that is difficult to envision for any side, let alone a team more used to the slower wickets of the subcontinent.

Australia vs West Indies T20 Preview

Australia vs West Indies | Wednesday 13 February | Brisbane | 10:35

The Australians exacted a whitewash in the ODI series, taking it 5-0 with style in what can only be described as a toothless West Indian display. The lack of fight within the West Indian camp was evident throughout and the series also highlighted the huge role that Chris Gayle has to play. Despite promising performances from certain players in the top order, the success of Gayle is paramount. However, the Windies now see a return to their favoured format of T20 cricket, for a one-off encounter in Brisbane.

New Zealand vs England 2nd T20 Preview

New Zealand vs England | Tuesday 12 February | Hamilton | 08:00

The Black Caps are in for a scrap in their own backyard. The English are in New Zealand with a point to prove, which they did with emphatic ease in Auckland on Saturday. It was a 40-run win for the English, coupled with a record-breaking total, and their confidence will be high as they enter the second encounter of the three-match series. The Black Caps, after their ODI series victory in South Africa, would’ve been looking for a better performance in the shorter format, especially with the return of the talismanic Ross Taylor. Yet again, it’s back to the drawing board for New Zealand, and one wonders if there can be any prolonged hope for the consistently inconsistent.

Australia vs West Indies 3rd ODI Preview

Australia vs West Indies | Wednesday 06 February | Canberra | 05:20

The flexible West Indian backbone has been on display once again in the opening games of the ODI series at the WACA. The first ODI was one the West Indians would rather forget and if you’d found yourself taking a brief nap at the start, you may well have missed the match completely. The second ODI saw Australia in a state of collapse, only to rally and plunder in the final overs and push their total beyond early comprehension. Mitchell Starc has been a thorn in the West Indian top order’s side and unless they find a way to halt his five wicket hauls, more of the same can be expected in Canberra.

Australia vs West Indies 1st ODI Preview

Australia vs West Indies | Friday 01 February | Perth | 05:20

In what will be the first real test of West Indian limited overs mettle since their victorious T20 World Cup campaign, the men from the Caribbean travel Down Under to face the Aussies in five one-dayers and a solitary T20. The first two of these fixtures will be held in Perth, at the WACA, and with both sides suffering key injuries it could be quite interesting. The Windies are finally beginning to look more of a side that can challenge at limited overs level, with competent game-changers littered throughout their squad. As in the past, it will likely be consistency that plagues the West Indies. Let’s see what we can make of the first encounter.

South Africa vs Pakistan 1st Test Preview

South Africa vs Pakistan | Friday 01 February – Tuesday 05 February | Wanderers | 10:30

It’s understandable to be a little jumpy. With the Proteas only barely escaping a whitewash in their recent ODI series with New Zealand, the after-effects resonates in a quiet panic among the cricketing public. The sneaking suspicion that lingers among the greater South African fans who follow the sport is that they’ve seen it all before. The Proteas grasped the number one ranking for a measly three months back in 2009. The ranking system was only implemented in 2003, but if worked back against ICC records, the South Africans would’ve held the ranking four times since readmission. For five months in 1999, one month in March 2000 and another month in August 2001. So, one more month at the pinnacle of test cricket would be their longest time at the top of the game since readmission. However, the task of Pakistan now looms larger than their spearhead’s 7ft 1in frame. They’re here to put up a fight.

India vs England 5th ODI Preview

India vs England | Sunday 27 January | Dharamsala | 05:30

The series started promisingly for the English, recording a rare victory in a recent history of failure in the limited overs format on Indian soil. It definitely sparked interest, following their test series victory, in a potential one-day swoop but the natural balance of things were restored as India took the next three fixtures at a canter. It will be a bitter pill to swallow for England’s tenacious captain Alastair Cook, but all is not lost. A victory here will go a long way for the collective English confidence ahead of a gruelling calendar year and a tough series in New Zealand lying in wait. The question is, do they have enough to topple the Indian machine?

Australia vs Sri Lanka 1st T20 Preview

Australia vs Sri Lanka | Saturday 26 January | Sydney | 10:35

Sri Lanka’s long tour of Australia finally culminates in a quick bout of T20 matches, the first of which will take place in Sydney on Saturday. The hosts managed to square up the one-day series after falling behind 2-1 going into the final game. Despite media antagonism in Australia, especially surrounding selection, the Aussies seem to be able to click when the time is right with almost any squad; an inherently Australian trait. Time to predict the unpredictable.

South Africa vs New Zealand 2nd ODI Preview

South Africa vs New Zealand | Tuesday 22 January | Kimberley | 14:30

Nothing in this business is ever certain. No matter how much time and energy is expended in poring over stats and and watching clearly one-sided contests, the upset always lingers. My assumption was that New Zealand’s (or rather Martin Guptill’s) T20 victory was about as good as it would get for the Black Caps. However, you can never factor in individual performances that require not only guts and determination, but luck. That evil lady is always lurking, ready to to scupper one side to benevolently benefit another. However, where she gives she takes, and I would say that New Zealand’s luck has just about run out.

South Africa vs New Zealand 1st ODI Preview

South Africa vs New Zealand | Saturday 19 January | Paarl | 10:00

If the test series between these two sides revealed one thing, it’s the obvious gulf between the Proteas and mediocrity. World number one ranking aside, the sheer dominance of the South Africans in all areas of the test series brings to mind the ruthless Australians of the late 90s and early 2000s, relentless in attack and mighty in single-mindedness. The Proteas, once they have a grip on the game are almost impossible to beat. However, this is a different format, one in which the Black Caps are more proficient. Not many sides in the world can go five days against the South Africans. Fifty overs however, is a whole new ball game.

Australia vs Sri Lanka 3rd ODI Preview

Australia vs Sri Lanka | Friday 18 January | Brisbane | 05:20

Despite their victory in the first ODI spoiling my outside tip on Sri Lanka, I’d had a feeling the Aussies would slip up in the opening two fixtures with a depleted side. Circumstances had not conspired to make it so, it was by Mickey Arthur and his team of sports scientists’ choice to rest key players. Or perhaps it is a necessity, forced by a schedule that is relentless and unforgiving. Irrespective, the series is now all-square at 1-1 and a buoyed Sri Lanka have tasted victory in their favoured format. The third ODI takes place in Brisbane, and promises to be a fiery contest.

India vs England 2nd ODI Preview

India vs England | Tuesday 15 January | Kochi | 08:30

After years of embarrassment in the one-day arena on the subcontinent, the English exacted a hard-fought victory against the Indians to go 1-0 up in the series. English captain Alastair Cook is a man determined, in the same manner as he conducted himself in England’s historic test series victory last month. The more the odds are stacked against the prolific opener, the harder he struggles against them. India may be in a state of disarray but are still formidable when the plan comes together. This proves to be another fascinating encounter, so let’s take a look at the nitty-gritty.

South Africa vs New Zealand 2nd Test Preview

South Africa vs New Zealand | Friday 11 January – Tuesday 15 January | Port Elizabeth | 10:30

I’d love to try to weave a tale of a clash of titans, two giants of the arena straining in an almighty effort to overcome the other in a battle of brains and brawn. I’d love to try to stress the importance of the fixture for both sides, weighing their relative ambitions against a worthy opponent and straining my faculties to find a winner. Alas, this one seems signed, sealed and delivered before the first ball is bowled. The number one test side in the world, proven around the globe against the best will face up against a Black Caps side struggling to string together two decent sessions. The verdict is set in stone…however there is still hope for the punter.

India vs England 1st ODI Preview

India vs England | Friday 11 January | Rajkot | 08:30

The way the cricket calendar is organised nowadays never ceases to amaze me. A hard-fought test series between these two sides saw the English side etch their names into history with a series win, followed by two rushed T20s for which I struggle to see any necessity. Nevertheless, the English were then bundled home for Christmas while India hosted visiting Pakistan for three heated one-dayers, only to be returned a couple of weeks later to compete in five ODIs. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me but we’re looking for a punt, so read on and take my words with you to the bookie.

Australia vs Sri Lanka 1st ODI Preview

Australia vs Sri Lanka | Friday 11 January | MCG | 05:20

Following a thorough and comprehensive dismantling of the Sri Lankans in the three-match test series, Australia now set their sights on five one-dayers and an ominous start to 2013. The Sri Lankans are bruised and broken but also find themselves back to competing in their favoured format, and will have fond memories of the triangular series they were involved in here just under a year ago. The ODI series promises to be a much closer contest and with a ragtag Australian squad named, the Sri Lankans will fancy their chances for an upset or two.

South Africa vs New Zealand | Wednesday 02 January – Sunday 06 January | Newlands | 10:30 

As the Proteas begin 2013 in defence of a successful 2012, the similarities between opposition, ambition and timing become all the more apparent. In only March of this year/last year (depending on your time of reading), the Proteas travelled to New Zealand in Gary Kirsten’s first away tour as coach, the number one ranking within their grasp if they could exact a whitewash. It was not to be, but allowed them the opportunity to attempt to lay a foundation to mount a challenge of the number one test ranking in England. The subsequent after-effects, if they were to achieve this, would amount to a unit capable of defending the glorious title in the perils of Australia. One success after another was the result and now they face New Zealand, again at the beginning of a test calendar year. But this time, Gary Kirsten’s cunning plan has changed its complexion.

Not Just a Phase

When a side ascends to the lofty heights of the number one test team in the world, questions are asked. The mental query on the tip of everybody’s tongue after the Proteas’ historic series victory in Australia boils down to one thing: Is this the beginning of an era? Cricket has seen many great sides throughout its history and occasionally, these teams come to define a generation of the game. The West Indian side of the 1970s and 80s is the best representation of this, not losing a single series between 1980 and 1995. This was followed by the era of the Australians, who through the 90s and early 21st century were unbeaten in all Ashes series and won three World Cups. These are only two examples from a long history but will the 2010s, and possibly onward, be South Africa’s time to shine?

India vs England 2nd Test Preview

India vs England | Friday 23 November | Mumbai | 06:30

England’s woeful test calendar season continues and if losing the number one ranking wasn’t enough, they’ve now been thoroughly embarrassed  on the subcontinent. India will go into this encounter buoyed at the thought that they were in control of the first test from ball one, and it was only two partnerships – Cook and Compton; Cook and Prior – that would’ve slightly irritated the Indian attack. Can we expect more of the same in Mumbai? You bet we can.

Australia vs South Africa 1st Test Preview

Australia vs South Africa | Friday 09 November | Brisbane Cricket Ground | 02:00

The Proteas begin their defence of the number one ranking in test cricket, and it doesn’t get bigger, or indeed tougher, than this. They travel to perennial rivals Australia for a set of three tests Down Under and despite shaky preparation in the Australian camp, are in for a dogfight. Australia haven’t played any test cricket since April, but their record preceding that is mighty impressive. The South Africans are riding a wave of success in this format of the game, first and foremost built on six years without a series loss on the road. Few cricket fans would have forgotten South Africa’s heroics in Australia’s backyard four years ago, much less the drama and intrigue of the 90s and early 2000s. Expect an absolutely fascinating and terrifying five day emotional roller-coaster, beginning on Friday.

Sixers vs Titans CLT20 Semi Final Preview

Sydney Sixers vs Nashua Titans | Friday 26 October | Centurion | 17:30

We now find ourselves at the business end of the Champions League T20 tournament, where one mistake can cause a costly exit. The Sydney Sixers have been far and wide the team of the tournament so far and are yet to drop a game, while the Titans have banded together after the loss of several players and make up the other half of the South African semi-final pairing. Playing at home, the Titans will know that their shot for the CLT20 title has never been closer within their grasp. Only the Warriors in South Africa have made it further in this tournament, losing the 2010 final. With that in mind, let’s have a look at who will likely proceed to the final at the Wanderers.

Chennai Super Kings vs Highveld Lions CLT20 Preview

Super Kings vs Lions | Tuesday 16 October | Newlands | 17:30

Nothing seems to have gone my way so far in the Champions League T20. Both the South African sides turned in superb performances to oust their counterparts, seeming to prove that home ground advantage really is all it’s cracked up to be. Gibbs got a good start for the Scorchers but failed to kick on and Rohit Sharma was bettered only by the ungainly bat of Mitchell Johnson, striding to the crease at number four for the Mumbai Indians. So a few losing bets later and where do we stand? Let’s have a quick gander. 

Australia vs West Indies – ICC World T20 Semi Final 2 Preview

Australia vs West Indies | Friday 5 October | Colombo | 15:30

Before this World Cup started, the West Indies were among the most feared teams in the tournament, but so far have scraped their way through to the final with one proper conventional win. Australia were looked at as punching above their weight prior to the competition but largely thanks to Shane Watson, have turned it around and look very dangerous, despite their loss to Pakistan. Both sides know they will face the hosts in the final, and Sri Lanka look hungry for victory in front of the home crowd. So who will it be? Let’s take a gander.