BulletPoints: Australia vs India – Boxing Day Test
Welcome to BulletPoints, where we want to keep you – the casual cricket fan – up to date with Everything That Could Quite Possibly Be Cricket. Having mates who love cricket over for a Boxing Day BBQ? Worried you’ll be found out as un-Australian due to your contempt for the red stitched ball? No stress! BulletPoints has all the necessary cricketing info you need to have a right-old natter about Sachin’s hundred hundreds and Marshy’s test chances. See? You’re a cricket fan already!
Just the Facts: Here we are at the Boxing Day Test, the most important event on the religious calendar. India, the second-ranked team in the ICC’s test cricket rankings, is taking on Australia, whom are ranked fourth, but whom always play well at home.
Neither team seems unbeatable. The Australian batting lineup seems flimsy at best, however the Indian bowlers – led by Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma – will be under immense pressure to take wickets. The Indian batting lineup is packed full of incredible batsmen, but the Aussie bowlers are in red-hot form thanks to the recent New Zealand series. BulletPoints, as always, has all the talking points you’ll need to make perfect cricketing small-talk.
- David Warner’s form: Warner is running red-hot, having recently come off a series of scores 102* (Thunders, T20), 15 and 123* (Australia, test match), 3 and 12* (Australia, test match), 65 (Australia A, first class), 148 (NSW, first class), and 86 (NSW, one day).
- Sachin’s Hundredth Hundred: Sachin Tendulkar may very well become the first man to hit one hundred international hundreds. The ‘Little Master’ – the best batsman in the world after Aussie legend Don Bradman – has hit 48 one day international centuries and 51 test match hundreds. The Sledge Panel recently discussed where they think he’ll make the 100th 100. He turns 39 next year, and would love nothing more than to bring up this milestone against Australia, in Australia.
- Punter, and Hussey, and Haddin: Not quite the three blind mice – Hussey was man of the series during Australia’s tour of Sri Lanka earlier this year and Haddin hit a barnstorming sixty in a recent Big Bash Twenty20 match – but certainly three aging superstars whose spots are under constant threat. Shane Watson is coming back from injury, and Dan Christian is hovering around due to the selector’s firm belief he can contribute as an allrounder; with Matt Wade also looking good for Victoria, none of these stalwarts are assured their place in the starting XI.
- ‘Last Chance To See’: Something that we’ve been speaking a lot about here at The Sledge is how many of India’s top six we’ll ever see in Australia again. As previously mentioned, their batting line-up is phenomenal; however, it is aging, and the players may not be around for much longer. Tendulkar and his band of middle-order superstars including VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and even Virender Sehwag may not make the trip out to Australia ever again, considering they will next tour at the tail end of 2014. Our advice? You should see them before we lose them.
Australian Team: David Warner, Ed Cowan, Shaun Marsh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke (C), Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin (WK), Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon, Ben Hilfenhaus.
Indian Squad: MS Dhoni (C) (WK), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Virat Kohli, R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, Rohit Sharma, Pragyan Ojha, Abhimanyu Mithun, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha, Zaheer Khan.
Chunks of Man: Yes, here at The Sledge we were narcissistic about a Twenty20 hitter making it as a legitimate test match player, but David Warner is doing things for us that are both inappropriate to write and hard to describe, so we’ve taken the opportunity to jump onto the DW bandwagon and make some money.
Want a taste of test match runs that leave you with an aftertaste of PURE MAN? You should try Warnerbrits!
Hughes Dares, When: Phil Hughes, the Aussie opening batsman who has been under pressure of late, has reneged from playing in the Big Bash League because he’d rather play Sheffield Shield cricket to get back his first-class form and return to the Aussie test team. This is an excellent step by Phil, and one that I applaud wholeheartedly.
And no, that’s not sarcasm. If he wants to make it back into the Aussie test team, then good on him, because that’s the way to do it.
But in a rather round-about way, it’s actually not that conductive to his form, nor his test hopes. You see, the BBL is running until the tail end of January, by which time the test series will be over. Could Hughes have forced his way back into the team with weight of T20 runs?
Meanwhile, pace sensation and a physiotherapist’s best friend Ryan Harris won’t be playing in the Boxing Day test. Having been the pace spearhead on Australia’s tours to Sri Lanka and South Africa earlier this year, Harris has been under a consistent injury cloud and didn’t finish either tour. However, his hip injury has been resolved, and he’s back playing in the Big Bash League. Theoretically, with no Shield cricket being played – he could take a few bags of wickets and be back in the test team by the end of the tour.
Shaun Marsh, for example, was under an injury cloud. The rumours were that he’d bat at number three in the Boxing Day test if he showed form playing for the Perth Scorchers. He turned out in the BBL, hammered a belligerent 99, and is back in the test team, batting above Clarke, Ponting and Hussey.
Hughes is ‘focusing on his test cricket’; he won’t play in the BBL, and wont break into the test side. Harris is playing in the BBL, and should his form increase to what we know he is capable of, he may be back in test reckoning. Marsh played one T20, and is back in the test team.
What an age we live in.
Brett Lee’s Gone: Okay. It’s the Boxing Day test. It’s a public holiday. The sun’s out, your mates are over, and you’re looking to entertain. In the true spirit of Christmas The Sledge is giving out presents – this year, they’re in the form of Channel Nine Cricket Coverage Bingo cards! Keep your guests excited and entertained as you watch the day’s play – get them here, here, and here – and by god, if you do actually use them, send in a photo to The Sledge’s Twitter account for a RT, just to reassure me that people read this drivel.