Our two home test series, first against the West Indies and then Pakistan late last year, lacked sparkle as the outcomes were never in doubt.
But not so across the Tasman. Many commentators claim the tests series between Australia and India was the greatest ever for the extraordinary drama they delivered. They’ll get no argument from me. Test cricket is the most thrilling of any sport on a number of counts, but that series was stand-out amazing.
So too the live Sky broadcasts from India with to date, dramatically different test outcomes.
Whoever invented the saying “it ain’t over until the fat lady sings” obviously had test cricket in mind.
That aside, by far the most entertaining cricket I’ve watched this summer has come from the South African-Pakistan one day women’s series Sky showed through January. I refer to the fielding by both sides. No matter how simple nearly every lolly catch was dropped.
On several occasions with both sides I saw a ball hit not very hard to a fielder who crouched down, hands out only for it to pass through her legs. The ball, now down to not much more than a dribble pace saw another fielder 10 or so metres behind the first, crouch down and through her legs it would trickle, then come to a stop. In would swoop a third fielder and despite the ball now being stationary, dip to pick it up and miss it altogether.
Balls fielded then thrown to either the bowler or the wicketkeeper were rarely caught and resulted in overthrows.
The South Africans won all but one of the matches as they were smarter. Why?
Because they worked out that even if they simply patted every ball to mid-on, mostly it would be misfielded, but if not, it would not be caught when thrown to the keeper or bowler. Consequently they ran on every shot.
It was all wonderfully comical. That said both sides batted and bowled with great zest. Many were mere teens, one Pakistani girl only 16.
This is not to deride women’s sport. For example, I never watch boring slam-bam men’s tennis (Andy Murray was a sole exception with his wily cuts and drop shots) but enjoy the women’s games with their long rallies.
And I avidly watch the LPGA, first as the girls are all astonishingly talented and even better, as so many are absolute stunners.