The Reuters global sports blog
First, it was current No. 1 India, who lost to Pakistan (No. 6) at home, followed by third-ranked Australia, who fought hard to just level a series with visitors Sri Lanka. Then it was the turn of hosts South Africa to lose a three-match series to lower-ranked New Zealand.
Not surprisingly, India, South Africa and Australia were labelled easy “favourites” in those encounters but the results, which also took the pundits by surprise, are proof of the growing competition in ODI cricket.
There were several factors which worked in unison to produce those turnarounds.
Numerous changes in the rules, governing the ODIs, have made it difficult for captains to stick to a consistent plan. The changes have instead put the onus on teams to experiment, which has often rewarded the lesser sides.
When Shane Warne and Marlon Samuels came close to trading blows at the jam-packed MCG, it made for great TV viewing.
Sadly, in a sport like cricket which has always been considered a “gentleman’s game”, it wasn’t an aberration.
Surfing’s image has always been clouded by images of wild lifestyles, of cashed-up athletes treading a fine line between partying and performing.
Last week’s crazy Cape Town test match between South Africa and Australia, where 23 wickets fell in a day and the visitors narrowly avoided the lowest ever test score, will go down in cricket’s esteemed annals.
They meet again at the Wanderers from Thursday. But would test cricket fans want to see a repeat?
Respected but seldom loved at home, admired but also reviled abroad, Ricky Ponting led Australia to great success but his captaincy will ultimately be defined by three lost Ashes series.
The tough, single-minded Tasmanian always put the team first and that, he said, had prompted him to stand down after nine years in charge of the Australia one-day team and seven as test skipper on Tuesday.
The most test (48) and one-day international (164) wins by any captain as well as successive World Cup triumphs in 2003 and 2007 is an impressive record by any standards, and there has never been any doubt about his quality as a batsman.
The cornerstone of Australia’s past and many successes was often their stubbornness and competitiveness but with the nation at an all time low the new way forward is honesty and the equation is a basic one.
Elementary, Shane Watson.
The man can bat, bowl and field, as he showed during the 3-1 Ashes defeat to England and the two Twenty20 internationals, but what was most notable about the all-rounder was his honesty in front of cameras.
Look away now Australian cricket fans, this one’s going to hurt like a cricket bat to the groin. Their team has carried their abject 2010 form into 2011 by slumping to another defeat to a rampant England side but this time in Twenty20 rather than tests.
While England notched up their eighth straight victory in the shortest version of cricket – a new world record – the last ball defeat in Adelaide means Australia have now lost 17 of their last 24 completed matches in all forms of the game.
England’s cricketers wrapped up a 3-1 series victory against Australia in Sydney on Friday and held aloft the little Ashes urn for the first time in 24 years on Australian soil.
They should enjoy the moment. It has been hard earned and a long time in coming. The taste of success will be sweet and should be savoured after so much hurt and torment at the hands of the great Australian sides of the last 20 years.
The retirement of Paul Collingwood from England’s test team was beautifully timed, leaving the selectors with the dilemma of who to replace the versatile batsman but with a long time to contemplate the decision and from a pretty lofty perch.
The 34-year-old brought options with the ball and was arguably the team’s best fielder, so although he has struggled with the bat of late whoever steps into the team has some big boots to fill.