Memoirs of a Saffers Junkie
Will Cockerell 28th June 2017
Has there been a more consistently absorbing Test Match rivalry over the past 40 years to match the struggles of England versus South Africa? Will Cockerell believes not, as he reminisces on some epic affairs since the end of apartheid. 1994 It's almost impossible to describe the euphoria of the opening days of the Lord's Test of 1994 and our renewed acquaintance with a fabled foe. The weather was perfect and it was nostalgic to see Cap'n Kepler, he of Ashes' '85 ilk, grind out an emotional ton on an evenly poised 1st day. After that, the mother of all shellackings, with England dire and Atherton getting his hands dirty; too dirty as it turned out. An wild and apoplectic Jon Agnew called for skipper's head, which many felt was "a bit much".
Guerillas in the midst of special Test match revolution
Scott Rutherford 10th May 2017
"They're not as funny as they think they are," sniffed Stephen Brenkley, the cricket correspondent of the now partially defunct Independent, in 2012, hoping perhaps, by damning with faint praise, to halt the Test Match Sofa bandwagon that was hurtling down the slope from the Pavilion End and threatening to deliver some unwelcome chin music to the cricket Establishment. It was true, though, they weren't as funny as they thought they were. Very few people are. But they were funny. And, worryingly for that Establishment, they were also knowledgeable, insightful, could generally ball-by-ball with the best of them and could turn their hands to a variety of subjects that you wouldn't expect to hear on a cricket commentary.
Series review: Ashes 2015
Andy Ward 8th May 2017
The 2015 Ashes series was the third in two years due to a schedule rearrangement designed to help England's World Cup campaign the next winter (lol). If the clashes of 2005 and 2009 will be remembered as vibrant contests of punching and counter-punching, this was more like two drunks whaling on each other at closing time. England of course won 3-2 in the end, keeping the Aussies without a series win on these shores since 2001. The two matches they won were by 405 runs, Steve Smith helping himself to a double hundred at Lords, and an innings & 46 in the dead rubber at the Oval. England won by 169 runs in Cardiff, 8 wickets on their lucky ground of Edgbaston, and decisively by an innings & 78 at Trent Bridge.
Series review: SA v ENG 2015/2016
Gary Naylor 8th May 2017
England's four half-centurions in the First Test vs South Africa in 2015-16 provide a contrast in how the cricketing Gods dispense their favours: Nick Compton and James Taylor won't play international cricket again; Joe Root is the new Test captain and Jonny Bairstow has rewritten the record books for wicketkeeper-batsmen. None of that was clear when their contributions with the bat and Man of the Match, Moeen Ali's seven wickets, got England off to a winning start against a strong South Africa team playing in home conditions.
Series review: IND v ENG 2016
Paul Howarth 8th May 2017
India 4 England 0 – 2016 Test series review. If nominative determinism has a place in cricket, last winter proved it. Virat Kohli is Majestic. Literally. That's what Virat means. Captain Kohli, complete with his I've-just-shagged-your-sister grin, led India to a comprehensive series victory over an England side that was simply ground into the dust over six exhausting weeks. As a batsman, Kohli was nigh-on untouchable, weighing in with 655 runs at an average of 109. He skippered with élan and vision, too, although it does help when you have the double spin threat of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja at your disposal. Respectively the world's top-ranked and most economical Test bowlers, they combined lethally to deliver 54 wickets.
Series review: IND v AUS 2017
Nakul Pande 8th May 2017
Rahane Rescues King Kohli's Creaking Conquerors. India 2-1 Australia. 13 home Tests, 10 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss. Four series wins, and when it all came to an end India were world number one and held every bilateral series title. Easy, right? Wrong. So wrong. Those Tests came at a rate of one every fortnight for 6 straight months. This is, to use a technical term, batshit. The resultant roll-call of injured shoulders (Kohli, KL Rahul), sports hernias (Ravichandran Ashwin), broken jaws (Murali Vijay), and general brokenness (Mohammed Shami) came as no surprise.