For purely logistical reasons, and living in England, the Windies tour is my favourite - there’s something exceptionally civilised about coming home in the evening and still being able to catch a couple of sessions of Test match cricket after work. This one, I think, has some serious potential to be quite good. I think this England team is substantially better than the one that went in 2015. That batting unit had Cook on the wane (a circumstance that lasted for years, due to our inabilty to find anyone to partner him, never mind replace him), the shot version of Trott, the very shot version of Ian Bell, the overmatched at Test level Garry Ballance at 3, Buttler before he worked out what was what (assuming he has done now) in red ball cricket and Ben Stokes who has improved substantially, at least in my view, since then. Broad and Anderson then vs Broad and Anderson now is probably not much difference - Anderson is better now, Broad worse. Chris Jordan was the 3rd seamer and spin was provided by James Tredwell and a rushed back from a side strain Moeen Ali. The bowling unit seems better for depth now. Even accounting for all that, and England bat deep, they’re not exactly giving off the air of security, so the bowlers will have to come to the party.
I’m also quite looking forward to seeing some of the Windies guys - even accounting for the quality of the opposition, Jason Holder took his wickets at something like 12 in 2018, which is a pretty hefty improvement. Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach are reasonably good seam up bowlers. Jamal Warrican destroyed the England Lions tour that went out there last winter - something like 30 odd wickets at 9 (that is not a misprint - though my recall may be off, it genuinely was something stupidly low). Not seen anything of Shimron Hetmyer - but he went at a substantial wedge in the IPL auction, so I’d imagine that there’s some fireworks there. Much like the Sri Lanka tour, and in agreement with Teuton, I can see low scoring, bowler dominated games, that have the potential to be quite exciting. Looking forward to it.
South Africa currently starting their drag into the World Cup with an ODI series polishing off the Pakistan tour that featured Test matches over Christmas and New Year. Pakistan won the first ODI when SA set 260 ish for 2 off 50 overs, which was a very odd score. Surely nowadays you throw the bat around a bit more and score more than that? Pakistan timed their chase well and got them in the last over but SA looked very short - at least 30 runs. Today, SA were chasing and won. I’d not noticed before but Andile Phehlukwayo has some better than decent ODI figures for SA - averages 30 or so, goes at around 5.75 an over. Today he also got them over the line with 69 in the chase (in tandem with Rassie van der Dussen - who I will confess is a new one on me; only his second ODI today). If Phehlukwayo is rounding into form, with Steyn, Rabada, Maharaj and Duanne Olivier, they’ve got quite a good bowling line up. Unbelievably, given recent history, runs might actually be the issue for them - I wonder if they could tempt ABDV for one more crack at a World Cup?
The team I am tipping for an outside run at the World Cup is NZ. Have a look at some of their ODI performances over the course of the last 18 months, factor in that NZ is probably the closest to English conditions that you’ll find on the international circuit - add them together and come up with 5 probably. But you get my meaning.
Virat won every gong going in the 2018 ICC awards. Can’t say I disagree with much of that - though making him captain of the World XI might be due to some of the other players involved and choosing the best of them. Didn’t think much of his captaincy in England - though clearly he did alright in Australia. No England players in the World Test XI - again, not sure I disagree that much there - 4 made the ODI World XI, which given our history at World Cups seems like teeing us up for the inevitable let down in the summer.