Bangladesh v Australia – 1st Test Preview

When Steve Smith’s Australian side take the field tomorrow at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium, Mirpur in the suburbs of Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka, it will be a rare sight indeed. It is 11 years, and four cancelled tours, since Australia last deemed Bangladesh worthy of playing in a Test match.

Not they bothered to play them much before then either – this two-match series is only the third ever between the two sides, and only Australia’s second visit to Bangladesh since the Tigers were admitted as a Test side 17 years ago.

Of those paltry four matches played between the sides, Australia have won all four, but much has changed since 2006, and the hosts will be no pushover this time around. Although Bangladesh have only won nine of their 100 Test matches played since their elevation to Full member status in 2000, two of those wins have come in the last twelve months – a first ever win against England at home and an away victory against Sri Lanka. They have also taken great strides in one-day cricket, and are especially dangerous in home conditions. They will be confident they can push Australia hard and cause an upset.

Australia have not played Test cricket since their series loss in India in March, and will be hoping that they can emulate their performance in the first test of that series in Pune rather than the following three.

An intriguing series awaits. There are a few significant personal milestones likely to be established also:

Nathan Lyon (Australia)

Australia’s leading spin bowler, the most-capped player in the squad, will be hoping subcontinental conditions are to his liking – you would certainly back him to take the three wickets he needs to bring up 250 for his country in Tests.

Currently sitting on 247, he also needs just one to draw level with the legendary Richie Benaud in eighth spot in Australia’s all time wicket takers list – a wonderful achievement for the man from Young in New South Wales.

If the pitch is a real turner, he might even take the 12 wickets he needs to move up one spot higher, alongside Jason Gillespie’s 259 in seventh place.

Steve Smith (Australia)

With his unorthodox but evidently highly effective batting action, captain Smith has already notched up a remarkable 20 centuries for the Australians in Tests. Just one more in this test will see him move into joint ninth place for his country alongside the fabulously mustachioed David Boon and Neil Harvey.

Shakib-Al-Hasan and Tamim Iqbal (Bangladesh)

Bangladesh’s two leading test run-scorers will both notch up their 50th Test appearances in this first test.

Shakib is also far and away the Tigers’ leading wicket-taker too, and sits proudly as the ICC’s highest ranked all-rounder in Tests (and ODIs and T20Is for that matter!) A hugely underrated player on the world stage, he will be hoping to add to his 179 wickets.


England v West Indies – 2nd Test Preview

There was supposed to only be four days’ rest in between the first and second Tests of England’s three-match series against West Indies. As it turned out, England’s thumping victory within three days (or days and nights to be more precise) has given both sides extra time off to prepare for this game (or to practice their golf swings at least.)

England will be looking to wrap up successive Test series during the second Test, which starts at Headingley in Leeds on Friday morning (yes, morning!) For their part, the West Indians will be hoping against all odds that a quick turnaround in their fortunes will bring about their first Test win in England since the year 2000.

There is much to watch out for from an individual player milestone perspective too:

Jimmy Anderson (England)

Jimmy’s longtime fast bowling partner-in-crime Stuart Broad took most of the milestone headlines at Edgbaston, having overtaken Ian Botham as England’s second highest Test wicket-taker.

However all eyes will be on Anderson’s “W” column in this test, as he sits on 492 wickets, only eight shy of becoming just the sixth bowler in Test cricket history to crack the 500 barrier. If he gets there, he will only the third fast bowler after Glenn Mcgrath and Courtney Walsh to get there.

Jimmy will also edge one place up a much more obscure ladder in this match, as his 27,724 balls bowled in the longest format sees him just 16 balls behind Kapil Dev in eighth place. So on the fifth ball of Jimmy’s third over bowled, be sure to raise a glass to that!

Alastair Cook (England)

Such are Chef’s stats at the moment, that he seems to be a perennial feature in these updates. Cook’s 243 masterpiece at Edgbaston moved him to 11,568 career runs. If he can squeak out four more runs at Headingley and score 247, he’ll move past Mahela Jayawardene into eighth place overall worldwide.

Perhaps more likely is a potential 32nd Test century, which would see him move into the World top ten for that statistic, alongside Australia’s Steve Waugh.

He also needs just one more catch at slip to notch up 150 grabs for his country.

Stuart Broad (England)

Having moved past one England legend in the wicket stakes in the first Test, Broad will move alongside in this one. His 108th Test for England sees him move up from 10th to joint 9th place alongside Geoffrey Boycott.

Jonny Bairstow (England)

Such is the impressive nature of YJB’s keeping, that in what seems like a blink of the eye, he already sits in eleventh place in the “dismissals” column of England’s record books – with 112 catches and 6 stumpings totalling 118 dismissals.

Two more at his home ground in Leeds will move him past Colin Cowdrey and Ian Botham into tenth place, and three more also past his ultimate boss Andrew Strauss into ninth. I doubt Strauss would mind too much!

Jason Holder (West Indies)

Much like positives to take from Edgbaston, its slim pickings for milestones for West Indies’ players here. However, six runs for captain Holder will see him notch up his 1000 in the format, currently sitting on 994.

Sri Lanka v India – 1st ODI Preview

Having convincingly lost the recent Test series against India 3-0, Sri Lanka will be looking for a change of fortune as focus shifts to the white ball. The first of a five match bilateral ODI series takes place on Sunday 20th August at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium in Dambulla in the centre of Sri Lanka.

India will undoubtedly start as strong favourites, being ranked third in in the ICC ODI team rankings, as compared to their hosts’ lowly eighth position. Sri Lanka are also still smarting from the shock 3-2 series defeat to even lower ranked Zimbabwe that resulted in the resignation of their captain Angelo Mathews, while India easily dealt with the West Indies 3-1 in their most recent ODI encounter.

That said, there is the small matter of the fact that the last time the two sides met, the islanders stunned their neighbours with a shock win in a ICC Champions Trophy group stage clash at The Oval.

New Captain Upul Tharanga’s men also have added incentive in the series. Only the top eight sides in the ODI rankings as at 30 September 2017 qualifying automatically for the 2019 ICC World Cup in England. Sri Lanka will be looking for two wins out of five to ensure they secure that final eighth spot ahead of the West Indies, regardless of how the Windies perform in their upcoming series against England later in the summer.

From a personal player point of view, there are one or two very significant personal milestones to watch out for:

Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka)

If selected as anticipated, Sri Lanka’s leading fast bowler will play in his 200th ODI for his country, becoming the 13th player from the island to do so.

He also currently has 298 ODI wickets, so two more in Dambulla will see him become the fourth Sri Lankan after Murali, Chaminda Vaas and Sanith Jayasuriya to bring up the milestone, and only the 13th worldwide.

MS Dhoni (India)

Much has been made in recent days of the Indian chairman of selectors MSK Prasad’s comments that Dhoni’s playing days in the national side may be numbered, but the wily ex=skipper will firmly believe he has a few more games in him just yet.

One number he will be keeping an eye on is Sri Lankan Kumar Sangakkara’s world record of 99 ODI stumpings. MS sits just two behind on 97, and will be keen to claim that record for himself before the tap on the shoulder finally does come.

England v West Indies – 1st Test Preview

Thursday sees the English Test summer enter its second phase with the first of a three-match series between England and the West Indies.

The match at Edgbaston in Birmingham has extra significance for England, being the first day/night Test for the home side. The Windies have a little more experience with the pink ball, having previously played one Test under lights, against Pakistan in Dubai earlier this year. They will be hoping for a better result though, as they lost that encounter by 56 runs.

This upcoming match will be the 153rd encounter between the two sides, with the visitors leading by 54 wins to England’s 46, with 51 games having been drawn. On English soil, the hosts lead 32 wins to 29.

England are now ranked 3rd in the world Test rankings after their 3-1 series win earlier in the summer against South Africa, and hence will start as strong favourites. The West Indies by contrast are ranked 8th, only ahead of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, and have not won a Test series for nearly three years. You have to go back to 1998 for the last time they won a series against England, although the sides did split the last set they played, 1-1 in the Caribbean in 2015.

The first Test may also see some personal milestones:

Mark Stoneman, Mason Crane (England) & Kyle Hope, Raymon Reifer (West Indies)

With two uncapped players in each squad, there could be as many as four debutants making their Test bow at Edgbaston.

Surrey opener Stoneman is the most likely to play, having been named the latest to try and stop the England opener revolving door. Eleven players have tried to keep Alastair Cook company since Andrew Strauss’s retirement and all have failed (or at least been deemed to have failed) – will it be twelfth time lucky for England’s selectors?

If Kyle Hope plays, it could be either alongside or in place of his brother Shai, who is also in the Windies’ squad.

Chris Woakes (England)

Local boy and talented all-rounder Woakes will be hoping to force his way back into the team following an injury-enforced absence. Prior to his injury, he had gone a long way to establishing himself as England’s third seamer, but will now face a selection battle with Toby Roland-Jones, who looked mightily impressive in his two games against South Africa at The Oval and Old Trafford.

If Woakes does play, he needs three wickets with the pink ball to bring up 50 Test scalps in England whites.

Stuart Broad (England)

Fellow seamer Broad has not grabbed the headlines so far this summer, but has slowly and quietly been edging his way closer to a very significant milestone. He sits on 379 Test match wickets, and five more in this game will see him move past legendary all-rounder Ian Botham’s 383 and into second place all-time for England.

Only team mate Jimmy Anderson has more – over a hundred more – 487 and counting.

Alastair Cook (England)

Ex-skipper Cook takes to the Edgbaston turf it what will be his 145th Test match – enough to see him move into the world all-time top ten appearances list, alongside Australia’s Shane Warne.

Jason Holder (West Indies)

The West Indies captain leads an inexperienced squad into battle in England. He will be looking to lead from the front with both bat and ball, needing 17 runs and nine wickets to bring up his 1000-run and 50-wicket milestones.

England v South Africa (Basil D’Olivera Trophy) Fourth Test Preview

The four-match series between England and South Africa concludes with the fourth Test at Old Trafford in Manchester on Friday.

England lead the series 2-1 following their crushing 239-run defeat of the Proteas at the Oval earlier this week, retaining the Basil D’Olivera Trophy they won on South African soil in 2015/16 in the process.

The hosts will be looking to wrap up a first home series win against their African visitors since 1998, whilst Faf du Plessis’s team will be desperate to level the series, and end their largely disappointing tour of England on something of a high. After losing both the ODI and T20I series between the two sides earlier in the summer, the South Africans can at least share the spoils of the Test series with a win in the north-west.

The Test has been given some extra romance with the news announced on Thursday that the Pavilion End at Old Trafford has been renamed “The James Anderson End” in honour of the local Lancashire hero and England’s all-time leading wicket-taker. The Burnley Express will no doubt be looking to celebrate with a wicket or five from his very own end!

A number of other players will hope to reach some personal milestones during the Test too:

Hashim Amla (South Africa)

After a disappointing third Test at the Oval, Hashim Amla can take some solace that his 106th Test appearance for South Africa in the Old Trafford Test will move him past AB de Villiers into fifth place all-time for the Rainbow Nation.

He also only needs two further catches in the slips to move onto 95 catches and past Herschelle Gibbs into seventh place for his country.

Morne Morkel (South Africa)

The big quick has taken 498 wickets in South African colours across all formats of the game, snaffling 266, 186 and 46 Test, ODI and T20I wickets respectively. Just two more will bring up 500.

Joe Root (England)

England’s skipper may be on the wrong side of the Pennines for a Yorkshireman this week, but as well as looking to wrap up the series win, he’ll be aiming to score 46 more runs to bring up his 5,000 Test runs for England.

Sri Lanka v India – Second Test Preview

The second Test of this three-match series takes place at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) ground in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, starting on Thursday 3rd August.

India will look to wrap up the series with a game to spare, as they are already 1-0 up after their comprehensive 304-run drubbing of their hosts in the shadow of the Galle Fort last week.

Both sides will welcome back injured players into the starting XIs with India having confirmed KL Rahul will return, likely in place of Abinhav Mukund given fellow opener Shikhar Dhawan notched a 190-run masterpiece in Galle. Sri Lanka will be boosted by the return from a bout of pneumonia of their new Test captain, Dinesh Chandimal.

Look out for the following personal milestones:

Cheteshwar Pujara (India)

Fresh on the back of a big hundred at Galle, first-drop Pujara now has 3,966 career runs. He plays his 50th Test for India at the SSC and will be looking to celebrate by bringing up the 4,000 run milestone.

Ravichandran Ashwin (India)

With 1,950 runs to his name, India’s spinning all-rounder is just 50 runs shy of a career 2,000.

Ravindra Jadeja (India)

Jadeja’s six scalps in the first Test took him to 148 career test wickets, needing just two more for his 150.

Rangana Herath (Sri Lanka)

Despite an injury scare at the end of the first test, it appears that the lovable Rangaga will be fit for the second game. We previewed his upcoming milestones in some details in our preview of the first test.

However, he had a relatively quiet game by his own high standards as stand-in captain in Galle, only taking the one wicket. He therefore still needs to six to overtake Mikhaya Ntini’s 390 and move into 14th place in the all-time wicket takers list.