The Major League Baseball season has come to an end. For all those fans of the pastime who dread a desolate few months without the sound of bat hitting ball, may we direct your attention to a winter of fascinating cricket duels taking place in Australia and India? Having reached the Number One spot in world Test rankings by beating England 2–0 this summer, South Africa have just begun a three-game series against Australia, who are looking to assert their usual dominance at home and seeking some redemption, after they were thrashed by the English in 2010–11. Unfortunately for the Aussies, South Africa have begun where they left off against the English. The imperious Hashim Amla and the battleship Jacques Kallis are sitting pretty on 90 and 84 not out respectively as the South Africans amassed 255–2 on the first day. Questions: Will Australian legend Ricky Ponting capture a bit of his former magic before he retires? Will the South Africans be able to hold their nerve in the face of Australian verbal and physical aggression? Will Australia’s mercurial bowling attack be more consistent? Will Vernon Philander continue his extraordinary run of taking wickets for virtually no runs?
Meanwhile, in the subcontinent, India is looking for revenge, having been taken to the cleaners 4–0 by England in England in 2011. “Just you wait until you come to our home turf,” was the cry of many Indian fans. Well, the English have arrived, and we await to see whether the Indians can make good on their promises of doing unto the English what the latter did to them. In the warm-up matches so far, England’s batsmen have all scored runs and look pretty settled; the bowlers less so. The first of four Test matches starts on November 15th.