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Jan 15, 2011

2011: Who will rule the world of Test cricket

It must be said that the captivating series between South Africa and India showed how tight it is at the top of the game in Test cricket.Though outside these fine sides jousting for the Crown of Test number 1.There are other teams who might be regarded with this title come the end of 2011.In the ever improving England and the very fine Sri Lankan side
Im not taking the past into account to rate the Teams.Merely looking at their capabilities in the present and future
So who will be viewed as number 1 come the end of 2011?
Here is a look at the Teams vying for number 1

India has many strengths with the most formidable being their batting.Their top 6 is arguably the best in the World of cricket and in players like Tendulkar,Laxman,Dravid and Sehwag.They have greats of the game.This batting line up is almost immovable in Asia on batting friendly pitches.Though as shown in the recent series against South Africa on pitches favouring bowlers against a very fine attack.They are still formidable enough to get the job down with the bat anywhere.
The other strength India has in abundance is experience.They have all been there done that, so never lose hope.This shown in the recent series in South Africa where they were mauled in the 1st Test,but had enough resolve to fight back in the 2nd and in truth should have won the series.

There are a few weakness- most notably the bowling which is very reliant on Zaheer Khan.This is tenuous too for Zaheer is injury prone.Though in glimpses in South Africa, Sreesanth showed he has the pedigree to be the strike bowler India craves.Though India needs more strength in the pace department.They have many bowlers they have tried that have succeeded at times.Such as Ishant,Irfan Pathan,Munaf and RP Singh.Though they need a consistent performer to back the excellent Zaheer and improving Sreesanth.
Maybe the young Jaidev Unadkhat is the man,but he will take time
The number 6 spot in the batting is a concern.Though in young Cheteshwar Pujar,I have no doubt in time he will be a fine Test batsman
A more compelling weakness that in truth probably cost India the series in South Africa is the Captaincy of M.S.Dhoni.He has shown himself to be an excellent leader in T20/Odi's,but Test match cricket he has been found out.
For India to be number 1,it needs a better leader than Dhoni in regards to the tactical side of the game that is so crucial in Test cricket

India has great depth in regards to batsmen with players like Kohli,Vijay,Rahane,Badrinath and Mukund all looking likely types.
The bowling isn't so well served with replacements in regards to pace being a huge issue and Spin options not be as strong in India as it usually is
Though long term names such as Bhatt,Srinivas and Mishra are very fine spin prospects

South Africa

The South African's are blessed by probably the best fast bowling attack in the game and undoubtedly the best fast bowler in the World in Dale Steyn.He is that good that he is able to win games for South Africa by his deeds alone and there are few in the World who can do that.
Then their batting is very formidable too. Highlighted by the exceptional Hasim Amla,the evergreen Jacques Kallis and the up and coming star A.B.DeVilliers 
Also in Kallis,South Africa has the best all rounder in the game

There are a few but none that are major concerns
The key one is the lack of a quality spinner, though there are great hopes for the ex Pakistani lad the leg spinner Imran Tahir.If he can be a success it gives South Africa a spinner that can be an attacking option.Rather than the tie down defensive spinners they have now.
The batting has two positions that look weak in regards to the opener Alviro Petersen and Ashwell Prince at number 6.Though South Africa have many options for both spots such as Jacques Rudolph,Rilee Rossouw and  J.P.Duminy.
There are questions over Mark Boucher's position in the Team behind the stumps with many calling for young Heido Kuhn to replace him
A bit of a concern raised in the series against India was the Captaincy of Graeme Smith.In particular in how defensive he was in his declaration in the 3rd Test.Though im going to put down this as a blip in what has otherwise been a very fine reign for Smith as the South African leader

In most departments South Africa has excellent depth.Especially in regards to pace options and batting depth
There are few spin options,though South Africa's pace attack is good enough to get 20 wickets on any pitch.So a good spinner would just make a bowling attack that is very good into one that is truly exceptional


More than anything England's strength is their evenness as a Team.They have few you would consider to be stars of the game,but you view every player in their 11 as being capable in any match of making a game changing contribution.
Their depth in all department as shown in the Ashes is exceptional too.
Also their back room staff is without a doubt the best in the game

The only real weakness I see in the England Team is the absence of that one superstar.
Like South Africa has Steyn,India has Tendulkar and Sri Lanka has Sangakkara.
Though to counter this the evenness in their Team which covers the need for a star
Also we might be paying England too much credit for them mauling Australia in the Ashes.For in truth Australia at present is a dreadful side

England's depth is truly exceptional
The batting has young precocious types like Eoin Morgan and James Hildreth waiting in the wings
The bowling in regards to pace has about 8 options that are all effective at Test level
Then in regards to spin you have Monty Panesar and Adil Rashid-one a left armer and one a leggie which provides compatibility and variety to Graeme Swann's Off Spin

Sri Lanka

The biggest strength for Sri Lanka is they have one of the best batsmen in the game in Kumar Sangakkara.Who is backed by the excellent Mahela Jayawardene.
Also in Lasith Malinga,they have one of the best up and coming fast bowlers in the game
The are well served in spin options too.
In Asian conditions that suit them their Team is tailor made and thus very formidable

This might be strange but I think the biggest weakness for Sri Lanka in regards to Test Cricket is there Countries mentality to it.This shown in the choice to rest Lasith Malinga for the Test Series against the West Indies. When he was fine and dandy to play in a few meaningless Odi's in Australia.It shows that the have a higher desire to excel in the lesser forms of the game than in Tests
Also the proposed Sri Lankan version of the IPL will again take their attention away from excelling in the Test Arena
On the field Sri Lanka's biggest weakness is performing in foreign conditions.In Asia there batsmen are exceptional,but in conditions where there's a bit of bounce or a little in favour of the bowlers.There are queries over them being able to perform well.
Though we can't comment too much on this for we rarely see then in Tests away from Asia.
Thankfully they are due to play in England in the Northern 'summer' so we will be able to judge them after that

Sri Lanka struggle with depth in regards to Test standard bowlers
Though have many fine young spinners and batsmen
The young keeper/batsman Dinesh Chandimal is said to resemble Adam Gilchrist in his abilities

So who do you think will be number 1 after 2011 in Tests?

By - Tim Holt (Cricket through the eyes of an Irishman)

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