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Would the real KP please stand up!

From being the dominant force in recent battles, the England side capitulated like only they can. They now find themselves staring down a barrel, being 2 nil down in this prestigious and historical rivalry known as the Ashes. Their couch, Andy Flower, believes they can bounce back, but I think most of the cricketing world finds that hard to believe. Should they manage to do this, it will be a series to remember.

The major difference, in my opinion, is that Australia has returned to their old style of intimidation. Steve Waugh described sledging as “Mental disintegration”, and their use of this ploy enabled them to get into the minds of the England players, affecting their self-belief.

To add to their woes, I believe England made a massive selection error in the last game by selecting the wrong replacement for Jonathan Trott. Steve Finn or Bresnan, and even rookie, Gary Balance, would have been a better choice. This would have given the side better balance (no pun intended) than the one they selected. I hope they pick Panasar as the only spinner in the next test, leaving out Swann, who is out of form. They should also consider Bresnan as the 3rd seamer. An obvious choice in the batting line-up would be Gary Balance, the young Zimbabwean born player, who has been chomping at the bit to get a chance. After his success for Yorkshire in County cricket, I am sure he will be able to stand his ground.

The next test will be played in Perth – this will add even more pressure on England as Mitchell Johnson will be more than a handful on that pitch. It is about time that Kevin Peterson responds to the attack, as he has the x-factor to revive England’s spirit.

With the ODI series between Proteas and India already won by AB’s men, we look forward to the two five day tests between the number one and two sides in world test cricket. Smith and Co will want to improve on current results. The current awesome form of Steyn must be a nightmare for the Indian top order batsmen. Add to that the skill of Philander and Morkel’s additional bounce, and the Indians may just find themselves wanting in this series.

It is also an important series for Jacques Kallis to regain form and firmly remind all and sundry why he is named King Kallis.

If the rain stays away, we should comfortably win the series, but we all know how capricious the cricketing gods can be. They like to remind us that the beauty of cricket lies in  its unpredictability.

Quinton the new Gilchrist?

After yesterday’s historical innings, albeit only his sixteenth ODI, one has to ask this question. His wicket-keeping skills, according to AB, is not yet at the required level for a five day match, but his proven ability with the bat may just catapult him into the test side to bolster the middle order.

On behalf of the blog team – thank you for the many interesting messages and comments.

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a blessed and prosperous New year.

Special jersey for Props by Paul Kruger

Our resident referee, Alex Bax, sent me details of a new jersey that is currently being designed by SA referees, Balie Swart and a Pretoria firm, No Limits.

The purpose is to address the problems with binding of props which lead to endless resets of scrums, much to the frustration of players and spectators alike. It is not clear whether the project includes sub-standard playing surfaces which contributed so much to this problem during the end-of-year tour this year.

The Blue Bulls Under-19 and Under-21 players were the guinea pigs and the jersey went through 14 prototypes before being used in the 2014 Varsity Cup jersey.

According to the article, the new jersey will make it easier for props to bind correctly. It will also help referees and television viewers to spot when props are binding illegally.

Apparently players in camouflage dress will not be allowed to make use of this design, as it will defeat the object.

Testing under match conditions will be conducted during the Varsity Cup and, if successful, be extended further. The article notes that they are particularly keen to see the impact of boots on the grip area. Perhaps they should extend the testing to France – Bakkies will no doubt provide the final proof.

I echo Bobby’s words above. This column has certainly been pure joy because of the participation of so many readers.

May your days be many and your troubles few

May all God’s blessings descend upon you.

May peace be within you and may your heart be strong

May you find what you’re seeking wherever you roam.

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