In (almost) the words of the old song, I hope you had yourself a merry little Christmas. Certainly, all went well chez Peakfan, in the usual seasonal excess of eating.
I was heartened to read of another century for Neil Broom in New Zealand, this time making 101 from 99 balls as his Otago side made 313 in 50 overs. Despite this, they were still beaten by Auckland, suggesting that their attack isn't especially strong, not for the first time this winter.
Meanwhile, Martin Guptill helped New Zealand to a ten-wicket win over Sri Lanka BEFORE LUNCH with an extraordinary unbeaten 93 from just 30 balls. The innings contained 8 sixes and 9 fours and was breathtaking in its savagery and remarkable even by Martin's standards. He really is a special player and if Neil Broom can take a similar place in our affections this summer he will have done well.
I caught a little of the Australia v West Indies match and the latter are shockingly poor now in this form of the game. I would actually rank them alongside Bangladesh and Zimbabwe now, which seems barely credible for someone who grew up watching the great sides from the 1960s to 1990s. They don't seem to have a batsman or bowler who promises consistency and whereas their best young talent used to come here as a 'finishing school', the reality is there is no one a county would seriously consider, in their Test squad. It is all very sad.
I also saw some of the South Africa/England Test and as I write England are on top. I am a long way from convinced that this is the best eleven the home side could put out and surely David Miller is a better player than Temba Bavuma? They would have been better balanced by the inclusion of someone like Chris Morris, who continues to score runs and take wickets in domestic cricket and again did both today.
Indeed, a player like Morris, or David Wiese would be my preference for our T20 specialist this year. In an ideal world, the return of Albie Morkel might be the perfect signing, the all-rounder still producing the goods and earning a return to his country's T20 side to good effect. He is likely to be in demand though, even if he was happy to play a game a week in the middle of the summer.
A 'finisher' with bat and ball would be my choice. A batting line up of Wes, Ches, Rutherford, Broom, Madsen and Alex Hughes should score runs and so someone with the experience to get us over the line when it got tight would be my preference.
More importantly, we need to wait and see if Graeme Welch agrees, as well as if one of his 'irons in the fire' for an extra seam bowler gets hot.
Finally today, the Christmas period brought more orders for the Edwin Smith book and I now have just one signed copy left. There are still a handful of unsigned copies left with the publishers, but then it is sold out for the second and final time.
Please get in touch quickly if you would like to buy it, or order through ebay by searching 'Edwin Smith cricket book'