Alex Massie

England in Sri Lanka; Pakistan in India

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Cricket Housekeeping:

1. Since this post making the case that Shane Warne is, indisputably, a greater cricketer than Muttiah Muralitharan it's only fair to note that Murali had the chance to show that he can win matches in Australia as well as Sri Lanka. Granted, the tests were played at Brisbane and Hobart rather than Sydney but still: four wickets at 100 apiece is not an impressive return.

2. England are now preparing - in their usual slapdash* style - for a series in Sri Lanka. Having wisely decided to leave the best English batsman at home (that would be Mark Ramprakash, who, though 38, has enjoyed a Bradmanesque flowering at Surrey) gambled instead on the fitness and mental health of Steve Harmison to find some sort of form. To no-one's great surprise, Harmison is now injured. Anyone who predicts how this England side will perform is a braver lad than me.

*Slapdash because ther first "warm-up" game permitted England to play, at various stages, all 16 members of the touring party. In other words, it wasn't a proper cricket match and, that being the case, it's difficult to imagine it being as useful a preparation for the tests as it might have been. I don't know why England persist in the belief that actual cricket is a poor preparation for playing cricket but they do. Such sillyness has, alas, survived the Fletcher era.

3.The real action, however, is in India where the hosts lead Pakistan 1-0 before Friday's second test in Calcutta. Nice to see a good, gripping, low scoring test too: an old-fashioned scorecard given the run-explosions of recent years. Even nicer that the Little Master, whose powers are in decline, was the vital contributor to India's fourth innings chase. This wasn't vintage Tendulkar but given that he has been criticised for failing to win enough matches for India, it was good and satisfying to see him clinch the match this time.

Key question, however: does anyone know if there's any (Mac-friendly) online TV coverage of this series? Or any (English-language) radio commentary lurking somewhere out there on the great internet plains?

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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