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A home World Cup is special to New Zealand and their build up has had people dusting out those dark horse quotes. Some have tipped them to clinch the trophy and to a large extent, that comes down to their abundant and impressive pace reserves. One of them, though, has posed an interesting problem to the captain, coach and selectors. Osman Samiuddin, in the National wonders how they can fit Adam Milne into the XI with Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Kyle Mills, Mitchell McClenaghan, Matt Henry and perhaps a couple of others as well
Milne is something else, though. There is nothing more bracing in cricket than happening on a new, largely unseen and super-quick bowler. If you have ever allowed the evening breeze of Karachi to bring you to life, especially after sweating away the day, it is precisely that effect. The world becomes a better place.
There is no better time for him to be in the side, either, with Shane Bond as bowling coach. There is actually something very Bond about Milne, not just in that upright simplicity as he begins his action but also in the stripped-down style of bowling itself.
There weren't too many Indians who could remember the 2011 tour to England fondly, but Praveen Kumar, who was thrust with the mantle of leading the bowling, responded by becoming the team's top wicket-taker. Speaking to Saneep Dwivedi, of the Indian Express, he explains how English conditions might not necessarily remain batting-friendly, even if they start out so, and the importance of having specific plans, like the one that almost worked on Kevin Pietersen.
"So I started with a series of balls that moved away from the off stump and this was followed by an in-coming effort ball on the legs. And all through the plan Dhoni had placed Rahulbhai (Rahul Dravid) as the leg-slip. Pietersen fell for the plan. After being starved of his favourite shot, he flicked the faster in-coming ball," he says before revealing the anti-climax end. "The ball fell just short of Rahulbhai. Had it travelled a bit more we could have got a big wicket." Pietersen, on 49 at that point, went on to score a double hundred.
England's hopes of a new era were struck down in Headingley by a young and hungry Sri Lanka. As much praise as Angelo Mathews and his side deserves, the hosts did not do themselves justice both in terms of the cricket they played and the tactics they used. Mike Selvey, in the Guardian, casts the magnifying glass on the captain Alastair Cook and suggests he might be trying too hard to change himself and the process if proving to be detrimental.
If Cook were to score runs in the kind of quantity he once managed, then that would underpin the innings, with others feeding from it, and leadership would seem easier. It does appear, however, that he might be placing too much emphasis on being in the vanguard, perhaps trying to be something he is not, rather than being a little more selfish in that regard and thinking primarily about his own game. The point has not yet been reached where either Cook or his employer should be considering whether his position as Test captain is appropriate for both the team benefit and his own but it will be under discussion.
Australia's dominance of the Ashes was clear at every term - except, perhaps the top-order batting in first-innings - and you don't need many numbers to show why they won 5-0. However, in the Sydney Morning Herald, Malcolm Knox has dissected how Michael Clarke used his bowlers to never allow England a foothold in the series.
The Australians talked a great deal about bowling in partnerships, but the most productive of them was an unexpected one. Johnson and Harris captured more than half the English wickets, but not necessarily while bowling together. Johnson took 20 of his 37 wickets, in fact, while Nathan Lyon was working from the other end. Lyon took 14 of his 19 wickets in tandem with Johnson. The England collapses in both innings in Brisbane, in the first innings in Adelaide, and in the second innings in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney, all occurred while Johnson and Lyon were operating together.