Greetings from Barbados!
I’m here ready for England’s third Test against the West Indies and I’m having a great time. Well I would be wouldn’t I? It’s the West Indies!
England got a great win in the second Test in Grenada and I was delighted for the boys. I knew they could do it.
Some people were writing it off going into the final day and saying that it was going to end in a draw, but batting for 170-odd overs is a tall order on any wicket, and sure enough Jimmy Anderson had the day of his life and England were awesome on the last day. They fully deserved the victory.
The challenge was to come to the West Indies and win, and hopefully they can wrap up the series here and then use that as a springboard ahead of the visits of New Zealand and the Aussies in the summer. England are 1.65 to win the final Test.
Although I’ve been working at the Tests, I’ve of course been keeping an eye on the IPL, and it’s all going as I told you it would in my tournament preview!
McCullum’s The Man
It is no surprise that the only century recorded in the tournament so far was Brendon McCullum’s unbeaten 100 off 56 balls for the Chennai Super Kings against the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The man has got supreme quality. He’s a great player and one of the icons of the Twenty20 generation. He’s taken his style into 50-over cricket, too, and he’s absolutely deadly at those small Indian grounds.
He’s such a clean striker of the ball and always sees it well from the off. Once he gets going there is no stopping him, and I wouldn’t want to be one of those bowlers up against him as he makes it so hard for them.
He’s at 9.00 for the top runscorer in the tournament and that looks a good bet to me.
Rohit Hits It Hard
My pick for top batsman at the start of the tournament was Rohit Sharma of the Mumbai Indians, and his 98 not out against the Kolkata Knight Riders is the second highest score of the tournament after McCullum's.
He hit 12 fours in that innings and showed all the talent that made me think he’d do well. He had a great World Cup and he’s just carried on that form back in India, where he plays so well.
He’s still out at 15.00 for top runscorer.
Experience Is Counting Amongst The Bowlers
Bowling-wise, it has been the experienced heads who have been impressing.
Ashish Nehra has 13 wickets at the time of writing. He knows the game inside out and has loads of experience of playing in India and of course playing in the IPL. The conditions suit him perfectly and he’s been making the most of them.
Also on 13 wickets as I type is Imran Tahir, and again that shouldn’t come as a surprise.
He’s a world class leg spinner and is just doing what he’s been doing for a while in One Day cricket.
Nehra and Tahir are both 36, whilst the 31-year-old Lasith Malinga is also still going strong. He keeps steaming in and producing time after time and is a world class Twenty20 specialist. Experience counts.
Tahir is the 4.50 favourite to finish as top wicket taker, with Nehra 5.50 and Malinga 11.00.
Chennai Still Strong
It’s a long competition and you will lose matches along the way, but the pre-tournament favourites Chennai have been impressive so far.
In McCullum, Dwayne Smith, Suresh Raina and obviously MS Dhoni they have positive batsmen and that will get you far.
Bangalore are also doing well, whilst the Rajasthan Royals have top run scorer Ajinkya Rahane, Shane Watson and Steve Smith who are a match for anyone.
Chennai are still the favourites to win the tournament at 2.40, Bangalore are 4.25 and Rajasthan are 6.25.
It’ll be interesting to see how it all pans out, and I’ll be giving it my full attention when the Test series is over!
Read more from England cricket legend Graeme Swann