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The incredible second half of 2017


Cricket_CalendarThe IPL is a special time of the cricketing year for me. I don’t watch any of it. I use it to take a break from all cricket and look ahead to what the rest of the year holds.

This year’s ‘IPL break’ has been particularly significant for me, as 2017 really does deliver from here on in. So much so I felt it necessary to put some words together for you, to prepare you for what is about to follow.

Going country by country then, let’s see what each team faces now that the Champions Trophy is done:

AUSTRALIA: 7 Tests / 13 ODIs / 4 T20s

The current ODI World Champs have emerged from the Champions Trophy in June looking less threatening than in previous years. That’s mostly as the Aussies seem incapable or just not interested in picking their best possible side.

In August and September they come back from a little break to host Bangladesh in 2 Tests and 3 ODIs. From there they head to India in October for 5 ODIs and 1 T20, which provides them with absolutely useless preparation for their upcoming Ashes series with England.

That’s right, in November, December and early January, Australia host England for 5 Tests, 5 ODIs and 3 T20s. Their Test team will fancy their chances against a pretty green English outfit, so look out for the year to end with a bang for them.

BANGLADESH: 4 Tests / 9 ODIs / 3 T20s

Bangladesh have come out of the Champions Trophy happy that they caused at least one upset, winning just their second ODI against New Zealand away from home. They are the team the big teams know they can beat, but have proved to be capable of a surprise - as India and South Africa have found out in the past and the BlackCaps in the tournament.

In July, they host Pakistan for 2 Tests, 3 ODIs and 1 T20. With Misbah and Younis moving on, and Bangladesh certainly an improving Test team, this will be a great match up.

As tight as it could be against Pakistan, Bangladesh then head to Australia for 2 Tests and 3 ODIs in August/September, then South Africa in October/November for 2 Tests, 3 ODIs and 2 T20s. Can’t see them getting the upper hand there, but if there is every chance to improve and learn, it’s on these tough tours.

ENGLAND: 12 Tests + 5 ODIs + 6 T20s

England are as busy as ever, and their extensive ODI schedule began in May before the Champions Trophy even took place. As hosts of the tournament, they looked certain to go all the way before a Pakistan masterclass in the semi final derailed their campaign.

From the end of the Champions Trophy all the way through to August, it is operation South Africa, as they host the Proteas for 4 Tests, having won the 3 T20I series 2-1. In an Ashes year, this is a great test for the English, who will get to try their best possible team under Joe Root against quality opposition.

The West Indies follow straight afterwards in August with England hosting them for 3 Tests. Then they get a nice little break until the big one.

November, December and early January sees England in Australia for The Ashes. The 5 Tests down under are also grouped with 5 ODIs and 3 T20s. They seem to have a better preparation run than the Aussies, and should be pretty well balanced against an Aussie team that is still struggling to establish a best first XI.

INDIA: 6 Tests + 20 ODIs + 4 T20s

India have been playing a great deal of cricket at home over the past 18 months, and have a slightly more relaxed second half compared to the other big cricketing nations.

They depart from the Champions Trophy amidst a fair amount of controversy. Off-field shenanigans revolving around coach and captain have been an awkward distraction following their jarring defeat in the final against Pakistan. For now, Kohli remains King and the Caribbean beckons.

They are in the middle of 5 ODIs and 1 T20 against the West Indies, which will be good for them as they continue to try and develop a team that doesn’t have to be so reliant on Virat Kohli and try to fix the flaws in the team exposed by Pakistan.

Right from the West Indies, India then head to Sri Lanka for the rest of July, August and start of September for 3 Tests, 5 ODIs and 1 T20. Sri Lanka aren’t the team they used to be since losing their big names, but this should still be an exciting match up across all formats.

They host Australia in October for 5 ODIs, before hosting Pakistan in November/December for a series that could be even more explosive than the Ashes, IF it actually happens. 3 Tests, 5 ODIs and 2 T20s: this is going to be incredible and fired up in every sense. India should have the upper hand, but these two teams going at it in the Test arena is the biggest talking point here.

NEW ZEALAND: 3 Tests + 5 ODIs + 1 T20

New Zealand had a very, very disappointing Champions Trophy, with their losses to England & Bangladesh and the wash out from a winning position against Australia. They are pretty much just going to be watching rugby and drinking beer until November/December when the West Indies head to them for 3 Tests, 5 ODIs and 1 T20. Not a lot worth talking about with New Zealand right now, in all honesty.

PAKISTAN: 9 Tests + 15 ODIs + 4 T20s

When Pakistan started the Champions Trophy, they were not considered favourites. Not in the slightest. But they were extremely entertaining and absolutely dangerous in the eyes of all that faced them. After a magnificent turnaround mid-tournament, they somehow emerged triumphant.

They head to Bangladesh in July to play a team that will be pretty confident for the 3 Tests, 5 ODIs and 1 T20. Pakistan are rebuilding and Bangladesh now have a fair amount of belief in their game after some handy performances at home over the last year.

In October they host Sri Lanka for another tough contest over 3 Tests, 5 ODIs and 1 T20. This will be a decent tune up for the big closer to the year, 3 Tests, 5 ODIs and 2 T20s against India, in India.

This rivalry goes beyond just cricket, so look for these matches to be very highly charged, and a very tough proving ground for the up and coming talents of Pakistan at the moment.

SOUTH AFRICA: 9 Tests + 8 ODIs + 7 T20s

The middle months of 2017 are absolutely huge for South Africa. Currently ranked the no.1 ODI team in world, they again went into an ICC tournament with heavy expectations for a win. As always, this ended badly of course. With AB de Villiers focused on the shorter format of the game, and a fair few big players behind him, more was expected of them.

From the Champions Trophy, South Africa stay in England for the English summer until early August, playing 4 Tests after losing the 3 T20 series 2-1. A globally seasoned Test team, against a new era of English Test cricket, this is a superb prospect!

After the England tour the Proteas get a little break, then a visit from Bangladesh back in South Africa in October/November for 2 Tests, 3 ODIs and 2 T20s. Hardly taxing you would think, same could be said for another visit from Sri Lanka in the summer series in November/December and early January with 3 Tests, 5 ODIs and 2 T20s.

Not exactly something that will draw the crowds, but India are the next team to visit from January for a big Test series.

SRI LANKA: 11 Tests + 18 ODIs + 3 T20s

Much like New Zealand, they arrived at the Champions Trophy with little expectations attached. Barring their bizarre victory against India and even more bizarre loss against Pakistan, it went about as well as expected. From there July starts with them hosting Zimbabwe for a confidence boosting 2 Tests and 3 ODIs.

July also sees the Indians arrive for a big series. They stay there until early September playing 3 Tests, 5 ODIs and 1 T20. India should win, but after doing so well at home against the Aussies not so long ago, Sri Lanka will still have a fair amount of belief.

In October they play Pakistan away for 3 Tests, 5 ODIs and 1 T20, then it is back again to South Africa for the end of year challenge of 3 Tests, 5 ODIs and 1 T20 in November/December and early January. Can’t see them reversing the results from the previous tour against the Proteas, but you would hope they could be at least a little more competitive.

WEST INDIES: 8 Tests + 10 ODIs + 2 T20s

The West Indies are the current World T20 champions, but that’s where the positives stop. They did not make it to the Champions Trophy, playing Afghanistan instead. Forget historical showings, this team is in decline again.

In July they host India for 5 more ODIs and a T20, then it is right back to England for a 3 Test series in August/September.

They stay on the road in October with 2 Tests in Zimbabwe, before going even further afield in December/January with 3 Tests, 5 ODIs and 1 T20 in New Zealand against New Zealand.

So, if you like cricket, this year is about to be very generous to you. If you are only a part time fan, well this is your chance to step it up with all these great match ups to enjoy!


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Ben Karpinski is a South African sports blogger/MC/tweeter with a heart so broken by the Proteas, t...

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