For clarity and brevity: yes, this is the through-the-Boxing-Day-Tests thread. This article will (probably) be updated (semi) regularly as the South Africa v England and Australia v New Zealand matches progress.
Remember The Real Ghostbusters? The Real Ghostbusters was a cartoon series they did after the original Ghostbusters film.
The Real Ghostbusters was a great and valuable thing because The Real Ghostbusters Magazine gave us one of our Jokes For Life. We can’t remember the exact format of the original joke, but it was about someone being bitten by a werewolf in the Carpathians and someone else saying, “Ooh, that sounds painful.” Now whenever we’re near an appropriately-named mountain range, like the Grampians, we try and crowbar it into a sentence so that it sounds like a euphemism for testicles. Great joke, The Real Ghostbusters Magazine. Great joke.
Even as a child we thought the ‘Real’ part of the cartoon’s name was weird, but we never really looked into it because (a) we were a child at the time and there was also no internet and (b) we were far more puzzled by the fact that they made Ray Stantz round and fat and are we mad, but Dan Ackroyd wasn’t round and fat in Ghostbusters, was he? Our confusion at this was compounded by the fact that Peter Venkman, who was played by the decidedly round-faced Bill Murray in the film, was given a long face and swooshy hair that made him look far more like Ackroyd.
Anyway, the ‘Real’ thing. Apparently they didn’t own the Ghostbusters name for the film. They licenced it from some company that had made a children’s TV series in 1975. When it came time to make The Real Ghostbusters cartoon, that company wanted the shorter, simpler version of the name for a cash-in cartoon of its own. We’ve no idea how successful it was, but you’d imagine that kids unhappy with the shape of Ray Stantz’s face in The Real Ghostbusters would most likely have spotted that a cartoon based on this….
… was maybe not the same Ghostbusters that they already knew. (That said, we once watched a full hour of a film called The Knight Rider, hoping that at some point they’d dismount their horses and that the plot would then jump to the era of talking cars, so who knows.)
And so to The Real Highlights of the Boxing Day Tests.
The real highlights…
The highlights of a Test match are all the fours and sixes and wickets and all that jazz. The real highlights include some of these things but other stuff too.
For the purposes of a website that sort of reports on cricket matches, but doesn’t really do reports, the ‘real highlights’ are the talking points. Funny, weird or somehow newsworthy elements.
Maybe England will pick five seamers again. They certainly seem depressingly open to doing so. The stats say that seamers take wickets more cheaply at Centurion, which is a nice, one-dimensional way of looking at things. You could equally say that Jimmy Anderson and Jofra Archer have the best bowling averages, so it makes sense for them to do all of the bowling. Options are good, changes in tempo are good, variety is king.
South Africa, for their part, will have to do their magical rejuvenation thing. Few teams bounce back quicker from losing their very best players prematurely and the Saffers are due to bounce. Maybe the high traffic exit door helps them develop such players in the first place, through handing promising players Test opportunities earlier than they otherwise would.
Down Under, the Australians are somehow bleating about New Zealand tactics even after positively bludgeoning them in the first Test. This is because all of their specialist batsmen were bounced out second innings and they’re obviously weak against The Great Neil Wagner’s short ball. No shame in that. How many will he bowl this time around?
So these are the kinds of things we’re going to be talking about
Plus a load of stuff that cannot be predicted.
What we’d like to do for these two Tests is a more official version of what we do anyway: we’d like to open up the floor and crowdsource our talking points.
We’ll be dipping and out of the Tests and watching what we can. We’ll also be missing plenty. Most of you will be doing something similar, so as a Festivus gift to each other, let’s highlight anything that catches the eye in the comments section and maybe between us we can get a handle on things.
This is the through-the-Boxing-Day-Tests thread. It’ll remain at the top of the site until both matches have finished. We’ll try and update it below whenever we get chance.
England picked five seamers again
The fifth seamer was probably Sam Curran, who then turned out to be the one who took four wickets.
We’re still sure of two things about Sam Curran.
We’re still learning what Joe Denly‘s all about. From what we know so far, getting out for exactly 50 after being dropped before you’ve scored a run is about as Denly as a Test innings could be.
He gutsed it out. He did better than the rest of the top order. He didn’t make much of a score. He could have been out for a duck.
Jonny Bairstow was bowled again
We’re asking whether Bairstow’s now officially the bowledest specialist batsman in Test history?
That’s right, you heard… the bowledest.
We thought it was Wild Shits Watch at first, but they keep calling it flu.
Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood went down before the game. Leach, Woakes and Wood still have it. Jos Buttler has since succumbed, while Joe Root’s looking decidedly grey.
Australia v New Zealand
Nothing to report beyond the fact that New Zealand are getting battered again.
Neil Wagner’s bowled another 61 overs and will bowl more. He’s taken six wickets. One day he’ll finally realise he’s tired.