Two Teams to Watch

After beating England in the second ODI by 80 runs today in Southampton, South Africa are now the number one side in the world: in all three formats.

They also dominate the Player Rankings in the Test category: Amla is the second best batsman; Steyn and Philander are one and two in the bowling category; and Kallis is the number two all rounder.

In other words, no other country comes close to South Africa’s dominance of world cricket over the last two years.

Yes, I know, they have a dismal record in knockout competitions, but that is really the only strike against them. And I honestly believe they will make a great deal of noise at the World Twenty20s next month. If they win in Sri Lanka, then that last strike is gone. And if they have a better year than England did as world Test number one, then they surely will have cemented themselves as one of the best all around sides ever.

They can win the short game, they can win the long game. They can win on friendly pitches and they can win on alien pitches.

And, finally, and least importantly to some but most importantly to the game itself, they do it with style. Who doesn’t like watching Amla bat? Steyn bowl? No one. That’s who.

It is going to be an interesting next 12 months for two of cricket’s quietest test nations: South Africa and New Zealand. The former to prove themselves one of the best ever, and the latter to prove themselves one of the present day elite nations.

I know my latter sounds ridiculous, especially considering how they were dismantled by India in the first test a few days ago, but if they can win a couple big matches (and they have A LOT of big matches over the next year) and if they can get over the semi-final hump at the World Twenty20, then I think all of cricket will need to start paying attention to New Zealand.

The Saffers and the Kiwis: two teams to watch over the next year.

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