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By Quazi Zulquarnain Islam

There have been recent murmurings about the sports column being a bit too football oriented. Please accept my apologies in this regard, but can I help it if football is so much more irresistible and competitive than cricket is at the current time? Again, before you un-sheath your knives to begin war, I am here to categorically state that this is not a cricket v football war. It never will be (enough internet forums are wasted on the topic- say sorry). What I am just saying is that cricket has become a tad bit monotonous since Australia started with their world domination. Now its' exactly like two tiers. Australia and The Rest of The World. Which brings me to the focus of today's article.

Ah yes! A mouth watering prospect indeed. Australia are all set to take on the best of the rest in a series that has been inevitably dubbed the " ICC SUPER SERIES." The Australian team will battle it out with the best from the rest of the world in a series that involves three one day internationals and (hear this) One Super Test (Yes, that's right). The defining feature of the Super Test will be its duration- a mind-boggling six days. So set your calendars and reschedule your appointments now. Because for six days in October you wont be doing much else than watching the action unfold.

Wait. It gets better. The ICC has just recently named a 39 strong squad for both formats of the game and barring some spectacular disaster or any 'Warnesque' activities (you know what I'm talking about…nurses and the like…) all of the selected will be inline for selection into the final eleven- A great honor indeed.

The Rest of The World is represented by seven countries, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe the only Test playing countries to miss out. Pakistan has the most representatives with nine followed closely by India and England with seven each. Such household names like Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis, Shoaib Akhtar, Inzamamul Hoq, Andrew Flintoff and Muttiah Muralitharan all look set to form the backbone of a team that looks more than a match for the men from Down Under. On paper, this is as good as it gets. It remains to be seen how it pans out. But lets hope for the best.

Moving on to cricket that is little less glamorous, though no less exciting, and close to our heart is Bangladesh's tour of England. The Tigers have left with high hopes and huge aspirations. Let us hope Whatmore's boys exceed their reputation and turn in a good performance. For me, the prospect of watching Mashrafee-Bin-Mortaza and young tear-away Shahadat Hossain bowling in the seaming wickets is mouthwatering indeed, regardless of the results.

Also, Pakistan's tour of West Indies offers the men from the sub-continent a chance to win their first ever series away from home against their Caribbean counterparts. The West Indies are un-officially the new whipping boys of international cricket and Pakistan should look to make hay while the sun shines.

Further along the summer is the Ashes tour, but rest assured that will receive adequate coverage in this column when the time comes.

Thus far, I have refrained from mentioning anything at all about soccer but I have to break that vow because as one respondent puts it, the 'biggest event of the sporting calendar' this month is without a doubt the Champions League final. To be held in Istanbul, Turkey the match bills Euro heavyweights Liverpool and AC Milan- No holds barred, except those that earn you sending offs. Mark the day in red. May 25th. Be there (or infront of the TV- say the Lord thankya for ESPN-STAR).

By the way if you remember my comments about the English Premier League being uncompetitive, I think the penultimate game of the League campaign reinforced by statement. Arsenals 7-0 (yeah that's no typo) thumping of a hapless Everton showed the titanic gulf in class that exists between two teams that lie only two positions apart- thereby also adding weight to my statement. I want to thank in all of you who wrote in on the topic. All mails are appreciated.

As usual feel free to send in your comments, suggestions and howlers to the following address ( zulquarnain.islam@gmail.com ).
That's all for now!





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