Are the West Indies Back?
Following the lesson dished out by the Stanford Superstars to the England "team" at the end of 2008, there was a suspicion that West Indies cricket is finally starting to come out of the doldrums.
With plenty of exciting new talent coming through it will be interesting to see if they can take advantage of the chaos in the rudderless England camp and cause a surprise this Easter and again when they tour England in May.
Australian Revenge in South Africa?
Having been beaten in their own backyard for the first time in 16 years, the Australians are sure to be looking for revenge in South Africa in February. But without the injured Brett Lee and with Matthew Hayden struggling for runs, the Australians are looking very vulnerable in 2009 for the first time in nearly two decades.
On the flip side the South Africans look a very solid team and with captain Graeme Smith delaying his surgery to be sure to be available, it doesn’t look as though they are going to give an inch. A great series in prospect.
Who Will Win the Ashes?
With England seeming to be in turmoil, again, following the forced resignation of captain Kevin Pietersen and sacking of coach Peter Moores, it looks on the face of it that England will once again face an uphill struggle.
But the Australians are looking weaker than they have done in years. Unless Shane Warne comes out of retirement, it’s going to be close again!
Will India Continue to Progress or Will the Lure of Twenty20 Take Precedence?
There’s no doubting that India is where it’s all been happening; with the arrival of the IPL and ICL, the flood of exciting new cricketers from these tournaments has undoubtedly livened up international cricket.
Following the defeats of England and Australia in 2008, India are finally starting to prove they have a test team to challenge all comers. In Gambhir, Yuvraj, and Ishant, they have found three players to fill the gaps in their team that seemed to have remained unfilled for years. This could be their year.
Will South Africa Overtake the Australians at the Top of the ICC Rankings?
For the first time in many years, the Australians are starting to look vulnerable and their place at the top of the ICC Test Rankings is in serious danger. The South Africans are now boasting a line up which will worry most teams. Surely only injury will hold them back in 2009.
Will Pakistan Play a Test Match In 2009?
If ever there is evidence that limited overs cricket is taking over in the subcontinent, the fact that Pakistan didn’t manage to play a single Test in 2008 must surely confirm the suspicions, although the political situation there certainly doesn’t help.
Chaos continues the rein in their camp and they continue to be the team that should do better. A record of 15 out of 18 ODI wins in 2008 suggests they are a force to be reckoned with, but doubts remain as to whether we’ll ever see Pakistan as the team to be beaten in Test cricket.
Will the Spin Twins Take Sri Lanka to New Heights?
Ajantha Mendis has to be the find of 2008; his early record makes even Murali’s look average. If the two of them can play together regularly in all forms of cricket, Sri Lanka could once again find themselves challenging the top teams if the lure of the IPL doesn’t destroy them.
A Tough Year Ahead for the Kiwis?
Hosting India and a one day series in Australia doesn’t on paper look like a fun 2009 for New Zealand. A good win against England, though, and the emergence of some exciting new talent at last, might just point to better times ahead for them. Watch out for the odd surprise.
Who Will Win the ICC World Twenty20 and Will We Care?
With the IPL, ICL, the Stanford Super Series and with the EPL to follow, we may be getting to the stage where we have just far too much of a good thing. Twenty20 cricket has undoubtedly revitalised interest in cricket throughout the world but there just seems to be too many international Twenty20 tournaments with players from all around the world taking part. Bet against India at your peril.
What Will Happen With the Stanford Super Series?
Will England be back in 2009? What will they be called? Not "Team" England I suspect! To be honest it wasn’t a great spectacle in 2008. Twenty20 is a game for plenty of runs and athletic fielding. The low scores caused by the difficult wickets and the appalling fielding caused by the dodgy floodlights made the tournament really dull viewing.
Here’s hoping for a better tournament in 2009, with better playing conditions and perhaps less cuddling of the touring team’s WAGs.