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Blog by: Rohinee

Australia v England - First Test: Day 4

Triumphs, heartbreaks and controversies marred the English leg of the Ashes. It thus came as a surprise to no one to see the retaliatory welcome that the Australians put up for the English squad for the return leg of the series. The English team which had prided on keeping a cool head above their shoulders, just a few months ago, was distinctly looking uncomfortable as the Australians unleashed one of their most powerful weapons to trouble the visitors.

Politeness was given as a courtesy in an offhand manner even as most of the Australian squad went on about gibing and jibing about the English team. The openness of the Australians’ derision was so palpable that the match referee had to intervene to ask both sides to maintain the decorum that the sport demanded. But no matter the English invoking to the different cricketing elements, there was no shying away from the enormity of the loss they sustained in the first test at Brisbane.

The aftermath of the loss also brought home a lot of hard hitting truths to the English side and the inconsistencies that festered in the team unbeknownst to anyone. The most obvious one was of Jonathan Trott’s lack of consistency and loss of form that forced him to abruptly truncate his Ashes tour after the completion of the first test and return home to try and get some focus off him. Trott’s departure coupled with the failure of several English batsmen to stand up to the Australian bowling irrevocably wrecked the winning continuity and pattern that the visitors had gotten accustomed to.

Mitchell Johnson was the biggest bane of the English team along with well-timed assistances in the form of Nathan Lyon and Peter Siddle. Stuart Broad – the man who was the recipient of the Australians’ homage to Harry Potter character Lord Voldemort’s sobriquet, ‘You-Know-Who’ – did well on the first day of the first test to rattle through the Australian batting order. But his efforts distinctly paled, when compared to Mitchell Johnson’s bowling accuracy. The way he was able to exploit the pitch conditions substantiated the reason as to why the Australians haven’t lost a test match at Gabba in over 20-years.

Though England is known to be able to regroup well into the second test match in any series – the one against India at the start of the 2013-14 season is a significant example – the team will need to bolster and marshal quite a few of its resources in order to be able to put Australia on the back-foot yet again.

The no.3 spot remains an important factor to consider. Joe Root who had enjoyed, till the Australian Ashes leg, an incredible debut cricket season has been pipped to be one of the choices to play in the position; the other being Ian Bell. Though promoting Root up the order to play at no.3 would be an interesting jugglery, asking Bell to come in at no.3 would definitely be a better option especially with him having notched good statistical figures playing in that particular position, on quite a few occasions previously.

Similarly, the inclusion of Bresnan will also have an impact on the match proceedings at Adelaide, with pitch conditions panning out differently to the conditions at Brisbane. The Australians may be opting to for an unchanged test squad but the lackadaisical play-making of their opponents is sure to bring about a few noteworthy changes to the English team. The pressure however will be more on Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell and Matt Prior to salvage the situation before it further deteriorates.

Australia will thus need to be on guard without allowing themselves to become complacent. Sledging and the rivalry-induced banter aside, David Warner, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin and Steven Smith are the batsmen who need to perform for the Australians. The positivity that Darren Lehmann has brought to the team has been quite obvious and it would be up to these guys to ensure that the team doesn’t lose its on-pitch aggression.

The Australians’ bowling has been exceptional and can be expected to continue to do well with Mitchell Johnson holding the key to their momentum. The English squad has been utterly flummoxed by the pace bowler and the Australians will be counting on Johnson to provide them with breakthroughs so as to enable them to continue maintaining a stranglehold over England.

Match Prediction: Match to be Drawn, Australia to lead England going into the Third Test, 1-0.

 

Blog by: Avishek

2nd Test Match  -  England v Australia

3rd Umpire at a Test between England and Australia in 1993

Umpires have been a part of the game of cricket ever since it started. Professional or amateur, domestic or international, two umpires have always been deemed necessary to ensure fair play with respect to the number of runs scored or wickets taken.

Till the 70s, the on-field umpire’s calls used to be the final verdict. In any case, there wasn’t too much evidence to go against it as cricket wasn’t extremely popular as a televised sport in the countries where television already existed and the government broadcasters did not find it necessary to invest in their programming of the game.

All that changed with World Series Cricket. Kerry Packer had the foresight to see that the game had a high EQ (entertainment quotient), and he heavily invested in the game to make it more appealing to women and children, who otherwise were not overtly impressed with the vagaries of the sport. Channel Nine was one of the first broadcasters who used slow-motion cameras for replays of interesting moments of the game.

By the late 80s, cricket (especially limited overs internationals) was a big thing and more so in the subcontinent thanks to India’s World Cup victory in ’83 and the Reliance World Cup of 1987. Sharjah was now an immensely popular destination for cricket and a source of big money thanks to the large number of Indian and Pakistani expatriates who had settled there. Cricket advertising was on a blitzkrieg and a company like Gillette was more synonymous with cricket than razors.

The unbelievable commercialization of the game meant that each ball bowled, and each run scored, was associated with big money. The umpire’s job was under immense scrutiny as even borderline decisions would now come in for extreme criticism. Clearly, the level of competence required was beyond the limits of a human being.

It was then that the hunter became the saviour. In 1984, an accountant-turned-cricket journalist Mahinda Wijesinghe submitted a proposal to the ICC where he argued that the very slow motion cameras, which had exposed the on-field umpires throughout the 80s, could actually be used to help them take better decisions.

The proposal was rejected on the grounds that this would add to the overall playing time, reduction of which was one of the main reasons why a limited overs format was introduced.

Three months later, in the Ashes Test at Sydney, John Dyson was run out by “a mile” (18 inches) by Bob Willis off his own bowling. Except the fact that he was given not out by the square leg umpire Mel Johnson. Dyson continued to bat for five hours, making a crucial 79 which helped Australia regain the Ashes. The tipping points in Wijesinghe’s favour had started to accumulate.

The ICC relented but took a long time to do so. On 12 November 1992, Karl Liebenberg and Cyril Mitchley walked into a small cubby hole of a room rigged up with a TV monitor and a lot of circuitry at the Kingsmead stadium in Durban. The occasion was the first Test match between India and South Africa.

It took them a day, but Liebenberg claimed his first victim the next day when he “ran Sachin Tendulkar out”. Ever since then, the third umpire has been a pivotal figure in the game and his presence, though understated, is always expected to be obvious.

The acceptance of technology in cricket had further implications. Around the mid-90s, an English computer scientist Allan Plaskett started working on a technology which could graphically analyse sound and video.

This technology would enable the listener of the sound to “see” the sound as a shape on a waveform. The objective was to determine edges or snicks in cricket – a woody sound would be sharper than that of a ball hitting the pad or the bat hitting the pads, which would have a fatter waveform. The ‘Snickometer’ was formally introduced by Channel 4 in the UK in 1999 and Channel Nine in Australia soon after that.

Plaskett’s contemporary, Dr. Paul Hawkins meanwhile was developing something of his own at Roke Manor Research Limited, a subsidiary of Siemens.

He set up a number of high-speed cameras in conjunction with a ball tracker at different locations and angles around a “playing area”. The cameras and the ball tracker sent inputs to a system which rapidly processed the video feed and built up a record of the path along which the ball has travelled.

Using the principles of triangulation, the system would “predict” the future path of the ball had it not interacted with any of the playing area features.

The Hawkeye system was built for a variety of sports, but it found its primary use in cricket (and also tennis, to verify line calls) for checking the trajectory of balls in flight and later for checking LBW decisions.

In 2001, Channel 4 utilised the services of this technology for the first time in a Test match between Pakistan and England at Lord’s. The following year, the Hawkeye came in for a bout of serious criticism during the India-England Test series. Harbhajan Singh bowled Andy Caddick with a ball that just clipped the bails, whereas Hawkeye showed the ball’s trajectory would miss the stumps by a little margin.

In the early 2000s, Channel Nine was not concerned about the efficacy of the Snickometer. At the same time they happened to chance upon a technology founded by French scientist Nicholas Bion, which was being developed further by many Parisian companies.

The technology involved the use of infra-red cameras to sense and measure heat from friction generated by collision which would then generate a series of negative frames on a computer using a subtraction technique to locate the point of collision.

The ‘Hot Spot’ technique was used by the military to track tanks and jet fighters but apparently, Channel Nine thought that they could put it to better use in cricket, and hence they bought it out. They used the technology for the first time in the Gabba Test of the 2006-07 Ashes.

The 2008 season saw the launch of the inaugural IPL. It was an immediate success, and now more money was expected to be riding on the game of cricket. The ICC was also looking to expand the game in more countries and, for that, they needed a system to convince the onlookers that the game was as fair as it possibly could be.

In the winter of that year, they trialled the Hawkeye as a part of their future Decision Review programme. If a team disagreed with an LBW decision, they could ask the on-field umpire to raise the question to the third umpire who would be able to look at what the ball did up to the point it actually hit the batsman, but not beyond that.

Six months later, deeming that the Snicko was not accurate enough, they validated the use of Hot Spot for player trials during the Test series between Australia and South Africa in South Africa.

On the 24th of September 2009, the ICC rolled out the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS or DRS) during the Dunedin Test match between New Zealand and Pakistan. The UDRS included an allowance to make two unsuccessful review requests per innings during a Test match (and one during a One-Day International) for each team.

The ICC had initially planned to make it mandatory for all international matches but was coerced by the BCCI to leave it to the teams involved to mutually agree on DRS.  However, it is mandatory for all ICC events.

The response has generally been positive, but a few observers have felt it was more of a gimmick and undermined the authority of the on-field umpires. India is a vocal critic of the system, labelling it as an adulteration of human decision and technology instead of being completely one of the two.

The DRS is still very much a work in progress as the recent amendments on the LBW protocols last year show.

While the Hot Spot is assumed to be 90-95% accurate, doubts remain over the Hawkeye as well as the number of review requests which should be given to a team.

Nevertheless, the DRS is a significant milestone in the history of the game. With the use of a third umpire, the ICC accepted the use of technology for the game, and with the DRS they have embraced it more so. One just hopes it does not reach a point where they become overly dependent on it.

Read more about such events which altered the way cricket was played over the years – The moments that changed cricket forever.

Blog by: American Gunner

Aaron Ramsey

Aaron Ramsey

In the aftermath of yesterday’s brilliant performance, proper recognition is due to the man who spearheaded it.

Much as we have lamented our lack of activity in the transfer-window, we’ve overlooked one, large factor that we may have to count on unless a few much-needed signings do arrive: in-squad improvement. Among others, Aaron Ramsey simply sparkled in a commanding performance, leading the squad through what is becoming his customary style, burnished this time by a goal and a second-assist.

While we clearly need new signings, it’s well-worth remembering that the reasons for hope do abound: the returns to full fitness of Sagna, Wilshere, and Podolski, the second-year adjustments of Cazorla, Podolski, and Giroud, and the continued maturation of Wilshere, Jenkinson, Walcott, and Szczęsny.

This may not be enough to see us climb the table, but it might just be enough to stay in the top four. However, pursuing that in more detail will have to wait. For now, let’s content ourselves with enjoying what we do have in front of us: a squad that pounded a team into submission and is capable of some rather exciting football from time to time.

After all, this isn’t the first time that this bunch has thrashed an opponent, and it won’t be the last.At its core, strange as it may sound to those who have followed the club under Arsène, is a core of young Britons that is as exciting, dogged, and skilled as any we’ve seen in some time. I don’t follow the English national team from over here (America), so I should be careful how far I push the history, but Arsenal boasts some of the finest British footballers playing at the moment. At its center, perhaps literally, is Aaron Ramsey.

In addition to his goal and uncredited second-assist, he led the team in touches (99) without being dispossessed a single time, tackles (5), interceptions (3), passes (79), accurate through-balls (one), had the second-most accurate long-balls, and tied with four teammates for most long-balls attempted (all stats thanks to whoscored.com). Speaking of whoscored.com, his 8.9 rating was the highest on the team, earning him their MotM award—sure to be one of many. Particularly gratifying to this writer is that Ramsey, in addition to his tirelessness, his everywhere-ness, and his tenacity, scored. As a former defensive-minded midfielder, I always enjoy it a little more when the lunch-bucket guys get the goal. Ramsey bossed that game at both ends; perhaps he was extra-mindful of defensive responsibilities once Koscielny had to leave. Whatever the proximate cause, his performance was impressive, to put it mildly.

Let’s not give short-shrift to the rest of the squad, however. Ramsey didn’t win the game on his own. Of particular note is that four of the top five players in whoscored.com’s player-ratings were British: Ramsey (8.9), Wilshere (8.8), Walcott (7.96), and Gibbs (7.73). Only Cazorla (7.81) was rude enough to crash the party. Jenksinson, thrown on on short notice for the injured Koscielny, managed a none-too-shabby 6.91. While I’ve flirted with joining the Wenger-whingers, it is a testament to the man that these young Britons joined the club in their teens (Wilshere and Gibbs having come up through the academy).

The oldest of them is Gibbs at 23. It’s anyone’s guess how good they’ll become this year and in years to come. This youth-movement, one I’ve discussed in this post, could be the sort that propels the club back towards its lofty, historic heights. I’ve talked up Gibbs, Wilshere, Walcott, Jenkinson, and Ramsey each in turn (click the links to view those posts). As they continue to grow into themselves and their roles with this club, the future looks exceedingly bright.

None of this, of course, is meant to imply that all is well and dandy and we can continue to twiddle our thumbs until September 2nd is crossed off the calendar. The downside to “young, exciting, and full of potential” is inexperience and inconsistency. Having rained on the parade, I’ll close by reminding you that we’ve all but qualified for the Champions League, served notice that we can still be a force, and we go to Craven Cottage to face a Fulham squad that boasts of having “snapped up” Scott Parker. I’m hardly shaking in my boots. Let’s do this.

Australia v Sri Lanka - Second Test: Day 2

Shane Watson finds himself mired in a very difficult situation. His five innings in the Ashes series so far have been abject disappointments, not to mention extremely frustrating. His stance at the crease resembles more awkwardness than ease; discomfiture best describes his play at the opening even as his manner of losing his wicket presents a perplexing irony about his oft-stated calibre.

Though most of the Australian squad has been at the receiving end, thanks to their no-show in the opening two test matches, the brunt of the verbal and written onslaught has been borne by Watson. Even those singing his praises previously have become turncoats in their opinion of him, demoting him down to an unwanted encumbrance in the Australian line-up. But no matter how less-than impressive his performances may have been in the Ashes so far, Watson doesn’t really deserve all this flak aimed at him.

While the LBWs do reflect Watson’s ineptitude in many ways, they don’t necessarily translate to him not being a quality test player. And if Watson indeed wasn’t a qualitative test player, then what about the rest of the Australian batting order who weren’t able to get anything done at all – as evident in the second test. The Australian second innings in the second test at Lord’s saw the utter crumbling of the Australian batting order, a shameful fact that the captain himself was forced to allude to in his post-match speech. Watson then was just the tip of the iceberg with far greater embarrassments laid out for the Australian squad as the match progressed.

The first innings of the third test match saw both the on-field and the third umpire heavily criticised for giving Usman Khawaja out when the DRS clearly showed the Australian in the clear. With the technology being as faulted as it is, the blame that has been transferred onto Watson, challenging a LBW call given by the on-field umpire presents a different perspective about the matter at hand.

DRS has quite a few technical aspects that are still being sought to be cleared by the ICC. At best, the technology is still experimental with players still trying to get their bearings right by it. Watson then deservedly merits excusing for using the review granted to him – his team – even as he can’t be excused for plonking his front foot wrongly, allowing the umpire to give LBW in the first place.

The problem at large however isn’t about Watson not scoring runs or his continued inability to take the most appropriate of batting stances. It’s mainly about the attitudinal prevalence around the cricketer as he flails around, parodying himself cheaply. Attention seems to be riveted on him alone. It’s as though the world has come to expect him fall short. And when he does, even if it is in the most casual of manners, the world sees its judgements as coming to pass; marking Watson as the bulls-eye all over again. Thus no matter what Watson does or doesn’t do, he’s already become a mark.

A circumstantial occurrence, this is a trajectory that quite a few players have been subjected to. The Australian coach’s support at this point thus sets a significant precedence in Watson’s favour. Lehmann’s unwavering faith in Watson, after a slew of unsavoury comments, will definitely change the trend in Watson’s performance. Such a change may not be as immediate as Watson’s fan following may expect it to be, but a change towards positivity is indeed imminent. When that happens, the Australian fortunes will indeed brighten again as will the turncoats who will change their opinions – yet again. Incidentally, it will be Watson who will enjoy the last laugh; and deservingly so.

Clinical – that’s how India went about their task of annihilating Zimbabwe in the third game of the five-match bilateral ODI series. An improved bowling performance saw them bundle out the hosts for a paltry 183, before coasting to victory in 35.3 overs, losing just three wickets in the process.

With today’s win, India wrapped up the series 3-0, exacting some measure of revenge for the previous tour of the African nation.

Here are the Heroes of the Day:

CRICKET-JAM-IND-PRACTICE

Amit MIshra

Amit Mishra (4/47 in 10 overs)

The wily leg-spinner once again underlined his worth to this relatively inexperienced Indian side as he picked up four wickets to derail Zimbabwe’s momentum. He broke through in his first over by sending back the dangerous Hamilton Masakadza with a short and slow delivery outside off, inducing a catch to Dinesh Karthik. The very next ball, Mishra removed Malcolm Waller with a flipper, before cleaning up the tail to finish with a flourish.

Having an experienced leg-spinner helps keep the balance of the side, and Mishra’s inclusion for this series has been more than justified.

Pakistan v India - ICC World Twenty20 2012: Super Eights Group 2

Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli (68 n.o. off 88 balls – 5 fours, 1 six)

The Indian captain played a steady knock after Rohit Sharma’s early dismissal. He added 40 runs with the enterprising Shikhar Dhawan before sharing another strong partnership of 64 with the impressive Ambati Rayudu. With his side closing in on victory, Kohli and Suresh Raina (who finally made a decent contribution with the bat) accelerated hard, scoring the remaining 56 runs off just 32 balls to secure the win for their side.

Captaincy seems to bring out the best in Kohli’s batting. Let’s hope he can keep the momentum going for as long as he plays at the international level.

CRICKET-ZIM-IND

Sean Williams (batting)

Sean Williams (45 runs off 53 balls – 2 fours, 1 six)

The 27-year-old southpaw emerged as the top scorer for his side with a composed 45, even as wickets tumbled around him. With his side down in the dumps at 89/6, Williams proceeded to add 36 runs for the seventh wicket with former skipper Prosper Utseya, in order to lend some respectability to the final total. He was run-out just as he was beginning to settle down for a big score, needlessly sacrificing his wicket to a misjudged call for a second run. Nevertheless, a rather steady knock from the young man, though he would do well to play an attacking game at times when the situation calls for quick runs.

ZIM-CRICKET-BAN

Hamilton Masakadza

Hamilton Masakadza (38 runs off 53 balls – 5 fours)

The No. 3 batsman has been guilty of throwing his wicket away just when he was looking set for a big one. He did that once again, for the third game in a row. Having hit five boundaries in a 65-run partnership with skipper Brendan Taylor, he should have carried on for a bigger knock, but instead played an atrocious shot to a rather poor delivery from Amit Mishra.

After Taylor, Masakadza is the most experienced player for Zimbabwe. He needs to fine-tune his approach to an innings if his side are to save face in the series.

With the series lost, Zimbabwe will now play for pride. India, on the other hand, might look to try a few combinations for the last two games – perhaps bringing in Parvez Rasool and Cheteshwar Pujara would be a good option. Over to Bulawayo for the last two games.

Southampton FC v FC Schalke 04 - Friendly Match

Mauricio Pochettino

January 18 2013. The day Nigel Adkins was sacked from Southampton after a very successful two-and-a-half year stint at Southampton, in which the Saints won back to back promotions.

There was a huge furore over sacking Adkins as many fans believed that the club were heading in the right direction under the guidance of the Englishman. Mauricio Pochettino was appointed as the new manager.

Pochettino, like Nigel Adkins, had a successful managerial start to his career. At Espanyol, he gained many admirers including Pep Guardiola, who stated, “I feel very close to Espanyol’s style of football”, due to the team’s expansive attacking play. Espanyol were third from bottom in La Liga and Pochettino didn’t have a good start but some divine intervention helped them to finish strongly to achieve a respectable 10th position.

In the following campaigns, Espanyol finished 11th, 8th and 14th respectively under him. Season 12-13 wasn’t his best of seasons however, and on November 26 2012 following a 2-0 loss to Getafe, Pochettino left Espanyol. Perhaps Pochettino’s most notable contribution whilst at Espanyol was the revamp of the youth system, and subsequent promotion of many young players into the first team.

Pochettino’s Tactics

Southampton usually played 4-2-3-1 under Pochettino with the fullbacks in more advanced positions. Southampton pressed from the word go, whilst maintaining a high defensive line.

The defense were also helpful for the attack as they attempted more long balls under him. The tactic was simple: lose the ball, try to gain it immediately by pressing instead of retreating and waiting for the opponent to lose possession.

Unsurprisingly, thanks to the kind of football Soton played under Pochettino, they made the highest tackles per game(21.6) and highest interceptions per game (20.5) in Premier league last season.

Also, they averaged 10.8 fouls per game. Soton were flexible in their approach too. For example, against Reading they changed their tactics from high pressing to more possession-based football.

Here’s a comparison of how teams fared against Southampton’s pressing football under Pochettino:

Image

A key component in Pochettino’s pressing machine has been Schneiderlin, a player whose influence on the team cannot be undermined. Here is a numerical look at his 2012-13 season:

Pochettino has had a good start to his Southampton career, in spite of flirting with the relegation zone at one point. With new signings like Wanyama and Lovren, we can expect them to push on next season to finish in the top 10.

FBL-ASIA-ENG-PR-MANUTD-JPN

Wilfried Zaha

It was the simplest of finishes – Wilfried Zaha stroking home with a soft instep to score into Kim Jin-Hyeon’s unguarded net as Manchester United drew with Cerezo Osaka on Friday night.

Zaha’s goal was the last of four in an entertaining encounter as United once again struggled to overcome limited opposition on tour. Yet, the strike could prove as important as any on tour – and a substantial boost to a youngster still finding his feet at the club.

After all, it can be no easy task joining United. The club’s sometimes chaotic summer demonstrates as much, with substantial change in the backroom accompanied by very little successful activity in the transfer market.

Meanwhile, David Moyes’ players will travel more than 25,000 miles before the Premier League kicks off in anger on 17 August. Along the way the side has lost twice to limited opposition, beating only Liam Miller’s A-League All Stars a fortnight ago. Yes, the Australians were that good.

Indeed, in a summer of some frustration both on and off the field a shining light could be the form of the new acquisition. The 20-year-old winger signed from Crystal Palace last January, but only joined the United squad this summer after spending five months on loan with the south London club.

Zaha has already made an impact and United’s investment of more than £15 million to bring the Abidjan-born winger to the club looks sound business, with the English under-21 international surely forcing his way into Moyes’ first team planning.

There are no guarantees of course, but with the youngster having featured in each of United’s tour games – more than two hours on-pitch time to date – Zaha will at a minimum make the bench for the Reds’ fixture against Swansea City in 21 days’ time. He might improve on that.

It takes not much to gain a place in United’s midfield, cynics will add. After all wide areas ran central midfield close as the most dysfunctional area of Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad last season. While Nani fell foul of an ongoing disagreement with the Scot, Antonio Valencia’s form and confidence fell off the metaphorical cliff, while Ashley Young spent much of the campaign in treatment. Plus ça change.

The new season will begin in much the same fashion with none of Nani, Young or Valencia on tour. The trio will struggle to make the new campaign match sharp.

Nani may well be sold this summer should United find a suitable buyer, while Young has rarely offered anything superseding the mediocre in two seasons at the club. Valencia has earned another shot at redemption, but there can be no repeat of the Ecuadorian’s disastrous performances of last season.

Little wonder Zaha has firmly rejected newspaper speculation of a move away from United on loan this season. Unless the club spends on a new winger this summer – and it doesn’t look likely – a place in Moyes’ side is there for the taking.

“My target is to get minutes during the season,” said the youngster on Friday.

“For my first season in Manchester, I don’t want to go out on loan. I just want to play when I get the chance. There are bigger players than me here, so getting minutes will just do me fine.

“[The tour] has been enjoyable. It’s the first time I’ve been away with everyone and I’m getting to know them and bond with them. I was awestruck when I first came. But just being around the other players makes me know they are down-to-earth players. They are just like me, really. They have made me feel at home. I feel like a Manchester United player.”

Yokohama F.Marinos v Manchester United

Wilfried Zaha

In that there is a humility rare in the modern footballer. Born in the Ivory Coast, Zaha moved to Croydon with his family when he was just four. He has never returned to the motherland, but as the eighth of nine children in a family seeking a better life, Zaha has his feet firmly grounded.

But those toes twinkle on the field when allied to a range of skills that should bring the Old Trafford ground to its feet this season. Starting wide, Zaha boasts a natural tendency to drift inside, using genuine pace and tight close control to pull his opponents out of position. The limited goal output to date – just eight in 50 games for Palace last season – should increase as the player matures.

“I like to drift into midfield so, if I do, [defenders] won’t be able to stick with me. Once I get turned that gives me the chance to do what I do,” Zaha told the Guardian last season.

“I have different tricks. If someone’s on my back, I’ll stand on the ball and put it in a position where the guy behind me can’t see where it is. That gives me a chance to roll him whichever way I want. I’m always thinking ahead.”

Zaha’s maturity of thought already compares favourably to the frustrating decision-making that Nani has enhanced only marginally in six seasons at Old Trafford. Should the youngster add both goals and assists to his game then a rapid promotion to Moyes’ first XI will surprise few.

True, there is work to be done. Not least on improving that output, while Premier League defenders are unlikely to be quite as forgiving as those in the Championship.

But praise has already been garnered from inside the United camp. It is to be expected, perhaps, but few have been as excited about a new youthful acquisition since Cristiano Ronaldo joined in 2003.

Ronaldo’s ascent to stardom was all but guaranteed – a once-in-a-generation talent exposed on debut against Bolton Wanderers a decade ago. Zaha comes with no such assurance, but says United veteran Rio Ferdinand, the player’s work ethic and natural talent bode well.

“Wilfried is a fantastic talent. That is why you pay £15 million for a kid,” said the defender.

“He is raw, with great individual skills and the early indications are that he is a hard worker. He wants to be a top footballer and he wants to improve. With those attributes, that desire and the influences he will have at this club, hopefully we will have a top player on our hands.

“Wilfried can take people on from a standing start. He is quick and direct but what has surprised me more is that he gets his shots off. He is a winger who has a hunger to get inside and drive into the opponents’ box. That is a good thing to have.”

The player is likely to feature against Kitchee in Hong Kong on Tuesday, before the Moyes’ squad heads back to Europe for games against AIK in Stockholm and Ferdinand’s testimonial against Sevilla at Old Trafford.  Zaha already looks as sharp as any on tour.

“He has been quite quiet because he is still getting to know everybody, but he has had an impact in the games,” said new United manager Moyes.

“We want to try and bring him along nicely. He showed the players that he can make things happen. We want all players at Manchester United to score goals and he has come up with an important one.”

Add more in the upcoming trio of fixtures and Zaha might well earn a spot in the Community Shield fixture with Wigan Athletic on 11 August. It is an exciting prospect in an otherwise underwhelming summer.