Wednesday, 29 September 2004

Cricket standings

Ben has done some maths and has calculated that even if we thrash Bangladesh 2-0 in the upcoming series, our international rating score will only move from 94 to 95, which will move us from 7th place to, errrr, 7th. The best we can hope for in the near future is for South Africa to get their arses kicked by England, and for Sri Lanka and Pakistan to both somehow lose when they play each other next month.

Here are Ben's figures. For reference the team above us is South Africa with 102 points us and the team below us is the West Indies with 73 points:

NZ 0, Bangladesh 2 -> NZ 84, Bang 11
NZ 0, Bangladesh 1 -> NZ 84, Bang 9
NZ 0, Bangladesh 0 -> NZ 86, Bang 4
NZ 1, Bangladesh 1 -> NZ 90, Bang 5
NZ 1, Bangladesh 0 -> NZ 93, Bang 2
NZ 2, Bangladesh 0 -> NZ 95, Bang 0

Interestingly Pakistan (105), India (104), Sri Lanka (103) and South Africa (102) are only seperated by three points. England, in second, is only just ahead of them with 109 points.

He's behind you!

And now, a Tendulkar musical. Okay, so its not panto - but it is Bollywood. A new Hindi musical called "Main Sachin Tendulkar" (I am Sachin Tendulkar) is in production. The play "...takes on Tendulkar's excellence in the cricket world which in turn leads to a series of events and happenings in the life of the common man." I don't know why they don't just show highlights of Tendulkar smashing hell out of Shane Warne. How can anything beat that for entertainment?

Sunday, 26 September 2004

England vs West Indies

Anyone feel like changing their votes in my poll? What a cracking match! Not that I saw it of course - bloody time zones. But it sounded good. And a tournament which ends in a climax like that can't be all bad. Its just a pity that so much drek came before it.

I wonder if they managed to sell out the final? And what the TV viewing numbers were like? It would be such a pity if such a great match went unwatched.

Saturday, 25 September 2004

The first-class programme

Frankly, I can think of nothing better than wandering down to the Basin on a glorious summer's day to watch a couple of hours of domestic cricket - checking out the promising new players I might have read about, admiring the old hands and groaning at the predictable success of whichever crap Lincoln Doull clone Wellington is playing this season (hello Matthew Walker).

Despite my patronage and all the success that indicates, New Zealand Cricket has decided to do another little rejig of the competition - the eight round State Championship now leads to a five-day final. And sadly there will be no games for an 'A' side. South Africa 'A' and India 'A' were scheduled to tour, but both have pulled out. With short tours the standard now there are no longer many warm-up matches between international sides and domestic teams and this, coupled with the lack of 'A' games, leaves little space for new players to make their mark. I suspect this is one reason why the final will be over five days - to give players some little taste of what test cricket is about in the absence of international opposition.

The best part about this little story is that it the smell of cricket is in the air again. And the prospect of summer makes spring in Wellington just that little bit easier to bear.

Wednesday, 22 September 2004


Got a spare ten minutes? Why not waste it playing Stickcricket?

Skippy does good

268 vs South Africa 'A' and Sinclair still can't make the New Zealand team touring Bangladesh. What does the guy have to do?

Here's a comparison for you:
Batsman - 1st class - Test average
Lou Vincent - 31.58 - 29.00
Hamish Marshall - 26.15 - N/A (one innings of 40 not out)
Matthew Sinclair - 47.94 - 38.54
Nathan Astle - 38.84 - 38.06
Stephen Fleming - 41.61 - 38.65
Craig McMillan - 40.49 - 40.07
Mark Richardson - 43.75 - 47.94

When you look at those figures, you do have to wonder why Vincent and Marshall have been consistently preferred over Sinclair for the past few years. Its not like Sinclair has done much wrong in the few opportunities he has been given - in his last test (against South Africa) he scored 21 and 74.

The trend I find most worrying here is the age of the batsmen with those good records. McMillan is the youngest at 28 and his form has been tailing off for years, while Mark Richardson is almost as old as me. Who amongst the younger generation is going to be able to replace them in five years time? Vincent and Marshall if they pick up maybe, but how about some of this lot:

Batsman - 1st class average
Jesse Ryder - 44.60
Peter Fulton - 44.50
Rob Nicol - 39.00
Tim McIntosh - 37.03
Michael Papps - 35.07
Nick Horsley - 34.43
Jamie How - 32.10

Some of those averages might look good, but in the past season or so Ryder, Nicol, McIntosh, Horsley and How have all slid backwards. Sinclair apart, Fulton has been the form player of the South African tour and at the moment he is the only one I see having much of a future.

By the way, Scott Styris' first class batting average is 32.36. Good enough to bat at number four in the test side? I don't think so.

England vs Australia

Best story in this morning's Dominion Post. The pre-match annoucement by the Australian team that Brad Hogg had injured himself and would be out for the final, so a replacement would be flown over. Hello Hubris, meet Nemesis.

Monday, 20 September 2004

Team for Bangladesh

New Zealand tours Bangladesh next month for two tests and three ODIs. The team, announced a short time ago, is:

Stephen Fleming (capt), Nathan Astle, Ian Butler, James Franklin, Hamish Marshall, Chris Martin, Brendon McCullum (wk), Kyle Mills, Jacob Oram, Michael Papps, Mark Richardson, Scott Styris, Daniel Vettori, Paul Wiseman

So, no McMillan and no Tuffey. Tuffey is still under a bit of an injury cloud and Bracewell said they want to get him right for the long summer ahead. But there is no such excuse for McMillan - he has been dropped on form pure and simple. Which is a little odd because his form could hardly be judged on the ICC Trophy. In that competition he scored a blistering half century against the USA and was run out by Chris Harris against Australia. I.e. neither innings showed us anything. If he was going to be dropped on form then perhaps that should have happened before then. On the other hand, perhaps this is the right time and the right thing to do. Dropping McMillan will hopefully be the kick up the arse he needs to get him focussed on his game - and a tour to Bangladesh is also a great time to blood a player.

I suspect Matthew Sinclair might be rolling his eyes a little. After good form in South Africa with the 'A' side he must be wondering whether anyone ever notices all the runs he scores. Especially when the guy who took McMillan's spot ahead of him - Hamish Marshall - has a first class average about half of his own.

The dropping of Tuffey and McMillan might be the most obvious talking points, but it is the weakness of the bowling attack which catches my eye. Martin, Mills, Franklin, Butler, Oram, Wiseman and Vettori are not names to send shivers of fear through an opposition's spine.

Saturday, 18 September 2004

Poll results

Last week I asked you which member of the Black Caps offended your inner hair stylist most. Craig McMillan's facial hair was the not so proud winner - the Canterbury lad with the whopping chops won 58% of your vote. Scott Styris came in second with a strong 17%, which says to me that some of you still recall with horror his accident with a bottle of black hair dye. Ian "Highlights" Butler, Jacob "Blonde" Oram and Kyle "Where did I put that mop" Mills all attracted a single vote, while Hamish Marshall escaped all attention despite having a head like a sheep.

This week I am asking you whether the ICC Trophy is a waste of time in its current form. Is it worth travelling around the planet when half the world's best teams will only play one game against a minnow and one proper match, and that is if your country is lucky and it is not raining?

Friday, 17 September 2004

Blue Friday

What an utterly depressing day of cricket for New Zealanders. Not only did the one-day match turn into a rout, but New Zealand 'A' collapsed spinelessly in their second innings against South Africa 'A'. I don't think its possible to stop being a cricket fan, but on mornings like this I sometimes wish there was an off-switch for fandom.

Thursday, 16 September 2004

Kiwi 'bogy' a load of hocus pocus

The Sydney Morning Herald shoots down the myth that the New Zealand cricket team has something over our Trans Tasman cousins:

Wednesday, 15 September 2004

Astle blasts and the crowd goes wild - NZ vs USA, ICC Champions Trophy

Bowling strike rates

Karl emailed me today with a statistical analysis of New Zealand bowlers' wicket-taking ability:

I've taken the bowling figures for New Zealand bowlers in all ODIs to see who our most effective bowlers have been, in terms of taking wickets. I've done a spreadsheet of every bowler who's taken 10 or more ODI wickets in their career (46 New Zealanders have done this). On this, I've divided the number of wickets per match to have a wicket-taking ratio for every bowler. New Zealand's top-10 bowlers, in terms of wickets per match are:

Bowler - Ratio - Wkts - Matches
SE Bond - 1.89 - 51 - 27
DR Hadlee - 1.82 - 20 - 11
GI Allott - 1.68 - 52 - 31
C Pringle - 1.61 - 103 - 64
GB Troup - 1.45 - 32 - 22
AR Adams - 1.42 - 44 - 31
RJ Hadlee - 1.37 - 158 - 115
BJ McKechnie - 1.36 - 19 - 14
DK Morrison - 1.31 - 126 - 96
EJ Chatfield - 1.23 - 140 - 114

What surprises me are: Pringle at no.4, and Adams being in the top 10 (given my opinion he's a pie-chucker). Of the team over in the UK, the current ratios are:

Bowler - Ratio - Wkts - Matches
DR Tuffey - 1.21 - 87 - 72
JDP Oram - 1.20 - 79 - 66
KD Mills - 1.16 - 37 - 32
SB Styris - 0.94 - 83 - 88
IG Butler - 0.93 - 13 - 14
CL Cairns - 0.92 - 176 - 191
DL Vettori - 0.89 - 123 - 138
CZ Harris - 0.82 - 201 - 245
NJ Astle - 0.52 - 95 - 181
CD McMillan - 0.24 - 37 - 153

Of the bowlers on that list the top 3 in terms of economy rate are: Harris, Vettori and Oram, the worst four are Butler (5.5 per over), McMillan (5.29) Styris (4.86) and Cairns (4.74). You can forgive McMillan those stats - he's a part-time bowler. But Cairns? Shows just how much we miss Bond. Jacob Oram is clearly the NZ team's future key to success.

Of the current Aussie bowlers, their wickets per match ratio is:
Lee: - 1.75
Kasprowicz: - 1.70
Gillespie: - 1.57
Warne: - 1.51
McGrath: - 1.50

Their top five bowlers account for 8 wickets per match. Our top five account for 5.4.
Now Mike - why are we ranked no.2 or 3?

I would say that the reason we are ranked as high as no. 2 or 3 in the world is because we can put a team on the park with a pile of batsmen capable of backing up the strike bowlers with a wicket or two. Compare our top and middle order to the Australians - and ask yourself whether Astle, Fleming, McMillan, Styris, Oram and Cairns present a better wicket-taking prospect than Hayden, Gilchrist, Ponting, Martyn, Lehmann and Symonds. The reason we are not ranked higher is because the strike bowlers (Bond apart) are not up to the job and we need those back-up dobbers.

Monday, 13 September 2004


In Wisden today Ricky Ponting talked about how determined the Aussies are to break records against the USA and stated:

"Everyone wants to do something special, in every game that you play," he said. "Watching the USA-New Zealand game the other day someone made a big hundred, and hopefully we can do the same. Ideally we'd like one of the batsmen to make a big hundred and have one of the bowlers get six or seven [wickets] for not very many."

In this morning's Dominion Post Jonthon Millmow said:

The downside for Astle is playing out the last three to four years of his career with ever present reminders that the best of 14 hundreds was against a minnow.

Former international Roger Twose faced an identical situation with statistics books and the big screens at match venues highlighting for four years that his 92 against United Arab Emirates was a career best.

Australia breaks records, New Zealand doesn't. I wonder why?

Saturday, 11 September 2004

Well we beat the USA

Its hard to say much isn't it? In reality the most important thing about the match was that it didn't rain and deprive us of the points.

Friday, 10 September 2004

Form guide

Handily provided by the Guardian:

(Additional unlinky link below incase the link function is still not functioning):,10069,1301473,00.html

Thursday, 9 September 2004


New Zealand just lost a practice match to Sri Lanka on a wicket Chris Harris described as "having something for every bowler". The Lankans struggled to 171/9 and then bundled us out for 159 - Hamish Marshall top scoring with 33. It doesn't sound like the ideal warm-up to be honest, but then this could be just the sort of end-of-season wicket most of the trophy games will be played on. And the two earlier warm-up matches against county sides were both reasonably high-scoring affairs, so perhaps we will be all ready for that all important game against the USA (snigger).

Wednesday, 8 September 2004

ICC Awards

No New Zealanders made the cut in either the test XI of the year or the ODI XI. Instead we won Miss Congeniality with the Spirit of Cricket award. Bah! You'd hardly guess that we won 13 out of our 15 ODIs in the period covered.

The World XI Test Team of the Year (in batting order) is:
1. Matthew Hayden
2. Herschelle Gibbs
3. Ricky Ponting (captain)
4. Rahul Dravid
5. Brian Lara
6. Jacques Kallis
7. Adam Gilchrist
8. Chaminda Vaas
9. Shane Warne
10. Jason Gillespie
11. Stephen Harmison

And the World XI ODI Team of the year is:
1. Adam Gilchrist (wk)
2. Sachin Tendulkar
3. Chris Gayle
4. Ricky Ponting (capt)
5. Brian Lara
6. Virender Sehwag
7. Jacques Kallis
8. Andrew Flintoff
9. Shaun Pollock
10. Chaminda Vaas
11. Jason Gillespie

The fact that the selection committee included an Aussie, a Pom, a Saffie, a West Indian and an Indian, means that the domination of the lists by those countries is not surprising. Along with the lack of Kiwis and Pakistanis, you will also notice that Shane Warne (36 wickets at 22.25) beat out Murali (73 wickets at 18.56) for the spinner's place in the test side. Even the Australian press is finding that one hard to figure out:

Perhaps next year New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Pakistan should form the selection committee?

The other awards given last night (players of the year, umpire of the year etc) were selected by means of votes from an Academy of 50 people from all over the place. So perhaps those particular results are a little more fair - if not entirely pleasing. Rahul Dravid (1241 runs at 95.46) deservedly won test player of the year, while Bleeding Andrew Bleeding Flintoff won ODI player.

Despite the fairness in this process, how on earth did Hamish Marshall (740 ODI runs at 46.25) miss out the emerging player award to Irfan Pathan (16 test wickets at 38 and 36 ODI wickets at 23.19)? Perhaps we can blame our low profile for that one.

Monday, 6 September 2004

He's quick!

An update on my last post. An old article in the Christchurch Press reveals that Richard Sherlock is fast (it is in the Press because Sherlock has moved to Christchurch - he must have worked out that playing for CD marks young bowlers for doom):

Sherlock, who hails from Nelson, musters sharp pace which Wellington's top order batsmen felt in the opening State Championship match last summer when he took four for 33 on debut, including wickets with his second, fourth and ninth balls.

Sherlock's speed had caught Bracewell's eye during the New Zealand Academy matches last season at Lincoln.

"We were exposed in England for genuine pace with Shane Bond injured and Ian Butler struggling with an ankle problem before the tour."

Sherlock is lightly framed and lasted only another match last season before an frustrating ankle injury forced him to the sidelines for the rest of the season.

The ankle problem was similar to a stress fracture and Sherlock was advised to have a break from pounding into the bowling crease which he has done during the off-season.

With those references to injury and stress fractures, maybe he could be the new Bond...

Richard Sherlock

The future of New Zealand cricket?

You wouldn't believe it from the complete lack of media coverage, but New Zealand 'A' is currently touring South Africa and has just had the better of a three day (not first-class) match against South Africa 'A'. Star performer for New Zealand was the team's most surprising selection, 20 year old Central Districts quick Richard Sherlock. All Sherlock's wickets came from the top order as he took 3-20 in South Africa's first innings of 178/7 and 2-7 in the second innings of 147/4.

I can't even tell you what sort of bowler Sherlock is. He has only played two games for CD and has taken just five first class wickets. As far as I can tell he has not even been selected for an U-19 side. Wisden unhelpfully tells us that he bowls "medium fast" - which usually means nothing except "we don't really know, but he's not a spinner".

CD hasn't produced an out and out fast bowler since Gary Bartlett in the 1950s and '60s - and he was a chucker - so perhaps it is too much to expect Sherlock to be the new Shane Bond. Maybe he swings it and is the new Simon Doull? Surely Sir Paddles and Co. wouldn't have picked just another product spat from the never-ending CD conveyor-belt of boring medium pacers? You know, the sort of dobber who takes umpteen wickets on seaming wickets in the domestic game, but is exposed as being absolute rubbish when picked for the national side (doesn't just saying names like Michael Mason, Andrew Penn and Derek Stirling fill you with sadness?).

Sunday, 5 September 2004

Poll results

Well the results of my first poll are in. The most popular answer, by a clear margin, to the question "Who was luckiest to make the ICC Trophy squad" was Kyle Mills. Ken Rutherford put in a spirited defence for poor Kyle in this morning's Sunday Star-Times, but it did not stop him from winning a massive 57% of the vote - which means 8 out of 14 of you clicked angrily on his name. Chris Harris came in second with 21% (3 votes), while three players all attracted a single vote each - Michael Papps, Ian Butler and Scott Styris (cough).

A new poll is up. And I want you to remember bad dye jobs and ugly facial hair when casting your vote.

Thursday, 2 September 2004


From the Stuff website:

As is the custom for the International Cricket Council's mini-world cup, technology will be trialled during the 12-team tournament with signals to be delivered to umpires via an earpiece.

In an effort to reduce the number of missed no-balls, on-field officials will receive an audio signal from the third umpire each time a bowler oversteps the crease. The earpiece will also receive sound from the stump microphone at the striker's end, a move aimed at helping umpires hear thin edges off the bat.

Interesting developments. I think there is the potential for the stump microphone to create more problems than it will solve. I am sure it will pick up more than just edges and I imagine it will take some practice to differentiate the sound of a nick from the amplified sound of bat on pad or amplified sprigs on pitch.