Friday, 29 October 2004

A tea interval

I am shifting this weekend and won't have my phone reconnected until next week. So postings might be limited over the next few days.

The British Medical Journal

Most people think doctors play nothing but golf, but if you flick through the BMJ then you might get another impression. First it ran a paper comparing Indian and Pakistani cricket results, which engendered a high degree of controversey ("The BMJ needs to decide whether it is a Journal or a magazine") and also this letter. The medical journal followed this controversy up by running an article asking "Is cricket the magic glue that unites South Asia?".

Richard Boock joins the debate

In this morning's Herald, Richard Boock compares Fleming, Turner and Crowe - and cites three centuries against the 1980s West Indian attack as the reason why Crowe should be seen as the greatest.

Boock goes on to describe "the generation" gap that exists between the stars of the 1980s and the stars of the modern era. Although it still contains his usual quota of generalisations and assumptions, it is an unusually thoughtful piece.

Thursday, 28 October 2004

A new poll and New Zealand's best batsman

My last poll asked you who should open the batting with Mark Richardson in the forthcoming tests against Australia. One of you voted for double century maker Stephen Fleming, four of you voted for current opener Matthew Sinclair and five of you voted for Michael Papps.

My new poll was inspired by Stephen Fleming's achievements in Bangladesh - he is now New Zealand's most prolific runs-scorer. Ben asked me who I thought was New Zealand's best ever batsman and it sparked a lengthy debate between Karl, Ben and I. So now we are going to ask you to decide for us. To help you vote, here is a little information:

According to the PWC system, Glenn Turner had the highest rating of any New Zealander by a mile - 843. Bert Sutcliffe got as high as 787 and Martin Crowe reached a peak of 776.

If you looked at where those three were placed in the rankings, as opposed to simply looking at the ranking score, then you can see that Crowe spent most of the period from 1988 until 1994 ranked in the world's top five batsmen. Glenn Turner spent between 1972 and 1977 doing the same - and hit number one a couple of times, including an extended spell in 1975. Bert Sutcliffe only spent a short period in 1956 in the top 5, but his ranking was more consistent through-out his career than either Turner or Crowe.

Andrew Jones' rating never climbed above 667 and he was never rated higher than the ninth best batsman in the world. But, no-one else earned the nickname "God" or celebrated a test century by giving the Australian press box the fingers.

Of the current players, Fleming might have scored more runs than anyone else but he has yet to rate over 692 and has only broken into the top 20 a handful of times. Mark Richardson has hit the heights of 775 and has spent the past couple of years hovering around the world's top 10.

Martin Donnelly might have made the list in another age. He only played briefly for New Zealand in a career interrupted by the Second World War and the lack of tests at the time - but in that short time he did manage 200 in England and such was his reputation in English county cricket that he was named the best left-handed batsman in the world.

In terms of bare batting averages, we can see the following:
Martin Donnelly 52.90
Mark Richardson 47.03
Martin Crowe 45.36
Glenn Turner 44.64
Andrew Jones 44.27
Bert Sutcliffe 40.10
Stephen Fleming 39.75

Of course, all statistics are problematic when trying to compare batsmen of different eras. Karl tried to work around this by comparing the careers of Turner and Crowe against different nations.

Turner's averages: against West Indies 65.76, Pakistan 39.18, and Sri Lanka 23.66. He never played against South Africa or Zim.
Crowe: against WI 45.33, Pak 57.23, SL 52.25, Zim 62.25 and SA 20.5.

On a purely aesthetic level, Ben pointed out that not even a Fleming cover-drive could beat the grace of a Martin Crowe hook shot. And Crowe could also score runs in the most trying conditions (remember his century in Pakistan against Waqar and Wasim at their fiercest?) while both Sutcliffe (post-injury) and Turner had reputations for being suspect against short, quick bowling.

As an aside, while looking around the PWC website I noticed something about Martin Donnelly's contemporary, fast bowler Jack Cowie. Cowie only played a handful of tests in the 1930s and 1940s but between 1945 and 1949 he was consistently rated in the PWC's top ten and spent 1947 as the world's best bowler - above players like Tiger O'Reilly, Keith Miller and Ray Lindwall. As far as I can tell, Richard Hadlee is the only other New Zealander to reach No. 1 in the bowling charts.
Fleming on the drive

Wednesday, 27 October 2004

Peter Roebuck

Peter Roebuck once said some very uncomplimentary things about New Zealand and I held a grudge against him for years, but he is also a bloody good cricket writer. I have learnt to ignore Cricinfo and to instead wander over to his column in the Sydney Morning Herald to find out what is happening in Australian cricket.

Fleming's day

He now has more test matches than any other New Zealander and more test runs. He also has his 8th test century and, although I only saw highlights of his innings, it looked a very classy knock too. There is no better player to watch cover drive than Stephen Fleming.

Mark Richardson's run of getting out to aggressive strokes continued and this might soon become a bit of a concern. He expressed a desire last season to break out of his sheet-anchor role and play a few shots, but I think someone should tell him that we need a sheet-anchor. It is all very well to have silky Flemings, bludgeoning Astles and wristy Sinclairs in the side, but silky, bludgeoning and wristy can all be a bit flaky and we need someone who is never going to give his wicket away cheaply.

Tuesday, 26 October 2004

A change for the better

According to the Herald, Scott Styris has sustained a foot injury and might miss the test. This could be very good news as it will allow Marshall to come into the side without the need to rest Astle.

This is good news because unlike Astle, Scott doesn't need the practice - it's not like he is going to score any runs against Australia anyway.

Sunday, 24 October 2004

What the Sunday papers say

Dylan Cleaver in the Herald suspects that Bracewell will do some tinkering for the second test to give a couple more players a chance to warm-up for Australia.

Cleaver states that the most likely change would see Marshall come in for Astle. His reasoning seems pretty spot on but I would be disappointed if this were to come true. Astle, more than anyone, is a player who needs time in the middle to get him into form. I'm not saying that Marshall doesn't deserve a chance to impress after his magnificent one-day form, but getting Astle - one of our premier batsmen - into good nick for the Aussies should be the first priority.

And I can't find it online, but Ken Rutherford had a real rant about the new South African coach in this morning's Sunday Star-Times. He couched his words in polite language, but the whole article can essentially be distilled to read "Ray Jennings is a two-faced, arrogant and psychopathic arsehole who is going to drag South African cricket into a new dark age." And Rutherford should know, he used to be Jenning's assistant at Gauteng. While I can't give you Ken's piece, I did find this Wisden article which gives a taste of Jenning's character.

Sanath Jayasuriya

It is a bit surprising to see Sri Lanka doing so well against Pakistan, sure they have a good batting line-up - but their bowling attack looks so weak without Muralitharan that it is hard to imagine them bowling a top side out twice. But a stunning double century from Jayasuriya and a devestating spell from Dilhara Fernando has left them in total control of what was originally shaping as a very even contest.

The turning point of this match occurred when those two players were joined at the crease with Sri Lanka at 337/8. At this point Jayasuriya went beserk and, of their 101 run partnership for the ninth wicket, Fernando contributed a solitary run. Jayasuriya's innings ended at 253, his third double century.

Jayasuriya's career might well have turned out very differently. He made his debut back on the 1990/91 tour to New Zealand, back in the days when Sri Lanka were still generally regarded as easy-beats - the Bangladesh of the era. His presence was later one of those that lifted Sri Lanka from the bottom of the world rankings, but he could have had only a very brief appearance on the test stage. His first ball in test cricket was a short wide ball from Chris Pringle, Jayasuriya made an ugly and wild slash at it and it flew just wide of gully. This was his only turn at bat in the match and if the mishit had gone to hand, he would have faced one ball, played one atrocious shot and probably would have made way for someone less rash for the next game. As it was he ended up with 35 streaky looking runs and, with so little competition for places, he retained his place and never looked back.

Saturday, 23 October 2004

PWC ratings

The Dhaka test had quite an effect on the New Zealand rankings on the PWC tables - especially for the youngsters. Ironically Craig McMillan was one of the few older players whose ranking actually improved (courtesy of Scott Styris' downward spiral), despite the fact that he didn't even play!

Mark Richardson 13 (down 3)
Stephen Fleming 23 (down 1)
Craig McMillan 33 (up 1)
Scott Styris 34 (down 1)
Nathan Astle 35 (no change)
Jacob Oram 39 (no change)
Matthew Sinclair 42 (up 4)
Brendon McCullum 47 (up 21)

Darryl Tuffey 15 (no change)
Chris Martin 20 (down 1)
Daniel Vettori 31 (up 9)
Jacob Oram 40 (up 2)
James Franklin 45 (up 27)
Paul Wiseman 59 (down 1)
Ian Butler 67 (down 5)
Scott Styris 75 (unchanged)

Vettori's rating score of 491 is still a long way from his peak at 661, but it is a considerable improvement on his recent depths.

The Daily Star

Here is some insight into the New Zealand victory from a Bangladeshi perspective, courtest of the Daily Star. In a related article the Star tells us that Habibul Bashar, Bangladesh's best batsman by a mile, is to miss the second test as well.

Bashar has scored over 2000 runs in test cricket at an average of 35.84 and has scored three of the eight centuries ever scored by Bangladeshi batsmen. He is also ranked number 32 in the world by PWC - above Nathan Astle, Craig McMillan and Scott Styris. Given that their next ranked batsman comes in at 64, you can see why they are missing him.

Andrew McLean

Andrew McLean appears to have come from nowhere to be New Zealand cricket's Mr Ubiquitous. He writes for Cricinfo, he reports on Radio Sport, he has his own cricket show. And he is informative, thoughtful and very likeable. Try to catch him, it is not too hard.

Boock on Marshall

Richard Boock actually has something positive to say for a change - and applies a little analysis. In looking at Hamish Marshall's chances of a test spot in the next game, he reviews those New Zealanders who have scored their maiden first-class centuries in a test match.

Friday, 22 October 2004

Vettori glory

He flighted the ball. He spun it sharply. And he had loop.

Dan Vettori's 16 post-injury wickets at 75.93 just became 24 at 52.87 and his career average fell from 38.14 to 36.63. All in all, this has been a very good test for Dan. As it has been for someone who loves to see good spin bowling.

Read those first three sentences of this post again. They made me very happy.

Brendon McCullum

Take a look at the picture below. Notice anything about it? McCullum is not wearing a helmet. Apparently he decided he didn't need one - even when the quicks returned with the new ball. Cocky young fella ain't he?
McCullum on the hook (courtesy of Reuters)

Thursday, 21 October 2004

McCullum's maiden ton

Some might denegrate the attack it was scored against, but the fact remains that Brendon McCullum scored a century to drag New Zealand out of danger in extremely trying conditions. The pitch was tricky, the heat and humidity high and the spinners not too bad.

For a while it looked like McCullum might not achieve the greatness that beckoned in his glory days as a youth player, but given that he is only 23 he still has plenty of time to make good on that early promise. With the retirement of Robbie Hart the test keeping spot looks his for years to come.

By the by, I think the Bangladeshis made a mistake to take the new ball with the spinners on top and with McCullum and Vettori on strike - both better players of pace than spin. It will be interesting to see how many those two can score and whether this will be the turning point which will allow the New Zealanders to put their feet on the throat of this match.

Poll results

Last time I asked you what you thought the scoreline would be in the New Zealand vs Bangladesh test series. Seven of you were cocky enough to vote for a 2-0 scoreline in favour of New Zealand. Five of you were slightly more cautious and voted for a 1-0 score. One very pessimistic person (who might have been me) glumly predicted that it would rain and that the series would be a 0-0 wash-out.

This time I am asking you to think ahead to the next challenge. Australia's bowlers won't be quite so forgiving of poor technique and footwork as Bangladesh's. So who do you think should face the new ball at Brisbane on the 18th of November?

New Zealand Oxford Dictionary

Oxford are publishing a New Zealand version of the dictionary in November, something I think is long overdue. I always thought it was wrong that New Zealand law and legislature is based on definitions from the Oxford English Dictionary when the languages of the two countries will always suffer subtle differences. The Australians have their Macquarie, and hopefully the NZOD will become our standard reference text.

You might be wondering what this has to do with cricket. Well, the reason is that one of the new words to appear in the New Zealand Oxford Dictionary is "dibbly dobbler", meaning a bowler of barely medium pace. I am not sure whether a photo of Chris Harris will be included next to the entry.

Coverage of the test

I am enjoying the daily reports from the test on the NZ Cricket website. I was disappointed with the website when it first appeared, and it is very light in terms of player information and statistics, but if they can maintain a standard of writing as high as this then I will be very happy.

County news

According to the Dom this morning, Scott Styris has just signed to play for Middlesex next season. Let's just hope that he does a Craig Spearman and decides to stay in Blighty for good.

Wednesday, 20 October 2004

Portrait of an athlete

Jimmy's fine trick

What can you say? James Edward Charles just took the second hat-trick in New Zealand test cricket history - after left-arm spinner Peter Petherick took one in Pakistan way back in 1976/77.

Franklin's final delivery was an absolute cracker, pitching outside off and swinging back in to bowl Baisya - who did not play a shot.

And finally, after a day of dreary, dreary cricket, we have some action.

Tuesday, 19 October 2004

The weather

The rain ruined a great test match in Chennai. Thankfully it doesn't look like it will do the same in Dhaka.

First test preview

I thought I would share a different perspective with you this morning - one from the other side. Here is Bangladesh news agency "The New Nation's" preview of the first test.

Monday, 18 October 2004

Mark Richardson

The world's premier number-11-turned-opener contributes a column to the new Herald on Sunday. So far, his appears to be the most intellectual piece in the newspaper - which appears to be covering all of its bases by looking like a serious paper, but reading like a tabloid. I'm not sure that I agree with everything he says here, but it is certainly more stimulating than reading bloody Scott Styris say "its time for the boys to step up to the next level" in the Dom.

A luke-warm warm-up

Well, we didn't embarrass ourselves, but I don't think we learnt too much either. The light-weight pace attack put in a decent performance, although it is hard to judge what sort of quality our opposition was.

This morning's New Zealand Herald says that Jake Oram is likely to share the new ball in a very slim looking pace attack for the first test. John Bracewell has stated that he wants players to be in a position where they are forced to take responsibility for their performance. He suspects players go into cruise mode if they know that they have back-up. I like this thinking. It has its dangers of course - if we go into a test with two real pace bowlers and Styris as the third seamer, then we are onto a hiding to nothing if one of those quicks breaks down. But against Bangladesh that seems to be a gamble worth taking.

In other news, Peter Roebuck continues his recent trend of eulogising Australian batsmen. This time he goes into raptures over Damien Martyn.

Friday, 15 October 2004

Not a good start to the tour

So the first day of the warm-up match is over and two bugbears have raised their heads already. Firstly our new opening combination was not a success and secondly, and probably of even more concern, it rained. On the positive side of the ledger, Fleming and Marshall both got some good time in the middle.

The next test will be when we are in the field and I am biting my fingers a little over how our worryingly thin-looking pace attack will perform.

And what is with this weird 12-a-side thing that seems to be catching? The 'A' side did it in South Africa and now the top team is doing it in Bangladesh. What's wrong with a normal match with normal match conditions? I don't care if one extra player gets on the park - to my mind a first-class match where the players actually have something riding on the outcome is still the best preparation for a test match.

Thursday, 14 October 2004

Essential reading

Okay, so it costs $50, is already out of date and most of what is contained within can be gleaned from the internet anyway - but the 2004 New Zealand Cricket Almanack is still required reading. Why? Because there is something reassuring solid about facts when they are printed on paper. Somehow Mark Richardson's batting average of 47.94 feels more real just because it appears in the Almanack. It is history now. He might score 20 ducks in his next 20 innings, but the Almanack will still show that at the start of the 2004 season he still had a better average than Martin Crowe, Andrew Jones, Bert Sutcliffe and Glenn Turner.

And remember, you cannot lie in bed flicking through

For the record, the Almanack's players of the year are Stephen Fleming and Chris Martin while the promising players are Michael Papps, Brendon McCullum and Peter Fulton. Lets hope this year's crop of tyros prove more successful than the promising players selected ten years ago (Roydon Hayes, Blair Pocock and A.T. Reinholds).

You might raise an eyebrow at Martin's choice as a player of the year. But, despite the appalling England tour, the Almanack tells me that he still took 24 test wickets at 25.58 in a season when Darryl Tuffey could only manage 19 at 41.84, Jacob Oram 16 at 46.25 and Daniel Vettori 16 at 75.93.

Okay. I am going to stop finding interesting figures in the Almanack now. I am going to put it down and do something useful. Although, first I might just quickly look up Martin's career bowling average. And Darryl Tuffey's record in domestic cricket last season. And Dan Vettori's bowling average since he returned from injury...

Marshall in ahead of Astle?

According to the Dominion Post, it looks likely that Skippy Sinclair will be opening with Mark Richardson on the Bangladesh tour and that Hamish Marshall and Nathan Astle will be fighting for the one open spot in the middle order.

This is an interesting proposition. Sinclair should do well opening against a Bangladesh side in spinner friendly conditions, but if he is successful does that mean he should be retained as opener against Australia in conditions and against bowlers far more suited to swing and seam? I still have my doubts about Matthew's technique when he starts an innings. The static feet mean that when his eye is in the stroke-play is wristy and glorious, but when his eye is not in and the ball is moving - he gets himself into trouble. Could his selection simply be a temporary measure until Papps returns to fitness? Possibly, and that could leave us with a very pleasant conundrum later in the season - with Astle, Marshall and Sinclair all pushing each other for the middle order spot.

The battle between Astle and Marshall is an interesting one in itself. Marshall is the young up and comer who still has a lot to prove and I suspect many of you are surprised to hear that he could even think of competing with Astle. But Nathan's form since his return from injury has not been that good, and he has a history of taking a long time to warm into the season. I suspect that if you pitched both into a match right now Marshall would outdo Astle, but later in the season with some batting under his belt and a working knee I am betting Astle will be an automatic choice.

It must be spring

Good lord! Wellington Cricket is having a good old fashioned spring cleaning. Woooosh! Out goes the rubbish!

And good riddance to old trash too. Matthew Walker is one of those players that Wellington produces in abundance and which I loathe with a passion. A slogger who jammies runs with luck and brute force, rather than technique and timing. A bowler who has no pace and does nothing with the ball but manages to take bog loads of wickets on New Zealand's green and dibbly dobbly friendly surfaces.

Now, lets hope Wellington can offer his fat contract to a young and impressionable quick bowler from another province.

Wednesday, 13 October 2004

Wisden doesn't like Kyle Mills

I'm not surprised, who does? And you do have to ask what he is still doing in the side when he hasn't done a damned thing in 33 ODIs. On the other hand, we haven't exactly got pace bowlers falling out of our ears. And I guess a good bloke who is a very average medium pace bowler is a better selection than a guy who is a very average medium pace bowler and nothing more.

And with a wig like that, he probably has a few good party tricks up his sleeve.

Tuesday, 12 October 2004

Keith Miller

Keith Miller, one of the game's best all-rounders and most entertaining characters, is dead. The Sydney Morning Herald has a tribute, but I thought I would add my own.

There are many stories attributed to Miller; the devil-may-care fighter pilot who once crash-landed his plane at 11am and joined a game of cricket at noon; the length of his run-up which was usually dependent on how he had spent the previous evening; the day he let himself be bowled for nought just to show his team-mates that he really didn't give a damn. But my favourite story is about the only time he was allowed to captain Australia. He led his team-mates out onto the field and strolled off to slip. His team stood around in confusion, waiting for Miller to tell them which positions to take up. One of them pointed out that Miller hadn't actually told them who was 12th man and that there were infact twelve of them on the field. Miller glowered at his team; "right, one of you bastards piss off and the rest of you scatter."

Keith Miller. Born 1919. Died 2004. Right-handed batsman, right-arm fast bowler. 55 tests, 2958 runs at 36.97 and 170 wickets at 22.97. Last of the great entertainers.

Sunday, 10 October 2004

John Bracewell likes Andre Adams

Something for Karl and Dan. I know what big Andre Adams' fans you are, and I am sure you will be pleased to find that John Bracewell is a big fan too.

Friday, 8 October 2004

Biege makes a return

Yeah, yeah. So Michael Clarke played so well on debut, in the first game of the most eagerly anticipated series of recent years, that he almost made Peter Roebuck cry. But the real news of the day is that New Zealand will be playing at least one international in 1980s-style biege uniforms this season.

Jeremy Coney, Ian Smith, Richard Hadlee, Lance Cairns and co. must be feeling so proud.

Thursday, 7 October 2004

Sinclair, McMillan, Adams and Fulton all in

The ODI side for the Bangladesh tour has been announced:

Daniel Vettori (captain), Andre Adams, Nathan Astle, Ian Butler, Chris Cairns, Peter Fulton, Chris Harris, Hamish Marshall, Craig McMillan, Brendon McCullum, Kyle Mills, Matthew Sinclair, Scott Styris and one more to be named.

Fleming and Oram are being rested for the one-dayers. Which shows how much respect the selectors have for Bangladesh. The "one more to be named" is probably going to be Tuffey, but that is dependent on him passing a fitness test. I am glad to see Skippy and Fulton there, but it does beg the question - who will open? I am guessing that they will open with Sinclair and Astle, and Wisden tells me that Sinclair has scored 530 runs as an opener at 27.89 - which is not too bad. However, Astle and Sinclair are similar players in terms of their instincts and shot-selection. So perhaps the selectors will be tempted to experiment with McCullum or Vettori, or try to squeeze Fulton into the role. None of those options strike me as being particulary big and clever, but I suppose it is only Bangladesh.

Fulton, for those who haven't seen him, looks like an even taller version of Chris Harris (something in the Southern air can't agree with cricketers and hair) and has a very stylish technique - he reminds me of Fleming a little in the lithe tallness of his strokes.

I also see that Sinclair has been called in to cover for Papps in the test matches. What a relief it must be for him to finally drag himself out from beneath McMillan's shadow.

Wednesday, 6 October 2004

Papps out of Bangladesh tour

From the New Zealand cricket website:

Canterbury opening batsman Michael Papps dislocated his shoulder while fielding during the Black Caps training camp at Lincoln yesterday and has been forced out of the Bangladesh tour.

Black Caps coach John Bracewell said the injury would see Papps unable to play for four to six weeks and as a result he is out of the whole of the Bangladesh tour. His replacement for the Test match section of the tour will be announced tomorrow.

I wonder if, having already said they don't want Fleming to open, the selectors will opt for another specialist opener or whether they will be forced to eat their own words. If they do select another opener, who will it be? Who has any form in that position? Matthew Bell and Jamie How were the openers for the 'A' side and neither covered themselves with much glory. My pick is that Craig McMillan will get a reprieve and that Fleming will find himself marching into the middle with Mark Richardson again.

Why India and Australia mean so much to each other

From Lawrence Booth and "the Spin", his weekly round-up of cricket for the Guardian:

Dennis Lillee is in little doubt. The India-Australia four-match Test series which begins at Bangalore tomorrow "amounts to a world championship contest". The hyperbole is entirely understandable. But it is just that: hyperbole. The reason India v Australia is so mouth-watering is not because India are the second-best side in the world (by any objective standards, let alone the ICC table, they are probably not). It is because of the mythology that has built up around the fixture.

The truth is that the sides have become obsessed with beating each other, and you can hardly blame them. Australia's traditional foe, England, have been cannon fodder for 15 years; India, on the other hand, almost went through the entire 1990s without playing their arch-enemies, Pakistan. Both sides have looked elsewhere for a
challenge - and they have ended up gazing squarely into each other's eyes. The upshot has been some of the most thrilling cricket in Test history, which is not necessarily the same as a world championship.

Australia haven't won in India since Bill Lawry led them to a 3-1 win in 1969-70, but it wasn't until Steve Waugh took over the captaincy that victory in India became Australia's holy grail. India became to Waugh what those four runs at The Oval in 1948 were to Bradman: just as the Don never did average 100, Waugh would never win a Test series in a country that beguiled him. And as Waugh took his place on the pantheon, so the elusive victory in India grew all the more tantalising.

From an Indian perspective, doing well against Australia has disguised a multitude of sins. They played quite superbly a year ago to come away from Australia with a 1-1 draw, and their victory at Kolkata after following on in 2000-01 will forever be the stuff of legend. But results elsewhere, usually away from home, have been patchy: for every historic win in Pakistan, there is a feeble surrender in New Zealand. And don't forget that their most recent home series ended in a 0-0 draw with those pesky New Zealanders.

This is not to wipe away the drool ahead of this week's Test series. It is merely to redirect it. Ever since Waugh called Sourav Ganguly a "prick", there has been a frisson between the sides that transcends anything in the game - and which is made all the more delectable because it has nothing to do with tradition (like the Ashes) or politics (like India v Pakistan). India-Australia pre-series kidology is now as riveting as the cricket itself.

But do not be fooled into thinking that these sides loathe each other. On the contrary, they need each other. Australia need to win in India to complete their jigsaw and prove to themselves that they don't have a hang-up about that part of the world. India need Australia for a feel-good factor of their own - because as long as they're giving the best side in the world a run for their money, the dodgy results
against New Zealand can be swept under the carpet.

Expect an epic. But please, don't call it a world championship.

Can you smell the freshly cut grass yet?

Wisden previews the upcoming New Zealand season.

Tuesday, 5 October 2004

Fleming to play county cricket

He has been named captain of Notts. Which is a little bit odd. Because I thought his Surrey contract fell through because he wanted to take next winter off to have an operation for his abdominal injury.

Monday, 4 October 2004

NZ 'A' lose again

Which makes it 0-1 in the "tests" and 0-3 in the ODIs. This time it was a thriller. Having been set 297 to win, we were cruising at 283/4. Then came the collapse - we lost three wickets for one run and then lost our last three wickets in three balls. 283/4 became 292 all out.

Jamie How is having a terrible time on tour. He scored 4 today and had 65 taken off his 8 overs. Peter Fulton meanwhile continues to florish, top-scoring for New Zealand 'A' with 98.

Cap'n Dan

Jonathan Millmow reported in this morning's Dominion Post that Daniel Vettori has been shoulder-tapped to captain the New Zealand side in the one-dayers against Bangladesh. Millmow reported that Stephen Fleming is still suffering from his abdominal injury and will be rested before the matches against the Australians.

Meanwhile titanium Shane Bond has undergone back surgery and is hopeful of being fit for the post-Christmas games. Bond also admits that if he does not come right this time, his career is over.

I just had a terrible, shaky thought of New Zealand taking on the Aussies without Fleming and without Bond. If that were to happen I think I would spend my summer under the bed - avoiding the radio, the television and anyone who might tell me the score.

Sunday, 3 October 2004

Poll results

Clearly my latest poll bored most of you. Or perhaps my question was a little too loaded. I asked "Is the ICC Trophy a worthwhile competition?" and only 7 of you bothered to answer. 2 said "yes", 1 said "no" and 4 agreed with me and thought it could be, but not in its current form.

I have posted a new poll about the Bangladesh tour. Think a little about this one before answering. Bangladesh have been on the improve lately and had the better of the West Indies in a draw at St Lucia on their last tour, while New Zealand appears to be in test ranking freefall.