Thursday, 30 June 2005

A focus on cricket

It is a relief to take my head out of the swirling and confusing pro-tour and anti-tour clouds for a second and reflect on actual cricket for a change. All this yelling and shouting is so violent and ungentlemanly. What a relief then to sit back and read about the polite and chivalrous manner with which the Australian and English cricketers are treating each other.

Uncle Tom Cobbly speaks about Zimbabwe

I think the New Zealand Herald will soon run out of "experts" willing to speak about New Zealand Cricket's awkward position with respect to Zimbabwe. Here a sports and commercial law specialist speaks out.

Andrew McLean weighs in on Zimbabwe

Wisden Cricinfo's take on the whole New Zealand vs Robert Mugabe circus is, not surprisingly, focused on cricket and cricketers. Andrew McLean is the author of this opinion piece for the website.

White men don't run cricket any more

In the Herald Richard Boock gets stuck into Phil Goff for failing to understand the workings of the ICC, while John Minto goes on a rant which bizarrely ends here:

The regime's abuse of power deserves much more than international condemnation - it requires action. The fine words of our political leaders mean nothing to the people whose homes have been bulldozed or to the families of black Zimbabweans who have lost their lives in the struggle against oppression.

New Zealand has the chance to show the maturity which comes from learning a critical lesson from our past. The cricket tour must not proceed.

Huh? I absolutely agree with that first paragraph - but what a wimpy way to end. Minto, having got onto his high horse, should surely be asking for a damn sight more than the end to a single cricket tour. Or does he think that this is the only "action" it will take to topple Mugabe?

Building up the second tier

Changes last year saw the development of a well-funded first-class competition between non-test nations. Now the ICC has announced that the top six non-test nations will have one-day games between each other recognised as full ODIs. This is accompanied by a further increase of funding and, in my opinion, can only be good for the development of the game.

Tuesday, 28 June 2005

A view from Zimbabwe

"Anyone who believes President Robert Mugabe will lose sleep over New Zealand not coming to Zimbabwe might as well believe he is not his son's mother or her mother's daughter.


It's strange that the MDC did not find it necessary to urge Angola or Gabon to snub their football World Cup fixtures in Harare against the Warriors, who draw close to 60 000 spectators and millions others who watch on television. After all they are our black brothers who 'understand our problems better'. "

From an editorial in the Zimbabwe Independent, an anti-Mugabe paper.

Zimbabwe continued

Good grief! Some people are getting hysterical enough to suggest passing a law to take the passports off the New Zealand cricketers. Surely their efforts would be better spent on actually stopping the maniacal actions of Robert Mugabe. I mean, the sum total of international sanctions against Mugabe so far consists of nothing more than an EU travel ban on members of his government, an EU arms embargo and a freeze on the European assets of those suspected of being involved in human rights offences. The only part of that with any significance is the arms embargo, but even that is pretty useless given that it only applies to European countries.

A legend who failed life's tests

Peter Roebuck continues with the theme of media immorality in a piece on Shane Warne. Roebuck, as always, is excellent but he surpasses himself here:

Few things are more contemptible than the sight of the wild dogs of the press as they feed upon the carcasses of the exposed. Newspapers chastise a man for some misbegotten indulgence while themselves behaving like schoolboys peeping through a hole in the girls' showers.

Monday, 27 June 2005

"Drunk and Sobers in Nottingham"

Harry Pearson makes an excellent observation in The Far Corner, his entertaining book on football in Northern England - the fact that the media spends so much time banging on about the decline in modern morality is actually a reflection of declining standards in the media and nothing else. Back in the old days the guy out drinking with Andrew Symonds would have been the hack who today simply snaps his photo and runs off to the highest bidder. The fact that we need articles like this one at Cricinfo to bring us back down to earth again is confirmation of that.

Sunday, 26 June 2005

Lies, damn lies and statistics

Tim deLisle has an interesting piece in the Times and statistics and how misleading they can sometimes be. In particular he points out how matches against the "axis of feeble" (Zimbabwe and Bangladesh) corrupt batting figures.

Fielding restrictions and substitutes

The ICC has introduced some major new rules in one day cricket. Each side will be able to make one substitution during the match and captains will have to decide when to enforce 10 of the 20 overs of fielding restrictions.

Thursday, 23 June 2005

More politics, more Zimbabwe

John Campbell is running a couple of polls, you have to register to vote - but that is a fairly painless process if you feel strongly about the issue.

Meanwhile Phil Goff has tonight indicated that while he "cannot" prevent New Zealand touring Zimbabwe, he can refuse to allow Zimbabwe players into the country. Which, given they are due to tour in December, might well mean that we will have to endure another summer with a reduced level of international cricket.

A sports' psychologist speaks

The Australian is wondering whether the Australian team might be too old. They have called in a sports' psychologist to discuss the effects that aging has on the minds of athletes. And this is the kind of sports' psychologist I like. After a bunch of mumbo-jumbo about "mental energy" he is asked for a solution. His reply? "I think the four-by-two treatment between the eyes works well," he said. "A kick in the pants always does wonders for shaking people out of their lethargy."

More on politics and Zimbabwe

Phil Goff has spoken out. Again though, the people commenting on this issue seem to be under the impression that paying the ICC $2million will make this whole problem magically disappear.

Bowlers in county cricket

This is interesting. John Bracewell apparently talked Dan Vettori and Jacob Oram out of playing for county sides this winter. Jolly good job too. Those two need their rest.

Tour under threat

It seemed that National radio could talk about nothing but how disgraceful it is that the New Zealand team are still planning to tour Zimbabwe. Martin Snedden has made a good case for the tour going ahead, but all any of the critics (Rod Donald, John Minto, Zimbabwe nationals living in New Zealand) seemed to hear was that the government just needs to stump up $2million to pay the fine and we don't have to go. Unfortunately things are more complex than that. What these critics should have been doing, and should have started doing years ago, is to put pressure on the body which can actually do something about allowing tours into that troubled country - the ICC. There is no point putting pressure on New Zealand Cricket because any action they take will have far worse implications for New Zealand than they will for Zimbabwe.

Wednesday, 22 June 2005

New Zealand team to Zimbabwe

Assuming the tour goes ahead, the side will be:

Test matches: Stephen Fleming (captain) Daniel Vettori (vice-captain) Nathan Astle, Shane Bond, Craig Cumming, James Franklin, Hamish Marshall, James Marshall, Chris Martin, Brendon McCullum, Kyle Mills, Jacob Oram, Scott Styris, Lou Vincent, Paul Wiseman.

ODIs: Stephen Fleming (captain), Daniel Vettori (vice-captain), Andre Adams, Nathan Astle, Shane Bond, Chris Cairns, Hamish Marshall, Brendon McCullum, Craig McMillan, Jacob Oram, Kyle Mills, Jeetan Patel, Scott Styris, Lou Vincent.

Pieces of good news have been highlighted. Jeetan Patel is the bolter in the side, the Wellington offie making it on the basis of a handful of domestic one-dayers last summer (or at least I hope its that and not his iffy first-class record).

Its interesting to note that Craig McMillan made the one-day side and not the test team. I think the selectors are still in limbo over the Canterbury basher.

I'm not entirely sure how Kyle "bowling average of 91" Mills made the line-up, but can only assume its because we need someone around if Bond or Oram break down again. I understand Mills is a good team man so he can presumably keep them company at the hospital. Anyway, I sure as hell hope he hasn't been picked for his bowling.

It took me a wee while to realise that we are taking a squad of 15 for the tests. Two spinners, five pace men, a 'keeper and seven specialist batsmen. Doesn't that have a nice balance to it? Okay, so three players won't even make the bench in each test match, but at least we are not going to suffer too badly if injuries start cropping up.

Sigh. We are past the longest day, cricket teams are being picked and the sun is shining. I can almost smell the freshly mown pitches of summer already.

Cricketing cliches

I mentioned the Spin's search for cricketing cliches a wee while ago, and here is the outcome:

Three weeks ago the Spin asked you to send in your favourite cricket cliches. The response was overwhelming, not to say slightly worrying. Because as the emails poured in, the Spin swore it had made occasional use of some of the phrases which you regard as tired and lazy. A quick look through some of its recent columns indicated that cliche is very much in the eye of the beholder.

What became clear is that many of you are fed up with the formulaic nature of cricket's vocabulary. Lbws are always "plumb", cover-drives "elegant", sixes "towering". Bounce is invariably "steepling", catches are "pocketed", and timing is "exquisite". Nagarjun from Bangalore pointed out the cricket is too often referred to as a "game of glorious uncertainties". Richard Earnet felt that, with monotonous regularity, "cricket was the winner". Andrew in Perth reckoned that batsmen tended to be bowled "neck and crop". Peter and Thomas Gaffney wondered why "any leg side shot played by a subcontinental player is 'wristy'".

Chris Sowton had cottoned on to the fact that "Glenn McGrath is always described as having 'metronomic accuracy,'" while Yajnaseni Chakraborty could barely prevent himself from screaming every time he heard a commentator say "when he hits it, it stays hit". Tony Mole offered this observation: "There's always the 'straight out of the MCC coaching manual' and 'if there are any small boys watching', but I'm sure they don't count." They most certainly do, Tony.

Others had even more specific pet hates. Here's Alan Synnott. "A personal favourite of mine comes from Ray Illingworth who used regularly to talk about deliveries that 'offered to straighten'. It generally meant that either (a) the fielders (usually English) were so delighted to have seen the ball hit the pad that they would all appeal in perfect chorus, no matter how far it was missing the stumps by. Or that (b) the ball was thrashed to the fence but was still rated by Raymond as a good 'un, on the grounds that if the batsman had missed it he would have been out."

Will Symonds took issue with the use of a particular noun. "A 'talisman' is a trinket thought to give protection against evil - you know, the sort of thing you pick up for 50p in Romford market on a Saturday afternoon. Andrew Flintoff, on the other hand, is a once-in-a-generation cricketer. Oh to read two consecutive articles without Sir Frederick Flintoff being described as 'talismanic' or worse still 'England's talisman'."

But the Spin's personal favourite came from Julian Kitching. "There's many a batsman who has apparently 'done the hard yards', 'put his hand up', 'stepped up to the plate', and 'come to the party, big time'. I am waiting, with some confidence, for Barry Richards to use them all in a single sentence." Julian, a copy of Cricket: Celebrating the Modern Game Around the World is on its way to you.

They can't beat Bangladesh, but boy they are paid well

Good grief Australian cricketers get paid well. Admittedly they are not in the realm of the stupid like rugby players or footballers, but when state players get between A$34,000 and A$98,000 (plus $A3300 per match) you do have to wonder why New Zealand's first-class cricketers aren't migrating across the ditch. The base "retainer" for international cricketers will rise to a minimum of A$160,000 in the next couple of years. Presumably they have a scale similar to that in New Zealand Cricket meaning that Brad Hogg will be somewhere near the base and Ricky Ponting will receive significantly more. On top of this retainer players also receive A$12,750 per test and A$5100 per ODI.

In contrast I believe the New Zealand figures are something like a maximum retainer of $28,000 for a first-class cricketer and a retainer of between $45,000 and $220,000 for those contracted to New Zealand Cricket. I am not sure what they get in terms of match fees.

Tuesday, 21 June 2005

John R Reid

The July issue of the Wisden Cricketer will have a feature on former New Zealand captain John R Reid in it. You can read it here.

Monday, 20 June 2005

Bangladesh is still in a state of euphoria

There is no mention of Australia's loss to England in today's Daily Star. Instead the shock of Saturday's result is still reveberating wildly. Check out this story. And this one. And this one.

According to the Universal Currency Converter Tk1,000,000 is worth NZ$21,948.21. Which might help make a little more sense out of this piece of generosity.

Four games, four losses

It can't last much longer. Australia were beaten by England overnight to give the "New Invincibles" four losses from four games. Steve Harmison and Kevin Pietersen were England's stars with 5-33 and 91 not out (from 65 balls) respectively. I caught some of the match on Sky and witnessed Paul Collingwood's blinding catch off Matthew Hayden. Hayden played a full-blooded upper-cut and Collingwood, in the gully, leapt well off the ground and caught the ball one handed high above his head. Brilliant, inspiring stuff.

I do have to say though - what on earth is up with English TV coverage? Do they really think those slow-motion replays in which you can't actually tell what is happening are cool? I only caught Ricky Ponting's dismissal in the replay and could only work out that he was given lbw because I couldn't see anything that resembled a bat amongst the swirling images of ball, grass, wicket and pad.

I also have some words of warning. The omens so far have been terrible for Australia. And a building scandal involving Shane Warne, a blonde and sex in a nightclub will only make things worse. But there is one thing in this world worse than a strutting, arrogant and victorious Australian team. And that is a strutting, arrogant and victorious English team.

Andrew Symonds

According to latest reports he has been suspended for two matches after having a big night out and turning up to the match with the smell of alcohol on his breath.

Sunday, 19 June 2005

Australia vs Bangladesh

Good grief! The Australian tour really seems to be going off the rails. First they lost to England in a Twenty20 match, then they lost to Somerset and now they have lost to Bangladesh in a full ODI. Not only that, but the ranks are fracturing - Andrew Symonds was left out of the match because of a disciplinary issue. The Aussies initially tried to pretend this hadn't happened and that Symonds merely had a "niggle". Or the "flu". Or ummmm, which story did we agree on again guys?

Anyway. Back to the match. A match that will go down in history as one of the great upsets of all time. Against Somerset it was the bowlers who struggled, in this match it was the entire side. The batting was oddly subdued, with top scorer Damien Martyn hitting only two 4s in his 112 ball 77. The bowlers too struggled, with every bowler going for more than four an over. And some of the fielding was just downright atrocious. Jason Gillespie let a top edge slip through his fingers and over the boundary in the most ludicrously awkward manner.

The poor form of the Australians shouldn't distract from the achievement of the Bangladeshis. Mohammad Ashraful, player who at 20 has already seen more highs and lows than almost any other cricketer, was the hero but was ably supported by some consistent bowling and support at the crease from the likes of Javed Omar (who's 19 took up the first 21 overs), Habibul Bashar and Aftar Ahmed.

If you want to read more (and you should), try the Sydney Morning Herald, the Guardian, the BBC, the Hindu, Wisden, or the near incandescently excited front page of Dhaka' Daily Star.

Having read about the match, how about reading about some of the reactions. Try here. Here. And here. And then take time to reflect that all those articles come from the same newspaper.

Saturday, 18 June 2005

A good day

It was a good day for New Zealand batsmen in county cricket. Fleming got a century, while Astle and Styris both scored half centuries. It wasn't quite so good for the Craigs', McMillan and Spearman both missing out.

Friday, 17 June 2005

Ponting still angry

The first golden rule of building a successful team culture is to never criticise your players in public. Angry Ricky Ponting has just broken that rule in criticism of his "stupid" bowlers. With two losses in two games and an injury to Brett Lee the Ashes tour is certainly starting badly for the Aussies. And things might have just become even worse with Shane Warne involved in a spat with an umpire while playing for his county side.

Thursday, 16 June 2005

Cricket as a 19th century novel

Mike Marqusee makes many valuable points in his oddly titled preview of the Ashes, but unless W G Grace's autobiography counts only a few of them are connected to 19th century literature . Ashes excitement is starting to mount all round and Australia slumped to another loss overnight, this time to Somerset. While English confidence is rising, Ricky Ponting is starting to get a little grumpy.

Wednesday, 15 June 2005

Brooke Walker retires

New Zealand's premier leg-spinner has hung up his boots. Walker might not have been in the same class as Shane Warne with ball in hand, but he was a stalwart for Auckland and led the side to three State Championship titles.
Ah well. Good news for Auckland one week, bad news the next. Scott Styris is following Chris Martin and moving to Eden Park for the summer.

Tsunami match

MCC played an International XI last night as a follow-up to last summer's Tsunami fund-raiser at the MCG. Stephen Fleming led his MCC side from the front with a 59 ball 62 before he became one of Chris Cairn's two wickets. Cairnsy only managed 1 run as the International side went down by 112 runs. Unsurprisingly some articles on the game in the English press spent more time harking back to yesterday's result in the Twenty20 international than on the match itself.

Tuesday, 14 June 2005

Dion Nash - national selector

Dion Nash has been appointed to the national selection panel. My first thought at the news was “uh oh”, and my doubts were made a little stronger when I heard him saying that he had some very strong views he wanted to bring to selection discussions.

The problem with Nash is that all his views seem to be very strong ones.

On reflection I am now feeling happier with the news. My initial reaction came stemmed from what happened the last time Nash made waves, as a pigheaded and raving player representative during the disastrous cricketer strike some years ago. But it turns out that Nash was shoulder-tapped for this position by Lindsay Crocker, and that means New Zealand Cricket wanted him from the outset. If Martin Snedden has faith in Nash, then I guess I should too.

Nash is pigheaded and passionate. But then his pigheadedness and passion made him an outstanding cricketer. He is also intelligent (he took Nietzsche as reading material on a tour to England) and inspired an immense loyalty in those players he played alongside. This is the man who did so well as New Zealand captain when Stephen Fleming was injured that some demanded he be appointed to the position on a permanent basis.

Okay, so selection meetings will probably involve a fair degree of shouting. And I suspect Nash might sometimes struggle to put aside his blinkers and make selections on form and talent rather than on faith and his judgement of a player’s “commitment to the cause”. But Nash does bring a new perspective, new ideas and will be seen by players to be their representative. And if anyone can keep a pigheaded, passionate selector in line, it will be Nash’s equally pigheaded and passionate fellow selector, John Bracewell.

Monday, 13 June 2005

Breathing space and understanding

This article is a plea not to crush Bangladesh's test match dreams and to give the side "breathing space and understanding". The author is at pains to point out that removing test status now would do untold damage to the game in Bangladesh and he is probably right. While the decision to award Bangladesh test status was, in retrospect, a terrible one - it is not a decision that can be unmade. Instead we have to knuckle down and find a way to bring the side up to test standard. There was a suggestion on this website last year that tests against Bangladesh should be restricted to three days and I still think it looks a blimmin' good idea. It will give Bangladesh an achievable target (a draw) to aim for and will force opponents to bat faster and to bowl with more aggresive fields - which will give Bangladesh a greater opportunity to take wickets and score runs. It could also produce better finishes. While the matches against England ended within three days other recent results have seen Bangladesh stumble into day four. A test match which ends at day three with one team clinging on desperately for a draw is a lot more exciting than a test match which ends in three and a half days with a horribly one-sided result.

Sunday, 12 June 2005

Scheduling problems

It seems the New Zealand tour of South Africa in October is undergoing some teething problems.

Essex vs Durham

Andre Adams seems to love playing for Essex. Despite his team being given a severe thrashing by Nathan Astle's Durham, Adams managed to take more wickets and score more runs than his team-mates, racking up his second first-class hundred in the process (and off only 78 balls). Astle only managed 15 runs in his only innings, but then he didn't have too much opportunity to do much else given the ineptness of Adam's colleagues.

Saturday, 11 June 2005

Martin to Auckland

Chris Martin is moving to Auckland next season. From a cricket perspective this is a good thing. Auckland have an underperforming pace attack and Canterbury have such a glut that Richard Sherlock - perhaps the country's fastest bowler - can't even get a look in.

Pakistan in argy-bargy shock

Hmmm. This is not much of a surprise. It turns out that Pakistan's humiliating defeat in Barbados was accompanied by a bust-up between players in the dressing room. And Shoaib Akhtar wasn't even on tour...

Hollywood CC

Cricinfo have published a fascinating article on Hollywood Cricket Club, the Los Angeles based cricket club founded by former English player and early Hollywood star Charles Aubrey Smith. Patronised over the years by players such as Laurence Olivier, David Niven, Cary Grant, Boris Karloff and, more recently, Hugh Grant the club is a fascinating relic of old-fashioned English upper-class twittery and the article is well worth a read.

A match in East Grinstead

It took me a while to find this. Which is not too surprising. I don't usually cover matches at East Grinstead Sport's Club. But this match involved four New Zealanders - Chris Cairns, Chris Cairns, Hamish Marshall and James Marshall - who all played for a Lashings XI against the Sussex county side. Chris Cairns was the only New Zealander to star, but read down the article to find some interesting revelations about Hamish Marshall's ability with ball in hand.

The driver

According to a Cricinfo study Scott Styris has one really good shot - the drive. And he really is pretty damn good with it too - he has scored 27.33% of his runs with it and has only been out once. Which is all very well and good. But if he averages 337 with the drive and 39.77 overall, doesn't that also mean he averages only 29.86 with all his other strokes? Hmmm. I suspect I won't be the only person to figure this out and I also suspect Styris won't be getting too many full balls in international cricket anymore.

Friday, 10 June 2005

"Sinclair ponders English switch"

This headline on the BBC website gave me a bit of a jolt. There's not much in the actual story however. It seems that Matthew Sinclair is simply considering trying to get a short-term contract with an English side as an alternative to finding real work in New Zealand.

Sinclair is in this position because New Zealand Cricket rules state that a domestic side is not allowed to breach a salary cap of around $28,000 (excluding match fees). It seems Central Districts are trying to get around this by either arranging a job for Sinclair with another employer, or by employing him in a non-cricketing capacity themselves. Sinclair appears to be waiting to see how this pans out before deciding whether to head to England for the winter.

You have to feel some sympathy for the guy. Having just purchased a house he has gone from the economic security of a contract with New Zealand Cricket to a desperate scrabbling for pennies to pay for his new mortgage.

"Gooch already finding excuses"

Isn't that the most Australian of headlines? It comes from this morning's Sydney Morning Herald and manages to convey a typically healthy amount of arrogance and contempt for the opposition.

While reporter Chloe Saltau was busy getting stuck into Graham Gooch her Australian side were whomping something called the "PCA Masters XI" in a twenty20 match at Arundel. Sadly for New Zealand fans this side was lead by Stephen Fleming - sadly because his only moment of note was to be caught at slip off the first ball of the match.

Thursday, 9 June 2005

Oram and Bond on the comeback trail

Here is some good news. Jacob Oram and Shane Bond are fit and raring to have a go at Australian kiddies at a Brisbane tournament early next month.

Wednesday, 8 June 2005

Chris Cairns NZOM

Chris Cairns was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen's Birthday honours for his services to the game.

Farewell to Matt Hart

Matthew Hart is hanging up his boots. After fifteen seasons and 95 games for Northern Districts he is retiring from the game. There was something old fashioned about the way Matt Hart played cricket. His left-arm orthodox spin bowling was out of another time - a flashback to the years when spinning the ball was regarded as just a gimmick and New Zealand was served by bowlers like Stephen Boock and Evan Gray who relied on accuracy and a bit of drift for their wickets.

In recent seasons Hart seemed like a bit of a spare part in the Northern Districts team. He had too much talent not to be selected, but Northern also had the luxury of Dan Vettori and Bruce Martin to call upon for left-arm spin bowling. So Hart reinvented himself as an opening batsman. His batting too was old fashioned. He was a limited player who sometimes just managed to hang around through sheer determination. If things had gone a bit differently he could have turned out as another Mark Richardson. Both players were left-arm spinners who ended their careers at the top of the order. One thing that might have held him back was that his bowling was just too good for him to stop focussing on that side of the game.

In the Herald article linked to above Hart remembers his 5-77 against South Africa as the highlight of his career. I also remember his 5-22 in a one-dayer against the West Indies, back when the West Indies still seemed invincible. But I think I will remember Hart best as one of the best servants a domestic side could have had.

West Indies vs Pakistan

Sigh. I guess it was predictable. If West Indies beat Pakistan in the second test at Sabina Park New Zealand's test ranking would have risen to six. The Windies had already won the first match and looked to be in a strong position to push on for victory yesterday afternoon. Talk was already rife about a revival in West Indian cricket fortunes, and then this happened.

Tuesday, 7 June 2005

Cozier on Beauty and the Beast

Tony Cozier, the West Indian commentator, writes a column in Barbados' paper the Nation. This week he has written a quite venomous piece about chucking in the game of cricket - comparing the "radiance" of Brian Lara in the current Sabina Park test match to "the dark side of test cricket" shown by Shabbir Ahmed. I am still undecided on the whole chucking controversy. I can still see the need to loosen the rules if, as we are told, everyone was breaking them - but outright chucking should not be allowed and harsher penalties do need to be in place. According to Cozier Ahmed is about to be referred to the ICC because of his action for the third time. And what happens after he gets referred? He undergoes an independent analysis of his action and is asked to make corrective changes and is then allowed back into the game. In my view a player should be suspended once a referral is made and should remain suspended from international cricket until his action is cleared via a rigorous testing process that should, ideally, involve assessment domestic matches.

Sunday, 5 June 2005

A good game for those that played

Craig Spearman, Andre Adams and Scott Styris all missed their latest county games, but Craig McMillan had a good first game against Stephen Fleming's Nottinghamshire side. McMillan hit 52 and a blistering 26 not out off only 13 balls. He also took more wickets than team-mate Shane Warne - ending with 2-49 and 1-36 - and all his wickets came from the top order. His opponent, Fleming, hasn't got too much to be upset about however, he scored 7 and 105 to take his season first-class tally to 598 runs at an average of 66.44.

Of those he played, the only one to be disappointed would be Nathan Astle. He scored only 11 before being trapped lbw by Chaminda Vaas and failed to appear in Durham's second innings.

Friday, 3 June 2005

Ricky and Carlotta

Some of you may remember Ricky Ponting's impressive black eye which appeared after he was knocked unconscious in a night-club brawl in 1999. In this article an ageing drag queen reveals how it all happened.

The real reason Chris Harris got a contract

Poor old Chris Harris. It seems he has good reason to be pleased with his controversial New Zealand Cricket contract. According to this article in the Christchurch Press, his fast-food company has just gone belly-up. The troubles don't end there for Harris either. The guy who sympathetically bailed him out admitted that to run a business you need to be a businessman, a manager and a promoter - in other words, as he says, you need to be "an all-rounder". Its a sad day for New Zealand's dibbliest batsman/bowler when mall-based fast-food franchise managers start calling him out over his waning status as an all-rounder.

Thursday, 2 June 2005

Jonathan Millmow on Chris Harris - again

For the third day in a row Jonathan Millmow has used his Dominion Post column to rail against the fact that Chris Harris has been offered a new contract. While you might not be interested in reading another rant on that particular subject, his article does contain some encouraging words from Mark Richardson for Butler and Sinclair which are worth reading.

Reaction from Sinclair and Butler

They are clearly upset, but the positive thing is that both have eliminated the option of leaving New Zealand to seek money elsewhere and are committing to their provincial sides.

Dan on NZ bowlers...

There is a very interesting article by S Rajesh on Cricinfo analysing the change in the Windies' fast-bowling fortunes. One of the particularly interesting facts is the statement that an average of 25 is "the banchmark of a high-quality bowler". Not the benchmark of a true legend, an all-time great, or even a modern day hero - just a high-quality player.

So, I thought - how many high-quality bowlers has NZ produced? The NZ cricket stats website sets out the sad facts very clearly. Only five players in our history have such an average in test cricket and one of them in Andre Adams, on the back of only 31 overs. Taking out him and GF Cresswell, who only bowled 100 overs, and we have only three: Cowie, Hadlee and Bond.

And Hadlee was a true bowling legend. This says something, I think, about the problems in NZ cricket. Lots of medicore players, supported occasionally by savants (I would also include Martin Crowe here). What about the A-grade high-quality players? On this basis, can we really afford to ditch Butler and Sinclair? Or, do the stats mislead? Perhaps NZ cricket is right that there is really a wealth of talent competing for limited positions (and Bulter's value is eclipsed by that of Martin, Franklin, Mills and Tuffey)? It is just talent that only the selector's eye, and not the statistician's notebook, can see.

Wednesday, 1 June 2005

Book your seat at the Caketin for 2011

According to the Dominion Post and Cricinfo, New Zealand and Australia have submitted a joint bid to host the 2011 World Cup. You can click on this link, but it won't tell you too much more.

The unkindest cut

Chris Harris
Craig McMillan
Michael Papps
James Marshall
Craig Cumming
Matthew Sinclair

Only one of those players failed to get a contract with New Zealand Cricket this year. Only one of them has a first-class batting average of 48. Jonathon Millmow, in hysterics yesterday over the exclusion of Ian Butler, is in even more explosive paroxysms of disgust today over the revelation that Matthew Sinclair has been axed.

When Millmow was mewling that the selectors will have some explaining to do if Chris Harris is selected, the official list had yet to be announced. It has now. You will notice that it is accompanied by a good deal of justification over the non-selection of Butler and Sinclair. It also raises a couple of points of interest that Millmow has not yet discussed. Darryl Tuffey has a contract despite a season from hell. And so has Shane Bond despite his injuries. It also contains a very nasty practical aspect. The new contracts are active as of today. Which means that the old ones expired yesterday. So, Butler and Sinclair a) have only just been told that they did not make the list and b) their income has just dropped from (a minimum of) $45,000 per year to $0.

Cricket cliches

Lawrence Booth, the Guardian's excellent cricket writer, is collecting cricket cliches and meaningless jargon. "Scorching cover drive", "steepling bounce" "adjudged lbw" - that kind of thing. I am sure New Zealand cricket commentary is as riddled with them as the rest of the world, but I suspect we also have our own unique gems. Our commentators might not have the same level of repitition as, say, Tony "and he's just smashed that away to the boundary" Greig - but I am sure you can come up with a few pithy phrases which manage to capture the essence of Bryan Waddle and company. Post them here and I will e-mail them to Lawrence.

Here's a few to get things going:

Martin Crowe - "In my opinion, [insert the name of any player who has not scored 100 or taken a 5 wicket bag in the last 5 minutes] should not be in the team."

Peter Sharp - "Canterbury are 13/8 in reply to Northern's 400/1 declared, but Canterbury have looked the better team"

Ron "Wrong" Snowdon - "He's caught! No - it's six! No - clean bowled 'em!"

Ben on ... the end of Tendulkar's career?

Earlier this week Sachin Tendulkar had surgery on his elbow and is expected to be out of cricket for a few months. However, a Pakistani astrologer is predicting he could be out of action for longer - for good in fact. Earlier this year Abdullah Shaukat Chowdhry read in the stars that an injury would end Sachin's career this year. Chowdhry's track record has been quite good to date, but I am hoping that as a supporter of a rival team he is reading too much into the planets' alignment in this case.