Monday, 31 October 2005

3rd ODI

Three games, three loses. New Zealand has put up stiff resistance in each match, but has somehow let its grip go at the death. Last night's match has some particularly worrying features. Astle and Marshall are still clearly lacking form and Shane Bond went for 73 off his 9.2 overs.

If anything the New Zealand side is moving backwards. While new problems are mounting and luck is running against them (Fleming was run-out off a freak deflection last night), the South Africans are enjoying the toss of the coin and discovering new talents. Don't be too surprised if the series ends up 5-0.

Saturday, 29 October 2005

A second loss

I had to wait awhile before writing this. Watching the game left me fuming - the result of tiredness, poor umpiring, crowing South Africans and a chance of victory gone begging.

Still, if I try to put all that out of my mind, there were some things to cheer us about the game. Lou Vincent was magnificent (until cramp struck in the 80s) and the New Zealanders put in an excellent effort in the field. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the media coverage which follows this game will look at how poor the pitch was - it was almost of the standard you would expect to see in New Zealand in the spring.

To distract me from my annoyance, Cricinfo has kindly published a piece on slow-bowlers - and on Dan Vettori in particular.

Friday, 28 October 2005

2nd ODI preview

Okay. We have a whole range of options for you. What do you need to know? If you want to see what Dan Vettori thinks, click here. If you want to know what Jacques Kallis thinks, click here. If you want to know what Makhaya Ntini thinks, click here. The New Zealand Herald tells us that the pitch is likely to be batsman friendly here. And Weather Underground is picking that it will be a fine and sunny day in Cape Town - albiet one with a cool southerly. There, I think that has things covered nicely.

Shoaib, Shoaib, Shoaib

When will you ever learn?

Thursday, 27 October 2005

Boock on ratings

Blimmin' heck. Richard Boock is such a bloody pessimist. His latest article wails that the New Zealand side is in an "ICC ratings free fall", weeps that history is against them winning in South Africa, whimpers that Scott Styris and Jacob Oram have injury worries and blubbers that Hamish Marshall, Lou Vincent and Nathan Astle are out of form. For heaven's sake - grow a spine man! A quick look at the New Zealand Cricket website will show you how optimism is done.

Preview of the 2nd one-dayer

Reading Neil Manthorp's paranoid ramblings made me wonder if he is alone in his thoughts, or whether the rest of the South African press corps has the same warped view of the world. So I headed over the the website of daily paper the Cape Times. And what do I find? A preview of the second one-dayer which talks about how great Scott Styris is. All my worst fears for the mental wellbeing of South African cricket writers have just been confirmed.

Also of interest in the Cape Times is this article about the form slump being experienced by Jacques Kallis and Herschelle Gibbs. I won't say "long may it continue", but I will cross my fingers and hope that the big scores don't come until after New Zealand has left South Africa's shores.

Hansie Cronje

Hansie Cronje's brother has revealed that a film is being made about the dead cheat. Given that the movie is to be based on an "authorised" biography, which apparently spends most of its length eulogising Cronje's Christian beliefs and Afrikaner roots, and that the family seem to approve - I don't think we can expect it to reveal anything new.

South Africans on New Zealanders

I mentioned the other day that I thought Graeme Smith was a dick. It also seems he is completely paranoid - and he is not the only one in South Africa. Here is the full Neil Manthorp article that Stuff paraphrased for us last weekend. To use Smith's own phrase - what a slimy piece.

Wednesday, 26 October 2005

Longley vs Boock

Yesterday Richard Boock was predicting the downfall of Hamish Marshall, today Geoff Longley is predicting Marshall will return to form but Lou Vincent is in for the chop.

Why is no-one suggesting that both Vincent and Marshall will hang around and that Scott Styris will be the one to miss out?

The Cape Town pitch

According to Graeme Smith the Cape Town pitch for Friday's second one-dayer is going to be a pacier surface than the one at Bloemfontain. And does anyone else think Graeme Smith is a bit of a dick?

Sticking the boot in

Poor old Shoaib Akhtar. Dumped from the Pakistan team. Shouted at by John Wright after smiling during a World XI team meeting. Dumped from the World XI after some rubbish performances. Called overweight by the coach of the Pakistan team. And now, just to rub it in a little more, the Worcestershire chairman John Elliot has claimed that Shoaib Akhtar's presence at the club last season was disastrous for team spirit ... "Players like that are no good to our club," he said. "In fact, Shoaib has been no good for any club he's been at..."

Tuesday, 25 October 2005

Karl on ... a strange declaration

In the first semifinal of the ICC Intercontinental Cup Kenya are playing Bermuda. Hitesh Modi, a 34 year old Kenyan who has been a mainstay of their middle order since the early 1990s, must have thought his day had finally come on the first day of the match. Just after his captain Steve Tikolo had scored 220, Modi looked to be getting his maiden first-class century. Then the captain declares, at 403/6, with about 15 overs to play in the day and with Modi on 98. There's no commentary on the game, so I don't know what Modi did to annoy his captain so much!

Boock on Marshall

Richard Boock has a few things to say about Hamish Marshall in this morning's New Zealand Herald. Probably with good reason given his recent form.

Monday, 24 October 2005

New Zealand 'A' tour averages

Here are the averages for the first-class series against Sri Lanka 'A':

Matthew Sinclair - 192 runs at 48
Peter Fulton - 192 runs at 48
Gareth Hopkins - 142 runs at 47.33
Jesse Ryder - 86 runs at 43
Chris Harris - 163 at 40.75
Jamie How - 75 runs at 25
Michael Papps - 65 runs at 13

Graeme Aldridge - 4 wickets at 7.25
Chris Martin - 16 wickets at 10.56
Bruce Martin - 10 wickets at 25.30
Paul Wiseman - 5 wickets at 27.6
Ian O'Brien - 2 wickets at 68

A first-up loss

I feel ripped off. There is no worse place in the world to watch cricket from New Zealand than South Africa. And a night with too little sleep was all in vain as South Africa snuck to victory in the first one-dayer. New Zealand actually seemed to be on top for much of the game, but a rapid 73 from Justin Kemp took the match away from them at the end.

New Zealand's top order is still a bit of a weakness. Astle, Vincent and Marshall all went cheaply. Fleming looked in glorious touch, but went to a loose stroke after getting a good start. The top score came from McMillan who mostly nurdled sensibly with good assistance from Oram and McCullum. Andre Adams added 30 not out in a late flurry to take the side to 249/8.

Coming into the match New Zealand's bowling was meant to be its weakness. Bond and Vettori might be world class was the thinking, but the rest lag far behind. Bond was very rusty to start with, but started to bowl faster and straighter as he went on. Vettori was miserly while both Mills and Adams put in tight and accurate spells.

After the game Fleming admitted his side did not hold its chances, while grumpy Graeme Smith grumbled about the state of the wicket.

Sunday, 23 October 2005

New Zealand 'A' take series

Another rain shortened day meant that the already doomed third "test" between New Zealand 'A' and Sri Lanka 'A' ended in a draw. Graeme Aldridge was the star of the day, taking 4-29 as the Sri Lankan's struggled to 160/7 in their only innings. The result means New Zealand 'A' win the series 1-0 to cap a very succesful tour.

Preview of the first one-dayer

Cricinfo tells us that Dan Vettori will play and that, although the pitch will look hard and fast, it will likely take spin. Meanwhile Stuff tells us South Africa are "going back to basics". The same source also has a much more exciting story which quotes Graeme Smith calling John Bracewell "slimy" and has South African journalist Neil Manthorp call New Zealanders "timid travellers" and the cricket team "paranoid". A number of South Africans also have some advice for Brendon McCullum.

Saturday, 22 October 2005

Dan dishes no dirt

The title of this article in the Press ("Vettori dishes the dirt on rivals") is MUCH more exciting than the story itself.

Series preview

Richard Boock provides us with another series preview in the New Zealand Herald. And he seems a little paranoid about injuries.

Twenty20 result

New Zealand drew first blood on their short tour of South Africa with a five wicket win in the Twenty20 match. Jeetan Patel (3-20) and Nathan Astle (3-20) starred with the ball as South Africa were restricted to 133 and Fleming (31), Styris (24), Oram (23 not out) and McCullum (17 not out) saw New Zealand home with two overs remaining.

Rain interrupts play again

Another rain shortened day in Sri Lanka, but New Zealand 'A' continued to do well and declared at 365/6 - just after Chris Harris was dismissed for 96. No further play was possible and a draw looks inevitable.

Friday, 21 October 2005

Sri Lanka 'A' vs New Zealand 'A'

Another good, if rain shortened, day for the New Zealand 'A' side. On day two of the final "test" against Sri Lanka 'A' they moved through to 242/5. Jamie How (62) and Jesse Ryder (66) top-scored.

Let the mind games begin

Dylan Cleaver has written a preview of the South Africa vs New Zealand series which looks at the mind games Stephen Fleming has previously played on Graeme Smith and what this might mean for the series. Dylan's view, which is convincing, is that the outcome of the series will largely come down to whether Fleming can outwit Smith one more time.

What are Smith's weakness and where can new mental assaults be targeted? To help us get into Smith's mind, we can find his "diary" here and here.

Thursday, 20 October 2005

Twenty20 build-up

John Bracewell needs to find a new sound-track. At the start of every series now there seems to be a twenty20 match. And every time one appears Braces tells us that "this is an opportunity to take an early advantage". Today is no different.

In more interesting news, Jacob Oram and Dan Vettori are likely to miss the opening match due to back "stiffness" and jetlag respectively, while all-rounder Albie Morkel and Herschelle Gibbs have been recalled to play for South Africa.

Rain intervenes in Sri Lanka again

New Zealand 'A' made a solid start in the third "test" on a rain restricted day. Only 13.4 overs were able to be bowled, but openers Michael Papps and Jamie How saw New Zealand 'A' through to 49/0 at the close.

Wednesday, 19 October 2005

Heath Streak retires from international cricket

Zimbabwe's best player by a country mile, Heath Streak, has announced that he will not be available for Zimbabwe for the next two years - instead he will be committing himself fulltime to county side Warwickshire.

Tuesday, 18 October 2005

A raised finger for the third umpire?

The Melbourne Age quotes umpires Simon Taufel and Rudi Koertzen as saying that the new video referral process is a failure. I wouldn't go that far, but I agree that the system has flaws. Perhaps the largest flaw is something nobody expected, and that is the effect that the system might have on spin bowling.

It is easier to play spin bowling with your pads than with your bat. Therefore the majority of cricketers play spin bowling by tucking their bat in next to their pad. The fact that it is very hard for an umpire to spot whether a ball hits bat or pad first when the ball is turning - not to mention the problems they have in assessing how much the ball is doing and whether it will hit the stumps - means that this tactic can be followed with minimal risk of being given out LBW. In addition the chance of being given out bat-pad when the ball might be bouncing off pad, thigh guard, hip, glove or bat handle is usually slim.

Referrals to the third umpire for closer examination make playing spin bowling with your pads a much riskier tactic. There were several appeals during the World XI match when this was shown to be the case - notably when Michael Clarke was given out bat-pad to Dan Vettori after replays showed the ball hitting the inside edge of his bat.

Continuation of the experiment with technology could well change the way in which batsmen play spin-bowling. It gives the spin bowler more support and makes playing with the pads a much, much riskier option. This is not necessarily a bad thing - pad-play is negative and makes for dull cricket - but it might unbalance the game. Test cricket is currently in a nice state of equilibrium (at least in games between fairly evenly matched sides) - results abound, but ball is not dominating bat. If technology tips the scales a little in favour spin bowlers, that equilibrium might be lost.

The not-so Super Series

Hmmmm, my poll might be a little redundant already given what ICC supremo Malcolm Speed has been saying. Speed pulls back a little on the original proposal that the series be held every four years, and instead states the series "may" be repeated at some unspecified time in the future. It is also interesting that Speed comments on the possibility of rescinding the offical status of the World XI games, this article tells us the original World XI games held 35 years ago were also supposed to have official status - but were then quietly removed from the record books nine years later.

Monday, 17 October 2005

Sri Lanka 'A' vs New Zealand 'A'

Too much play had been lost to rain for their to be a result in the second "test" between Sri Lanka 'A' and New Zealand 'A', but their was still enough time for Chris Martin to take his tally of wickets to 16 in two games.

Another warm-up victory for New Zealand

Stephen Fleming and Shane Bond took the full New Zealand to a second victory over South Africa 'A'. Hamish Marshall continued his run of poor form and Nathan Astle made a duck, while Jake Oram's recovery must still be progressing at a slow pace because he didn't bowl a single ball.

Sunday, 16 October 2005

Poll results and a new poll

My last poll focussed on bad cricket management. I asked you which organisations you believed were morally bankrupt, corrupt and/or inept. The BCB (Bangladesh) is seen as the best organisation, attracting no votes. The ECB (England) and NZC attracted 1 vote apiece - perhaps because of perceived weakness on the Zimbabwe front. The ACB (Australia) attracted two votes, the UCB (South Africa) four, the SLCB (Sri Lanka) nine and the PCB (Pakistan) eleven. We then take a leap into the darkness as we come up against those perceived as really villainous. The WICB (West Indies) drew 14 votes, which put it only slightly below Robert Mugabe's ZCU (Zimbabwe, 18 votes) and the BCCI (India, 20 votes). Topping the list, not without much surprise, comes the ICC itself which "won" this contest with 21 votes.

My new poll looks at the Super Series. I want you to tell me how super you think it is. I enjoyed visiting Melbourne and my time at the Telstradome, but the performances of the World XI indicate that the competition might be short-lived. Do you think the experiment should continue, or is it time to pull the plug on the World? To help make up your mind, Louisa Wall and Mark Richardson have both kindly written columns on the topic in the New Zealand Herald.

New Zealanders in Australia

Cricinfo has just done a study of the best performed visitors to Australia. Two New Zealanders feature fairly prominently on their lists. Martin Crowe (870 runs at 66.92) is the fourth best performed batsman, while Sir Richard Hadlee (77 wickets at 17.83) topped the bowling charts.

The 'A's have it

New Zealand 'A' are playing Sri Lanka 'A', while the full New Zealand side has just completed a victory over South Africa 'A'. With all this 'A' level cricket around you could easily be excused for forgetting who is playing for who. As it is, test player Chris Martin was the pick of the New Zealand 'A' side taking 5-41, while test reject Craig McMillan top-scored for the full New Zealand side with 105.

Saturday, 15 October 2005

Another wash-out

Some play was possible on day two of the second "test" between New Zealand 'A' and Sri Lanka 'A', but not much. Chris Martin took both wickets to fall as Sri Lanka 'A' struggled to 69/2.

Friday, 14 October 2005

Opening day abandoned

The first day of the second "test" between New Zealand 'A' and Sri Lanka 'A' has been washed out.

Australia vs the World

One of the features of my trip to Melbourne was a morning ritual which involved sitting around a cafe table, drinking coffee and discussing the cricket columns in the Melbourne Age. Like every other group of foreigners in a strange land, we became much more patriotic and one-eyed than we are at home. Peter Roebuck quickly became widely despised for calling Dan Vettori "the least remarkable cricketer on display" in the World XI matches, while Greg Baum received cheers after he described Vettori as "the World's best cricketer". (In retrospect it can perhaps be seen that Roebuck was not being critical in his analysis, but was simply commenting that there is a lot more to success than being flashy).

If we were still in Australia I suspect Peter Roebuck might be the one to get the cheers this morning. In his preview of the Sydney Super Test he laments the missing Shane Bond and praises Vettori for keeping alive the ancient art of left-arm spin bowling. Roebuck also provides us with a very handy preview of the test.

South Africa tour preview

South Africa hasn't had the best time of it lately. They followed a 5-1 thumping by New Zealand with the appointment of a lunatic as coach. But things are starting to look up. Ray Jennings has lost his coaching job, Jacques Kallis has become the best (if most boring) batsman in the world and Andre Nel, while probably as nutty as his old coach (click on the link), has turned into a terrifying fast bowler. The team still lacks a quality spin bowler - something which might cause Graeme Smith problems as he captains Dan Vettori and Muttiah Muralitharan for the World XI - but that won't matter too much on African wickets custom built for fast bowlers. One glance at the top order, which is capped by Herschelle Gibbs, Smith and Kallis, indicates that New Zealand are not going to find this tour as easy as Zimbabwe.

Having said that South Africa is not going to be easy, the New Zealanders should still go into the series in good heart. Shane Bond's back is still in one piece, Dan Vettori is probably in the best form of his life, Jacob Oram is on the comeback trail and the New Zealand 'A' side has demonstrated that there is depth in New Zealand cricket. I hate making predictions, but if Shane Bond remains fit and sharp I am picking New Zealand to edge out a close series.

Thursday, 13 October 2005

Like baseball, only longer

The Times gets inside the life of Kevin Pietersen and his new girlfriend. This seems to involve an awful lot of nightclubs and not a lot else.

Freddie the pop star

Dear oh, dear oh me. Andrew Flintoff is apparently going to release a single. Even worse, he seems to be taking the whole thing far too seriously.

Chappell wins?

This little snippet in this morning's New Zealand Herald seems to imply that Sourav Ganguly is about to be dumped as captain of India. Digging a bit deeper we find that things are not as simple as that, although Ganguly's lack of match fitness might be a handy excuse if the selectors are looking to get rid of him.

Pitch conditions

It is showery in Sydney at the moment, and the forecast is for wet stuff to hang around tomorrow and then clear for the weekend. The pitch is predicted to be "flat, fair and durable".

The Spin Quartet

This morning's Cricinfo carries an interesting piece on a press conference involving the world's four best spin bowlers - including Dan Vettori - who are all expected to play in Sydney's Super Test. The Sydney Morning Herald follows suit and quotes Warne predicting that Vettori and Muralitharan will be the keys to the test match.

Wednesday, 12 October 2005

Karl on ... selection dissonance

The ICC awards for 2005 were presented in Sydney this week. At the awards the ICC announced their world ODI and test teams for 2005. The teams were chosen by a "specially appointed selection panel chaired by Indiand batting legend Sunil Gavaskar".

Understandably, there isn't a match between the current World XI playing the ICC super-series as Australians have been named in the ICC squads. However, what struck me was the appearance of several players in the ICC squads for 2005 who aren't in the world XI, and players whose absence from the World XI was commented on at the time.

The ICC Test XI includes Sri Lankan Chaminda Vaas and Indian Anil Kumble. The ODI XI includes Sri Lankan Marvin Atapattu (named as captain) and Pakistanis Inzamam-ul-Haq and Naved-ul-Hasan. These players weren't named in their respective ICC World team.

Back in May, an initial squad of 39 players were named. All the absent players above were in that 39, except for Atapattu.

What is interesting, is that Gavaskar headed the selection panel for all teams. I struggle to see why the above five were not in the team playing in Australia this week. Surely it can't all come down to one of the selection criteria, experience against the Australians? In hindsight it's easy to say, but in advance I felt that Vaas should have walked into the team.

From a NZ perspective, it was great to see Dan Vettori named in the ICC ODI team for 2005.

Tuesday, 11 October 2005

Back and typing

I am back in New Zealand after my jaunt across the Tasman to watch the World XI one-dayers. Sorry for not posting while I was in Melbourne, sadly the presence of an internet connection at my hotel was not quite enough to distract me from spending far too much money eating, drinking and shopping.

There is so much that I want to discuss and so little space, so I am going to have to restrict myself. The highlight of the trip had to be the performances of Dan Vettori, who Melbourne Age columnist Greg Baum dubbed "the World's best cricketer". Close to Dan in the highlight stakes was the crowd seated immediately around us - including young "Shoulders" (who took a spectacular crowd-catch that you might have seen), the increasingly hoarse sounding members of the barmy army, the wry Indian fans in-front and behind us, the two blunt Aussies, "Mullet man", and - best of all - "Simba" (so dubbed by the Barmy Army for her mane of bleached blonde hair) and her entourage of Australian white trash who demonstrated that some people really do have no shame.

The lowlight was the performance of most of Dan's colleagues. Jacques Kallis (who single-handily derailed the World XI's run-chase in the second match), Brian Lara and Shaun Pollock stood out as the worst of a bad bunch. Pollock's inept captaincy and the World XI's complete lack of team ethic contributed to a miserable showing by the most talented group of cricketers you are ever likely to see in one place.

The Aussies might be pleased with the outcome, but the results simply papered over some genuine concerns. The new players did not demonstrate the same quality as their ageing counter-parts. Of particular concern for the Australians will be the bowlers of the future. Nathan Bracken, Cameron White and Stuart Clark all struck me as being decidedly average cricketers.

Arriving back in a wet and wild Wellington I was pleased to find that things have been ticking along nicely as far as New Zealand cricket is concerned. The New Zealand 'A' side just completed an excellent win in a first-class "test match" against Sri Lanka 'A', while the senior team has arrived in South Africa with a bit of confidence on their side. All of which is good news as it provides a nice distraction from my credit card bill...

Wednesday, 5 October 2005

Karl on ... the 2nd (or 3rd?) tier

We all know that Zimbabwe and Bangladesh are ranked at the bottom of the full-member nations, coming in ninth and tenth. But did you know that the ICC ranks one-day teams down to 30th? The latest ICC Cricket quarterly newsletter has the rankings. Kenya, predictably, are at 11, followed by Scotland, Ireland and Canada. Interesting rankings include Papua New Guinea at 22, Fiji at 24, Nepal at 25 and Kuwait at 28. This is part of a wider ICC initiative to develop three global leagues for non-Full members, to increase the number of games they play. This can only be a good thing, increasing the number of countries playing one-day cricket.

You would think that Bangladesh and Zimbabwe would be keen to play the teams just below them, to restore their confidence and prove they are deserving of being in the top-flight. Sadly, this is not the case. It seems, they are probably more scared that they would be beaten by Kenya and prove they are not deserving of being in the top-flight.

Monday, 3 October 2005

Get ready for the Super Series

I am heading across the Tasman tomorrow morning to watch the three Super Series one day matches in Melbourne. The hype for the series is starting to build and a few interesting stories are beginning to leak out. In the Melbourne Age Dan Vettori almost lets slip that he thinks Darryl Hair is a wanker. Dan was probably expecting to spend his whole day talking to the press, but suddenly found himself playing in the warm-up match. He had a quiet game, scoring 1 not out and taking 1-44 off seven overs.

Another player to comment on the upcoming series is Adam Gilchrist, who says the games should not be given full international status.

Mike on Cricket's favourite cricket-writer, Peter Roebuck, is in Africa where he sheds a few ageing chest-nuts about captain's past in an analysis of captaining the World XI. As usual, Ian Chappell hears something and immediately wants to throw in his two cents worth - dissing Graeme Smith and stating (fairly convincingly) that Michael Vaughan or Stephen Fleming would have been much better choices.

Okay. That should keep you busy for a little while. Posting is likely to be a little light while I am away, so feel free to talk amongst your selves via the comments pages.

Sunday, 2 October 2005

The Sunday papers

The focus in this weekend's Herald on Sunday is mainly on the Super Series about to start in Melbourne. Dylan Cleaver looks at motivation for the World XI players in the Super Series and finds it lacking. Meanwhile Mark Richardson runs his eye over the Aussies and states that the Grim Reaper has some time to wait before he can claim Damien Martyn and Matthew Hayden.

There is nothing available online from the Sunday Star-Times.

Papps century not enough

Despite an unbeaten century from Michael Papps, New Zealand 'A' were beaten comprehensively in the tri-series final against South Africa 'A'. The New Zealanders batted first and Papps anchored the innings as they crawled to 216/7. James Franklin bowled well, taking 2-35 from his ten overs, but the South Africans were rarely troubled as they cruised home with six wickets in hand.

Vettori misses warm-up

In what is probably a signal of things to come, Dan Vettori has been left on the bench for the World XI in their warm-up match against Victoria. Andrew Flintoff was the other man given a rest - although he is seen as a player who doesn't need a warm-up given his recent Ashes exertions.

Saturday, 1 October 2005

The world's best 'keepers

Cricinfo has conducted an analysis of the world's wicket-keepers and comes up with some surprising figures. The one that stands out for me is the poor catching percantage of Brendon McCullum. McCullum is rated in the world's top ten wicket-keepers since 2001, but the rating mainly comes thanks to his batting average and the low number of byes he has conceeded. His percantage of chances held is only 73%, miles lower then the next worst catcher Kumar Sangakkara (81%). McCullum has only played 17 tests and did go through a bad spell where a number of clangers slipped from his hands, but this is one area of the game which he clearly needs to improve on. The other interesting stat is that McCullum's batting average of 35.72 currently sees him in 7th place on the all-time list of wicket-keepers with the highest batting averages.

Richard Boock turns into George Bush

As far as I can tell from his article in this morning's Herald, Richard Boock has decided that creating an atmosphere of fear and terror in the New Zealand side might be a good thing. "They're coming for you!" he yells at Hamish Marshall, Chris Harris, Craig McMillan, Darryl Tuffey and Stephen Fleming. Which is all a little odd really, especially given that the only thing he has to go on is the dropping of the appallingly unfit and out of form Chris Cairns.