Monday, 28 February 2005

Brett Lee beamers Part 2

Peter Roebuck has chimed in on the debate, arguing that Brett Lee should be sent home.

Brett Lee's beamer

If you Google the words "Brett Lee beamer" you find that they are mentioned on 10,300 different web-pages (make that 10,301). Brett Lee says he would never deliver one deliberately, but I recall he did to a tail-ender in a domestic match on his first tour of New Zealand and was sent off the park and almost sent home. Anyway, let's think in the past year or so I can recall Brett Lee beamers to Brendon McCullum (twice), Abdul Razzaq, Chris Harris, Paul Wiseman and Sachin Tendulkar.

As John Bracewell has pointed out, if the laws of the game are not going to stop Lee - then perhaps the laws of Australia might.

Sunday, 27 February 2005

Highlights from the 3rd ODI

Okay, it is getting harder to spot them but there are still a few. The Marshall twins batting together was one. Brett Lee's sconing of Michael Papps was another. And the fact that Eden Park was a sell-out was the third.

The low-lights were simply the same as they have been in the past few matches - Stephen Fleming's loose strokeplay and our pace attack. From Fleming's reaction after the match it seems like Tuffey is thankfully cursed to a significant period of time on the bench and it will be interesting to see who is bought in to replace him. A chance for someone like Graeme Aldridge or Ian O'Brien perhaps?

Familiarity breeds contempt

At least, it does for Billy Bowden according to Ken Rutherford and Fox Sports.

Thursday, 24 February 2005

John Wright

According to the BBC John Wright has said he is not willing to commit himself to a new contract as coach of India. If we can bring his expertise back home, this could be very good news for cricket in New Zealand.

One interesting little quote about Wrighty's style (and about our culture as a whole) came from former test player Maninder Singh, "I do feel only an Indian can understand the psychology of Indians", he said. "Wright naturally thinks like a Kiwi. Sometimes he is just too nice."

Wednesday, 23 February 2005


I s'pose it was always predictable that we would lose on the fastest deck in the country, and I s'pose it was predictable that the Australians would target Jeff Wilson and his bowling would go for a few. So I am not too disappointed in the final result in last night's match nor in Jeff's bowling. But I am worried about our top order batting and about Darryl Tuffey's bowling. And both of these concerns seem to have a very familiar ring to them.

Darryl hasn't looked right since the end of the last New Zealand summer. He has now gone through England, Australia and the current New Zealand summer either injured or severly lacking in rhythm. Perhaps it is time to take a risk and drop him. And dropping Tuffey will be a risk because everyone below him in the pecking order is a bit of a loose cannon - Andre Adams is as changeable as the weather and Jimmy Franklin can fall to pieces if his confidence takes a knock. But rhythm and confidence are linked, and I can't see Tuffey getting one back while the other is being tonked all over the park.

The top order batting has been an issue for far too many years now. We have far too many talented batsmen who are not performing. Stephen Fleming, rather predictably, was on fire when the pressure was off but has failed twice now against Australia. And Matthew Sinclair just falls to pieces as soon as he sees a yellow shirt. Flem is capable of tightening his game up and cutting out the loose strokes, but it will be harder for Sinclair to break his phobia. He is too good a talent to throw on the scrap-heap, but maybe a game on the bench to think things through could help. If his performances do not improve then Papps and Vincent should come into the picture via their current form in domestic cricket.

Monday, 21 February 2005

Peter Roebuck

You probably don't need me pointing you in his direction any more, his columns are so good I hope you read them without needing me to tell you where they are, but Peter Roebuck's article in today's Sydney Morning Herald is a real pearler. Okay, so he starts off by comparing Hamish Marshall to a hobbit yet again, but he also describes the curly-headed little tyke "scampering between wickets like a man chased by an irate fox hunter". And that description isn't half bad.

Akhtar injured

Handy this. Shoaib Akhtar can't tour India because he is "injured". The PCB press agent, errr I mean Inzamam-ul-Haq, said "It's a terrible blow for us, because it's difficult to go on a tough tour like India without your premier bowler. But I think Shoaib is at a stage in his career where he is the best judge of his fitness. I hope he makes speedy recovery and makes himself available soon."

Sunday, 20 February 2005

Peter Roebuck says some nice things about New Zealand

Here. Which makes me feel slightly better. I am still highly annoyed with Billy Bowden and Aleem Dar though. And irritated by the sour-faced petulance shown by Simon Katich, Brett Lee and Ricky Ponting when things started to go against Australia.

The first ODI

Bloody umpires. Bloody arrogant Aussies. Bloody good match.

Friday, 18 February 2005

Coverage of the Twenty20 match

The Twenty20 match has attracted a good deal of international coverage, much of it due to the fashion than the cricket. Some of the broadsheets managed a little better than others. The Guardian somehow managed to reference Rotorua's Agrodome in its summary of the match, while the Daily Telegraph thought Hamish Marshall was wearing a wig. The stately Times was one paper which didn't run with the herd, ignoring the fashion and concentrating almost solely on the match.

Lord knows what the back pages of the tabloids are going to look like, but somehow I suspect Hamish might feature...

Thrashes, 'taches and terry-towelling

Peter Roebuck passes his verdict on the Twenty20 game in this morning's Melbourne Age:

Far from being an abomination as had been anticipated - a cricketing version of Desperate Housewives or Dancing with the Stars - the first 20-over match between nations was a hoot.

Read the rest here.

The Shoaib saga drags on

Akhtar has been fined and reprimanded by the Pakistani Cricket Board for "erratic behaviour", but the fine is loose change (US$500) and the chief of selectors, Wasim Bari, said that "Pakistan needs a fully fit Akhtar for the important India tour". To me this implies that the rumoured revolt by his team-mates to have him dumped from the squad has failed.


Quotes from those of us watching the game last night:

Its not much of a game for the bowlers.

We couldn't get that score even if we had 50 overs.

Its not f**king working, so stop bloody stepping away to leg all the time. [the ball before Scott Styris stepped away to the leg-side for the sixth ball in a Brett Lee over and was clean bowled]

If only they put as much effort into their cricket as they did into their hair.

They looked like clowns, they played like clowns.

The thing I don't like about this form of cricket is that it can slip away from you so quickly.

The Australians simply bowled better than us.

Ohmigod. Haaaaaa. Haaaaaa. Haaaaa. [all of us the first time we saw Hamish and his hair]

What did other people think of the Twenty20 experiment? If a game came to your town, would you go to see it?

Thursday, 17 February 2005

George Gregan

A quote from Jeff Wilson on the FICA World XI matches:

"I must admit, the first ball from [Andy] Bichel, he mentioned George Gregan," Wilson said, referring to the tackle that won the Wallabies the 1994 Bledisloe Cup. "That's brilliant. It was a bouncer he bowled, I ducked underneath it and he said, 'It's just like George Gregan, eh?' I just said, 'What's that got to do with anything?' and got on with the next ball."

From this article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Tuesday, 15 February 2005

Poll results and a new poll

My last poll asked you what should be done about the stress fracture crisis in New Zealand cricket. Six of you believed that free milk should be reintroduced into our school classrooms, two of you wanted to set an example and deter others by shooting a few stress fracture sufferers, and four of you wanted to ban cricketers from participating in any activities apart from cricket that involved use of their backs (having sex, sleeping, sitting, walking etc). Everyone thought that dosing the water supply with titanium and selecting only cricketers who are already in wheelchairs were not goers.

Of course, it did transpire that the entire crisis was a bit of an over-reaction as Jake Oram and Dan Vettori didn't actually have the damn things. Perhaps I should have included a "bugger it, it'll sort itself out" option in the poll?

You might like to wait a couple of days to vote in my new poll. Twenty20 cricket hits New Zealand on Thursday and I want your verdict on its impact on the one-day game.

Shane Bond

Today's issue of The Australian contains a profile of Shane Bond which reveals that he is very close to making a comeback - although he will miss the ODIs against Australia and has ruled himself out of test cricket until December.

The profile is worth a look, if only to read Damien Martyn's assessment that if Bond had been fit, he would have ended his career as one of the alltime great bowlers.

Application of the LBW law

Crickey! Even the Australians are beginning to question umpire bias in favour of their own players. This article in the Sydney Morning Herald points out that over the past five years visting batsmen have been 58% more likely to be given out LBW than Australian batsmen. In that time LBW has been the mode of dismissal for 11.7% of Australians and 17% of visitors. John Buchanan can't chalk this one up to the fact that dirty foriegners appeal for everything while good. honest Aussies only appeal when someone is clearly out either - because Australians are strangely prone to being dismissed LBW as often as anyone else outside those sandy shores.

One interesting side to the SMH's analysis is that they have looked at the world for comparisons and found that umpires who visit New Zealand are prone to give locals out LBW far more often than anyone else - 20% of New Zealand batsmen are given out that way in New Zealand compared to 12.7% of visitors. How depressingly predictable.

The heady smell of burning bridges

After refusing a Pakistan Cricket Board order to turn up for a physical examination to determine whether he is really injured or not, Shoaib Akhtar has decided to further inflame relations with the Board by refusing another order - this one to play in a Patron's Trophy domestic match.

For all his talent, I am very glad he is not playing for New Zealand.

A history of the Beige Brigade

Cricinfo has published a history of the Beige Brigade, including its recent clash with New Zealand Cricket over the sale of replica gear.

Monday, 14 February 2005

Scientific appealing?

Cricinfo has done a little analysis and come up with the following figures on lbw appeals during the VB series:

In the recently concluded VB Series, Australia had 47% of their lbw appeals upheld, while for Pakistan and West Indies, the other two teams in the competition, that figure was less than 14%. Of course, ask John Buchanan about it and he'll probably say that the Australians were choosy about their appeals, while Pakistan and West Indies went up for everything.

Country - Total appeals - Given - % given
Australia - 21 - 10 - 47.6%
West Indies - 15 - 2 - 13.3%
Pakistan - 20 - 2 - 10%

In fact, in all ODIs in Australia since April 2002 – when one third-country umpire was made compulsory for one-dayers – only 6.7% of Australian dismissals have been lbws (15 out of 222), while the percentage goes up to 9.3 for overseas players (28 out of 300). Simply a statistical quirk, or the result of scientific appealing?

Friday, 11 February 2005

The travels of Mark Greatbatch

Paddy is set to become English county Warkwickshire's next cricket academy director. Greatbatch coached Central Districts until 2003/4 when he left New Zealand citing frustration at salaries and opportunities. Lets hope he returns to New Zealand one day to share some of the knowledge he will no doubt develop in England.

Australian selections

Darren Lehmann's international career is almost certainly over after he was dropped from the Australian side to tour New Zealand. Matthew Hayden has been retained and newish names Mike Hussey (who has played one game for Australia) and James Hopes (who has played none) have been bought in.

Hussey is a middle order batsman with a career average of 51.86. He is 29 and in English county cricket has been lethal. Kerry O'Keefe however thinks he has plateaued and has said "I no longer hold great hopes for him". One of O'Keefe's reasons for this is that Hussey seems to be a slow wicket player only - which might actually be a good thing for him on this tour given the usual state of New Zealand wickets and the injury status of our quicks.

Hopes is an all-rounder and at 26 is the youngster in an ageing side. I suspect he is being picked as a one-day specialist as his bowling is described as being "medium paced" and "tight". A first class bowling average of 50.47 certainly doesn't herald too much threat. His first class batting average is 28.80.

The full Australian squad to tour New Zealand is:

Ricky Ponting (capt)
Adam Gilchrist (wk)
Michael Clarke
Jason Gillespie
Matthew Hayden
Brad Hogg
James Hopes
Michael Hussey
Michael Kasprowicz
Simon Katich
Brett Lee
Damien Martyn
Glenn McGrath
Andrew Symonds.

Thursday, 10 February 2005

The State Shield

The good thing about not having any international cricket is that it has allowed our test players to have far greater participation in the domestic game. And most of them are doing very well for themselves. Most of the batsmen are getting good runs, most of the bowlers are getting good wickets and some - like Dan Vettori - are getting both. The State Shield has been a fascinating competition to watch and yesterday's ND vs Canterbury semi-final was a great game despite the relative ease of ND's victory. Perhaps the best thing about it was the hunger that the old hands showed. Players such as Vettori and Craig McMillan look to be enjoying their cricket and it seems that the more relaxed atmosphere of the domestic game has removed some weight from their shoulders. Lets just hope that the fire they have rediscovered lasts until the end of the season. And lets also hope that some of their desire starts to rub off on Chris Cairns (75 runs at 9.38 and 4 wickets at 70.5).

Wednesday, 9 February 2005

Umpiring in Oz

Australian umpires have always been amongst the worst in the world when it comes to favouring their own team (anyone else remember Martin Snedden's infamous catch which wasn't, or Lance Cairns being no-balled for intimidation) - and it seems that international umpires aren't immune to the Australian influence either. Mark Richardson has decided to give his opinion after hearing complaints from the Pakistanis. The Stuff website is running a poll based on this column and it is currently running at 85% of respondants agreeing with the statement that Australian umpires are biased towards their own players. Go and add your two cents worth.

Decline of the BBC

I have heard all the criticism of the BBC from US conservatives - calling it left-wing, biased and incompetent - but I didn't realise until now that they had sunk so low. Scott Styris is described as being "an important member" of the New Zealand side? Who the hell does their research?

Perhaps I am over-reacting. Perhaps they mean "important member" in the same way that a diseased limb is important.

Tuesday, 8 February 2005

Rewind to 1981

"His mouth gaped and he tottered as if he'd seen the devil himself." I used to have a workmate who would reminisce about this over - particularly after seeing Shane Bond bowl to Australia in the last World Cup.

Monday, 7 February 2005

A step too far

It looks like Shoaib Akhtar's antics have finally gone too far. According to a report on Cricinfo his team-mates have threatened to go on strike unless he is dropped for the upcoming tour of India. If you are shopping for team spirit, don't go looking in Pakistan.

Australian frailty

Those bloody Australians are trying to lull hope back into New Zealand souls, just so they can crush it again. If you read the Australian papers you would think that the team to tour New Zealand is on the verge of collapse. The Sydney Morning Herald this morning includes not one, but two articles about how weak the Australian batting line-up has become. Not to be outdone, today's Australian also contains two seperate stories about the team's poor batting - here and here.

Friday, 4 February 2005

Jeff told reporters asking about the '80s revival match to look at his forehead to judge his hair growth capacity. But I reckon he could still manage a 'mo...

Thursday, 3 February 2005

Biege brigade antics

The Biege Brigade's latest scheme is aimed at the Twenty20 match with Australia on February 17. New Zealand Cricket decided to up the novelty factor of this match by putting the New Zealand team into classic 1980's style biege outfits and the Biege Brigade has decided to capitalise on this by offering any player who grows a moustache or afro for the occasion "a lot of beer". The Brigade has targeted Dan Vettori as a particular target of the afro side of the campaign and has offered a handicapping system for players at a natural disadvantage when it comes to facial hair growth - such as Nathan Astle and Brendon McCullum.

The Australian press has again raised one coy eyebrow in amusement. New Zealanders might not win as many games as Australians, but I suspect we have a lot more fun trying.

Stress fractures? Don't know what you are talking about.

Here is the best news of the summer - Jacob Oram doesn't have a stress fracture and should be back playing cricket in a couple of weeks, and Daniel Vettori doesn't have a stress fracture either, just some easily fixed tissue damage. Suddenly the prospect of an Australian tour doesn't seem quite so horrific.

Wednesday, 2 February 2005

In a slump

Australia's head of selectors, Allan Border, has openly discussed dropping Matthew Hayden from at least the first part of the tour to New Zealand. I am not sure whether this is good news for New Zealand or bad. Hayden is in shocking form and if his slump continues then the New Zealanders would love to see him at the top of the order. On the other hand, if he came out of the slump and returned to his bullying best then he could destroy an attack without Shane Bond or Daniel Vettori.

The other consideration in this equation is who might replace Hayden if he is dropped. And that is where New Zealand hopes take a little bit of a dive, because it is likely to be Michael "Australian cricketer of the year" Clarke.

Tuesday, 1 February 2005

The Unloveables Part II

In an article in the Observer, Neil Manthorp reports that the English team that visited South Africa was rude, arrogant and captained by a genuine _____. Don't ask me what a _____ is, Manthorp just says it is Afrikaans and not particularly nice.

Manthorp is not alone in his thinking. Clive Lloyd, as match referee in the final test, was so appalled by Michael Vaughan's attitude that he gave him a public roasting - calling the English captain "rude and dismissive".

None of this should be a surprise. I can't think of an England team that has toured New Zealand and has not been rude and arrogant. But I suspect this particular bout of hubris won't last long. It is hard to be arrogant when you are being stuffed by the Aussies - and the Ashes are not too far away.