Sunday, 31 July 2005

The news on Sunday

The Sunday Star-Times has an interview with the always annoying Scott Styris, while the Herald on Sunday has a much more interesting piece on the problems the Australian team is soon going to have with age.

Poll results and a new poll

According to you lot the Ashes are going to be a landslide in Australia's favour. No-one even gave England a sniff and only four of you even thought England would go down fighting. An overwhelming nine of you thought the Australian steamroller wouldn't even notice any bumps.

My new poll is back on the vexed topic of the New Zealand tour to Zimbabwe. Let me know how you are going to spend the tests.

Saturday, 30 July 2005

The tour has started, but where are all the players?

Whoops. It seems that a strike in South Africa has left half the New Zealand squad stranded. Richard Boock tells us about the contingency plans for the first warm-up match in Namibia. In a separate story Richard lets us into the shadowy and corrupt world of journalism in Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile Adam Parore has decided to chuck in his two cents worth on Zimbabwe and tells us that as a player he was sickened by the corruption and resulting destitution in not just Zimbabwe, but South Africa, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and parts of the West Indies. He also gets stuck into the New Zealand government.

Friday, 29 July 2005

Tour preview

Ah, if you can close your nose against the stench coming from the ICC for just a second you will notice that the smell of freshly mown grass is in the air. The New Zealand tour to Zimbabwe is about to get underway and Andrew McLean is whetting our appetite with a very tasty preview.

Gideon Haigh

Gideon Haigh is now updating his online Ashes blog daily. His latest posting is about his disturbing ability to remember cricketers' birthdays. I have to admit that I have problems with numbers of all kinds. I look at the first four digits of Dick Smith Electronics phone number (3856785) and I think "that's pretty close to Stephen Fleming's test batting average of 38.64." I look at the docket number on the same sales receipt, 951407483, and I see Don Bradman's first-class batting average (95.14) and in the price of the double adapter for the phone that I bought ($9.87) I see the 1987/88 World Series Cup and Dipak Patel taking a magnificent leaping catch on the boundary as New Zealand beat Australia by one run. This does worry me a little. I am sure there are many far more useful things my brain should be carrying around.

Thursday, 28 July 2005

Stephen Fleming

The Black Caps website has a nice analysis of Stephen Fleming's recent form (846 first-class runs for Notts at 70.50) and his unimpressive career stats against Zimbabwe (502 test runs at an average of 33.46 and a much better 627 ODI runs at 39.18). Although, now I have told you that you probably don't need to read the rest of the article.

Feelings on Zimbabwe

This post is extrapolated from the comments section of an earlier post. The view that we should not boycott TV coverage of the Zimbabwe matches was being questioned and one writer (Pratyush) expressed the view that cricket fans should turn off their televisions. Pratyush felt that this would create pressure on the sponsors and that this in turn would create pressure on the TV networks who might then put pressure on the ICC.

Possibly he is right. And possibly I am blinded by my desire to see some cricket and to see Shane Bond and am willing to bend ethical boundaries in order to do so without feeling guilty. And perhaps I am also blinded by my annoyance at the hypocritical grandstanding on the issue by some New Zealand political parties, and the Greens in particular. But I also do feel that boycotting the TV coverage really will have a greater impact on cricket fans and cricket players (who have done nothing wrong) than it will on the guilty (the ICC, the NZ government, Robert Mugabe). Not only that but I cannot see any immediate positive impact for the innocent people of Zimbabwe. In my view stronger and more direct impact can be had by the tour going ahead and the media that accompanies the tour turning some of their considerable spotlight onto the impact of Robert Mugabe's policies. It is partly for this reason that I find the Dominion Post's refusal to even mention the tour strange and self-defeating.

Dan on...Fantasy Ashes

Well, really it is Simon Hughes (Radio Five and BBC's entertaining "Analyst") who has been conjuring a fantasy. But his script of the all-time greatest Ashes contest ever is well worth a read (even though Australia appears to have two captains on the field). All I can reveal is that you can probably guess who wins...

Wednesday, 27 July 2005

Namibian preparations

New Zealand Cricket is reporting that the facilities in Namibia are just neato. The New Zealand team is in camp there because they want to avoid entering Zimbabwe at all until they absolutely have to.

D K Morrison

If you feel your Ashes coverage is lacking the requisite number of "ripsnortas" then you might like to go and see what Danny Morrison has to say. He can be found at the Xtra website.

Gideon Haigh

Australian cricket writer Gideon Haigh has published his entertaining diary of the first test, amusing digs at his employers (The Guardian) included.

More letters to the editor

I am turning into a right old man. Yesterday I emailed the editor of the Dominion Post to clarify what his paper hopes to achieve by not covering the cricket aspect of the cricket tour to Zimbabwe, and this morning I emailed Sky:

Thank you for deciding to show the cricket matches in Zimbabwe. I suspect this might have been a difficult decision for you. As someone who is opposed to the reign of Robert Mugabe and is appalled by his callous acts against his own people I wish the tour was not taking place. However, now that the decision has been made I can look forward to watching Shane Bond in full flight without guilt. The joy of watching him bowling has nothing to do with politics or Zimbabwe or Robert Mugabe. It is simply the joy of watching a champion New Zealand sportsman in action.

The fact that the tour is being played shouldn’t reflect badly on cricket fans or on New Zealand Cricket. It should reflect badly on the ICC and the government. In deciding to show the cricket you have decided to do the right thing. Not showing it would have punished only the fans - who have done nothing wrong. Having said that, I believe we should all be doing what we can to make our concerns about the ICC and about Robert Mugabe's policies clear. If you are able to do this as part of your coverage or editorial broadcasts, I am sure the people of Zimbabwe would be grateful.

I note with interest that the New Zealand vs Zimbabwe test matches will also have a wide audience in Asia (see here). It would have been bizarre to deprive New Zealand fans of the images of New Zealand cricketers which will seen by millions through-out the world. I am one very pleased Sky subscriber.


The Dominion Post has not responded to my email. But then they have not replied to two previous emails either (except for a "point noted" with respect to the letter posted on this blog). On the other hand Sky's customer services department sent me a rather besieged sounding:

Thank you for your email. Your comments have been forwarded to our Sports department -- they will be pleased to get some positive and understanding feedback!


If you have a view one way or the other I encourage you to write. Sky can be contacted at sky@skytv.co.nz and the Dominion Post can be reached at news@dompost.co.nz.

Best outbeams Lee

Tino Best has taken a leaf from Brett Lee's book and has taken to bowling beamers. Unfortunately the West Indian has never been one to do things by halves and has just had his collar felt by the law.

Tuesday, 26 July 2005

Canterbury appoint a South African coach

Now this story, that Canterbury are appointing Dave Nosworthy - the former coach of South Africa's Northern Titans - as coach for next season seems very dull. But there is actually a bit of a mystery here. Because living in Canterbury and with no job to his name is one of the world's best coaches and a former Canterbury stalwart, John Wright.

Parliament's last act

I agree with the sentiment, but not the timing. Why was this not done weeks or even months ago - before the side had actually left the country? What on earth is anyone supposed to do at this late stage? We already know New Zealand Cricket cannot pull out. We already know the ICC won't intervene. Parliament's action is now so late as to be utterly pointless and perhaps even counter-productive.

Coverage of the Zimbabwe tour

The Dominion Post is continuing with its bizarre protest action and is refusing to even mention the actual cricket part of the cricket tour to Zimbabwe. There are so many things wrong with the Dom Post's stance that it is difficult to know where to start criticising it. Perhaps the easiest place is to ask what the point is of a newspaper that refuses to print the news. Secondly it is probably worth pointing out that neither cricket players nor cricket fans have done anything wrong here - and yet those are the only ones who will be punished by the newspaper. My third point is a reverse of the second, the people who are clearly in the wrong - Robert Mugabe and the ICC - are not even going to be aware of this protest, and even if they are they will suffer no inconvenience and I doubt they will do anything more than snort derisively into their crystal flutes of expensive champagne. The final, and perhaps most fundamental, point is related to journalistic integrity. There is a place in journalism for editorial comment, but in my opinion there is no place for censorship. I see little difference between Robert Mugabe's manipulation of the news and the Dominion Post's.

At least the Dominion Post protest won't really have much of an impact on those of us who have an active interest in the matches. We can always buy the Herald or the Press instead. And it has just been confirmed that we can also watch the games themselves on Sky.

Karl on ... who will be in the starting 11?

In the "Bully Boy" article Mike linked to John Bracewell says "Apart from Daryl Tuffey, who is still injured, we've picked probably our A side". Which got me wondering, what will be the "A" starting eleven?

The last team that played was unchanged in the two tests against Sri Lanka in April: Cumming, J Marshall, H Marshall, Vincent, Astle, Fleming, McCullum, Franklin, Mills, Wiseman and Martin. The fifteen that are in Zimbabwe are those 11 plus Bond, Vettori, Oram and Styris.

Two obvious changes will be Vettori in for Wiseman and Bond in for Mills. And arguably Oram and Styris are first-eleven players. So who will come out for them?

Against Sri Lanka H Marshall and Astle scored centuries and Vincent a superb 224. Cumming and J Marshall didn't set the field alight with runs, but they were solid as openers. Fleming was injured but still scored 88 in the second test. Which leaves the bowlers. Oram for Franklin seems sensible although Franklin has done nothing wrong. I think Vincent, Styris and Astle are challenging for two spots. Given the treatment of Mathew Sinclair by the selectors it would not be a surprise to see Vincent dropped. However, I'd opt to leave out Styris as he has not really been playing well in England.

My favoured starting XI:
Cumming, Marshall, Marshall, Fleming, Vincent, Astle, McCullum, Oram, Vettori, Bond, Martin with Franklin as 12th Man.

Bully boy is back

I know I have said it is boring and that these stories seem to appear weekly without much in the way of tangible positive outcomes (which is Wellington-speak for test wickets), but I can't resist it. From the Christchurch Press here is the latest story on Shane Bond's return to injury.

Also in this morning's Press is a short interview with John Bracewell about the Black Caps' focus.

English reaction

What a surprise. Having built unrealistically high expectations, the English press subsequently vomited all over their team before the ink in the scorebook from the first test was even dry. Cricinfo captures the mood nicely.

Dan Vettori

With all the attention placed on Shane Bond's return from injury, most people seem to have forgotten that Dan Vettori has also been suffering pretty severe back problems. A newly calm Richard Boock has got it covered though. I wonder if anyone has dared to tell Richard about Helen Clark's new idea yet?

Peter Roebuck

One of the benefits of Australia playing cricket is that it means Peter Roebuck is writing in the Australian papers again. Go here to read his latest piece, on Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie.

Sri Lanka vs West Indies

Sigh. Another day and another underdog collapses weakly. This time it is the Windies who were undone, and the champion spinner who did the damage in this case was not Shane Warne, but Muttiah Muralitharan who took 8-46 and showed the world that his shoulder still has some sting in it.

Monday, 25 July 2005

Tour to Zimbabwe begins

The New Zealand team fly out to Namibia today. Like England the team will be doing all its preparation in Namibia and heading to Zimbabwe only for the games. The schedule is as follows:

August:

7th-11th v Zimbabwe, 1st Test, Harare

15th-19th v Zimbabwe, 2nd Test, Queens

24th v Zimbabwe, 1st ODI, Queens

26th v India, 2nd ODI, Queens

31 v Zimbabwe, 4th ODI, Harare

September:

2nd v India , 5th ODI, Harare

6th FINAL, details TBC

Ashes - day 4

So England crumbled at the end, just as we all secretly suspected they would. And, according to the Aussies, Australia should have romped home even more comprehensively than they did. To make things worse for those of us who support the underdog, Sri Lanka are taking a firm grip on their second match against the West Indies.

Sunday, 24 July 2005

Glenn McGrath

Peter Roebuck has written a highly recommended piece on the brilliance of Glenn McGrath.

McGrath is an extraordinary operator. None of his deliveries was fast, none bounced steeply, none swung or turned or curled or deceived the batsman. He did not bowl a slower ball, did not attempt a yorker and his bumper did not exactly singe beards. Most of his deliveries landed in the predicted place. Taken in isolation, none of his offerings was threatening. In theory he cannot blow out a candle. And yet he might as well have been sending down hand grenades.

Saturday, 23 July 2005

New Zealand 'A' in Sri Lanka

Why haven't you voted yet? Before you click on this link, go and cast your vote in my new poll. Only when you done that can you see who has been selected in the 'A' side to tour Sri Lanka. You will want to read about that too. We are sending a very strong looking line-up.

Return of the poll

Yes its back. So go vote.

Ashes - day two

Even if they get the last three Australian wickets quickly tonight, England are going to be chasing over 300 on an already up-and-down Lord's pitch. Still, at least England can say that they haven't given up the fight.

Friday, 22 July 2005

Shane Warne

Bloody hell. I mentioned yesterday that Shane Warne's private life was becoming a cliche and what happens? Today another sex scandal hits the papers.

Ashes - day one

Crickey I found it hard to turn off the telly last night. I thought I would just catch the first few overs to see if anyone grabbed the initiative. And of course I got hooked. Watching Harmison steam-roller in to hit players like Hayden, Langer and Ponting was mesmerising. I even think Harmison managed to initimidate Ricky Ponting - who fended a lifter to slip after receiving a nasty rap on the helmet. And the day just kept getting more action-packed as it went on.

I won't bore you with my barely conscious ramblings though, just visit Cricinfo to read their comprehensive coverage. And for those of you with insomnia and no cable TV, the Guardian is providing its usual slow, but witty, over-by-over coverage.

Thursday, 21 July 2005

More on Bond

Lordy. Bring on the bloody Ashes. Some of us are getting bored recycling variations of the same old stories about Zimbabwe, Shane Warne's private life and Shane Bond's recovery from injury.

Predictions, predictions, predictions

Predictions galore, and all of them favour Australia.

Wednesday, 20 July 2005

Dan on the Ashes...Preview

The Ashes, starting tomorrow at Lord's, are the biggest sporting event to hit the UK in some time. The hype surrounding them is huge. Many commentators and players here are insisting that the team which comes out on top after the first couple of days will have an important psychological advantage for the series. I rather doubt this. I think that for the first time in a long time the teams are close enough in ability and confidence that each will have their ups and downs, and each will be resilient enough to bounce back. This series won't be over till its over.

It is probably unwise to make any suggestions or predictions for what will doubtless be an unpredictable series. My few thoughts are: (1) watch Lee, who is on fire, and Strauss, who will rise to the occasion; (2) Warne, Pietersen and Flintoff have been over-hyped and may fail to make the impression billed; and (3) both teams can bat - the real question is which team has the most penetrating bowling attack. Therefore much will turn on the form of Harmison and Hoggard straight out of the blocks.

My thoughts - still Australia's series to lose. But, with a tail wind and some exceptional performances, England may yet surprise.

Summary of the academy's Australian tour

New Zealand Cricket's website provides a concise summary of the tour. It - like all their match reports - mentions Shane Bond prominently. Not so prominently mentioned is the fact that speed radar on the trip showed that he was only bowling at around 130 kph. Still, the fact that he was bowling at all is encouraging.

Richard Boock again

Some of us are utterly sick of the grandstanding, hypocrisy and just downright stupidity - on all sides - surrounding the tour to Zimbabwe and just want the whole damn thing over. Richard Boock isn't sick of it though. He his positively revelling in it.

Preparing yourself for the Ashes

You need to be in the right frame of mind for a test series, especially one on the other side of the world. You need to know who the players are, what their form is like where the crucial match-ups will lie. To help you prepare for the Ashes series, I have compiled a short list of essential reading:

To ease you into the mood, we start in the Telegraph with a piece on the joys of watching cricket and the tension of waiting for the series to start.

After that relaxing start its time to throw you to the wolves, or a lone wolf anyway, as Glenn McGrath talks up Australia's chances and down England's batsmen.

Having profiled one of Australia's big guns, it is time to profile one of England's. Ian Bell is not a big name yet on this side of the globe, but his name was chiselled into the English batting order well ahead of Kevin Pietersen and Graham Thorpe.

Having mentioned Kevin Pietersen, we had better profile him. Crazy-haired egotist that he is.

Okay. We've heard from the Englishmen, now back to those darn big-name Aussies. Brett Lee will play. Adam Gilchrist will walk. And Michael Clarke is in a rut. Maybe.

We end, as all good cricketing summaries should, with some very helpful statistical analysis.

Tuesday, 19 July 2005

Twenty20 quarter-finals

Scott Styris hit a withering 73 not out off 55 balls and was the only person in the match to score more than 39, but he was still on the losing side as Leicestershire beat his Middlesex team by 19 runs.

A letter to the Dominion Post

Dear Sir,

So the Dominion-Post isn’t going to provide coverage of the cricket tour to Zimbabwe (editorial of 18 July). After rightly complaining about the lack of action by the government and the ICC on this troubled issue you decide to take action which will: punish cricket fans and New Zealand Cricket; do nothing for the people of Zimbabwe; and leave the government, the ICC and Robert Mugabe utterly indifferent. By the same token I should boycott the drycleaner that sits next to the dairy which used to sell me your peevish and petulant little rag.

Yours sincerely,
Mike Thorn

Monday, 18 July 2005

One day centuries

In some rare actual cricket news Stephen Fleming and Craig Spearman both hit centuries for their county sides in one day matches this weekend. Fleming made 102 not out as his Notts side overcame Craig McMillan's (2) Hampshire by a single wicket. Spearman's century came in an equally thrilling match at a run-feast in Southgate. His 109 came as Glouscestershire chased down Scott Syris' (42) Middlesex score of 333/4. Styris took a reasonably respectable 1-40 off his 9 overs.

Poll results

According to a Fairfax/AC Neilsen poll published in the Dominion Post this morning 53% of voters would support a law that bans sports teams from touring countries that violate human rights. An odd sort of poll really. What does "violate human rights" mean anyway? Locking up Algerian refugees? I can't see a country in the world that you can say doesn't violate human rights in some manner.

Saturday, 16 July 2005

Todd Astle

The Emerging Players team clocked up another good win yesterday, beating the Australian Academy XI by 58 runs. The key performer for the New Zealand side was young Todd Astle who scored 78 not out and then followed up with 3-42.

Friday, 15 July 2005

Mark Richardson

I actually discovered this in my research for the previous post - but thought it deserved a whole post of its own.

As noted in the post below, Mark Richardson is on the register of players at the Lashings club. According to the website Mark has recently "rediscovered his love of the game" and toured with the side to South Africa - scoring 50 in a one day match at Cape Town. Mark's retirement from test cricket came when he lost his passion, could the return of this fire herald a possible return to serious cricket?

The "unknown cricketer"

The press has been fairly quiet on the Zimbabwe issue today, presumably they are saving their fire for tomorrow when the "Its just not cricket" protest march is to be held in Auckland. The one story that is getting traction is Henry Olonga's statement that a New Zealand cricketer has said to him that he would like to make a protest. Henry refused to name the cricketer, but did imply that they were team-mates in England. It is therefore not hard to narrow the list down a little. Olonga plays for Lashings, which - according to its website - is currently also the home of Hamish Marshall, Chris Cairns, Chris Harris and, errr, Mark Richardson.

This might also be a chance to comment on Henry Olonga's presence in this country. The way he got here, flown in by the Greens, was as the focal point for a publicity stunt of the worst kind. But Henry himself has been a revelation; well spoken and thoughtful. He has also managed to somewhat embarrass Rod Donald by retreating from the hardline Green party line-in-the-sand position (pass a law and ban the tour) on several occasions.

PS Does anyone else think that the name chosen for the Auckland protest march reflects the fact that none of the participants seem to have much of a clue about cricket?

Oram returns to the bowling crease

Jake Oram returned to the bowling crease in yesterday's match between the Emerging Players and an Australian Academy XI. He took a wicket with his first ball too as part of a very good performance by the bowling unit on a flat wicket. Apart from Michael Papps the batsmen didn't do nearly so well, but we still managed to sneak home by a single wicket.

Hope for the Windies

The first test against Sri Lanka might be finely balanced, but there has already been a glimmer of hope from the West Indian camp in the return of fearsome pace bowling to their game.

Thursday, 14 July 2005

Garth George tells us his view

Oh looky, another op-ed piece about Zimbabwe.

It looks like we are going

The ICC has clarified that by "clear directive" they mean "pass a law forbidding it", and this means that unless the government passes a law New Zealand Cricket will probably be penalised if it doesn't go to Zimbabwe. Phil Goff has confirmed that a law will not be passed.

Sri Lanka vs West Indies

With a contract dispute stripping the side of its best players, the West Indies were expected to just roll over against Sri Lanka in the first test. They are not doing too badly so far however - 271/6 at stumps on the first day. Names like Denesh Ramdin, Kerry Jeremy, Deighton Butler, Narsingh Deonarine, Xavier Marshall, Runako Morton and Ryan Ramdass might not strike fear into the opposition, but they are holding up okay at the moment. For a bit of background, so bad is the strike that they have had to pick a 19 year old who has only played six matches for his domestic side (Marshall), while Cricinfo describes Morton's pedigree like this:

Fiery on and off the pitch, Runako Morton's cricket career looked to be dead in the water when he was expelled from the West Indian Academy in July 2001, for a series of regulation breaches. He refused to be bowed, however, and continued to accumulate runs for Leeward Islands in the Busta Cup. In February 2002, his penance complete, he was called into an injury-plagued West Indian squad as a replacement for Marlon Samuels, and was tipped to become one of the few Test cricketers from tiny island of Nevis. But he threw away his opportunity when he pulled out of the ICC Champions Trophy in September 2002, after lying about the death of his grandmother. His career slipped further down the pan when he was arrested in January 2004, following a stabbing incident...

Wednesday, 13 July 2005

Phil Goff comments

I see the NZPA article has now reached the press with some comments from Phil Goff. He has also picked up on the useless ambiguity in the phrase "clear directive":

Mr Goff said he would urgently seek clarification from the ICC as to what it meant by a "clear directive" from a national government.

"If the ICC is saying that it would be sufficient for the New Zealand Parliament to pass a resolution saying on behalf of the majority of New Zealanders that New Zealand Cricket should not tour Zimbabwe at the present time... we would welcome that and put such a resolution to Parliament," Mr Goff said.

Mr Goff said in the eyes of the ICC a resolution may not be enough to legally constitute a "clear directive" and he was still ruling out urgent legislation banning the team from travelling to Zimbabwe.

"But I am more than happy to test the view of Parliament on a resolution saying they should not to tour and if that would relieve New Zealand Cricket of its obligations, I would welcome that."

The ICC passes the buck

A mate just passed me a new NZPA article. In part this says:

Wellington, July 13 NZPA - The International Cricket Council (ICC) says it is up to politicians to end cricket tours to Zimbabwe and not the ICC.

ICC President Ehsan Mani today formally rejected the New Zealand Government's request to alter its future tours programme.

...

Mr Mani said in a letter to Mr Goff that the ICC had considered the Zimbabwe issue many times and it was not its place to make political decisions.

"In short, the board recognises that issues of the relationships between countries are driven by politicians and governments that are elected by the people to deal with these political issues," Mr Mani said.

"It is also recognised that governments will, from time to time, elect to use sporting sanctions as a tool in their foreign policy programmes.

"Our members accept and respect that where this clear directive is given by a national government, the obligations of the future tours programme will not apply."

Mr Mani said in no way did the ICC endorse political regimes of policies in any of its 96 member nations who had a common interest in playing cricket.

"It simply reflects the reality that it's for governments and politicians that are elected, to grapple with the complexities and difficulties of international relations between countries," he said.

...

(Eds: SEEKING COMMENT FROM GOFF)


Presumably the bit in bold at the end means we can expect to see this story with comments by Phil Goff released shortly. The ICC have handily left things uselessly vague by not mentioning what a "clear directive" is - and also seem to be busily trying to sweep the actual implications of the force majeure clause under the carpet.

Darren Ganga

Lawrence Booth, author of the excellent the Spin, has already highlighted what effects Darren Ganga's big-mouthed honesty are likely to have. So I will just steal Lawrence's words and won't bother trying to come up with any of my own:

There are many ways of ensuring you never play international cricket again. One is to be not very good. Another is to retire. But the West Indian batsman Daren Ganga might well have unearthed a third: have a pop at Brian Lara, the King of the Caribbean. In a stunningly frank interview with Bhavika Jhaveri for CricInfo, Ganga took his 31-Test career in his own hands by providing the sort of analysis of Lara's character which even Sigmund Freud on one of his grumpier days might have drawn the line at.

"The records show that when he plays, other players struggle," said Ganga, immediately clearing up the mystery as to why West Indies have been so appalling recently. "And I don't think he is much of a team player. A caring sort of attitude is something he can work on and strengthen, in terms of wanting you to do well. I think that when it comes to human relationships, he has a lot to learn."

A large door marked "Test career" slammed shut in the background, but Ganga ploughed on regardless and turned his attention to Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the current captain. "In terms of communication, he falters," he explained. "It's very difficult to lead guys when you can't really let them know exactly what you want them to do, and motivate and lead them as a true leader would." Ah. But surely Daren had some encouraging words for the depleted West Indies side in Sri Lanka? It's unfortunate that a guy like Sylvester Joseph is vice-captain of the team," he reasoned. "No disrespect to him, but to me, that's unfortunate." Unfortunate, Daren. Very unfortunate.


The only thing I might add is that Ganga is actually the captain of the West Indies A side currently playing in Sri Lanka. Poor old West Indies. With this going on and another contract storm blasting its way around the Caribbean causing players like Brian Lara and Ramnaresh Sarwan to be axed, their upcoming series against the Sri Lankans looks like it is going to be another disaster.

Australia just keep getting better

I think Australia are finally starting to click into gear. After a very rusty start to the tour both Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist have finally come right, and even Jason Gillespie showed a bit of form in last night's victory. More worrisome is that England's key player - Steve Harmison - took an absolute pasting conceding 81 runs from his 9.5 over spell.

Channel Nine axe Shane Warne

It seems Warne's off-field shennanigans have become too much for Kerry Packer. I wonder what Warne will end up doing after cricket now? Commentary seemed the only out for a man with few skills outside cricket and who lacks the restraint to make a decent coach.

Tuesday, 12 July 2005

A very close thing

Hmmm. This smacks of skullduggery. In their match against the New Zealand Academy XI the Karnataka State team were struggling with 18 runs needed off three overs, only two wickets left in hand and Shane Bond firing down rockets. They responded by appealing against the light and won on the Duckworth/Lewis rules. A look at the scorecard shows some positives though. Good bowling from Bond, Franklin and Te Ahu Davis and good batting from Jesse Ryder and Michael Papps.

Monday, 11 July 2005

Lord's ODI

Its a bit of a good news, bad news kind of morning. It is good news that England lost at Lord's, but bad that Australia won. Likewise its good news that Gillespie is still out of form, but bad that Ricky Ponting is back in it.

In other news there were some distinctly average performances from the New Zealanders playing county cricket over the weekend. Craig Spearman made 29 and 47, Craig McMillan made 7 and 15, Scott Styris scored 15 and 3, Nathan Astle made 48 and 23 and Stephen Fleming rounded things off with a stylish 78. Andre Adam's Essex have just begun their match and he has yet to be called upon.

First-class averages of the New Zealanders at this stage of the season are as follows:

Andre Adams, 142 runs at 35.50 and 21 wickets at 29.85
Nathan Astle 273 runs 34.12 and 3 wickets at 39.00
Stephen Fleming 805 runs at 73.18
Craig McMillan 99 runs at 33.00
Craig Spearman 591 runs at 53.72
Scott Styris 334 runs at 27.83 and 19 wickets at 29.15

Sunday, 10 July 2005

A good win

The New Zealand Academy team just completed a comprehensive win over its Australian colleagues. Highlight of the match from a New Zealand perspective was a spell of 3-31 by Shane Bond, with the Black Caps website noting that he is increasing in pace in each match of this tour.

Friday, 8 July 2005

Myths about the Zimbabwe situation

Take a deep breath, this is going to take a while. Here is a list of the things the press has managed to get wrong so far:

“The New Zealanders just have to stump up a US$2million fine to the ICC and they don’t have to go”. You would have thought this would have been put to bed weeks ago, but most people still seem to believe it – including Don Brash. New Zealand Cricket will probably have to pay around US$30million, the money would go to Zimbabwe Cricket (patron, Mr R Mugabe) and we would also face a suspension from international cricket.

“The New Zealand government just has to ban the cricketers from touring and all fines and penalties will be lifted.” The force majeure clause in the ICC contract applies if a “serious intervening cause” takes place and this makes touring impossible, illegal or dangerous. The key bit most people appear to have overlooked is the fact that a “serious intervening cause” must take place before the clause can be used. Examples given of this include civil commotion, storm, explosion or earthquake. Making a tour illegal by means of passing a law in New Zealand is not enough to invoke the clause unless there is also a serious intervening cause in Zimbabwe that it can be pinned to.

“Martin Snedden did not raise the issue of Zimbabwe at the recent meeting of the ICC”. The matter was not raised as part of the agenda of the meeting because that had been set in concrete months ago, however Snedden did plead New Zealand’s case to representatives of each nation outside the meeting.

“Robert Mugabe’s mouth-piece, the Zimbabwe Independent, is criticising the New Zealanders for thinking of cancelling the tour and says Mugabe wouldn’t care – which means Mugabe actually is worried and that cancelling the tour will actually have an impact on him.” The Zimbabwe Independent is a strongly ANTI-Mugabe publication that is campaigning for action against his government.

“The ICC is an international body, it must have a conscience.” It doesn’t. It is just as Byzantine, corrupt and hypocritical as the FIFA or the IOC.

“Well, if it doesn’t have a conscience then the ICC must be out of step with the rest of the world by forbidding member nations from refusing to tour on human rights grounds.” The IOC, FIFA and the International Tennis Federation all have similar clauses in their member contracts.

“England still toured, and their government didn’t take any action.” The British parliament was just as full of hot air as the New Zealand government. It’s true they didn’t take any action, but then it looks like the New Zealand government won’t either. It should also be pointed out that the English tour happened before Robert Mugabe made 250,000 people homeless in the middle of winter.

“China and Pakistan are just as bad.” China and Pakistan do have authoritative and restrictive regimes, but they are not speaking the language of genocide and nor are they starting to take action which looks like the beginnings of genocide.

“The rest of the world will turn against us if we tour.” The rest of the world is either not looking or is actually opposed to the anti-tour sentiment. Representative football teams from Angola and Gabon both toured Zimbabwe recently and no-one raised an eyebrow while South Africa – who as the next door neighbour shoulders more responsibility than anyone else - is clearly indicating that New Zealand should back off. In places like India our rhetoric is seen as appalling and colonialist – when Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth an editorial in the Hindu stated this action “revealed the scandalous manner in which three countries – Britain, Australia and New Zealand – dominate and set the agenda of [the Commonwealth]” while the 12 Commonwealth members from Southern Africa released a joint statement stating that this action was evidence of our “dismissive, intolerant and rigid attitude”. It is unlikely these views will have improved.

“That thing Martin Snedden said about us losing the chance to co-host the World Cup is rot. The World Cup is six years away.” The decision on hosting rights is to be made within the next 12 months.

“New Zealand Cricket has always been weak when it comes to moral issues.” Cricinfo bought up the 1993 tour to Sri Lanka when pressure was apparently applied to players to make them stay after a bomb went off. Clearly Cricinfo has forgotten how well later troubled tours to the sub-continent were handled by the new management and how grateful the Players’ Association has been for that brave action.

“Sporting sanctions don’t work anyway.” Tell that to Nelson Mandela, who wrote that “every effort to isolate South Africa adds strength to our struggle.”

I don’t think any of this serves to support one argument over the other, but it is pretty hard to have a reasonable debate when so many people just don’t have their facts straight.

Another summer without cricket

According to Jonathan Millmow, writing in the Dominion Post, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have been ruled out as replacements for the Zimbabwe tour at the start of the New Zealand season. It is looking increasingly likely that there will be no replacement and that the cricket season will not start until mid-February when the West Indies arrive for a full tour. Prior to that we will have only domestic cricket and three one-dayers against Australia (in early December) and three one-dayers against Sri Lanka (in early January) to keep us occupied.

Richard Boock again

I did think Richard Boock had calmed down a little. But no, it appears he has got his second wind. Serves me right for thinking that its about time someone started correcting the many misconceptions about the tour that are out there. I just didn't expect it to be Richard and that he would create even more.

England vs Australia

What more one-dayers? Isn't the NatWest series over? Well, yes it is. But the ECB are milking the Ashes cow for all she is worth and Australia and England play three extra one day matches before the first test. And in the first match of this extra, mini, super-duper, special series England thumped Australia by 9 wickets.

More rhetoric on Zimbabwe

This time from the managing editor of Wisden Cricinfo. And even he manages to get some of the basic facts wrong.

Thursday, 7 July 2005

Hello Bangladesh

Yes, its good bye World Cup - but hello Bangladesh. Jonthan Millmow seems convinced that they are the most likely replacement to replace Zimbabwe in this summer's home series.

Goodbye World Cup

Richard Boock still seems fairly wound up about things, in revealing that New Zealand have almost certainly lost the chance to co-host the 2011 World Cup he couldn't resist a last line dig.

McMillan takes to Middlesex

Craig McMillan led Hampshire to victory over Middlesex in the latest round of Twenty20 games with a blistering 65 not out from only 30 balls. McMillan also took 2-21 while New Zealand team-mate Scott Styris conceeded 25 runs from his 4 over spell and made 34.

Wednesday, 6 July 2005

Snedden goes to the Beehive

Today is the day that Martin Snedden has a chance to lay-out to government the contractual, legal and financial issues which make the New Zealand tour of Zimbabwe almost inevitable. It is possible that some of the shrillness will fade after this meeting, but given the boost in the polls the Greens are receiving on this issue I doubt it. The shrillness is not all one-sided though. Richard Boock, one of the few people in the media who support the tour, has wound himself up so tightly over this issue that I am worried he might explode.

Here we go!

One of the longest pre-seasons in New Zealand history begins tomorrow with a warm-up match in Brisbane against the Australian Institute of Sport. India's Karnataka State Cricket Association are also in Brisbane and a mix of matches will be played against both sides. While the games are essentially meaningless warm-ups, there is one real point of interest. The return of the very nervous Shane Bond.

Monday, 4 July 2005

More on Zimbabwe

Jim Eagles has pointed out that cricket is an easy target for moralistic grand-standing, a stance that is reinforced by this morning's news that the government has told New Zealand Rugby that it won't prevent Zimbabwe's rugby team from playing here (something that would apparently put our chance to co-host the Rugby World Cup at risk).

Astle in Durham

After a slow start to the county season, Nathan Astle seems to be hitting his stride. After scoring 64 last week against Nottinghamshire he hit a brisk 55 (off 37 balls) against Lancashire yesterday.

"Shane Warne should never again debase the Australian colours"

Golly. Someone really doesn't like Shane Warne. Perhaps Paul Sheehan might like to turn his attention to Brett Lee - who predictably responded to a turned down caught behind appeal on Saturday by sending a beamer down to Marcus Trescothick and then claimed it had been a complete accident. Brett Lee's use of the beamer demands far greater examination by the media than Shane Warne's tawdry (but personal) home life.

Nat West final

I spent a somewhat sleepy Sunday watching the replay of the Nat West final between Australia and England. Not knowing the result before the match, I bit my nails down to the quick in the thrilling finish. Despite the fact that the match was a tie, I think England came out with a mental edge over the Aussies. Australia, and Ricky Ponting in particular, looked shattered by the end - and at several times during the match showed a degree of petulance and frustration. Matthew Hayden gave Simon Jones a dose of verbal diarrhoea while Ricky Ponting looked as grumpy as Steve Waugh when caught behind for 7. The most worrying thing for England would be the way in which the top order was dismissed. As David Gower pointed out during the match and Vic Marks pointed out after, the dismissals of Trescothick, Strauss and Flintoff were utterly predictable - nibbling at a wide one with no foot movement, beaten by pace from a full ball and a hard-handed push at a ball wide of off stump.

Super Series squads

Dan Vettori and Brendon McCullum both made the cut for the Super Series one day and test squads. McCullum will have to fend off Mark Boucher in the tests and part-time keeper Rahul Dravid to take the gloves in the one-dayers, while Dan has spin competition from Muttiah Muralitharan and Anil Kumble in the tests, and Muralitharan and Shahid Afridi in the one-dayers. Stiff competition and with 20 players in each squad, I suspect the best we might realistically expect is to see McCullum keeping in the one day games.

Friday, 1 July 2005

Colin Blythe

Book reviews in the Times Literary Supplement seldom restrict themselves to talking just about books. This one, a review of a biography of the tragic English left-arm spinner Colin Blythe, covers a range of topics including the amount of tragedy that there seems to be associated with left-arm spinners, the limits of cricketing biographies and how fame fades with the passing of time.

Don Brash wades in

And he comes out of it looking pretty stupid. How hard is it to do a little research before speaking guys?

Ben on ... protesting in Zimbabwe

Apparently Amnesty International have written to NZC suggesting that the tour to Zimbabwe could be used to make a protest directed at the regime. While the idea has promise, it doesn't account for the fact that black armbands won't show up on a black uniform.