Sunday, 31 December 2006

Cleaver on the fringe

Dylan Cleaver has an interesting piece in the Herald today. He looks at some of the players at the fringe of the New Zealand side, such as Bradley Scott, Jesse Ryder and Peter McGlashan. The "less mature" Ryder comes in for particular attention.

Friday, 29 December 2006

Bowling dross

Richard Boock thought New Zealand bowled a pile of dross yesterday, and I agree. "Some of the most inept bowling imaginable" fails to give the attack justice. Figures like 9-0-64-0 (Gillespie), 6-0-60-0 (Mason) and 7-0-54-0 (Adams) might look bad, but even they manage to look inflated because after reaching 201 in 24 overs Sri Lankans eased back and hit cruise control. The fact that there were 27 extras is perhaps more indicative of the rubbish served up. Gillespie can be excused a few nerves, but he concedes 4.89 runs per over for Wellington so I don't think that is only problem. Mason showed in the last Twenty20 match that he can be lethal when conditions suit seam bowling, but yesterday again demonstrated that he is cannon-fodder on a good batting surface. Adams might be another suffering some nerves. It is a fair while between drinks for the Auckland all-rounder and I suspect he is a little too desperate to succeed.

The "rotation policy" is becoming an issue for me. It makes sense if it is used to test out and give experience to young players like Ross Taylor - but when it is used to bring in players like Mason who are in their 30s and have tried and failed before - it loses a lot of its value. Indeed its only value then becomes to give players like Bond and Oram a rest.

Winning is a habit. And the best preparation New Zealand can have for the World Cup is to start winning. Yes, its going to be a long season and yes, players need a rest. But if a rotation policy is going to be in place then it should be used to rest one key player at a time - not half the damn team.

Thursday, 28 December 2006

Taylor in Napier

After so much waiting and anticipation for Ross Taylor's inclusion in the New Zealand team I wouldn't have been surprised to have seen him fail miserably in his first game back. But instead he smacked a brilliant unbeaten century against Sri Lanka. Along the way he suffered pretty severe leg cramps. The last New Zealand batsman to suffer leg cramps was Mark Richardson and I bet Ross wouldn't be too unhappy to end up with a similar career record. Cramps apart though, you couldn't pick two more different players than Richardson and Taylor. Where Richardson was technically correct with a rock solid defence, Taylor seems to rely on a good eye, fast hands and a very heavy bat. It took a while for Taylor's feet to start moving (nerves perhaps?) and sometimes he played across his pads, so he isn't the most classical batsman - but when he started playing shots he played beautifully. His opening boundary - an off-drive off Vaas - a gentle flick off his toes for six off Malinga and a trio of thumping leg-side wallops will live in the memory for a long time.

Canning's "retirement"

It looks like Tama Canning didn't so much retire, as go before he was sacked. According to Cricinfo he turned up late on the last day of his last game and with a hangover. Auckland Cricket were in the process of reviewing his conduct (and his contract) when he decided to quit the game.

Saturday, 23 December 2006

Poll results and a new poll

My last poll wasn't very popular. Clearly boring questions about a domestic competition didn't thrill you. I asked who you thought would win the State Championship this season. Central Districts won out with a measly 5 votes. Canterbury followed with 4 and Wellington with 3. Northern Districts won 2 votes while Otago and Auckland didn't win any at all.

My new poll asks you to choose your favourite scandal of Shane Warne's lengthy and extraordinary career.

Posting is likely to be light for the next couple of weeks. My family are coming to town to celebrate Christmas and I am on holiday until the 8th of January. Take care and have a fantastic holiday season.

How to beat New Zealand

Kumar Sangakkara reveals all in his column for Cricinfo.

Thursday, 21 December 2006

Ashes catches

This is a very dangerous time killer. Here's a hint for you though. If you jump in line with a seagull you will jump much higher.

The genius of spin

Shane Warne may be a dickhead and a prat, but he is also one of the greatest bowlers of all time. In Peter Roebuck's words "He took a bag of tricks onto the field and dipped into it with the cunning of a rat and the theatricality of a tragedian." He also seems to be on the verge of retirement.

I wonder what Warne will do once he has gone? Lawrence Booth expressed an interesting view on him a few days ago. Lawrence said that Warne does not enjoy taking wickets - he has to take wickets. They validate him. As Booth wrote, "...he has made such a mess of his private life that the middle of the pitch is his sanctuary, the place he can do what he does best." So what will Warne do without that sanctuary? Where does his life go now?

In many ways cricket has probably kept Warne in check to a degree. Being a sportsman means strict routines and requires discipline. Discipline is something Warne has always struggled with and with cricket gone it is possible that his already scandal-filled life will spiral out of control. I am not sure whether it will though. He already has a post lined up to commentate for Channel 9 and he knows that television will not tolerate his bad behaviour (having been sacked from a commentary role once before). He is also rumoured to have reconciled with his wife Simone. Lets hope he can keep it together. Cricket can't afford to lose its geniuses.

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Test cricket in crisis?

No-one turned up to watch Sri Lanka play New Zealand recently. But then nobody turned up to watch India beat South Africa either. Australia and England might draw record crowds, but that isn't going to last long if England keep losing. Chloe Saltau in Melbourne's Age has taken a look at the state of test cricket around the world and is starting to grow concerned.

I am not so sure we should start worrying just yet. While attendance at test matches is down, I don't think interest is. I have heard more talk about test cricket over the past few weeks than I ever have. And coverage in the media has been almost overwhelming. People still love the game, but I suspect they don't have the time to dedicate an entire day to it. So what is the solution? Well, I am sure New Zealand Cricket must make very little of its money from paying customers. 1000 people paying $15 a head will contribute only a fraction of the income provided by those massive TV rights. So why not charge nothing or only a nominal fee? If people pay $15 then they will want to get their money's worth and will only go if they know they can spend the whole day at the ground. If they were to be charged nothing, they would be much more likely to take a long lunch and pop in for a session, or take the kids down for an hour.

In my opinion, test match cricket isn't dying. But it is losing its atmosphere and has clearly lost its importance to New Zealand Cricket. The priorities are now the money-spinning ODIs and Twenty20s.

In the past I have also advocated for test matches to be taken to the provinces. Martin Snedden said recently that this is not viable because of the contracts New Zealand Cricket has with the major grounds. This is a great pity. But better scheduling might help. Test matches in November and early December are not going to get a crowd anywhere in this country. The Boxing Day test quickly became a wildly popular institution in Wellington and its loss still is a mystery to many.

I can accept that high summer and the holiday season is the time when ODIs can make even more money, but Karl has suggested timing test matches with regional holidays. Staging a test match in Wellington over Wellington Anniversary Weekend seems a very sensible idea and still leaves the Christmas period free for money making.

Test cricket has long been the jewel in cricket's crown and the shabby treatment it has received in New Zealand is to the detriment of the game and its popularity. You do not limit a "series" to two games, shove them into the darkest corner of the season and then complain that the game is losing popularity. The New Zealand public still love the longest form of the game and New Zealand Cricket should acknowledge that. Cheaper (or free) entry, better scheduling and series containing more than two matches will see the crowds return.

The aim of New Zealand Cricket of course is not to draw crowds, but to make money. The ODIs might pay the bills, but even with free entry test cricket can still be a money earner. If it wants to wear its purely financial hat then New Zealand Cricket might considering looking at test cricket fans in a different light. Instead of seeing the people who come to the ground as punters to be exploited, they should look at them as atmosphere generators who will make the TV coverage even more valuable.

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Twenty20 squad named

The New Zealand team to play Sri Lanka in two Twenty20 matches on 22 and 26 December is:

Stephen Fleming (captain), Andre Adams, Nathan Astle, Shane Bond, James
Franklin, Peter Fulton, Mark Gillespie, James Marshall, Brendon McCullum, Peter
McGlashan, Jeetan Patel, Ross Taylor

It is good to see Ross Taylor in the side. I find it surprising that James Marshall is in though. He has had one good knock this season - a brilliant 128 for Northern Districts against Wellington in the State Championship - and is only averaging 33.37. His twin brother Hamish is averaging 50.42 and might have been a better bet. I pleased Andre Adams is there. He has been blistering for Auckland recently, averaging 62.35 with the bat and 19.64 with the ball. McGlashan has come in to play as a keeper allowing Brendon McCullum will play as a specialist opener. If it comes off, this might be a move New Zealand could consider for the World Cup.

Snedden and Canning go

I wondered about retirements yesterday and today two important cogs in New Zealand cricket announced that they were moving on. Martin Snedden and Tama Canning have both announced that they are retiring. Snedden will be the bigger of the two losses. He has been at the head of New Zealand Cricket since 2001 and has provided steady, professional leadership. In a way he marked the transition from the amateur to the professional era in New Zealand cricket. He was the sharp lawyer who over from an opera singer, and he was also the CEO who oversaw the player contracts dispute and the introduction of professional first-class cricket.

Canning has been one of those bits-and-pieces cricketers that New Zealand seems to produce in spades - only he is actually an Australian. Canning came to New Zealand with the hope of making it to the top in international cricket. Not good enough to establish himself as either a batsman or a bowler, he still managed to make himself invaluable to Auckland by means of gritty, determined knocks in demanding situations and by taking vital wickets at vital moments. Canning played four ODIs for New Zealand a couple of seasons ago but found himself competing against a number of players trying to fill the same vacancy. Against the likes of Jacob Oram, James Franklin, Kyle Mills, Andre Adams, Scott Styris and Dan Vettori he was always going to struggle to establish himself. At the age of only 28 he seems to have lost his passion. I wouldn't be surprised if the struggles of his Auckland team in the first-class competition have contributed to this.

Monday, 18 December 2006

Perth, 17 years ago

Marie just sent me this link, along with the words "Even if one of the NZ team had done half as good a job as this we might have saved the test... "

The batting

Sri Lanka booted our arses at the Basin. So where did it all go wrong? I'll give you a clue. Here are the New Zealand batting averages for the series:

NJ Astle – 52 runs at 13
SE Bond – 15 runs at 5
CD Cumming – 119 runs at 29.75
SP Fleming – 75 runs at 18.75
JEC Franklin – 45 runs at 15
JM How – 70 runs at 17.5
BB McCullum – 74 runs at 24.67
CS Martin – 4 runs, no average
JDP Oram – 18 runs at 6
MS Sinclair – 83 runs at 20.75
DL Vettori – 114 runs at 38
Hmmm. Notice anything odd about that list? Like the fact that the blimmin' top order frickin' failed yet a-bloody-gain. Crickey. How many more times do we have to hear Stephen Fleming mouth the words "the top order let us down" before we manage to fix the damn problem? I know New Zealand hasn't got the largest pool of talent in the world, but somehow, somewhere there must be a solution.

Maybe the selectors could consider picking the 22 year old who averages 45.82 in first-class cricket? Or the other 22 year old who just hit 217 and who averaged 43 when given a chance in last season's Twenty20s (at a run rate of 245.71)? Maybe they could look at what members of the New Zealand team were doing out drinking one night in the middle of a damn test match they were in the process of losing? I dunno. Fixing the problem isn't my job. That's the job of the coach. And at the moment I really don't envy him.

The end of summer?

You might have noticed that I don't post much when New Zealand is doing poorly. In fact, posting (or talking) about cricket is usually the last thing I want to do in those circumstances. If I do post I usually end up sounding like a grumpy old curmudgeon like Richard Boock - and that is no fun for anybody.

As I write today New Zealand is staring defeat in the face at the Basin Reserve. Stephen Fleming has only just played a pointless little wafty drive to be caught behind.

This could possibly be Fleming's last act as a test cricketer. He is 33 years old and this is the last test match New Zealand will play for 11 months. This might also be the last test match for a couple of other key New Zealand players. Fleming, Shane Bond and Nathan Astle might all look at the upcoming World Cup in the West Indies as their last hurrah. If this is the case then what a dreary way to end. I would like to have seen them all go in a blaze of glory. Bond ripping down yorkers while Fleming and Astle blast the side to victory. But instead we have watched Bond play as a stock bowler trying to limit run-scoring while Fleming played one of those irresponsible drives we thought he had put behind him. Who knows, perhaps Astle might yet redeem them with an innings filled with those booming drives? I don't know. Perhaps in a couple of hours I will feel stupid for having written this. But I suspect I will instead be watching a replay of Astle being given out lbw off Murali or caught behind off an attempted booming drive.

Friday, 15 December 2006

A terrible mistake

I was planning to take today off to watch the cricket. And then the small report I had to write before Christmas became a 350+ page beast. And now I am sitting at work watching the sunlight reflecting off the glass-like surface of the harbour and wishing I were on the grassy bank at the Basin.

Thursday, 14 December 2006

Poll results and a new poll

My last poll asked you what the result of the New Zealand vs Sri Lanka test series would be. Nine of you optimists picked a 2-0 scoreline to New Zealand and eleven thought it it would be 1-0. Three of you thought it would 1-1 and everyone was confident rain wouldn't lead to a 0-0 draw. Two people lacked faith in the kiwis and thought it would end 1-0 to Sri Lanka. Three people (all of whom I think are probably my friend Marie) voted for a 2-0 outcome in the Lankans favour. The fact that one of the people who voted that way voted after the result of the first test shows that they probably weren't all that serious.

My new poll asks you who will win the State Championship. To give you a bit of a guide, here is the scoreboard after the first three rounds:

  1. Canterbury, 16 points
  2. Wellington, 10 points
  3. Central Districts, 10 points
  4. Northern Districts, 6 points
  5. Otago, 4 points
  6. Auckland, 2 points

Is grumpiness contagious?

John Bracewell has always been a grumpy bugger. And now his players seem to be copying him. First of all Jacob Oram complained before the first test that the New Zealand media always attack the team when they fail and then dismiss their successes by focusing on the opposition's faults. Then Dan Vettori started complaining that "There's nothing to look forward to as a spinner in New Zealand". Now Stephen Fleming has just appeared on the national news to accuse the Sri Lankans of trying to distract the fans from their first test loss by whining about Murali's dismissal. Fleming picked out Sangakkara for particular attention, claiming that he was being "selfish" in taking the century raising single anyway (it was the first ball of an over, so he was exposing Murali to the strike for five balls) and that the bowlers were itching to target the batsman to get some revenge in Wellington.

EDIT: Link added to story about Fleming's attach

Sangakkara on touring New Zealand

Apart from raising "the spirit of cricket" when Murali had his brain-explosion I have been pretty impressed with the leadership of the Sri Lankan team. Mahela Jayawardene seems thoughtful and well spoken and now Kumar Sangakkara has stepped forward with a reflective and positive article on the Sri Lankan tour.

Larsen on the spirit of cricket

Gavin Larsen's latest column for the Black Caps website is a cracker. He opens by reminding us of how kids always use the word "safe" in backyard cricket before wandering out of their crease and then turns his ire on the Sri Lankans irresponsible use of the words "spirit of cricket" to cover their spinner's recent childish mistake. Building up a head of steam at this point Larsen then opens fire on the Sunday-Star Times coverage of the Murali run-out:

Headlines such as “Brendon McCullum – hang your head in shame” was inflammatory, unbalanced, out of context and poor judgement, to my mind. Sold a few papers though, I’m sure.

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Not your typical tour diary

Ashley Giles isn't the world's most popular cricketer right at the moment, but he might win a few fans with the honesty on show in his Ashes diary. Here are a few highlights from his first few entries:

Marcus Trescothick's departure is not a total surprise. He's a close mate and told me in Canberra he was struggling. None of us realised it was this bad and that he'd get to this point so quickly.


Go out in the afternoon with the intention of getting drunk. After five days of pressure, worry and not sleeping you just go out and get wasted.


Some bloke says I am a disgrace to my country, that I have cost England the Test and I should bow out gracefully. That was nice. Have a shower, go down to the hotel bar - drink to forget again. The same bloke phones, wakes me up the next morning to apologise for the message. Apology accepted. What can you say?

Tuesday, 12 December 2006


The first test saw a few changes in the ICC cricket rankings. Shane Bond is back up to 5th in the world while James Franklin has reached his highest ever ranking score and a place at number 12 (just behind Chaminda Vaas who is in at 11). Chris Martin is at 23 and Dan Vettori (who didn't have much chance to improve his bowling score) is at 25. Interestingly Jacob Oram (54) still sits behind Nathan Astle (53) on the bowling charts.

The batsmen didn't do much for their ratings. Stephen Fleming remains at 14th place and behind him are Jacob Oram (30), Nathan Astle (35) and the rapidly rising Dan Vettori (39). Scott Styris is at 42 and then there is a long gap before we find Brendon McCullum (52), Matthew Sinclair (61), Hamish Marshall (64) and Craig Cumming (67). Sadly the chart doesn't go low enough to tell us how Chris Martin's 0 not out contributed to his rating.

Amongst the Sri Lankans, Kumar Sangakkara saw his century rewarded with a batting ranking of 7th while Muttiah Muralidaran maintains his number 1 ranking in the bowling charts.

Video of the Murali run-out

Here you go. Here is the video of Murali's run-out so you can make your own mind up.

Monday, 11 December 2006

The McCullum beat-up

The front-page banner in the Sunday-Star Times read "McCullum, hang your head in shame". What is he supposed to be hanging his head about? Running out Murali while the batsman went for a wander down the wicket.

I suspect the sub-editor who wrote the banner and Greg Ford, the sports writer who wrote the piece inside the paper, have never played a game of cricket in their lives. If they had they would have known that one of the fundamental rules of batting is that you must stay behind the crease until the ball becomes dead. The fact is, Murali chose to go for his wander while the ball was still in the process of being fielded. While it was a sad way to go and I felt a good deal of sympathy for Sangakkara who could well have gone on to steal the match from New Zealand I don't have that much sympathy for Murali. It was a very stupid thing to do and he got punished for it. End of story.

I was chatting about the event with Ben and Karl yesterday. Ben and I were involved in a similar incident back in the days when we both played social cricket. The player who was run out was actually my cousin, Andrew, who knew nothing about cricket but had been dragged into the side to make up numbers. After completing a run he went for a pointless little wander outside his crease. Knowing Andrew he had probably spotted something shiny in the grass and wanted to see if it was anything interesting. He was duly run out. And subjected to a fair amount of abuse from his team-mates for being so stupid.

Thankfully most of the real cricket journalists know a beat-up when they see one. Richard Boock and Jonathan Millmow (not online) are both strongly in favour of McCullum's actions. Geoff Longley isn't quite so convinced, but at least he is still rational.

Justice sometimes take a while

In 1988 Najvot Singh Sidhu was a big star and a permanent fixture in the Indian cricket team. That year he and a friend beat a man to death in a car-park. Sidhu was charged with murder and then acquitted, with a very bad smell left hanging over the case. Now, in 2006, Sidhu is no longer a cricketer but is (or was) a quirky commentator and a politician. A retrial has just found him guilty of "culpable homicide not amounting to murder" and he has been sentenced to three years in prison for the crime.

Saturday, 9 December 2006

Weak batting, strong bowling

It is a strange day when New Zealand suffers a middle order collapse after a solid start - we are far more used to seeing poor starts followed by a middle order revival. Luckily for us, the bowlers came to the rescue - aided by some timid Sri Lankan batting. Richard Boock thinks the batsmen should be offering the bowlers peeled grapes and chocolates in thanks. I am not so certain. Vaas, Malinga and Muralitharan all bowled well and most of the batsmen can't take too much blame for their dismissals (Oram being a notable exception). Perhaps Adam Parore might have more of a point though, he thinks our batsman should have been more aggressive and should not have allowed the Sri Lankans to dictate.

The Sri Lankan second innings was an odd affair. It seemed to me that the wicket has become easier to play on and the Sri Lankans seemed very comfortable at the start of their innings. Jayasuriya was desperately unlucky to be run-out from a Bond deflection and those that followed him largely self-destructed. I felt particularly sorry for Silva who made a pair on debut. Still, at least he doesn't have too far to look for comfort. The man he replaced, Marvan Atapattu played 88 tests despite scoring five ducks (and a 1) in his first six innings.

Friday, 8 December 2006

Day one

What a great start to the home season. I couldn't believe how well the New Zealanders played and was surprised when I turned on the radio this morning and heard the day dismissed with a few words about poor pitch conditions and Sri Lanka's "average" pedigree. Having watched the whole day's play I was rather unimpressed with that assessment. And I am sure the Sri Lankans would have been even less impressed with the assessment of their talent. A side with Murali, Vaas, Sangakkara and Jayawardene can hardly be called "average". Especially when they arrived in the country with such great recent form.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Richard Boock and Jonathan Millmow didn't agree with the idiots on the radio.

From my perspective the New Zealanders bowled superbly yesterday and there wasn't a moment when they let the pressure drop. In contrast the Sri Lankan bowlers threatened only in patches. Malinga and Vaas looked very dangerous at the start of the New Zealand batting effort but it didn't last long. After a couple of overs Malinga went from bowling very fast (hovering around 147 kmph), accurately and with swing to bowling fastish (142kmph) and wildly while Farveez Maharoof didn't look nearly as threatening at first change.

Matthew Sinclair made a great impression on his return. He seemed to have more time than any of the 15 batsmen on display yesterday. Unfortunately his one poor shot of the day led to his downfall. Cumming struggled in the early overs (nicking one no-ball to slip) but began to look more comfortable as the pressure eased.

Sadly the weather forecast indicates that not much cricket is likely today. If play does get under way then expect Sri Lanka to come out more strongly and anxious to make up for yesterday's drubbing.

Thursday, 7 December 2006

Karl says...meanwhile, on the other side of town

While the Black Caps were demolishing Sri Lanka today, round 3 of the State Championship got under way, with some impressive action.

Firstly, a display of controlled aggression from Ross Taylor who strengthened his claims to be in the first XI test and ODI teams - 217 in CD's total of 394 all out against Otago. What is impressive is the way he did it - 217 in 212 balls with 2 sixes and 26 4s. His 200 came in 191 balls. Is it too early to label him Nathan Astle's heir-apparent?

Secondly, Mathew Bell gave the selectors another opener to think about with his 101 in Wellington's 351 for 5 against ND.

And in Auckland v Canterbury, Canterbury were bowled out for 251, with Black Caps discard Peter Fulton top-scoring with 68. Interestingly Lou Vincent finished the innings with 1 wicket for 2 runs!

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

Suhas on Sinclair

Bangalore-raised and Austin Texas-based New Zealand cricket fan Suhas has written an excellent article profiling the trials and tribulations of Matthew Sinclair's career. It is well worth a read.

Match conditions

The forecast for Jade Stadium over the next few days is for cold and cloudy weather. The pitch to be used is the same portable pitch that has been in use for the past few seasons. Two test matches have been played on this wicket with the following results:

2001/2 - England 228 and 468/8d beat New Zealand 147 and 451
2004/5 - New Zealand 433 and 131 lost to Australia 432 and 135/1

So not good pedigree for New Zealand, but at least we have that 222 by Nathan Astle to consol us. I heard the curator predicting a pitch which is more like the 2001/2 wicket than the one used a couple of seasons ago. That and the weather conditions would indicate that seam is likely to dominate for at least the first few days. If the sun gets a chance to come out it could settle into a hard, bouncy wicket which is good for batting, but don't bet on that happening.

Tuesday, 5 December 2006

Warne Pounded

Dick Pound, head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has written a book. And in a chapter on the worst excuses he has heard for positive drug tests he has this to say about one Shane Keith Warne:

"Warne said his mother had given him a diuretic so that he would look slimmer on television, without mentioning the shoulder injury from which he was trying to recover. The diuretic was a masking agent that could have hidden the possible use of steroids that would help the injury cure faster. He had returned to play almost twice as quickly as the experts had predicted."

As Cricinfo has helpfully reminded us, at the time of his offence Cricket Australia said his testimony - and that of his mother - as "vague and inconsistent".

Early season form

I know the season has only just started, but here is a bit of a form guide going into the first test based on performances in the first two rounds of the State Championship:

Dan Vettori - 246 runs at 123.00
Nathan Astle - 104 runs at 52.00
James Franklin - 140 runs at 46.67
Brendon McCullum - 182 runs at 45.50
Matthew Sinclair - 131 runs at 43.67
Craig Cumming - 111 runs at 37.00 (plus 50 and 8 not out against Sri Lanka)
Jamie How - 86 runs at 28.67
Stephen Fleming - 55 runs at 18.33
Shane Bond - 8 runs at 8
Michael Mason - 17 runs at 8.5
Ian O'Brien - 0 runs at 0
Jacob Oram - 0 runs at 0
Chris Martin - 0 runs at 0

Shane Bond - 7 wickets at 10.57
Michael Mason - 11 wickets at 15.54
Dan Vettori - 6 wickets at 22
Ian O'Brien - 9 wickets at 26.22
James Franklin - 5 wickets at 36.60
Jacob Oram - 1 wicket at 56.00
Chris Martin - 3 wickets at 74.00

Some of the stats for those who missed out on selection also make interesting reading:

Rob Nicol - 245 runs at 122.50
Tim McIntosh - 273 runs at 91.00
Craig McMillan - 174 runs at 87.00
Hamish Marshall - 217 runs at 72.33
Jesse Ryder - 183 runs at 61.00
Peter Fulton - 136 runs at 45.33
Ross Taylor - 100 runs at 33.33

Mark Gillespie - 9 wickets at 21.33

These figures make Mark Gillespie's non-selection even more of a surprise. I am also left worried about the lack of cricket played by Jacob Oram and by the form of Chris Martin. Martin seems to struggle at the start of every season though, and at least he has a good number of overs under his belt.

The lack of runs made by much of the top order is a bit of a concern. Astle and Sinclair (and to a lesser degree Cumming) are the only ones to have spent extended periods of time in the middle. This is especially notable when you look at the amount of runs scored by those who missed out on a spot. I guess the problem we face is that we have too many middle order players competing for a very limited number of spaces. The lower order is so strong that we can afford to play Oram at six. That only leaves three middle order places and one of those is sewn up by the captain. With Astle another certainty then New Zealand's large stock of good middle order batsmen are left scrambling for the one remaining spot. You could say that all of Nicol (an unfashionable dour player I rate particularly highly), McMillan, Marshall, Ryder and Fulton were unlucky to miss out - but the fact is that they are all going to find it very hard to break into the team.


Podcasting is something I have got into a little bit lately. For those that are not techno-savvy, a podcast is an audio file you download and listen to - either on your computer or via an MP3 player. I have an iPod and having something to listen to on the train in the mornings is very handy. The only thing I haven't really found is a good cricketing podcast. Cricinfo has started providing a few, but I haven't really been that impressed by them so far. But now John Morrison and Daniel McHardy's Cricket Club radio show is available as a podcast. If you have never tried podcasting before, now is your chance to give it a try. You don't even need an MP3 player. Simply download the iTunes software (it is free) and you can just listen through your computer.

Monday, 4 December 2006

A classic piece of online commentary

From the Guardian's over-by-over coverage:

117th over: Australia 392-6 (in reply to 551; Clarke 54, Warne 4) Seeing Giles get a wicket on this pitch, with Monty in the stands, is a bit like seeing Lorraine Kelly look radiant in a particular dress. It's nice and all but you can't help but wonder: how good would Ms Johansson have looked?

Ben on...India's run in to the World Cup

India's mauling at the hands of South Africa in the just completed ODI series (0-4, including losses by 154, 106 and 80 runs and 9 wickets) will not be helping their preparation for the World Cup.

Given that the tour to New Zealand was abandoned because it was believed that defeat would not be good preparation ("There is no point in touring there because any loss will only raise pressure on the team like the last time"), I wonder if perhaps they chose to pull out of the wrong tour.

The end of the path for McGrath?

My very first selection for the State Virtual Cricket competition was Glenn McGrath to be the best performed bowler in the first innings of the second Ashes test. He returned the worst bowling figures of his career. Bloody typical.

McGrath’s lack of pace has started an instant barrage from the English press. “Decline of McGrath is clear to see” trumpets a headline in the Daily Telegraph. "His time is nearly up" claims Angus Fraser in the Independent.

I was originally going to use this blog to counter these arguments. After all, McGrath took 6-50 against England just last week and he might still be suffering from the effects of a heel injury. Then I noticed a column penned by McGrath himself. In this column the medium pacer claims that his heel is fine. And that he has good rhythm and bowled well. And that its all the pitch's fault.

Hum. The first claim and the last claim might have some merit. But if McGrath thinks that he bowled well then he is clearly delusional. I would have accepted it if he admitted that he had had a bad day. Or even that the injury was having an impact. But to claim that he "was pretty pleased" with the pile of old rubbish he delivered on Friday and Saturday and that his "rhythm was the best it's been all year" is to be in denial. Perhaps the English press has a point?

Sunday, 3 December 2006

Poll results and a new poll

My last poll asked you who should open for New Zealand. John Bracewell must have had half an ear listening because first choice pick Jamie How (25 votes) got the nod. Second place getter Matthew Sinclair (14 votes) also made the team, but as a number 3 rather than as an opener. Peter Fulton (11 votes) just pipped Craig Cumming (10 votes) in the poll, but missed out on a test position. A handful of votes tipped Stephen Fleming (5 votes) to take a step or two up the order while Matthew Bell (3 votes), James Marshall (2 votes) and Hamish Marshall (2 votes) all had their fans.

My new poll asks you what the result of the New Zealand vs Sri Lanka test series will be. So start clicking that voting finger.

Saturday, 2 December 2006

NZ Test team named

The team for the Sri Lanka series has been named.

The squad is: Stephen Fleming (captain), Nathan Astle, Shane Bond, Craig Cumming, James Franklin, Jamie How, Chris Martin, Michael Mason, Brendon McCullum, Iain O'Brien, Jacob Oram, Mathew Sinclair, Daniel Vettori.

The changes from the last test match against South Africa in April are:
- no Papps, Styris or Mills (all injured).
- returing to test cricket are Sinclair, Cumming, Mason and O'Brien.

So Cumming is the favoured opener, Sinclair makes it ahead of Marshall and Fulton, and O'Brien comes back on the weight of good domestic form.

Sinclair deserves to come back. I also hope that Iain O'Brien isn't a player who is sensational at domestic level and can't step up. He's a good medium-quick who seems capable of bowling well internationally.

One of the 13 is to be dropped from the starting 12 - I'd pick it to be between Mason and O'Brien with the other to be 12th man.

Friday, 1 December 2006

Otago vs Sri Lanka

Given the weather much of the country has been experiencing in the past few days, the good people of Dunedin have been lucky to see much of the Otago vs Sri Lanka match. In the end they have actually been able to see a reasonable amount of cricket the first day and a bit. Sri Lanka will be glad of the batting practice and most of their batsmen have managed to spend a fair amount of time in the middle, Sanath Jayasuriya's first-ball duck being the obvious exception. But the Sri Lankans probably won't be so pleased with the quality of the opposition. Here is the Otago squad for the game:

CD Cumming (captain), JW Sheed, AJ Redmond, GR Todd, NT Broom, GJ Hopkins, NL McCullum, SB Haig, BE Scott, CM Smith, GS Shaw, MJ Harvie

Only captain Craig Cumming is anywhere near selection for an international team and at best he is an outside chance for a call-up. The bowling attack consists of two honest toilers in Gareth Shaw (49 wickets at 25.22) and Bradley Scott (86 wickets at 28.32) an off-spinner with an average over 40 (Nathan McCullum) and two newcomers (Mathew Harvie and Craig Smith) while the batting line-up only includes two established players with batting averages over 30 (Cumming with 34.40 and Broom with 31.75).

Otago is not one of the country's stronger sides at the moment and appears even weaker when players like James McMillan and David Sewell have been removed from the line-up.

As a result Sri Lanka are unlikely to get the kind of hard match they need to get themselves ready for a test match. And New Zealand has missed an opportunity to give some of its key and fringe players an opportunity to show off their talents. Both sides might both have been better off if a match versus an Academy or 'A' side had been played instead.

Thursday, 30 November 2006

State virtual cricket

If you want to play State virtual cricket and haven't yet enrolled, then get your gears on. First round picks must be made by 6pm tonight New Zealand time (around 6am GMT).

The troubles of Stuart MacGill

Peter Roebuck's latest column is a bit of mystery. The focus is on the steps Stuart MacGill needs to take if he is to save his cricket career. But, quite why that career needs saving in the first place is left unsaid. We know that MacGill has been surprisingly overlooked for the second Ashes test and Peter tells us that the leggie has been "in hot water" with his club and state sides. But we are never told what it is MacGill is alleged to have done. We are told "he had taken exception to an umpire's decision", but don't know exactly how he reacted to that decision. We are told that "his bursts of fury and generally testy demeanour prompt[ed] a delegation of senior players to conclude that he was fast becoming more trouble than he was worth", but aren't given any examples of this bad behaviour. While Peter Roebuck might be too gentlemanly to air other people's dirty laundry, I suspect the rest of the Australian press will not be so polite. Expect to see the unedited beans spilt shortly.

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

Sri Lankan tour preview

The Sri Lankan team have arrived in New Zealand feeling a little underdone. While they will have only one first-class match before the first test, this is actually only a little more time in the middle than most of the New Zealanders will experience.

The Lankans have toured New Zealand every year for the past three years and an 'A' side toured 4 years ago, so they should be getting used to conditions here. Having said that, Sri Lanka have not done well on those tours. They lost last season's ODI series 4-1, lost the 2004/5 test series 1-0 and also lost the only ODI played in that same season.

Another concern the Sri Lankans must have is that the core of their side is ageing. Indeed, of the players currently under contract with the Sri Lankan board only Lasith Malinga, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara are under 30 - and both Jayawardene and Sangakkara are 29. Perhaps the team is not yet as elderly as the Australians, but age certainly seems to be having more of an impact on match fitness. Chaminda Vaas is still an excellent bowler, but he is in danger of losing a pace contest against Nathan Astle. Sanath Jayasuriya is another who appears to be rapidly approaching his expiry date.

New Zealand on the other hand still looks relatively youthful and fit. Daryl Tuffey recently broke down again, but apart from that most players seem fit and firing. The opening spot is still an issue, but players like Tim McIntosh, Rob Nicol, Craig McMillan and Jesse Ryder are performing well in first-class cricket and must be applying some pressure on the incumbents.

Early season wickets in first-class cricket have so far been very good, but the chance of there being some bad weather before the start of the first test must be high. Expect Vaas and Malinga to pose a threat on damp green wickets, but unless the weather throws us a surprise don't expect to see much trouble from Muttiah Muralitharan.

My pick then is to see a series dominated by the seamers, and by New Zealand.

Monday, 27 November 2006

Roebuck on a mismatch

Peter Roebuck has been looking for some kind of positive in the awful first test mismatch. He has found one in the battle between Shane Warne and Kevin Pietersen.

The opening dilemma

Dylan Cleaver is obsessing over the opening spot in the New Zealand order just as much as the rest of us are. He is also seeking out views.

Friday, 24 November 2006

A useless fact

I am getting sick of the Australian dominance. I have resorted to trawling Wikipedia for distractions. By the way, did you know that "googly" is rated the fifth hardest word in the English language to translate into another tongue?

Ashes day one

What a let down. All that hype and anticipation and England bowl like a dog's breakfast. I am willing to predict that the end of day two will see Australia looking as strong as Auckland in their match against Otago.

As Peter Roebuck tells us, yesterday was all about two captains. Both played strong hands but only one got much support from his team-mates. In 2005 the first ball in the Ashes was bowled by Steve Harmison to Justin Langer. A Harmison bouncer sent Langer reeling. In 2006 the first ball of the Ashes was again bowled by Harmison and again the target was Langer. This time the ball went so wide it was caught by second slip.

England are already without the services of Simon Jones and have to play with Kookaburra balls that fail to swing. If Harmison continues to bowl like he did yesterday then their bowling attack suddenly starts to look very thin.

In short then, England are going to have to start improving very, very fast or the Ashes will be back in Australian hands quicker than boiled asparagus.

Thursday, 23 November 2006

Ashes - first session

I noticed Freddy Flintoff wore a black armband during the first session at the 'Gabba. Australia are currently 109/1 and Steve Harmison is bowling like a drain. Perhaps Freddy thinks that England's chances of retaining the Ashes are dead already?

Happy birthday

Bruce Edgar is 50 today.

A possible contender for New Zealand

He's 26, a left-hander, an opener and has scored 10 first-class hundreds in 57 matches. He is also picking up his bat this morning with 173 runs already next to his name on the scoreboard. I wouldn't be surprised if Tim McIntosh's name starts to appear in the national selectors' notebooks shortly.

And speaking of openers, has anyone else noticed the name at the top of the Canterbury batting order? Given how confident he appears in his own abilities, I wouldn't be surprised if Brendon McCullum is putting his hand up to take an opening spot for his country.

Wednesday, 22 November 2006

SMH on Shane Watson

In these days of the polished hype machine and slick PR management it is unusual to find much honesty in journalism. So it was refreshing to see this article by Brendan McArdle in the Sydney Morning Herald. The subject? Shane Watson. The conclusion? A talented egotist whose exploits don't match the hype.

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

The ten best Ashes sledges

Taken from Simon Briggs' "Stiff upper lips and baggy green caps":

1 Mark Waugh to Jimmy Ormond on his Test debut, 2001: “Mate, what are you doing out here? There's no way you're good enough to play for England.”
Ormond: “Maybe not, but at least I'm the best player in my own family.”

2 Merv Hughes to Graeme Hick et al: “Mate, if you just turn the bat over you'll find the instructions on the other side.”

3 Hughes again: “Does your husband play cricket as well?”

4 Mike Atherton, on Merv Hughes: “I couldn't work out what he was saying, except that every sledge ended with ‘arsewipe’.”

5 Dennis Lillee to Mike Gatting: “Hell, Gatt, move out of the way. I can't see the stumps.”

6 Derek Randall to Lillee, after taking a glancing blow to the head: “No good hitting me there, mate, nothing to damage.”

7 Ian Healy, placing a fielder yards away at cover when Nasser Hussain was batting: “Let's have you right under Nasser's nose.”

8 Tony Greig, England’s South African-born captain, to the young David Hookes, 1977: “When are your balls going to drop, Sonny?”
Hookes: “I don't know, but at least I'm playing cricket for my own country.” Hookes hit Greig for five consecutive fours.

9 Rod Marsh, late Seventies: “How's your wife and my kids?”
Ian Botham: “The wife's fine – the kids are retarded.”

10 Bill Woodfull, Australia’s captain in the Bodyline series of 1932-33, responding to Douglas Jardine's complaint that a slip fielder had sworn at him: “All right, which one of you bastards called this bastard a bastard?”

Countdown to the Ashes

The first day of the first Ashes test is only days away now and the hype is almost overwhelming. Picking a winner is actually harder in this atmosphere of information overload than it is in a series with no hype whatsoever (New Zealand vs Sri Lanka anyone?).

Just look at the Sydney Morning Herald's Ashes page and you will see what I mean by information overload.

One thing that might help us in picking an Ashes winner is to compare each squad player by player. Tim de Lisle does this in his Ashes Buzz blog to come up with a composite XI consisting of the best players on both sides. He ends up with a team containing seven Australians and four Englishmen as follows:

1 Andrew Strauss
2 Matthew Hayden
3 Ricky Ponting
4 Kevin Pietersen
5 Michael Hussey
6 Andrew Flintoff
7 Adam Gilchrist (wkt)
8 Shane Warne (capt)
9 Brett Lee
10 Matthew Hoggard
11 Glenn McGrath

I might be tempted to swap Justin Langer for Matthew Hayden and Steve Harmison for Brett Lee, but overall I agree with Tim's picks. And when you look at it that way Australia does seem to have an edge. They might have a weakness in their captain and you cannot deny that their star players have left their best days behind them, but overall they present a much more solid and well-rounded XI than the English.

Sunday, 19 November 2006

Poll results and a new poll

My last poll asked what you thought of the New Zealand side picked to play in the Champion's Trophy. 10 of you thought it looked pretty strong while 6 of you worried about the thin looking bowling attack. 15 people correctly predicted that injuries would be an issue while a large number had an issue or two with the selections. Most people seemed to think Mark Gillespie deserved his place, as only 2 people questioned it. 11 of you threw your arms up in the air at the thought of Hamish Marshall being thrown to the lions once again while 16 felt that Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder should have toured.

My next questions asks you who should open for New Zealand in the first test against Sri Lanka. Michael Papps is injured so he does not enter into the calculations, but we are still left with an array of choices.

Anoraks on display

When the domestic season gets underway you usually find an article or two mocking those diehards who turn up on a cold, windy Tuesday to watch first-class cricket. And here is this season's offering. And it is actually a little different. It is sympathetic, indepth and written by a cricket fan.

Thursday, 16 November 2006

Ben on...lopsided matches

There were a fair few one-sided matches in the Champions Trophy recently, but nothing to compare with a recent match between St Peter's and St Phillip's High Schools in the Hyderabad Cricket Association's Inter-school Under-13 Tournament.

St Peter's scored a massive 721 for 0 in 40 overs, B. Manoj Kumar and Mohammed Shaibaaz Tumbi scoring 320 and 324, respectively, breaking Tendulkar and Kambli's record for the largest partnership. St Phillip's was then bowled out for 21 – a 700-run victory to St Peter's, or in other words, a victory by a factor of 34.33.

Ben on...a new old look for summer

The Black Caps have a new uniform for the Twenty20 matches against Sri Lanka ->

It's the uniform from the 1992 World Cup!

A prescient choice hopefully. This was the tournament where Mark Greatbatch demonstrated the effectiveness of all out aggression, smacking 14 6s, and were Martin Crowe scored at nearly a run a ball over the whole tournament, hitting 47 4s.

The season opens

I was a bit off in my prediction that the opening first-class match of the season would be over in two days. Otago ended day one at 352/4. My weather forecast seemed a bit off too. Yesterday's forecast was for horrible rain to set in today, but that seems to have been revised to "lovely and sunny". Clearly the weather gods have decided to send all that rain and wind Wellington's way instead. We clearly haven't had enough of it yet.

Anyway, since my ability to predict the future appears to be wonky I thought I would try a few more predictions. 1) Sri Lanka will win every match in New Zealand, 2) Australia will win the Ashes, 3) New Zealand won't win the World Cup and 4) a flying pig won't drop huge bundles of cash into my lap.

Sri Lankan teams named

The Sri Lankan teams for the tour to New Zealand have been announced. The team for the test matches is:

Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Kumar Sangakkara, Sanath Jayasuriya, Upul Tharanga, Tillekaratne Dilshan, Chamara Kapugedera, Chamara Silva, Prasanna Jayawardene, Farveez Maharoof, Chaminda Vaas, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando, Akalanka Ganegama, Muttiah Muralitharan.

And the one day side includes:

Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Kumar Sangakkara, Sanath Jayasuriya, Upul Tharanga, Marvan Atapattu, Tillekaratne Dilshan, Chamara Kapugedera, Chamara Silva, Farveez Maharoof, Chaminda Vaas, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando, Muttiah Muralitharan, Malinga Bandara, Ruchira Perera.

Wednesday, 15 November 2006


Phew! That conference was hard work and I had even less free time to blog than I anticipated. So what did I miss in the four days I was away from my computer? Well I missed all four days of Pakistan thumping the West Indies, I missed Marcus Trescothick suffering a return of his mental illness and withdrawing from the Ashes, I missed my chance to rant about silly matches such as the XIII vs XIII game between England and New South Wales, I missed Scott Styris' injury, I missed Monty Panesar being racially abused in Sydney and I almost - but not quite - missed the start of the New Zealand domestic season.

The latter comes amidst a howling storm in Wellington that makes summer seem a very long way away. The summer's first first-class match comes as Canterbury take on Otago in Christchurch. The forecast for that part of the country is for relatively fine weather for today followed by rain over the next two days. Its not the ideal start, but knowing the usual state of the South Island's early season wickets two days is probably all we need for a result. Live coverage of the match can be found on the Black Caps website.

Friday, 10 November 2006

Light posting ahead

I am attending an international conference for the next four days. The last one was in Dublin. The next one is in Cairo. This one is in Wellington. Oh well, I guess they don't play much cricket in Ireland or Egypt anyway.

Tuffey on the comeback trail

Daryl Tuffey is making his return to the Northern Districts team today in a warm-up Twenty20 match. Let's hope he can quickly return to the form that saw him once ranked the sixth best bowler in test cricket.

Thursday, 9 November 2006

State virtual cricket

State are running a free "virtual cricket" tournament this summer. Pick a batsman and a bowler each week of the season and gain points for each run the batsman scores and for each wicket taken by the bowler. Registrations are now open.

New Zealanders can't play spin

Cricinfo's latest stats analysis looks at players who perform particularly well (or poorly) against one particular country. The most alarming thing about this analysis is a list which shows bowlers who perform well against one nation. What is alarming about this list? Well, 7 of the top 10 players on the list had New Zealand as their easy-beat team. And all 7 are spin bowlers. Here they are:

GAR Lock (Eng), career average 25.58. Average v NZ 7.80
FJ Titmus (Eng),career average 32.22. Average v NZ 16.46
KJ O'Keeffe (Aust), career average 38.07. Average v NZ 24.04
S Ramadhin (WI), career average 28.98. Average v NZ 15.06
DL Underwood (Eng), career average 25.83. Average v NZ 12.20
S Venkataraghavan (Ind), career average 36.11. Average v NZ 22.81
Mushtaq Ahmed (Pak), career average 32.97. Average v NZ 20.05

There are a few other interesting snippets from the article. New Zealand has proved the nemesis of some great players, including Gary Sobers (career average 57.78, average v NZ 23.76) and Zaheer Abbas (career average 44.79, average v NZ 17.83) - but has also proved cannon fodder to a couple of others (Adam Gilchrist averages 76.91 against us while Mike Atherton averaged 68.00). Dan Vettori also has an interesting kicking boy and an interesting nemesis. While Dan averages 22.16 against such great players of spin as Sri Lanka - he averages only 70.06 against South Africa, who have a reputation for being very poor players of the turning ball.

Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Roebuck on captaincy

In his latest article Peter Roebuck looks at how different captains have coped with playing against Australia. Stephen Fleming comes in for particularly high praise. But I wonder if Roebuck bothered checking New Zealand's test record against Australia under Fleming before filing his piece? I know there were some close and competitive matches, but ultimately the record still reads: 5 draws, 9 losses and a grand total of 0 wins.

The houses on Richard Hadlee St and Martin Crowe St

Here is some positive news, it is an update on the "cricket village" built in Sri Lanka using money raised by New Zealand Cricket's tsunami appeal matches.

Monday, 6 November 2006

The implications of Hair's sacking

In the Daily Telegraph Scyld Berry sees a precedent in the sacking of Daryl Hair:

"Any umpire who in future makes a decision which angers one of the Asian Test-playing countries — India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh — can expect the wrath of the Asian bloc to descend upon his head."

Picking a team

There has been some debate in the comments about the selection of future New Zealand teams. John Bracewell waded into the argument today, announcing to the Dominion-Post that he is considering pushing Brendon McCullum up the ranks to open and that Hamish Marshall’s continued selection depends on his form for Northern Districts.

Personally, the first thing I would like to see in ODI team selection is some revision in the roles our batsmen are expected to play. Bracewell outlined Vincent’s role last year. His view was that since New Zealand’s batting line-up is so strong, we might as well have a slogger at the top of the order. If the slog comes off it is all well and good, and if it doesn’t then our long tail should be able to compensate for the loss of an early wicket. New Zealand’s constant top order collapses make that plan utterly redundant. Vincent is a good player and he should be retained. But he should be in the team to do what he does best, punish bad balls, push quick singles and rotate the strike. If I were coach, I would spend some time with him to get his mind-set right. As Mark Greatbatch showed, once you become a slogger it becomes very hard to stop playing rash strokes.

So I would open with Vincent. And I would partner him with Nathan Astle. Stephen Fleming has done a good job as an opener, but one of the roles of the middle order is to rebuild once early wickets have been lost and I would back Fleming to do that better than Astle. Brendon McCullum has talent to burn, but I suspect that at the top of the order his aggressive hitting would be as ineffective as Vincent’s. I would save him for the death where he can perform miracles against tiring bowlers and an older ball.

Ross Taylor deserves his chance. He would follow Styris (presuming he is fit).

So I would have a top order of Vincent, Astle, Fleming, Styris and Taylor. I would then play Jacob Oram, Brendon McCullum, Dan Vettori, James Franklin/Jeetan Patel, Kyle Mills and Shane Bond. One of Patel and Franklin would play depending on the state of the wicket. Franklin can be very poor on bad days, but his record is good and I think he is still improving. Peter Fulton and Mark Gillespie would also make the squad.

That leaves one spot left in the World Cup squad of 15.

At this stage I wouldn’t give that spot to Hamish Marshall. If Jesse Ryder’s early season form for Wellington is really good, then I would consider bringing him in. But at the moment I would be tempted to pick Matthew Sinclair ahead of Ryder. I know Sinclair has been given lots of chances, but he has been in tremendous domestic form and the wickets of the West Indies (which are predicted to be low and slow) should suit him. I don’t know whether taking him to Australia for the VB series would be a good idea though. Australian wickets really don’t suit his low-footwork game and he has had traumatic tours there in the past. Perhaps he should be in the squad for that tour, but should avoid any games in Perth.

That gives me the following squad of 15 for the Caribbean; Vincent, Astle, Fleming (c), Styris, Taylor, Oram, McCullum, Vettori, Franklin, Patel, Mills, Bond, Sinclair (or possibly Ryder), Gillespie and Fulton.

For next month’s tests against Sri Lanka I would bring in Jamie How to open. How would be another player that I would take aside and give a talking to. I would tell him that he is going to be picked as a specialist test opener and that his role is to provide support to the stroke-makers. If How’s early season domestic form is poor, then I would pick Auckland stone-waller Rob Nicol for that role instead.

Anyway, at this stage my first test XI against Sri Lanka would: How, Vincent, Fleming (c), Styris, Astle, Oram, McCullum, Vettori, Franklin, Mills and Bond. Mark Gillespie would be twelfth man to provide bowling cover. If it were a bit later in the season then I think I would pick Chris Martin ahead of him, but Martin hasn’t had much bowling lately.

One final note. Daryl Tuffey is on the comeback trail and played some tough pre-season cricket for Sutherland in the New South Wales club competition. I’m not counting on his return to the top level just yet, but he is one player to keep an eye on.

Saturday, 4 November 2006

Swing the axe

In today's Herald both Adam Parore and Warren Lees rattled on about how John Bracewell needs to bring out the axe and exchange Marshall, Vincent and Fulton with Ross Taylor, Ross Taylor and Ross Taylor.

Hair sacked

A sigh of relief past through world cricket today as controversial umpire Darrell Hair was sacked by the ICC. The move means Hair will no longer be able to umpire international matches and effectively ends his career.

ICC awards

Well, the ICC international awards were held last night. Not that they are really that "international". The judges came from India, Australia, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Pakistan and - oddly enough - they awarded 11 places out of 12 in the test team of the year and 10 out of 12 in the ODI team of the year to players from India, Australia, Sri Lanka, South Africa or Pakistan. Andrew Flintoff (test and ODI team) and Shane Bond (ODI team) were the only players from England, New Zealand, the West Indies, Zimbabwe or Bangladesh who won selection.

For the record, Ricky Ponting won test player of the year and Michael Hussey won ODI player of the year.

Friday, 3 November 2006

Worst prize ever

The official ICC Champions Trophy website is running a competition. The competition tagline says "Get up-close and personal with your favourite starts ... you could accompany the drinks cart at the ICC Champions Trophy ...", but this is probably the worst prize ever dreamt up for a number of reasons.

Firstly the draw for this prize will be made on 30 November 2006. The winner is supposed to be accompanying the drinks cart during the Champions Trophy final on 5 November 2006.

The next problem with the competition is that despite saying the winner will "get up-close and personal with your favourite stars" one of the conditions of the competition is that "The winner (one person only) will not be permitted to communicate with the players at any time while on the field." And if you wanted an autograph you are also going to be out of luck, "The winner (one person only) will not be allowed to carry any material with them while on the field."

Oh, and finally the winner is also "... responsible for making their own transportation arrangements to and from the stadium [in Mumbai]."

Hum. This is one prize I am not going to miss too badly if I don't win it.

A YouTube experience

Here is a nice flashback, Shane Bond destroys the Aussies.

Thursday, 2 November 2006

Vermeulen in trouble again

Not content with being sent home from the 2003 Zimbabwe tour of England for "persistent misconduct" and then being banned for ten years for throwing a ball at a spectator a few months ago, Zimbabwean Mark Vermeulen is currently in Police custody after he was seen driving away from an arson attack which destroyed the Zimbabwe cricket academy facilities in Harare.

Drug bans

Shoaib Akhtar has received a two year ban for using nandrolone and Mohammad Asif received a one year ban. Reading between the lines of the PCB press release it appears Asif came clean while Akhtar pleaded not guilty and then failed to convince the Board of his case. Presumably he was unable to provide any of the herbal medicine that he claims caused the failed test result.

Interestingly a two year ban is the minimum ban under the ICC's doping rules, so both Akhtar and Asif have got off lightly. Asif seems to be the luckier of the two, given that part of the PCB statement says that "Pakistan physician Darryn Lifson confirmed he stopped [Asif] from taking a banned substance a few months back." So he was caught and let off without punishment, and then he was caught a second time and given half the minimum penalty. Hmmm, not quite the hard line that the PCB had promised.

Despite the relatively light sentence this is likely to mark the end of Akhtar's career. He will be 33 when the ban is lifted and that is pretty old for the quick bowler. Asif is only 23 and still looks to have a future in the game.

The end of the road

Wanted: Top order batsmen. Must look good in black AND be able to hit a cricket ball.


Lou Vincent 34 runs at 8.50
Hamish Marshall 10 runs at 3.33
Peter Fulton 11 runs at 3.67

It isn’t hard to spot where the New Zealand challenge for the Champions Trophy was derailed. Fleming and Styris looked solid enough and Astle managed one half decent knock, but a top and middle order that contains two and a half decent players is not going to win any kind of international tournament. The top order malaise has gone on for too long. Vincent needs to be told that his role is to bat and not to slog, Marshall needs some time in domestic cricket to regain his confidence and Fulton needs a bit of work on his back-foot technique.

Our next match is a test against Sri Lanka in Christchurch starting December 7. I wouldn’t like to be a selector picking our batting line-up for that match. Batting at the top level is hard, so I don’t think it is appropriate to call for axings unless we are sure that there is international class talent waiting in the wings. One of the problems we have is that we just don’t know how much talent there is available to us. Players like Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder need to be given a chance to show that they have what it takes. Throwing them into a test match might be a step too far, especially as both have built their reputations around attack rather than defence. So I would retain Vincent and Fulton for the tests and, if they continue to fail, bring in Taylor and Ryder for the one-day series against Sri Lanka so we can assess their ability before the rigours of the VB series and the World Cup.

As Karel pointed out in the comments section, there are some positives we can take from the tournament. Bond’s radar still isn’t quite right, but his pace and swing are back. Dan Vettori is a world-class all-rounder and Jacob Oram is not far behind. And, perhaps the biggest bonus we can take from the tournament is that Kyle Mills is finally starting to look like he really belongs at the top level. His 10 wickets at 11.80 included an excellent haul of 4-38 in last night’s defeat.

Wednesday, 1 November 2006

NZ vs Australia preview

New Zealand have two things going for them heading into tonight's Champion's Trophy semi-final. The first is the highest run-scorer in the competition (Stephen Fleming) and the second is the bowler with the best strike rate in one day cricket (Shane Bond). Australia believe they have the answer to Fleming’s form with the bat – Brett Lee and Nathan Bracken. Bracken might be Scott Styris’ only competition for the title of the world’s ugliest cricketer, but he also rated the world’s 4th best bowler in one day cricket and his height is certainly going to make him hard to play on a hard Mohali wicket. If Fleming has a weakness then it is against balls that move away from him, and that means Bracken’s left-arm angle might present him with a problem.

Bond's bowling figures against Australia make for great reading:

10-1-53-3 (Melbourne)
8-1-28-2 (Sydney)
9.2-2-25-5 (Adelaide)
9.3-2-38-4 (Melbourne)
10-0-63-2 (Colombo)
10-2-23-6 (Port Elizabeth)

Every single one of those bowling efforts has included the wicket of Ricky Ponting. Trends are made to be broken though, and Bond is still under a bit of an injury cloud - despite the positive headline in the Dominion-Post Bond admits that he does not yet feel fully fit. Ponting certainly doesn't seem concerned. He has stated that Australia have been focusing on Kyle Mills as much as they have been focusing on Bond. Perhaps that is just talk though. John Bracewell is certainly flapping his mouth around like a boxer trying to talk up his chances.

Australia has won 15 out of the last 17 matches between the two countries. And the trend in those matches has been for either Australia to romp home or for a match that goes to the wire. This is one trend that is expected to continue. A New Zealand win is currently at $3.50 at the TAB. On the basis of Australia's last match in Mohali, expect those odds to shorten if we win the toss and to lengthen considerably if we lose it.

Ben on...the countdown

Predicatably, Shane Bond is being touted as the key to tonight's semi-final against Australia. He certainly does have a good record against them (avg 10.45 against a career avg of 19.02), so hopefully he will do well tonight.

If he does well, it will help him in possibly becoming the fastest ODI bowler to reach 100 wickets. Currently the record is 53 games (Saqlain Mushtaq) and at the 100-wicket-match mark, the best average and strike rate were 19.24 (Mushtaq) and 26.24 (Shoiab Akhtar), respectively.

The countdown starts here:

Matches left: 5 (currently 47)
Wickets required: 10 (90)
Runs to conceed: 211 (1712, current avg 19.02)
Balls to bowl: 215 (2408, current SR 26.76)

Tuesday, 31 October 2006

Aussies feeling confident

The Australian tells us that a semi-final against New Zealand gives Australia "a dream run to the [Champion's Trophy final]." Apparently New Zealand is not even capable of beating Australia on our own merits, because according to the article "only an inadequate performance will prevent Australia from [reaching the final]".

Monday, 30 October 2006

NZ vs Australia semi-final

So we will be facing Australia in the semi-final of the Champions Trophy. I suppose if we are going to win any kind of cricket tournament, we will invariably have to have to beat Australia at some point. But it is unfortunate that we have to play them in the semi-final of this tournament, if only because the pitch is going to suit them down to the ground. The match will be played in Mohali, the same ground where Australia so comprehensively outplayed India. Not only is it a good batting wicket with plenty of bounce - which will suit Australia's flat-track bullies - but if it suits any one type of bowler over the others then that bounce means it will suit Australia's taller pacemen. Mohali might as well be in Perth.

Perhaps even more of a concern than the pitch is Glenn McGrath's return to his parsimonious best, while Mitchell Johnson finally looks to be fulfilling all the hype.

Hum. This is an awfully negative assessment isn't it? Perhaps I have been reading too much Richard Boock lately.

PS Posting has been sporadic lately because the site has been down an awful lot. Let's just hope Blogger can pick up its act a wee bit.

Saturday, 28 October 2006

Keeper on keeper

In today's Herald former New Zealand wicket-keeper Adam Parore runs his ruler over Brendon McCullum and likes what he sees. In fact, Parore rates him ahead of both Mark Boucher and Adam Gilchrist, both of whom he claims are rather rubbish. Hmmmm, I wonder if he watched Mark Boucher's man of the match performance for South Africa last night - breath-taking legside catch off Ntini included?

Friday, 27 October 2006

Boock on New Zealand

Richard Boock has written a lengthy piece on the New Zealand performance in the group stages of the Champions Trophy. It includes an assessment of how each player in the squad has performed. Perhaps the funniest bit in the whole piece is the way Boock contorts himself to give only grudging praise to Shane Bond - perhaps because he is unwilling to contradict his knuckleheaded call to drop Bond just a few days ago.

Roebuck on a world gone mad

Peter Roebuck's latest column deals with something that no cricket writer should have to discuss. In the column Roebuck discusses how Pakistani journalist Osman Samiuddin has become the latest innocent victim of George Bush's War on Human Rights. Samiuddin has suddenly found that he is unable to travel the world to do his job and write about cricket. Why? Because he has a beard, was born in Saudi Arabia, is a Muslim, and is fond of travel.

Thursday, 26 October 2006

Go jumpin' Jack go

In a timely decision given his good form in the first two one-dayers of the Champions Trophy, Cricinfo has decided to give the aspiring talent of the week treatment to Jeetan Patel.

Semi-finals here we come

New Zealand is the first team to qualify for the Champions Trophy semi-finals thanks to last night's victory over Pakistan. And what a great feeling it is to sit back and reflect on an excellent all-round performance and watch the other sides scrapping out for the chance to play us.

Odds are Australia will be our semi-final opponents, but they will have to beat India first. That game will be yet another of the "must wins" that the tournament has thrown up so far. And the number of these "must wins" must surely be the reflection of the tournament's excellent format. After the first round of games every match has been a do or die experience for at least one of the teams involved. The ICC should be congratulated for not trying to overmilk the sacred cow by overstuffing the round-robin with unnecessary (but money-spinning) matches. I just wish the Indian crowds were a bit larger, such interesting contests deserve a bit more atmosphere.

Ben on...a win as wins should be won

In last night's victory over Pakistan, the Black Caps finally put together a pretty much ideal game:

An opener got a start and provided momentum at the top of the order (Fleming's 80) and a middle-order batsman provided the innings with a backbone (Styris' 86) and stability for the lower order to hit out (Oram 31 off 26, McCullum 27 off 13). Then Bond breaks the opening partnership (22-1), the other bowlers chip away (45-2, 65-3, 83-4), Bond breaks the dangerous mid-innings partnership (177-4) and a fine piece of fielding all but wraps the game up ("substitute Ross Taylor pulls off a blinding pick-up-and-throw from gully to ping the non-striker's stumps").

There were three standout perfomances, Fleming, Styris and Bond (3-45), but ultimately it was just an excellent team performance.

Wednesday, 25 October 2006

New Zealand vs Pakistan preview

South Africa did New Zealand a big favour last night by beating Sri Lanka. The result means that a New Zealand win tonight will see the Kiwis through to the semi-finals on the Champions Trophy.

By way of a preview we have interviews with New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming and his possible successor, vice-captain Dan Vettori. We also get the news that the pitch will be a good one and that chemicals will again come into play, through the use of something called APSA-80 to reduce the impact dew has on play.

Tuesday, 24 October 2006

Drop Bond?

Shane Bond has only been back for one game, but already Richard Boock is campaigning for the almost unthinkable - he is petitioning the selectors to drop the fast bowler.

Another year, another empty cabinet

Here come the ICC awards again, and New Zealand once again misses out being nominated in every single category - except for the meaningless consolation award which is the Spirit of Cricket. Cricketer of the year? Nup, no New Zealanders there. One day cricketer of the year? Nope. Test cricketer of the year? No. Emerging player of the year? Nup. Women's player of the year? Course not. Captain of the year? You're kidding right. Umpire of the year? Billy who?

Of course, things might be better if we played a bit more bloody cricket.

Saturday, 21 October 2006

Ben on...a sticky wicket

Apparently the glue used to hold the pitch together in last night's match, when New Zealand became unstuck, was PVA. I wonder if they can peel it off like fake skin after the match.

Friday, 20 October 2006

A brief absence

This is likely to be my last post for a few days. There is a long weekend ahead here in New Zealand and I am travelling up to Auckland to visit family. Normal services should resume on Tuesday.

Taylor flies in

Teams are only allowed to bring a new player into their Champions Trophy squad if someone else is withdrawn. This means Ross Taylor's arrival in the sub-continent is probably a very bad sign for Scott Styris.

Bond fit again?

An MRI scan has indicated that Shane Bond is not suffering any significant injury so he may still play a part in the Champions Trophy. Personally I am not going to hold my breath though.

The postman delivers

Gavin Larsen's latest column over at the Black Caps website is a particularly good one. In it he praises the depth of talent coming through at the top level of New Zealand cricket, but expresses the concern that players like Shane Bond, Daniel Vettori and Jacob Oram remain both injury prone and irreplaceable. He also raises the spectre of Stephen Fleming's retirement. Something that most of us will be dreading.

New Zealand vs Sri Lanka preview

Richard Boock continues his early season good mood with a glowing piece on Stephen Fleming. The glow is made extra warm thanks to some unusually positive comments from John Bracewell. What has bought on all this back-slapping and early season joy? I suspect somebody is putting happy juice in the tea of New Zealand cricket's two foremost curmudgeons.

Cricinfo's preview includes the bizarre rumour that industrial adhesives have been used on the pitch to stop it from breaking apart. Even if this is true, I suspect the toss is again going to have too much influence on the outcome. Apart from that comment, Cricinfo does not appear too excited about the game. "Two teams that are more than competent at one-day cricket promise to put up a show worthy of the occasion" is their summary. Given that "the occasion" is a round robin match in a second tier tournament this is not particularly high praise.

As if to dampen down any remaining enthusiasm for the contest, Stephen Fleming predicts that occupying the crease and grinding things out will be the way to win.

Thursday, 19 October 2006

Struggling to find 11 fit players

Wasn't it just a few days ago that John Bracewell and Stephen Fleming were talking about how great it was to have a fully fit squad? What happened?

Has Ricky Ponting lost faith in Glenn McGrath?

I know it is early days in the season and Glenn McGrath is returning from a long layoff, but last night Ricky Ponting didn't seem to put much faith in the champion fast bowler. The Aussie captain held McGrath back until first-change and then after two short spells sent him packing to the outfield. By the end of the innings McGrath had resorted to arm-waving and pleading to get the ball back. In all he only bowled 8 overs in three short spells. And, according to Cricinfo, in those spells McGrath looked rusty and failed to reach even the 130kmph mark. McGrath is 36 and Australia really do need him to be at his best if they are to regain the Ashes. Figures of 8-0-42-1 are not the end of the world (or even particularly bad figures), but Ponting's actions may indicate that he has lost a little faith in his bowler.

The glorious uncertainties of cricket

There was a certain amount of gloating in the Australian press when England went down to India earlier in the week. The usual Aussie brashness seemed to making a return after a winter of discontent. This morning's result is going to put a bit of a dent in that.

The West Indies win over the world's number one team came with the help of some of the Caribbean's lesser lights - Jerome Taylor, Ian Bradshaw and Runako Morton sharing the stage. Taylor is only 22 but has already suffered more than his share of injury concerns, but he is really starting to kick on now. Let's just hope he can stay fit and fast. Bradshaw is another player I enjoy watching. Something about his old-before-his-time walk and his steady bowling reminds me of Ewen Chatfield. He is just the kind of player the mercurial Windies need. And speaking of mercurial, then there is Runako Morton. A 31 ball duck against Australia in one match, a brilliant 90 not out against them the next. Morton's redemption is certainly something to bring a smile to the face of even the most puritanical fan.

And what is perhaps the best thing about this result? That it means the match between Australia and England has just taken on a whole lot more significance. Whichever team loses that match will be eliminated from the tournament. In a few days' time expect gloating to cover one nation's back pages and a whole bunch of "it was a meaningless tournament and we are glad of the rest anyway" on the other's.

Wednesday, 18 October 2006

Notes from a passenger list

You wouldn't usually expect an aircraft passenger list to provide too many highlights, but the list from a recent England-Australia flight did include an interesting snippet:

Chadwick, Adam, Mr (MCC museum curator)
William, Glenys, Mrs (MCC historian)
Urn, Ashes, Mr (ceramic pot on wooden plinth)
Garland, Laura, Miss (Mr Urn's spokesman)

I bet Ms Laura Garland has an interesting job. Perhaps not quite as interesting as "Mr Urn's" though.

Tuesday, 17 October 2006

An outside assessment

Here are some interesting pieces, Cricinfo editorial assistant Sriram Veera ran his eye over the New Zealand team in Baroda and posted his impressions. He certainly liked what he saw of Mark Gillespie. He wasn't nearly as impressed with Shane Bond's first outing for a while and did some nice spotting with regards to the batsmen. Hamish Marshall looks vulnerable outside off he reckoned, and Scott Styris doesn't appear fit. Meanwhile Jacob Oram struggled with his cut shot against the spinners and Brendon McCullum looked all at sea on a turning wicket.

A tale of two captains

New Zealand vs South Africa matches in recent times have been dominated by the captains of the respective sides. The games have become less about nation vs nation, and more about Stephen Fleming vs Graeme Smith. Last night was perhaps the most extreme example of this. Stephen Fleming scored 89 out of 195 for New Zealand and Graeme Smith managed 42 out of South Africa's 108.

In truth it wasn't the best of games. Right from the start you could see the pitch was going to play a part. It looked to me like they took the worst of New Zealand's low, slow wickets and then baked it until it started to crumble.

Still, a victory is a victory and a convincing victory over a certain South African wanker is even better. The bowlers did their part very well - so much for rust - and even if Fleming's was the only score of substance, then at least the rest of the side hung around with him for a while.

On the downside the stupid experiment with Lou Vincent sent in as a top order thrasher continues. I can't see how this benefits the side (particularly on poor pitches) and I am convinced the role is doing terrible things to his game.

Anyway. There are better experts than me commenting on the game. So go here and read a real match report.

Has the ICC hired a spammer?

I wondered this when I saw the comments in my last two posts from "Cricket in the blood". But the website he promotes with much enthusiasm, is actually pretty fine so I forgive him. The catch - if there is one - is that it exists to sell live streaming of the Champions Trophy matches. Still, there is plenty to enjoy there without having to spend a penny.

Monday, 16 October 2006

Drugs in cricket

Until now, cricket has appeared blessedly free of performance enhancing drugs. That all seems set to change thanks to this tiny little article. Pakistan's strike bowlers, Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammed Asif, have been sent home before bowling a ball in the Champions Trophy "after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs following an internal Pakistan Cricket Board drugs test.


The first game of the season is tonight. And this morning Shane Bond woke up with a sore back.

Sigh. It was all so predictable really. I am starting to genuinely believe that there is something psychosomatic in Bond's injuries. Perhaps he has had so many injuries now that he becomes overly tense and nervous before a match, tense and nervous enough to cause his body problems?

Still, there is some black humour to be found in Bond's breakdown. For a start it will cause Ian Chappell and Mark Richardson no end of frustration, having just rendered their newly published columns instantly obsolete.

Anyway. Back to the match. In his preview of New Zealand vs South Africa for Cricinfo, Anand Vasu seems to lean towards picking New Zealand as favourites. On the positive side of the ledger, we haven't suffered the kind of preparation Herschelle Gibbs has enjoyed. And, as South Africa's only recent matches have been against Zimababwe, they have not exactly been playing competitive cricket lately. And perhaps the biggest thing currently in our favour could well be South Africa's captain. The man Dylan Cleaver has dubbed "the skipper the world can't stand".

But I have to admit that I found Jonathan Millmow's forecast that our underdone bowlers will wilt (see below) convincing. And John Bracewell's rather predictable bout of hubris leaves me expecting the arrival of hubris' mate, nemesis.

If I am forced to make a pick, then I am going to go with whichever side wins the toss. You wouldn't think the toss would matter too much on the sub-continent, but I am willing to bet the heavy evening dew is going to start to take effect on the day-nighters sometime soon. Expect the New Zealand seamers or Ntini and Pollock to be a handful once the sun goes down.

Saturday, 14 October 2006

Another day, another warm-up

A victory against Ben's old hometown side Baroda last night saw plenty of players get a useful tune-up. Shane Bond played his first game of the summer and put in a full ten overs (1-39). Jacob Oram had a tidy spell (7 overs, 0-17) and Mark Gillespie again impressed (3-19 off 7). Of the batsmen Astle, Marshall, Styris, Oram, Vettori and Bond all spent valuable time in the middle.

It has to be said that the opposition didn't seem much cop. The only recognisble name was YK Pathan, and that is just because he is the much more famous (and talented) IK Pathan's little brother.

Friday, 13 October 2006

Bond, the statistical breakdown

How important is Shane Bond to New Zealand? Just ask Cricinfo which has conducted a comprehensive statistical analysis. And what do all their stats tell us? That he has a better bowling average than anyone else who has played one-day cricket. That he has a better strike rate than anyone else who has played one-day cricket. And that he takes a higher percentage of top-order wickets over tail-enders than anyone else who has played one-day cricket. And all that makes him pretty damn useful. Useful enough that New Zealand's chance of winning any given match rises from 46% to 53% when he is in the side.

Gillespie in the wickets

This morning's Herald contains an interview Richard Boock conducted with Mark Gillespie. The interview also contains a brief assessment of New Zealand's first opponents in the Champions Trophy. Richard Boock noted that the team batted impresively in their first warm-up match while the bowlers "proved economical, if not overly penetrative."

Meanwhile New Zealand had its own warm-up match to play. And we didn't do too badly against a side that contained a handful of recognised players - including pace man Zaheer Khan. Batting first we made 246/8 with Vincent, Fleming, Marshall and Styris all getting some valuable time in the middle. Our second string bowling attack then restricted the MCA President's XI to 207, Gillespie starring with 3-37 along with Jeetan Patel who took 3-39. Jimmy Franklin and Kyle Mills also returned impressive figures, both bowling with an economy rate of under 3.

Thursday, 12 October 2006


Yesterday Jonathan Millmow predicted in the Dominion-Post that New Zealand would struggle at the Champions Trophy because the bowlers are lacking time in the middle. This is not going to help. While Sri Lanka and the West Indies warm up with some qualifiers against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, we had a match scheduled against a "MCA Presidents XI" stuffed full of people I have never heard of. And then it was rained off without a ball being bowled.

Wednesday, 11 October 2006

A neat trick

This is something that those of us tied to a computer all day might find particularly useful. It is a wee data download from Cricinfo that will mark all of the Champions Trophy fixtures on your Microsoft Outlook calendar. Perhaps the best thing about it is that it adjusts the times and dates for New Zealand time. I now have a handy reminder to turn on the telly at 10pm on Monday 16 October so I can watch New Zealand's first game.

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Bond aiming for pace

Now this is good news. Shane Bond isn't just bowling again, he is bowling FAST.

Terrorism and cricket

A-Qaeda, Tamil Tigers and now Shiv Sena. Being a cricketer is certainly not the safest of careers at the moment.