Friday, 31 March 2006

The alternative cricket awards

While last night's official awards were underway the Beige Brigade conducted their own awards ceremony. I have linked to the Cricinfo coverage, because the Brigade's own coverage is sometimes a little obtuse. I like to think it must have been because of all the champagne they were supping in whichever expensive venue the awards ceremony was conducted.

Skippy of to a greener veldt

Well this is not much of a surprise, it seems that Matthew Sinclair, the man who was last night officially declared New Zealand's best batsman, is giving up on any prospect of playing for New Zealand again and is going to follow the path blazed by Ken Rutherford and accept a contract to play in South Africa.

New Zealand Cricket awards

Here are the major awards:

The National Bank Player of the Year was Daniel Vettori, for the second consecutive time. Martin Snedden said “Daniel has been a dominant force in all facets of the game. He scored New Zealand’s fastest-ever test century against Zimbabwe, and claimed 19 first-class wickets at an average of 17.47. His test batting average was 51.2. In ODI’s he maintained an ODI economy rate of 3.87 and took 23 wickets at an average of 30.17. He also captained the Black Caps in this season’s Chappell-Hadlee Trophy series and was the only New Zealand player selected for the World XI which played Australia in last year’s inaugural Super Series.”

The Redpath Cup for the batsman whose performances in men’s first-class cricket have been the most meritorious was won by Mathew Sinclair, who scored 848 runs at an average 53 with four centuries and four half-centuries.

The Winsor Cup for the bowler whose performances in men’s first-class cricket have been the most meritorious was won by Chris Martin, who took 50 wickets at an average of 23.98.

The first Walter Hadlee Trophy awarded for the most meritorious batting by a New Zealand player in one-day internationals was won by Nathan Astle, who averaged 45 including two centuries and four half centuries.

The second Walter Hadlee Trophy awarded for the most meritorious bowling by a New Zealand player in One-Day internationals was won by Shane Bond who took 36 wickets at an average of 18.11.

The State Medal awarded to the most outstanding player in men’s domestic cricket was won by Jonathan Trott, who scored 275 runs and took eight wickets in the State Championship for Otago, and made 455 runs and took 14 wickets in the State Shield

The full list of awards can be viewed here.

I watched the presentation of the Redpath and Winsor Cups and have to say that Skippy Sinclair did not look that chuffed to win. The camera-man certainly knew where the tension lay and there was a close-up of a very neutral looking John Bracewell applauding politely as his award was announced.

What is Australia's future

For those of us who can still fondly remember Australia getting thrashed by a New Zealand side containing Ewen Chatfield and are hoping for the day when Kyle Mills can inflict the same sort of humiliation, the recent Australian revival has been a little depressing. However one person believes that Australia is on the decline and that this decline is being masked by mediocre opposition and a group of ageing players who, while great, are no longer capable of improvement. That person is none other than the man who took Australia to the top in the first place, former coach Bob Simpson. Bob also has a few things to say about short boundaries and the stupidity of trying to bowl yorkers at the death.

Thursday, 30 March 2006

Last word from the Windies

Tony Cozier's last word on the West Indian tour of New Zealand focuses on the words of Brian Lara and the performances of him and his colleagues.

The 11th commandment

The 57th birthday of Uton Dowe seems as good a day as any to commemorate one of the greatest pieces of crowd witticism ever. Uton was a West Indian seam bowler who was mauled by Keith Stackpole to such an extent in the Jamaican Test of 1971-72 that the crowd erected a series of banners proclaiming an 11th commandment, "Dowe shalt not bowl."

Farewell to two old stalwarts

Auckland paceman Kerry Walmsley and Canterbury batsman Gary Stead are hanging up their boots. Both are the sort of players that are a god-send to domestic teams. Hard-working, reliable and consistently overlooked for national honours - meaning that both were almost always available for first-class cricket.

Walmsley was one of those odd fast-bowlers who just seemed to get better as his career went on. His took 6-24 in his last first-class bowling performance and in the final years of his career age was probably the only factor that prevented him from achieving further honours.

Stead is another player who almost certainly deserved more time at the top. I seem to recall that he started his career as a leg-spinner, but he quickly established himself at the top of the Canterbury order thanks to his gritty and solid batting. He only ever seemed to gain selection for New Zealand as a replacement and I can't recall him ever letting the side down.

Wednesday, 29 March 2006

Third test abandoned

And so our (not very long) summer of cricket has drawn to a rather damp close.

This summer we didn't have a tour by Zimbabwe and next year we can look forward to not seeing India. At least New Zealand's dwindling number of cricket supporters have the winter to look forward to. We might not be able to go to the grounds and we might not be able to watch during sociable hours, but at least our side will actually be playing cricket when it visits South Africa next month.

The age of batting

In an age when two sides manage to score 870+ runs between them in one day and when a player like Scott Styris has a better batting average than Bert Sutcliffe you have to start to wonder if perhaps batting at the top level has become too easy. Better bats and shorter boundaries mean that the game is slowly being dominated by a certain kind of mediocre slogger (like Scott Styris) and bowling has been reduced to making sure your little medium pacers are dobbed in the right place (like Scott Styris does).

Is this a good thing? Are booming sixes and crashing fours what the crowds want to see? Or should some balance be bought back into the game? Cricinfo has begun asking these same questions and have asked cricket experts such as Gideon Haigh, Bob Woolmer and Amit Varma to respond. So far the result has been a series of excellent essays looking at the situation and looking at what can be done to make sure that cricket remains cricket.

Tuesday, 28 March 2006

Something to make ME smile

[Post deleted]

Ooops. I just received a very polite call from a lawyer pointing out that the information that was contained in this post is not currently for public consumption. I will be allowed to talk about it again shortly however.

Something to make you smile

Chris Cairns has just been appointed New Zealand's first "international education ambassador".

I think it says something about the empty glitz and glam focus of our educational facilities that they have appointed a former sportsman to promote them, rather than an internationally reknowned scientist or scholar.

Bad news for Vincent, Styris

It looks likely that rain will mean cause a premature end to the cricket season. If I wanted to be trite I could say that the rain will be mixing with tears on the faces of some New Zealand cricketers, because John Bracewell has sent a strong signal that Lou Vincent and Scott Styris will struggle to make the team to play in South Africa next month.

Bracewell said that batting cover should be provided by a "specialist opener" - something he has already indicated Vincent is not. He also said "There’s no doubt in my mind, it’s much better to have someone batting at No 6 who can bowl a heavy ball, rather than what we’ve got now. Ideally, when you’re up against the best teams in the world, you want your best combination on board. I think a strong bowler at No 6 gives you more than a stopper, which is what we’re currently using in this series." Scott Styris - that stopper - must be wincing only a couple of tests on from that century against the Windies.

Jacob Oram, the main contender for Styris' spot, has just bowled a spell of 7-5-6-2 for Central against Northern Districts.

Monday, 27 March 2006

Disruption to services

On Thursday night my internet connection suddenly went kaput. Since then I have spent several hours waiting on hold for a technician, spent a few minutes typing things into my keyboard while a technician lisped instructions into my ear and spent several days waiting for the technician to ring me back like he said he would. My internet connection is still kaput. Mike on Cricket won't be quite as busy as a result.

Thursday, 23 March 2006

Doctored pitches

Does it rile anyone else when an Indian writer claims that New Zealand Cricket doctors its pitches? Rearrange the following words - the, black, kettle, calling, pot. The reason I raise this now is because of this article about the decline of West Indian cricket in Sportstar. The tour to New Zealand should apparently have not been too intimidating, "...but what the Kiwis lacked in natural talent, they made up with dogged determination and doctored pitches." The author might have had a few good points to make, but as soon as I read that I lost all faith in their research and objectivity.

Ben on bouncers

Ben posted this in the comments section on the post about the Spin's coverage of the "lack of compassion" issue, but the comment is so worthwhile that it deserves front page coverage:

Since I am not in danger of being hit by a Fidel Edwards bouncer, no one can call me a girl's blouse, so I think I'm safe in giving my opinion on this without being accused of whining.

I find the lack of compassion shown by the West Indies when they've hit a batsman as an example of the apparent poor spirit in this series and the negativity that hangs over it. A bowler has every right to aim a delivery at a batsman, as long as it bounces, but the intention shouldn't be to actually hit him. Sure, people will get hit, but in that case the bowler should apologise.

This series has turned rather sour, with the press complaining about the Windies' performances and then the Windies complaining about the complaints in the most disrespectful way by casting aspertions on our cricketing heritage. The complaints about Styris' comments is just another instance.

I think the commentators that have bleated about Styris' whinging have missed a far more interesting angle on the story. Think back to the first test: Edwards hits Styris, Styris gives him an earful, then he responds to another bouncer by hooking it beautifully towards the boundary, where it is miraculously caught. Drama on the cricket field. The very thing that makes cricket more than just bat and ball. But then the story has another chapter: Styris complains about the bowling and when he comes in to bat in the second test, the Windies come alive, they put fielders on the leg-side boundary, tempt him with bouncers, get under skin and get him out playing a nervous shot. High drama.

Has anyone reported on this mini battle? I don't think so. Instead we get the Spin's predictable pseudo-macho grandstanding questioning Styris' manliness, missing even the fact that if it was wrong for Styris to complain in public, then he got his comeuppance on the field.

The standard of commentary in NZ

Paul Ashworth in the Independent has some very uncomplimentary things to say about the former players turned commentators who dominate cricket commentary in New Zealand. Former cricketers, he says, should stick to advertising hair replacement remedies.

What I find most frustrating about New Zealand's cricket commentary team is that they are so negative. They don't actually seem to enjoy the game. Here's a note to Sky TV - please employ someone who is good with words and can crack the odd joke. You might also tell Simon Doull that he is supposed to entertain listeners. Very simply, it is not entertaining to listen to indepth criticism while watching replays of the same mistake over and over again. Simon's commentary in particular seems to lurch from mistake to mistake and barely touches on the good cricket that happens inbetween.

Tony Cozier is in the country. Perhaps some of our commentators should take a break from talking and spend some time listening to him.

World Cup 2011

When New Zealand and Australia put in a bid to co-host the 2011 World Cup our bid looked a little hopeless given that India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka were combining powers to put in a counter-bid. But it seems that ICC have rejected the sub-continent's first bid and has asked them to resubmit a revised bid. The buzz is that there are major hurdles to clear in a very short space of time for this second bid to be accepted and the New Zealand and Australian Boards are starting to feel increasingly optimistic.

Bleating and whinging

This is how English weekly the Spin saw the Scott Styris led whining about "lack of compassion" on the cricket field:

Last summer Justin Langer complained that England's fielders had shown no remorse after Steve Harmison hit each of Australia's top three on the first morning of the Ashes series at Lord's. It was a piece of blubbing that drew a put-a-sock-in-it response even from Ricky Ponting, so the Spin wonders what the Australian captain made of Scott Styris's complaint last week that West Indies fielders were - wait for it - "laughing and joking" after he and his team-mates were hit on the helmet during New Zealand's recent first-Test win at Auckland.

"I mentioned it to Fidel Edwards after I got hit, just their lack of checking out to see if we are fine," complained Styris. "You want to play the game hard, you want to play the game fair, but you always want to make sure the other bloke isn't hurt. A posy of flowers - I'm a carnation man myself - wouldn't have gone amiss either." OK, so that last bit was made up, but thin end and wedge spring to mind. Is the Spin alone in foreseeing a situation where bowlers have to send Get Well Soon cards to any batsman they strike above the knee roll? Or perhaps pay for the batsman's counselling after trapping him lbw off an inside edge?

So how did the New Zealanders react when Shivnarine Chanderpaul asked Jamie How whether he was all right after pulling a ball from Daniel Vettori onto How's head at short leg? That's right: their wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum told Chanderpaul where to stick his apology. "You didn't show any concern before," he said within earshot of the stump microphone, thus squeezing double-standards, pettiness and hypocrisy into six much shorter words.

But the Spin was tickled by the response of Adam Parore, one of McCullum's predecessors, in his column in the New Zealand Herald. "If Brian Lara was having a bit of a chuckle, you could almost argue that he had earned the right to do so," wrote Parore. "The rest of the West Indians are journeymen who are lucky to be there. They should be on their best behaviour." In other words, cackling and pointing at a player who has just had his head knocked off by a beamer is fine - so long as you've scored a few runs beforehand. As a variation on - according to Simon Hughes - Ian Botham's favourite killer argument ("How many Test wickets did you get?"), it takes some beating.

India vs England

England have barely popped the champagne corks on their series drawing victory in the third test, but already the backlash against India has started. Before this game Mahendra Singh Dhoni was being praised as being some kind of genius combining the brilliant keeping and attacking flair of Adam Gilchrist and the bad hair of Shane Warne. Now Indian commentators are calling him 'scatterbrained' and making veiled hints about what happens to players who play silly attacking strokes. Meanwhile Virender Sehwag has been called fat and the divine Sachin Tendulkar has been sadly labelled 'mortal'.

If only we could have as much fun when New Zealand loses.

Tuesday, 21 March 2006

Bond is back

I don't think anything more needs to be said.

ICC meddling

The recent meeting of the ICC produced the usual array of inanities (such as Peter Chingoka reporting on the state of cricket in Zimbabwe) and the long overdue (like dumping the stupid supersub rule). But it also produced a new pitch-monitoring process for international cricket. This process, which has been adopted with immediate effect, includes sanctions ranging from a formal warning to a fine, or even suspension of international status for venues that produce substandard pitches. I guess this was always going to be on the cards given the influence Indian cricket has on the ICC and the sourness with which it greeted the loss to New Zealand on green seamers in 2002/2003.

The idea of a pitch-monitoring process is not a bad one, but I suspect it will be difficult to judge the merits of grounds as diverse as a Carisbrook green top, a WACA concrete block and a Faisalabad dust bowl. The logical way to judge grounds is by looking at the runs scored on them. But what if incompetent batting is the cause of low totals? Or incompetent bowling the reason for high ones? One thing is for sure though, it makes the future of international cricket in Hamilton look even bleaker.

Monday, 20 March 2006

Brian Charles Lara

So you think Brian Lara's problems are limited to his poor trot of form and his side losing two tests in a row? Think again. The Trinidad and Tobago Express tells us that yesterday a thief in the Caribbean stole Lara's $100,000 car and drove it into a flatbed truck.

Lara, as Richard Boock so enjoys telling us, is in a poor run of form. There must be something about Boock's dismissive arrogance, because for the second time this week Tony Cozier has felt the need to bring it the attention of the Caribbean. This time Cozier does so in a nice companion piece to Boock's work, replacing Boock's assumptions with established fact and expert comment.

Wellington's weather

On Friday I took shorts, a t-shirt, jeans, a jersey and a woolly hat to the Basin. At one stage I was too hot and had to move into the shade of a friendly pohutukawa tree, but by the end of the day I was wearing all the clothes I had taken. Plus the blanket I took to sit on.

The forecast for today is for showers and for a gently northerly to be replaced by a southerly. I just hope that southerly doesn't take too long to get here. At the moment the city is blanketed in low cloud and drizzle and the northerly is too gentle to do anything other than swirl the rain around a little. I can't see play getting underway on time and, knowing the smell of this kind of weather, I can't see it getting underway at all unless there is a decent shift in the wind.

Saturday, 18 March 2006

A sarky Boock

Sometimes Richard Boock can be a real wanker. Today is one of those days.

Friday, 17 March 2006

Interviews and insights

The papers are full of interviews this morning. Richard Boock has Stephen Fleming admitting he was close to retiring in 2000, Jonathan Millmow talks to Chris "Mr Cool" Gayle and Hamish Bidwell chats to Jacob Oram.

There are also a couple more previews of the second test. Fred Woodcock echoes Tony Cozier and tells us not to expect Brain Lara to fail again, while Cricinfo sees two teams with contrasting fortunes and thinks it can see the West Indians sweating.

I am off to Gavin Larsen's favourite ground today. Look for me on the bank at the Adelaide Road end of the ground. I will be with the noisy red-head and the blonde Dad with his blonde little boy.

Thursday, 16 March 2006

Second test preview

I have more Tony Cozier for you, this time it is his preview of the second test. He reveals that the West Indians were "devestated" by their collapse in Auckland and ominously hints that a Brian Lara double-hundred "would not be out of place over the next five days".


So Scott Styris thinks the West Indies lack compassion? Well, if it was lack of compassion that made him respond to a Fidel Edwards bouncer by playing an incredibly stupid shot just when New Zealand desperately needed to consolidate then I suspect it is something the West Indies will want to continue with. Tony Cozier certainly wasn't impressed by Styris' little whine to the New Zealand press, he has accused Styris of adopting a "holier-than-thou attitude" in the Trinidad and Tobago Express.

Wednesday, 15 March 2006

Poll results and a new poll

My last poll asked you to announce which New Zealand player was most likely to step up and replace Chris Cairns.

Ross Taylor, Ewen Thompson, Brendon Diamante and Paul Hitchcock all received one vote apiece. Brendon McCullum (c'mon, I'm sure he could bowl if he really wanted to) got two votes, and three very optimistic people decided the Scott Styris would grow some talent at this late stage of his lfe.

At the more realistic end of the scale, Jesse Ryder won six votes, Jimmy Franklin seven and Jacob Oram won with a whopping eleven votes.

My new poll looks at the dramatic reversals of fortune suffered by the visiting West Indians in recent years, and wonders if New Zealand might be in for something similar. In five years time we will be without Stephen Fleming and Shane Bond. Let me know if you think Jesse Ryder and Richard Sherlock will be able to replace them. Or even surpass them. Or whether Ryder will blow out and Sherlock will break down and New Zealand will be left with an elderly and even more wretched Scott Styris and a bunch of overweight kids dragged reluctantly away from their Playstations to help the team avoid an innings defeat against Nepal.

Tuesday, 14 March 2006

Rankings update

Shane Bond made a dramatic leap in the ICC test ratings after the first test, moving from 12th to 5th equal on the bowling table. He could easily have leapt even higher, being even on points with Makhaya Ntini and only 1 point behind Mathhew Hoggard who is in 4th place.

Matthew Hoggard is the 4th best bowler in the world? When the hell did that happen?

Bond's test rating is now at a career high of 778.

Meanwhile Dan Vettori continued his slow return from the basement by climbing 5 places to rank at 17th in the world.

On the one-day table Bond and Vettori have again made gains, this time thanks to poor bowling by Brett Lee in South Africa. Lee's decline has meant both Bond and Vettori have climbed one place, to 3rd and 4th place respectively. Glenn McGrath is at number 2 and only 6 ratings points ahead of Bond. Given that he is not expected to play for Australia again until next season, McGrath's rating should drop below Bond and Vettori sometime during April's one-day matches in Bangladesh.


The New Zealand television and radio media seems more obsessed with the Fleming/Richardson "spoof or no spoof" story than with the test result. I spent some time listening to Radio Sport last night and a staggering proportion of talk-back callers wanted to talk about nothing else except for their theories about why the spoof angle is just Sky TV's attempt to cover-up a genuine dislike between their commentator and the New Zealand captain. Madness.

Luckily for us the print media prefers to cover sport, rather than the sideshows. Richard Boock was so inspired by the result that he wrote not just one, but two articles on it. His first is dedicated to Shane Bond, while the second focuses on West Indian misfortunes. In the Dominion-Post Jonathan Millmow - showing typical kiwi distate for celebration - sniffs around the replacement ball used after Chris Gayle hit Dan Vettori into the gutter, and thinks that something about it smells a little off.

Meanwhile, reaction in the Caribbean has been one of frustration and reflection on what might have been. Tony Cozier added to this praise for the performance of Shane Bond - "as fine a fast bowler as there is in contemporary cricket" and "a bowler of pace and hostility, capable of each way swing with new ball or old" - while the Jamaica Gleaner seemed more bitter than most and had a few things to say about Darryl Harper's attempt to age the replacement ball.

Monday, 13 March 2006

Fleming vs Richardson "a spoof"

Sky TV have come forward and admitted that the Stephen Fleming verbal volley at Mark Richardson (see below) was a spoof. Allegedly Sky TV don't know how on earth the video got released on the internet to give them all this free publicity.

Bloody hell!

Holy crap! Australia just pummelled a world record 434/4 in a one day match against South Africa and lost. Along the way Roger Telemachus conceded 19 runs of 0 balls (the runs being struck off four successive no-balls) and Mick Lewis (0-113) finally took away Martin Snedden's long unwanted record of the most expensive bowling figures in one-day cricket. With South Africa winning in the last over and with nine wickets down, the game is already being hailed as the greatest ODI match ever.

Fleming has a go at Richardson

Cricketweb caught Stephen Fleming having a go at Mark Richardson following a TV interview. When the interview ended Fleming turned on Richardson and accused him of being an idiot and of forgetting who his mates are. In particular he seems to have been annoyed at Richardson's accusation that the New Zealand side was not scoring runs quickly enough - something he felt was hypocritical.

Sunday, 12 March 2006

I hate Mondays

Jeebus. I don't think tomorrow is going to be pretty. Not just did New Zealand vs West Indies turn into a supernova this afternoon, but I have spent the entire weekend on tenterhooks because my partner Rachael and I have been trying to buy our first house. My heart has been racing since about 4pm - ever since Shane Bond began to get the ball to swing.

My heart began to race not long after Chris Gayle hit Dan Vettori into the Eden Park roof guttering - a hit I suspect Gayle now regrets because none of the bowlers got any swing until the shot forced a replacement ball onto the park.

The result isn't a foregone conclusion, but the New Zealanders will be kicking themselves if they lose from here. Especially Chris Martin (twice) and Stephen Fleming who gave the West Indies chances that should have been taken. Martin in particular will be having nightmares after dropping a complete dolly off Ramdin and having Ganga caught off a no-ball.

I feel a great deal of sympathy for Ramdin. He has copped a pile of abuse for sweeping Vettori at the end of the day, but he is an attacking cricketer. This approach won a one-day match for the Windies a week ago and perhaps attack was the right course of action with only two tail-enders and the debutante Bradshaw left.

Talking of Bradshaw, what a find he is for the Windies. Six wickets, a brilliant catch (Scott Styris in the second innings) and an extremely level head that just seems to radiate calm and confidence to his team-mates.

Okay. I know it is unlikely to happen, but I should at least try to get some sleep tonight. See you in the morning. And lets just hope today's rain keeps its distance tomorrow.

Friday, 10 March 2006

The top order

Hmmm, so John Bracewell's new (top) order has managed six low scores in a total of six innings. But can anyone see him admitting he might have got the selection of the side wrong?

And talking about big egos, was anyone surprised to see Scott Styris respond to being hit by Fidel Edwards with the most rash and aggressive of strokes - despite New Zealand's already precarious position?

Policy gives the team jitters

All the chopping and changing being done by the cricket selectors is giving the team jitters and may have a destabilising effect on the national side claims a former test cricketer.

Not a New Zealand player as you might expect, but Australian quick Andy Bichel commenting on the selection of his own national side.

Not mentioning Scott Styris

It is pretty clear the New Zealand side is still in one-day mode. And this is not the first time it has started a series with a blaze of silly strokes and poor running either. Test cricket requires a very different mind-set and it really is asking a bit much of players to make the adjustment when the schedule allows no time between a one-day series and a test match.

At some point I think New Zealand Cricket and the boards of the other "minor" nations ("minor" being those that don't play glamorous five test series) are going to have to bite the bullet and insist on a return to the old warm-up matches of yore. Okay, so it might add another week to the schedule and that is going to cost money - but it is also going to result in better cricket. Not only that but having games against Second XIs and domestic teams will also expose a bunch of new players to international cricket and that can only be good for their development.

More memories

Rather than having to congratulate Scott Styris for a job well done, I am instead going to offer the memories of French/West Indian/New Zealander Bruce Pairaudeau.

Thursday, 9 March 2006

First test preview, New Zealand vs West Indies

The weather has been damp and humid and Eden Park has a drop in pitch. I really hope we can win the toss. Watching an almost squeeky new top order face Fidel Edwards on a green-top will be too much for me to cope with.

Fifty years ago, almost to the day, a test match began at Eden Park involving New Zealand and the West Indies. Here's DJ Cameron to tell us what happened next.

Wednesday, 8 March 2006

West Indian trouble and strife

An article in Cricinfo charts the recent problems faced by cricket in the Caribbean. It helped me to understand why the current West Indian side seems so directionless.

Not that Brian Lara has been directionless. He hasn't yet picked up a cricket bat in anger, but he has been throwing his weight around like nobodies' business. His latest outburst against the New Zealand media has been to very justly point out that our cricketing legacy is not so great - the implication being that we had better be nice while we are on top, because the odds are we are going to fall before too much longer.

Tuesday, 7 March 2006

Lou Vincent

The talk yesterday was that Lou Vincent talked his way out of the New Zealand side. John Bracewell made some comments on the selection of Hamish Marshall to open which were impolitic at best:

Lou continually said himself that he didn't see himself as an opener and would prefer to bat in the middle order.

We weren't prepared to play guys who were reluctant. As it happened Hamish Marshall was more than happy to play the role

Today Lou Vincent is distraught. Frankly I am not surprised. Of course Vincent was going to take Bracewell's comments as a slight on his commitment. To be honest I am dumbfounded that a coach could make such remarks. How are Vincent's old team-mates going to respond to the coach's criticism? By all accounts Lou is a popular player and a strong team player and I suspect their loyalty will lie with him rather than with Bracewell. How will a player like Nathan Astle - already shaken by his treatment by the coach - feel? If the New Zealand side is not already fractured, I believe it won't take much more poor man management for something to crack.

Monday, 6 March 2006

That interview

Here is the interview that has got Greg Chappell into so much trouble. And no wonder the Indian Board didn't like it. Claiming John Wright was controlled by Sourav Ganguly and that Ganguly himself was only in the captaincy game for the money are not good ways to win friends and influence people.

Almost as interesting as the article itself is a follow-up piece by the very feed-up sounding interviewer.

Sunday, 5 March 2006

How, Patel and Fulton make the test side

Scott Styris saved his reputation with a scatchy 90 in the last ODI. Damn it. Still the selectors have taken a bit of a gamble by selecting a squad of 13 which includes Peter Fulton, Jamie How and Jeetan (first-class bowling average of 40.50) Patel. Unless the pitch looks to be a dust-bowl I think Jeetan will be first to miss out. I am surprised Vincent didn't make the cut, especially as it seems to mean that Hamish Marshall will be opening the batting with debutante How. Actually when it comes to the opening combination "gamble" is not a strong enough word.

Saturday, 4 March 2006

The war continues

Greg Chappell has just received a warning from the Indian Board for snarky comments made about his good mate Sourav Ganguly.

Australian woes

Watching South Africa struggle so badly in Australia, who would have picked that only a few weeks later the Australians would be falling to pieces in the land of the high veldt.

Test combo conundrum

I don't get it. Scott Styris is averaging 13 in the ODI series and his form looks even worse than that number would indicate. He is also bowling terribly, conceding over 6 runs an over and only taking two wickets in the series. And yet both Richard Boock and TVNZ seem convinced he is a shoe-in for the test side - ahead of players like Peter Fulton and Hamish Marshall. I really don't get it.

Thursday, 2 March 2006

James Edward Charles

In the past Jimmy Franklin's bowling has seemed very fragile at the international level and watching him bowl for Wellington and watching him bowl for New Zealand have been very different experiences. Recently however he seems to have found a bit more confidence and that has made a real difference to the way he has been hitting the pitch. Previously the speed radar you see in ODIs and tests has become stuck at around 130kmph. But against the West Indies he has begun to touch the 140s and, in the third ODI, he hit a top speed of 144kmph. Jimmy is still not out and out fast in the way that Shane Bond is, but that speed is enough to hurry up most batsmen and - allied with the angle of a tall left-armer and his ability to swing the ball - could mean that he is finally maturing into the bowler he has always promised to be. A double century in the State Championship may indicate that this new found confidence is not just having an impact on his bowling.

Karl on ... the quote of the week

Can you guess which game this applies to ...
" day four and five the pitch, although slow, could be turning square. The Test could well be heading for an enthralling finish. "
Click on comments for the answer...

Wednesday, 1 March 2006

That first win

The Herald has a retrospective on New Zealand's first test win, fifty years ago this month. Well worth reading - if only to see how far New Zealand has risen since the days of part-timers and amateurs, and to see how far the West Indians have fallen since Weekes, Sobers, Ramadhin and Valentine.

Great ODI players

There has been talk recently, especially in light of Richard Boock's hopefully-premature-obituary, that Nathan Astle is the finest batsman to have played one-day cricket for New Zealand. A Cricinfo study doesn't include Astle in its list of the world's top batsmen, but then no New Zealanders made that list. Two Kiwis did make the bowling list however, Richard Hadlee and Shane Bond - who is the only bowler on the list still playing.