Monday, 27 February 2006

Astle's catch

Nathan Astle's catch has been replayed so many times that I am becoming a bit blase about the whole thing. However, watching it live on TV was magical. Astle just seemed to hang in the air for ever. I think only the fact that the ball was travelling at a slightly slower speed made the catch less spectacular than Matthew Sinclair's take from Matthew Hayden two seasons ago. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder and Richard Boock, who has also taken the time to compare catches, thinks Astle's catch was better.

George Bush on cricket

I'm a cricket match person. I appreciate it. As I understand it, I may have a little chance to learn something about cricket. It's a great pastime.

The US President George Bush hints that he may watch some cricket while visiting India.

Sunday, 26 February 2006

Poll results and a new poll

My last poll asked you to tell me why Auckland cricket is in such a terrible state. One of you thought it was because Auckland didn't pick enough boring medium pace bowlers. Two of you thought that all those cool haircuts restricted players' vision. Three of you blamed Scott Styris - presumably because Scott Styris is the source of all evil. Five of you clearly come from the capital, because you believe that the Great Bureaucrat in the sky is angry because two Wellington stalwarts have moved north. And an overwhelming ten of you looked towards the Viaduct Basin and noisily sniffed that the players are spending too much time drinking expensive coffee amongst luxury yachts.

My new poll asks you to tell me which all-rounder is most likely to turn into the new Chris Cairns. Do you base your vote on the style of bowling? The ability to hit a cricket ball several hundred metres without trying? The amount of ridiculous hair? Its up to you.

Richardson on Fleming and Bracewell

Mark Richardson has a book coming out. In the Herald on Sunday he unveils a few of its secrets - including his annoyance at John Bracewell's failure to seek outside advice and how Stephen Fleming lost faith in his bowlers in 2004.

Friday, 24 February 2006

Karl previews ... Zim vs Kenya

When Bangladesh beat Sri Lanka earlier this week, Bangladesh showed there is fight and pride in one of the minnows. On the other side of the world tomorrow, the other minnow hosts a ODI series against supposedly even smaller-fry.

There has already been controversy before a bowl is even bowled in the series. The Zimbabweans tried, without telling the Kenyans, to reduce the series from five games to three. Reasons speculated for this include that if the Kenyans win the series, they will leapfrog the Zimbabweans on the ICC ODI ratings list and that the Zimbabweans don't have enough money for a five-match series. The ICC pressured them back into playing the five matches.

CricInfo has a good summary of the history of games between the two countries. However, history will count little for the upcoming series. Kenya toured in October last year, playing Zimbabwe A (which included Heath Streak and Tatenda Taibu) - they won the series 3-0. Kenya has come through the other end of a bitter players' strike and now seems to be back on the right track. Zimbabwe Cricket's disintegration is still continuing. Terry Duffin, new captain for Zimbabwe has never played a ODI.

The teams play on February 25 and 26 in Bulawayo and on March 1, 3 and 4 in Harare. My prediction: a 5-0 whitewash for Kenya.

Thursday, 23 February 2006

Karl on ... Shane Bond

I was wondering last night whether Shane Bond is better or worse since coming back from injury. It seems that when bowlers come back from injury and have to remodel their action and (in the case of Bond) undergo major surgery then their performance seems to deteriorate.

Looking at ODI figures only, Bond's career to date seems to have had two major phases. The first phase started with his first match against Australia in January 2002, where he took 3-53 to his 27th game, against Pakistan in May 2003, where he took 2-7 off 5 overs. By the end of this phase, his career record was astonishing. 27 games, 51 wickets at an average of 19.00, with best figures of 6-23.

The second phase started last year in Zimbabwe at Bulawayo. In this time he's played 15 games, taken 29 wickets at an average of 18.27, with best figures of 6-19 (against India).

His career figures are 42 games, 80 wickets at an average of 18.73. Of bowlers who have bowled at least 1000 balls, he has the best average in ODIs across all countries. Only six bowlers took fewer games to reach 50 wickets. And at his current wicket-taking rate, he could be the quickest to 100.

He turns 31 in June - let's hope that his body is able to withstand the rigours of international cricket for another four years.

Wednesday, 22 February 2006

A two dimensional team

Okay, so we are beating a poor West Indian team - but is anyone else worried how reliant we are becoming on two players? In today's match Shane Bond and Daniel Vettori conceded 51 runs in 20 overs and took 3 wickets between them. Scott Styris conceded as many runs in just 6 overs and didn't manage a single wicket.

Part-time heroes

As you would expect, any list involving internationally successful dibbly-dobbly bowlers includes the odd New Zealander. What you might not expect is that one of them, Andrew Jones, appears not for his bowling ability - but because he happened to be a real bunny when the part-timers came onto bowl. 13 of his 78 dismissals in one-day cricket came at the hands of a dobber.

At the other end of the scale one batsman stands out as Nathan Astle's bunny - Inzamam al-Haq. The great Pakistani has been out to the most dibbly of dobblers six times in his career.

Tuesday, 21 February 2006

Shoulder barges and flying stumps

The West Indian tourists to New Zealand in 1979/80 are remembered some of the most bitter and petulant people to have ever played cricket. Michael Holding kicked over the stumps (but still managed to look elegant), most of the team refused to attend after match presentations and - of course - Colin Croft shoulder barged umpire Fred Goodall. Brilliant players. Ugly memories.

Under-19 heroes

Cricinfo has compiled a list of stars from the Under-19 World Cup. It is no surprise that no New Zealanders feature, but the list is still worth reading to see the players of the future. Most worringly is the presence of a world class all-rounder playing for an Australian side. If Portugese born Moises Constantino Henriques fulfills his promise then we can probably expect Australian dominance to continue for decades to come. Well, until Nepal achieve test status anyway.

Monday, 20 February 2006

Oh dear

Ooops. Our senior side might have romped to a comfortable win over the West Indies, but in Sri Lanka out under-19s capped their terrible tournament with a loss to Nepal.

Saturday, 18 February 2006

How the Windies have fallen

I have always like Tony Cozier. I spent years listening to his smooth Caribbean tones on the radio and was utterly shocked when a photo revealed him to be a sligtly chubby, bald white man with spectacles. I don't think Tony liked the idea of Twenty20 much though because his commentary was very strained on Thursday night. In this morning's Dominion-Post Jonathan Millmow has an interesting chat to him about the state of West Indian cricket and the reasons why the team has fallen so far so fast.

An interview in Zone Cairns

In this morning's Herald Michelle Hewitson has a lengthy and somewhat odd interview with Chris Cairns. I am guessing Michelle must be a Gen X journo or even younger, because there is a tone of irony through-out the interview and it doesn't quite work.

Crazy ICC rules

I suggested a couple of days ago that the New Zealanders and West Indians might make a gentlemen's agreement not to use the flawed (and soon to be rescinded) supersub rule. Unfortunately that seems like dangerous thinking to the ICC and match referee Mike Procter has told the team captains that have to use it.

Riky Ponting stirs controversy

Ricky Ponting clearly doesn't think he is getting enough headlines by being the best batsman in the world, so he has had to make a few more. First of all he has had his bat banned by the MCC (who still make the laws of the game) and secondly (as Karl has already pointed out) he has decided to call for Bangladesh to be drop-kicked out of the test arena.

Intriguingly while Ponting's comments would appear to breach Cricket Australia rules, he has not been punished. Also intriguingly the Board has issued a statement in which it quotes Ponting as saying:

"If it takes teams like Australia playing teams like Bangladesh for the developing Test nations to improve their skills, then I'm all for it. I'm looking forward to the challenge of leading Australia in Bangladesh."

Friday, 17 February 2006

Karl on Ricky Ponting and the minnows

Ricky Ponting has been interviewed by the UK's Daily Telegraph. Amongst other things, he has said "what I would not have is the minnow nations in the World Cup and the Champions' Trophy, and I would not have Bangladesh and Zimbabwe playing Tests at present."

I understand his sentiments but do not agree with him. I would rather see a two, or even three, tier system. Australia, who are light years better, shouldn't have to play Bangladesh or Zimbabwe. But Bangladesh and Zimbabwe can be competitive against each other and currently against the West Indies. And in one-day tournaments can pull off shocks, like the win against Australia last year.

Thursday, 16 February 2006

Under-19s beat USA

At last, a convincing victory in the Under-19 World Cup. Okay, so it was against the not-so-mighty USA - but it was a victory. The result sealed our place in the the play-off for ninth place, which ICC officials like to call the "Plate Championship Final" to make us feel better.

Scott Styris

Anyone else notice that Scott Styris came to the crease in the Twenty20 match to the sound of "Welcome to the jungle"? Scott Styris. Guns'n'Roses. It figures.

ICC abandons supersub rule

Well thank goodness for that. Sadly the change in playing conditions won't come into effect until after the series between New Zealand and the West Indies. I wonder if those two teams will consider coming to an agreement not to make use of the law while it is still in effect?

Wednesday, 15 February 2006

Ireland almost upset New Zealand

With the New Zealand Under-19 side condemned to the meaningless "Plate" competition in the youth World Cup we should have expected a series of easy victories over such cricketing giants as Ireland, Nepal and Uganda. But no. Last night we only just managed to stumble to victory over the Irish after they scored a mammoth 304/9 off their 50 overs. A solid 87 from Andrew de Boorder and 92 off 55 balls from tail-ender Tim Southee saw us through.

While a bad performance against Ireland is the rotten icing on a very poor cake, you could clutch at straws and point out the Irish had earlier gone down to the very strong England side by a meagre 4 runs. Nepal too has a surprisingly strong side and a history of success at this level. Thankfully we won't meet them until the final, if we meet them at all...

Tuesday, 14 February 2006

Vettori vs the Windies

Richard Boock believes that Dan Vettori might be the key to New Zealand beating the West Indies. He might be right given that if the ball is ever going to turn in New Zealand it will be in late summer. In the Dominion-Post another spinner, Jeetan Patel, expresses similar optimism.

In his article Boock quotes an old yarn which appears in several different spin bowling autobiographies, but specifies that it belongs to one particular New Zealand left-arm spinner. Interestingly the first time I read it the storyteller (and victim) was Richard's brother Stephen...

Monday, 13 February 2006

The West Indies

In this morning's Herald Richard Boock and Ian Bradshaw tell us not to write-off the West Indian cricket team just yet, and given we have just selected Michael Mason to play against them then they are probably right.

One of the West Indian players I am most interested in seeing is Runako Morton. The 27 year old's statistics do not mark him out as an outstanding talent, but his history certainly marks him out as an outstanding entertainer.

Morton first came to prominence in July 2001 when he was expelled from the West Indian Academy following a number of undisclosed regulation breaches. After a spell in the wilderness he first appeared in the full West Indian squad in February 2002. Later that year he was fined for misconduct on the 'A' tour of England. He was then expelled from the senior one-day team in September the same year when he bizzarely returned home from the ICC Champions Trophy for his "grandmother's funeral". This news was greeted with some surprise by his (very much alive) grandmother. Morton was promptly slapped with a one-year ban from all cricket. He was also ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation but was cleared to play when his ban ended despite his psychiatrist announcing she was "not fully satisfied" with his progress. In January 2004 Morton was arrested after stabbing his cousin. His trial was followed by yet another poor psychiatric report and, of course, re-selection for the West Indian team.

Someone should warn Brendon McCullum not to sledge this guy.

Under-19 disaster

Zimbabwe made it through to the final eight of the youth World Cup, New Zealand did not. I don't think there can be a more damning appraisal of our performance than that. In the final pool match New Zealand managed to lose to Pakistan in less than three hours. We were bundled out for 77 and the Pakistani openers knocked off the runs in just 8.5 overs. If this is the future of New Zealand cricket, be afraid.

Sunday, 12 February 2006

Back from the north

My holiday is over, my skin is sunburnt, my ears are clogged with sea water and I need to get up at 6.30 tomorrow morning. Oh, and Michael Mason just got picked to play for New Zealand. None of this puts me in a particularly good mood.

Thursday, 9 February 2006

Karl on ... the NZ team to play the WIndies

The NZ team to play the West Indies in the first two one-dayers has been announced. The squad is Stephen Fleming (captain), Daniel Vettori (vice captain), Nathan Astle, Shane Bond, James Franklin, Peter Fulton, Jamie How, Hamish Marshall, Michael Mason, Brendon McCullum, Jeetan Patel, Scott Styris, Lou Vincent.

On the injured list are Andre Adams, Kyle Mills and Jacob Oram. Coming back into the side are Michael Mason and Nathan Astle. Following only one match in the series against Sri Lanka, Chris Martin has been dropped.

Ross Taylor hasn't been named, although John Bracewell commented that "With a return to form of many players at domestic level there was fierce competition for top-order batsmen. It was very much a case of deciding who to leave out rather than who to select", indicating that Taylor must have been considered.

I think the side looks well-balanced, although I think Martin is unlucky to be dropped in favour of Mason. I rate Martin as a better bowler, although the selectors may consider him more favoured to the test arena rather than ODIs. The batting attack has a good balance of dashers and stroke makers, while the bowling attack of Bond, Franklin, Mason, Vettori and Patel has good variety.

Karl on ... Ross Taylor's pushing for higher honours

After the State Shield semifinal yesterday, Ross Taylor has figures for the 2005/06 domestic one-day season of ten matches, 553 runs, average 69.13, three 100s and two 50s. What has been impressive is that two of those centuries have been in must-win situations for CD - against Wellington at the end of the round-robin, and against Otago in the semi-final.

The picture is from Stuff's article on the semi-final.

Karl on ... ODI innovations

In March the ICC is to review the powerplay and SuperSub rules. Ricky Ponting is against them. In the past he has said that naming the SuperSub after the toss is better than having to do it before. At the same time, Daniel Vettori said an option for the Powerplay was to let the batting team name when the Powerplays happened.

What do you think?

I'm against the SuperSubs. Cricket should be 11 against 11. Part of the joy of the game is watching the bunnies try and save a match. There's also the challenge for a team in balancing between a good batting outfit and a team that can bowl 50 competitive overs. SuperSubs remove a lot of the challenge for captains.

Powerplays can be useful, but I don't really understand them. I like the idea of giving the impetus to the batting side, though.

What other innovations can be developed? Or can the game not really be improved?

Friday, 3 February 2006

Keeping track of the walking wounded

The Waikato Times reports that Daryl Tuffey's domestic season is probably over - he has aggravated a biceps injury during the national provincial A tournament this week.
Meanwhile, the Dominion Post's Jonathan Millmow reports that Chris Harris is so keen to get back into the Black Caps that he's taught himself to throw with his left arm because of the injury he suffered to his right shoulder. In keeping with branding everyone as the new Chris Cairns, Millmow says that Harris may be the new Cairns as "Jacob Oram is bothered by a stone bruise on a foot, Scott Styris can't bowl everyday because of a knee injury, Andre Adams has a broken finger and Kyle Mills has a groin strain"

Thursday, 2 February 2006

A summer break

This will be the last post for a week or so. I am off to the Bay of Islands to spend some time with some good friends in a bach with no internet, no phone and no TV. Don't get up to too much mischief while I am away.
Murali shows his spinning finger to Australian fans

Wednesday, 1 February 2006

The Academy

The New Zealand Cricket Academy has so far had 103 male cricketers pass through its doors. So far 88 of those have gone on to play first-class cricket, 29 have played international one day cricket and 24 have played test cricket. Here is a handy PDF which tells us exactly who has been at the Academy and what they achieved afterwards. Flick through and you will see quite a list of might-have-beens. Do you remember Mark Haslam? Greg Loveridge? If that is frustrating to think about, how do you think Dylan Wilson (the only player of the 1996 intake not to play first-class cricket) feels? But the list also contains players who have gone on to a very respectable level of success. Shane Bond, Daniel Vettori and Jacob Oram were all part of the 1997 intake. Wouldn't it be nice of some of these names from the class of 2005 become as familiar as those last three:

Todd Astle
Hamish Bennett
Carl Cachopa
Derek De Boorder
Jason Donnelly
Sean Eathorne
Martin Guptill
Mathew Harvie
William Somerville
25 years ago today