Thursday, 31 August 2006

Vincent in the runs

24 years ago a New Zealand opening batsman playing for Worcestershire scored a century before lunch. And it has taken another 24 years for the Worcestershire to repeat the feat. Oddly enough, the person who did it is another New Zealand opening batsman - Lou Vincent.

Vincent wasn't the only one to do well in an excellent day for New Zealand players in the county championship. Scott Styris whacked 64 for Middlesex, Nathan Astle saw the day out with an unbeaten 17 for Lancashire and Jimmy Franklin took 4-48 for Glamorgan.

Wednesday, 30 August 2006

Wiseman to Durham

This is a surprise. Paul Wiseman is not the first New Zealand cricketer to leap to mind when lucrative county contracts are being offered about, but he has just been offered terms to play for Durham in next season's championship.

How donates shirt to charity

This is the lead story(and only new article) over at the Black Caps website. Suffice to say, it is a slow news day in the world of New Zealand cricket.

Tuesday, 29 August 2006

Mo on the new Aussie coach

As a player Greg Matthews was never one to keep his mouth shut, and he clearly hasn't changed much in retirement. The BBC asked him to comment on candidates to replace John Buchanan as coach of Australia and Matthews provided some fairly blunt answers - Greg Chappell came in for some particularly harsh treatment. Interestingly one person Matthews did not make a comment about is the one person who has actually said that they want the job - former New Zealand coach Steve Rixon.

Saturday, 26 August 2006

Boock's summary

Richard Boock's history of ball-tampering and mistakes by Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove in this morning's Herald may be excellent, but it already seems redundant thanks to last night's new revelations.

Rolling in the mud

Just when you thought things couldn't get any muckier, Darrell Hair writes a letter to the ICC offering to retire in exchange for US$500,000. The letter notes that this payment would not preclude him from taking legal action, civil action or instigating libel suits against "various sections of the electronic and print media ... the ICC ... members of the Pakistan cricket team and the Pakistan Cricket Board." The letter also includes the veiled threat that if this offer is not accepted, then Darrell will insist that the ICC fulfil his contract and that he be allocated future umpiring appointments as per that contract.

Sadly for Darrell, despire requesting that this deal be kept strictly confidential, ICC rules meant that the letter had to be made public. And the ICC are not happy.

Friday, 25 August 2006

Hair not the only one with form

Barry Jarman, a former match referee, has come out of the woodwork to reveal that he once caught Bob Woolmer's South African team tampering with the ball and afterwards had to face the wrath of a "beserk" Woolmer.

Woolmer himself has admitted that a "kind of misunderstanding" occured between him and Inzamam on the last day of the test and is currently denying rumours that a rift has developed between him, his captain and the Pakistan Board.

Thursday, 24 August 2006

LA Times and Hair's trousers

Another day, another headline. This time the LA Times gets into the act and kicks all America's troubles to the sidelines as they put cricket on the front page (subscription may be required).

Meanwhile, I have dredged up another dark moment in Darrell Hair's history. The Basin Reserve test last year when Hair refused to take off his trousers.

Some of you may remember that Hair chose to wear dark trousers instead of the more usual white ones despite requests from the New Zealand batsmen, who could not pick up the bowling of Lasith "Slinger" Malinga.

Wednesday, 23 August 2006

A different view

Okay. I admit that most (well all) of my criticism has so far been aimed at Darrell Hair, but I am coming around to the view that the Pakistanis too should take some blame for the Oval fiasco. Peter Roebuck has roused himself from his winter slumber to call for a plague on the houses of Hair and al-Haq, but I suspect it is coach Bob Woolmer and not Inzamam who should be coping blame on the Pakistani side of the fence. When Hair signalled that the Pakistanis had cheated, Inzamam protested but play continued. It was only once the teams went in for lunch that a decision to strike was made. And at that point coach Woolmer was likely to have had more influence than captain Inzy. And even if the strike was Inzamam's call, then Woolmer should have had the power and influence to over-rule it.

And, as another previously hibernating cricket writer, Richard Boock, points out Woolmer has a rather unsavoury history - which spans an apartheid era tour of South Africa and a stint as coach of South Africa during the most sordid part of Hansie Cronje's reign. Boock also alleges that Woolmer is arrogant and pompous.

So perhaps this is a story of two egos clashing? Two arrogant and pompous figures both convinced that not only were they right in their decisions, but convinced that nobody else has the right to judge them.

Tuesday, 22 August 2006

An observation

Almost all the coverage of the Oval saga includes a statement which says something along the lines of "the umpires accused the Pakistan team of ball-tampering". They didn't. The umpires found the Pakistan team guilty of ball-tampering. There was no accusation, no hearing and no chance to rebut the charge. Punishment too was dished out, the Pakistanis were given a five run penalty and the ball was replaced.

And while we are on this subject, isn't it odd that Inzamam is now up on a ball-tampering charge before the ICC? I can see why he might be up on a charge of bringing the game into disrepute, but surely the ball-tampering allegation is a case of trying a man twice for the same thing.

Another American view

A picture of the Pakistani team currently adorns the front page of the New York Times website, and an erudite and thoughtful article follows.

The Oval (again)

I bet you are all getting as sick of the controversey as me. So here is the only article you need to read on the issue from Simon Barnes of the Times.

Pakistan were not accused of ball-tampering yesterday. They were judged and found guilty by the umpire, Darrell Hair, as they sought to halt England’s second-innings resurgence. This is a profoundly serious business in cricketing terms. It is not like calling a woman a tease. It is like calling her a whore. Well, there are women who are whores, but you’d better be bloody sure of your facts before making the accusation.

You cannot sum up the situation any better than that.

Something to smile at

There isn't an awful lot to laugh about in the current ball-tampering/umpiring arrogance drama - but the Washington Post has given us one thing. The venerable US paper has released that there is a bit of a story here, but struggles to explain it very well for its readers. According to its report, Pakistan's "pitcher-like bowlers" were accused of tampering with the ball "to make it float unpredictably in the air". "Float"? I bet the quicks are pleased with that one.

Monday, 21 August 2006

Breaking news

Although England, Pakistan and the ICC match referee were keen for the final day of the match at the Oval to be played, the umpires have decided that Pakistan should forfeit the match. Here is what the England Cricket Board had to say about this in its official statement:

"After lengthy negotiations which resulted in agreement between the teams, the ICC match referee and both ECB and PCB to seek to resume the fourth npower Test match on Monday, it was concluded with regret that there will be no play on the fifth day. The fourth npower Test match between England and Pakistan has therefore been forfeited with the match being awarded to England.

In accordance with the laws of cricket it was noted that the umpires had correctly deemed that Pakistan had forfeited the match and awarded the Test to England.

At a meeting between the captains, ECB, PCB and match referee, the players, ICC match referee and boards indicated that they would offer to resume play if at all possible on day five.

The umpires having awarded the match to England and having consulted with the Pakistan captain reconfirmed their decision to award the match to England.

The Pakistan team was aggrieved by the award of five penalty runs to England. The award of those penalty runs for alleged interference with the ball is under review by the ICC match referee Mike Procter, whose report will be considered in due course.

ICC will be issuing a separate report concerning action which may be taken in relation to the forfeiture of the match by Pakistan.

ECB Chief Executive David Collier said: "The ECB expresses great regret that the actions taken resulted in spectators, television viewers and radio listeners being deprived of play."

How is this possible? How can one (or two) petty little official's ego result in such chaos? The ICC, as usual, seem to have taken entirely the wrong line. Here is an extract from their statement:

"ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed also spoke to umpire Darrell Hair by phone from Dubai.

"Following these meetings the umpires decided that, having made the decision to award the match to England, to change that decision would not be in keeping with the Laws of Cricket. The ICC backs the decision of the umpires.

"The issue of a charge or charges to be laid against Pakistan under the ICC's code of conduct will now be dealt with at the earliest possible opportunity. Pakistan has been charged under level two of the code of conduct, 2.10, which relates to changing the condition of the match ball."

For his sake, Darrell Hair better have some bloody good evidence to show that the Pakistan team tampered with the ball. Cricinfo calls this "the biggest crisis since Bodyline" and it had better not hinge on something as empty as his pride.

The farce at the Oval

I am guessing that everyone in the cricket world has heard what happened at the Oval last night, but if you didn't here is the Guardian's ball by ball coverage as the "action" (or lack of it) unfolded.

And what an absolute surprise it is to find that Darrell Hair is at the centre of things. I still haven't forgiven the pompous git for his terrible pro-Australian bias back in the days before neutral umpires. And I am still amazed that he was allowed to umpire after not only no-balling Muttiah Muralitharan, but then writing a book to cash in on the controversey.

Friday, 18 August 2006

A new fast-bowling prospect for New Zealand

Dan, Mike on Cricket's man in London, has just told me that he opened the bowling with Andre Adams for the New Zealand London team last weekend. Dan refused to tell me what his own bowling figures were and admitted that he wasn't at his best. But the last time Dan bowled to me he threw down a head-high full toss which managed to collect my knuckles on its way into my face. And this is exactly the kind of aggression that the New Zealand team needs. I think someone should mention his name to John Bracewell and the New Zealand selectors.

Thursday, 17 August 2006

Hamish Marshall interview

The Black Caps website is currently carrying an interview with in-form batsman Hamish Marshall.

Wednesday, 16 August 2006

Craig McMillan dropped from NZ squad

New Zealand Cricket has announced a 30-man training squad for October's Champions Trophy in India and Craig McMillan is not in it because of "concerns about his fitness". The full squad is:

Andre Adams, Nathan Astle, Shane Bond, Stephen Fleming (capt), James Franklin, Peter Fulton, Mark Gillespie, Chris Harris, Gareth Hopkins, Jamie How, Hamish Marshall, James Marshall, Chris Martin, Michael Mason, Brendon McCullum (wk), Nathan McCullum, Peter McGlashan (wk), Warren McSkimming, Kyle Mills, Jacob Oram, Mark Orchard, Michael Papps, Jeetan Patel, Jesse Ryder, Bradley Scott, Mathew Sinclair, Scott Styris, Ross Taylor, Lou Vincent, Daniel Vettori.

The squad will be trimmed to 14 nearer to the series.

Hamish Marshall has record in his sights

New Zealand Cricket just received a financial boost from SPARC, the sports funding agency. And Jonathan Millmow has provided another boost for the game by digging through the files and figuring out that Hamish Marshall is on the verge of equalling a New Zealand batting record. Only one other player, John R Reid, has ever managed to score centuries in five successive first-class matches. Marshall has scored four on the trot for Gloucestershire and has the chance to score a record-equalling fifth this weekend against Derbyshire.

Wright reveals bust up with Sehwag

Cricinfo India is reacting a little to detauls in John Wright's autobiography of a dust-up with Virender Sehwag. From this side of the ocean it sounds like nothing, an angry coach grabbing the collar of a player who has just done something stupid - the kind of thing you might expect (perhaps demand) of an All Black coach every day of the week. But Cricinfo India is treating this as a major revelation - as it is the follow-up comments made by Rajiv Shukla, the team manager at the time.

Why the English still have a chance of retaining the Ashes

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that John Buchanan has made Duncan Fletcher's book compulsory reading for Australian coaching staff. Buchanan might call this "reflective reading", but it is quite clear that he is still playing catch up with his English counter-part.

Sunday, 13 August 2006

Miller and Warne

Both Shane Warne and Keith Miller have new biographies in print.

Keith Miller was an Australian cricketing genius. He took wickets, scored runs and would often stumble to the ground still dressed in his dinner jacket and with a twinkle in his eye. He is remembered as a real character.

Shane Warne is an Australian cricketing genius. He took wickets, scored runs and has been caught in compromising situations with women on film and on text. He is regarded as a disgrace.

Has the standard of our role-models declined, or is it that we have become more judgemental and prurient?

Saturday, 12 August 2006

HJH's form

Hamish Marshall's form in England earned itself a full page write-up in Friday's Dominion-Post sport supplement. He celebrated by scoring another century for Gloucestershire last night - his fifth of the campaign. He also earned himself another personal milestone, opening the bowling for the side in the Northamptonshire second innings as the game petered out into a dull draw.

Friday, 11 August 2006

Double Spearman minty fresh

Craig Spearman has enlivened an otherwise very quiet week on the New Zealand Cricket front by scoring two centuries for Gloucestershire against Northamptonshire - taking his season tally to over 1000 runs and his average to over 50 in the process. In other county news James Franklin has picked up a couple of cheap wickets for Glamorgan, Scott Styris scored a fifty for Middlesex and Stephen Fleming scored one for Nottinghamshire.

Tuesday, 8 August 2006

Sunday, 6 August 2006

Butts turns into Bats

In an interview with the Sunday-Star Times Ian Butler speaks the words all fans of fast bowling have been dreading - "I may never bowl again". He tries to spin this in a positive sense by reinventing himself as a batsman, but I suspect that is cold comfort - to the fans as well as himself.

Boock reviews

In the weekend "Herald" Richard Boock reviews both John Wright's new book Indian summers and the new "unauthorised" biography of Shane Warne. The latter reveals just what kind of prat Warney is.

Meanwhile Hamish Marshall just cannot stop scoring runs for Glouscestershire. He made 168 in his latest knock, his fourth century in seven matches for the side - having only made three other centuries in his first class career (two of those in tests) before this season. This form has caused his career batting average to finally clamber above the "not even mediocre" mark of 30. He started the season with an average of around 26 and has so far managed to push it up to 31.71.

Saturday, 5 August 2006

Ben on...player ratings

The ICC LG Player Rankings website has finally been improved!

Thursday, 3 August 2006

A cull is due

Currently county sides are allowed to have a number of foriegners on their books, as long as a maximum of two of them are playing for the first team at any one time. The English and Wales Cricket Board has just resolved to reduce that number from the 2008 season. At that point, sides will only be allowed to have a maximum of four players on their books for the entire season and only one can be playing at any time.

Ten New Zealanders have plied their trade in England this season - many of them on contracts which only cover a handful of games. Those short-term contracts are sure to almost completely dry up from the end of next season and with increased competition for places the number of long term contracts for New Zealand players is also likely to drop.


On the same day that the New Zealand government compensated New Zealand Cricket for stopping the Zimbabwean team from touring New Zealand, Zimbabwe proved that it is not quite dead as a cricket force with a spectacular win against Bangladesh. With one ball left in an ODI between the two sides Zimbabwe needed five runs, so Brendan Taylor battered Mashrafe Mortaza for six. Unlike many recent matches which have suffered under excessive hyperbole, this one really did live up to the word spectacular. How else could you describe a game where the match report states a player "slammed a one-handed six high over midwicket for four"?

Wednesday, 2 August 2006

New Zealand on stand-by

The lean New Zealand cricket season may be fattened slightly if the West Indies pull out of a tri-series in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore in September. The West Indian players are again embroiled in contract and sponsorship issues and the team may strike. The Indian Cricket Board has indicated that they will ask New Zealand or Sri Lanka to step into the breach if this happens.