Friday, 29 September 2006

Farewell Walter

Batsman, captain, selector, manager, administrator - New Zealand has rarely had such a loyal and productive servant as Walter Hadlee. Sadly Walter passed away today at the age of 91.

The verdict is in

Inzamam al-Haq has been banned for four matches for bringing the game into disrepute and the ball tampering charge has been dismissed. The full text of the verdict is available here. Inzy's punishment is the minimum allowed under the Law and the Pakistan captain has already said that he won't appeal it. Does that mean all has ended well and quietly? Well, not really. The Pakistan Board is still considering whether to lay another charge of bringing the game into disrepute, this time against Darrell Hair. And Hair's premature annoucement that he would be umpiring in the Champion's Trophy apparently left the ICC on the hop and unhappy. India saved their bacon by producing a handy excuse, "they couldn't guarantee Hair's safety" while he was in the country. As Martin Williamson has pointed out, this is simply a face-saving exercise - India have been at great pains to point out how safe their country is and how good their security arrangements to recent visitors like George Bush, Tony Blair and Pervez Musharraf.

Thursday, 28 September 2006

Gav on Kilbirnie Park

Gavin Larsen's most recent column for the Black Caps website looks at the issue of pitches. Gavin humbly notes that if he had been born in Australia he would probably not have made it as a first-class, let alone test, cricketer. He attributes his rise to the top to New Zealand's "underprepared, soft, slow, seaming decks". So you would assume he thinks those wickets are a good thing right? Wrong. Gav blames them for New Zealand's "coveyer belt of medium-pacers and block/slog batsmen". And I agree, that conveyer belt is a very bad thing. Fast bowlers and spinners do not prosper on soft and slow pitches. And batsmen who grow up without facing quality bowling, don't develop the technique to deal with anything other than military medium seamers.

Wednesday, 27 September 2006

12 Angry Men

Cricket's most important court case since Packer is scheduled to start today, and while there won't be 12 jury members led by Henry Fonda furiously debating the case I am willing to bet that by the day's end there will still be 12 angry men left standing outside the courtroom. Neither Daryl Hair nor the Pakistan cricket team will be smiling when the verdict is read. My prediction is that Daryl's decision to penalise the Pakistani team for ball-tampering will be reversed but Inzamam al-Haq's citing for bringing the game into disrepute will stand.

Watch Cricinfo closely today for more updates. Already "leaks" are starting to appear to give us some indication of the case to be argued.

Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Tuffey on the comeback trail

Daryl Tuffey has not chosen the easiest route for his cricketing comeback. The big pace man is playing in the tough Sydney club competition in the same team as Glenn McGrath and Australia's latest batting sensation, Phil Jacques.

Monday, 25 September 2006

Billy raises a crooked finger

Billy Bowden hasn't appeared much on our TV screens lately. A lack of attention is a good thing in an umpire, but this is a philosophy that Billy doesn't usually subscribe to (along with his mate Daryl Hair). So Billy has not been shy in leaping into the spotlight to promote a good cause, Arthritis New Zealand's annual appeal.

Contract merry-go-round

A brief piece in this morning's Dominion-Post indicates that Middlesex are quicker on the uptake than the New Zealand selectors. The English county side has decided that Scott Styris is rubbish and have released him from his contract.

Meanwhile Hamish Marshall has impressed his Gloucestershire bosses, who have apparently offered him a contract extension in the hope that he will return next season.

Sunday, 24 September 2006

Ben on...the rest of the county season round up

Following up on Mike's report on the county championship averages of New Zealanders and Craig Spearman, I have compiled the averages for the limited over competitions:

Pro40 (40-over competition)

Andre Adams 40 runs at 40 and 0 wickets
Nathan Astle 228 runs at 57 and 0 wickets
Stephen Fleming 113 runs at 16.14
James Franklin 168 runs at 56 and 7 wickets at 43.14
Brendon McCullum 0 runs
Hamish Marshall 266 runs at 44.33
Craig Spearman 1370 runs at 44.19
Scott Styris 182 runs at 45.5 and 6 wickets at 22
Dan Vettori -
Lou Vincent 344 runs at 49.14 and 0 wickets

C&G Trophy (50-over competition)

Andre Adams 17 runs at 17 and 8 wickets at 28.75
Nathan Astle 3 runs at 1.5 and 0 wickets
Stephen Fleming 197 runs at 49.25
James Franklin 41 runs at 20.5 and 2 wickets at 32.5
Brendon McCullum 8 runs at 8
Hamish Marshall 56 runs at 14
Craig Spearman 127 runs at 18.14
Scott Styris 63 runs at 21 and 6 wickets at 25.33
Dan Vettori 0 wickets
Lou Vincent 83 runs at 83

Twenty20 Cup

Andre Adams 49 runs at 24.5 and 6 wickets at 15.83
Nathan Astle 132 runs at 16.5 and 1 wicket at 40
Stephen Fleming 336 runs at 37.33
James Franklin 127 runs at 31.75 and 5 wickets at 45.8
Brendon McCullum 188 runs at 26.85
Hamish Marshall 18 runs at 18
Craig Spearman 193 runs at 24.12
Scott Styris 226 runs at 32.28 and 9 wickets at 21.11
Dan Vettori -
Lou Vincent 138 runs at 17.25 and 4 wickets at 18.25

Cricket round-up

A few news story for Sunday. First up is the very sad news that Walter Hadlee is gravely ill. Hadlee was a fine captain a determined batsman and fathered three sons who all played for New Zealand, including of course Sir Richard.

The second story is a very interesting initiative to overhaul New Zealand's coaching structure.

The final story of note is the return of Mark Richardson's column to the Herald on Sunday. His return is marked by a complaint that the New Zealand selectors missed an opportunity to give Ross Taylor some top level experience before the World Cup.

County season round-up

The English county season ended with Sussex winning, Stephen Fleming captained Nottinghamshire relegated to the second division and Lou Vincent's Worcestershire promoted to the first. Here are the final averages for the New Zealanders involved in county cricket:

Andre Adams 230 runs at 32.85 and 21 wickets at 39.52
Nathan Astle 429 runs at 35.75 and 4 wickets at 44.50
Stephen Fleming 992 runs at 49.60
James Franklin 346 runs at 24.71 and 31 wickets at 30.64
Brendon McCullum 306 runs at 61.20
Hamish Marshall 1218 runs at 60.90 and 1 wicket at 63.00
Craig Spearman 1370 runs at 44.19
Scott Styris 679 runs at 42.43 and 18 wickets at 37.22
Dan Vettori one innings of and a spell of 0-92
Lou Vincent 469 runs at 46.90

Saturday, 23 September 2006

Aussie crowds

The Australians just don't get it do they? Here the Sydney Morning Herald brushes off concerns about abusive, racist Australian crowds. Instead, journalist Alex Brown claims that foreign tourists like Monty Panesar can expect "warmth" and "cheers". Riiiight. Just like those warm cheers the black members of the South African team got last summer.

Ponting in trouble again?

Perhaps Ricky Ponting is at last trying to break out of Shane Warne's shadow - because for the second match in a row he has just mouthed off to the umpire. When he did this a week ago he was slapped with a fine of 100% of his match fee and warned that further offences would result in a multiple match ban. Here is the Cricinfo version of Ricky's latest outburst against an umpire:

Whenever Glenn McGrath and Sachin Tendulkar come across each other on a cricket pitch, things tend to happen. And it was no different on Friday, with McGrath's very first delivery to his fellow legend providing for the day's main talking point. Pitched short, it tempted Tendulkar into the pull, but he was too early on the stroke. The ball brushed his shoulder and ricocheted behind the stumps to Brad Haddin and the Australian close-in fielders went up in appeal. After a moment's thought, and to Tendulkar's stupefaction, Mark Benson raised his finger.

Tendulkar's reaction was about as animated as he ever gets on a cricket field, and it perhaps implanted the first seeds of doubt in Benson's mind. And while Tendulkar trudged towards the pavilion slowly, he decided to consult with his colleague, Asad Rauf. Once Rauf gave his opinion, Benson decided that it was better to look silly than give the wrong decision, and to his credit, he recalled the batsman.

While McGrath smiled ruefully and walked back to his mark, Ricky Ponting was livid. Forgetting the fact that the umpire is well within his rights to reverse a decision (Law 27.9), Ponting shared more than a few words, and it will be interesting to see what view the match referee takes at the end of the game.

Friday, 22 September 2006

Sitting near the top of the tree

Glenn McGrath's not so spectacular return to the Australian side has seen him slip to number 4 in the ICC's ODI bowling table. That has allowed Dan Vettori to slip into 3rd spot, just behind Shane Bond who remains in 2nd place. Running our eyes a little further down the list we find Kyle Mills at 13th and Jake Oram at 20th. This makes much better reading than the batting table, where Stephen Fleming is in 26th spot and Nathan Astle is at 30.

Actually, take a gander around the new ICC rankings website. It is becoming very comprehensive. Click on a player's name and a rating chart for his career pops up. Run your mouse over the chart and the details of each test pop up. Click on a link at the bottom of the screen and you can get a chart showing how he has ranked against the best in the world. Toodle around a corner or two and you will come to a chart which says Richard Hadlee achieved the 10th highest ranking of all time against Australia on 30 November 1985. And on the same chart you will see Simon Doull, who recorded the 88th highest ranking of all time against India on 2 January 1999. Be careful though, you could easily lose yourself in the website for hours at an end.

Thursday, 21 September 2006

Paddles gives some advice to Monty

If anyone knows how feral Australian cricket fans can be, it is Sir Richard Hadlee. So with questions being raised about how Monty Panesar will respond when he is thrown into the lion's den this summer, the Courier Mail has sought out Sir Paddles and asked him if he has any words of advice for young Monty. In essence his advice can be distilled down to "don't respond to the bastards".

Wednesday, 20 September 2006

New Zealanders atop the charts

It is not often that New Zealanders can be found at the top of the cricketing records. But Cricinfo has found one area where we really shine - the top performances by captains on debut. Graham Dowling tops the table of test batting performances with 239 against India and Glenn Turner tops the ODI table with 171 not out against East Africa.

Warne and Buchanan

A few days ago Shane Warne said Australian coach John Buchanan "lacked a little bit of common sense" and "overcomplicates things". Australian Cricket said those words were taken out of context. Today we find that while on the Australian team boot camp last week Shane Warne told Buchanan "I hate your guts and I want to go home. You're a d---head." I guess those words were taken out of context too.

Meanwhile, English cricket email The Spin takes this opportunity to put the boot into someone who has barely even made a squeak during this entire affair, the Australian captain:

We need, of course, to delve beneath the surface. Warne, probably the biggest box-office cricketer since Don Bradman, knows that he can say pretty well anything he likes and get away with it. But for Ricky Ponting, every public pronouncement by Warne that undermines that old chestnut team spirit is an irksome reminder of last summer, when Warne in effect captained Australia to defeat in the Ashes. Since the Australian media have questioned, as is their right, England's decision to award the captaincy this winter to Andrew Flintoff, it seems only fair to ask in return: who is the most powerful voice in Australian cricket? And the answer is still the same. It most certainly isn't Ponting.

A Hair in the throat

*Cough* *cough*. Can it possibly be true? Is Darrell Hair going to be appointed to umpire at the Champions Trophy next month as the Sydney Morning Herald contends? Lets just hope he doesn't get appointed to any games involving Pakistan. Or Sri Lanka. Or New Zealand (that trouser thing still irks).

Tuesday, 19 September 2006

Memories of Murphy

Remember Murphy Su'a? Every wondered why his career fizzled out? Cricinfo digs into the secrets of the past to answer your questions:

The reasons that the selectors did not persevere [with Murphy] become more understandable when the stories recounted by Ken Rutherford, at the time New Zealand's captain, are taken into consideration. Reacting a little testily to being dropped for an ODI, Su'a went into a sulk and refused to train before the game, and when asked to join his team-mates, Su'a, alleged Rutherford, called him a "white honky p****." The conversation continued for a few minutes along such cerebral lines before Su'a reluctantly did as he was told. Su'a continued to work hard for his place in the team by then trying to change his airline ticket so he could fly home later that day.

Monday, 18 September 2006

Vermeulen video

The BCC has managed to get hold of a video of Mark Vermeulen's little bout of misbehaviour. You can watch it here. Silly boy.

Sunday, 17 September 2006


With all the recent kerfuffle over ball-tampering, Cricinfo decided to give us a flash-back to the first time the controversy reared its ugly head in public. In doing so, they made some of us wonder what ever happened to zinc cream.


With professional contracts such a rarity in New Zealand cricket outside the rarified realms of the international game, there has been concern that teams who bring in imports from another country are depriving young New Zealand players of income. So the major associations have agreed on collective contracts for their players which, amongst other things, means that contracts cannot be offered to overseas pros. Its just a pity then, that three "New Zealand resident" players happen to be overseas pros. Grant Elliot and Kruger van Wyk from South Africa have been given contracts along with English pro Alun Evans. All of these players are older than 26 (Evans is 31) and none of them has a batting average of over 30.

Saturday, 16 September 2006

The Ashes start now

Anyone who has picked up a paper in the past few days will have realised that the pre-Ashes hype has started. So far England have had the slight edge, but this morning's outburst from Shane Warne might have just stretched that into something more. Warne questioned the value of Australian coach John Buchanan's contribution to the side and said he would prefer to have a team manager instead of a coach.

Indian Summers

Anand Vasu gives John Wright's latest book the big tick in a review for Cricinfo.

Friday, 15 September 2006


Richard Hadlee didn't miss a test through injury until he was 36. As far as I can figure, Fred Trueman never broke down at all. So why are modern fast bowlers so fragile? Anyway, this is all simply a preface to Richard Boock's latest whinge.

Thursday, 14 September 2006

An anniversary to remember

In the Times Stephen Fry, Roy Hattersley and Germaine Greer all remember that distant day, 12 months ago, when England won the Ashes.

Vermeulen verisimilitude

Zimbabwean batsman Mark Vermeulen's Cricinfo bio tells us that he is the kind of guy who likes to keep it real. In particular it says his desire to succeed can occasionally spill over into petulance. As a schoolboy he was banned for uprooting his stumps after being given out lbw. And he was sent home from a tour to England after ignored a management instruction and failed to get on the team bus.

This petty behaviour pales into insignificance compared to last night's hissy-fit during a club game in England. After swearing at the crowd and then throwing a cricket ball at a fence, Vermeulen uprooted a steel spike and had to be restrained by people in the crowd. Police later visited the Zimbabwean's flat and the England Cricket Board has just decided to ban him from all cricket for ten years. Ten years! Golly, the guy must have used some pretty interesting swear words to have copped that sort of a ban.

Wednesday, 13 September 2006

Happy birthday

Craig McMillan is 30 today. Only 30? That seems far too young to be on the scrap-heap. He seems to have been around so much longer than that.


Talk about kicking a former giant when it is down. Zimbabwe are set to return to test cricket in November 2007 with a series against the West Indies. And Zimbabwe coach Kevin Curran just said that "the West Indies are at the right level for our return."

Marshall in the runs again

Hamish Marshall knocked up 105 runs off only 86 balls last night as he helped Gloucestershire beat Surrey in the Pro40 competition (whatever that is). I just hope he can turn his great form for Gloucestershire into great form for New Zealand.

And speaking of the Marshalls, I keep spotting James Marshall wandering along Wellington's Willis Street wearing a very natty dark suit. I just hope that the change from whites to blacks is not a permanent one.

Tuesday, 12 September 2006

The Immortals

A book containing photos and biographies of all 233 men to have played test cricket for New Zealand? Yes please! And signed by 172 of those. Sounds great! $695 + $20 postage and packaging. Ummmm, perhaps not.

Sunday, 10 September 2006

Poll results and a new poll

My last poll asked who would have the best county season. None of you thought Nathan Astle (315 runs at 35 and 3 wickets at 55.33 so far) would lead the averages, three of you backed Scott Styris (679 runs at 42.43 and 18 wickets at 37.22), and second place in the rankings was shared by three players - Stephen Fleming (934 runs at 58.37), Craig Spearman (1340 runs at 46.20) and Hamish Marshall (1066 runs at 59.22) attracted nine votes each. Top spot - at a canter - was won by James Franklin. At this stage of the season he hasn't really justified that faith, making 325 runs at 25 and taking 27 wickets at 30.62. Brendon McCullum (306 runs at 61.20) and Lou Vincent (417 runs at 52.12) both won county contracts too late to make my poll. Dan Vettori only played one game (scoring 27 and returning figures of 0-92) before his back packed in.

My new poll asks about the make-up of the New Zealand team for the Champions Trophy. You can vote for more than one option.

Saturday, 9 September 2006

Anything Fleming can do, Vincent can do better

Lou Vincent has followed up his first innings 78 with 141 in Worcestershire's match against Leicestershire.

Friday, 8 September 2006

Dylan Cleaver on the team

Dylan Cleaver has added his words to the selection debate - although he does pause to marvel at how cricket-starved we must all be to actually get into a debate to start with.

Gillespie in for vital role

In this morning's Dominion Post Jonathan Millmow quotes John Bracewell on Mark Gillespie and then spends some time talking to New Zealand's latest fast bowling hope.

Selection debate

Ben has asked for some debate on the subject of the New Zealand team selection for the Champions Trophy. First to step forward is Richard Boock, who puts on his well-worn angry hat and turns his attention to Hamish Marshall and Mark Gillespie. While Boock suggests that Marshall might struggle to retain his place in the squad ahead of Ross Taylor, he doesn't single out anyone who could step up and take Gillespie's spot. And that is the problem. New Zealand's fast bowling ranks are looking very thin.

Despite the question mark over the quicks, I personally think this is one of the strongest squads we have picked in recent years. There are no major players with injury concerns (touch wood) and it includes the entire squad who played the last one-dayer - against the West Indies way back in March. My only real concern is the lack of match fitness. Many of the players will be heading into the tournament without having played in a competitive match for some months.

PS Stephen Fleming hit 192 for Nottinghamshire last night.

Thursday, 7 September 2006

The first word on the team

Gavin Larsen has got in early with his assessment of the New Zealand team for the Champions Trophy. Of course, Gav is writing on the New Zealand Cricket website so he is unlikely to say anything too controversial...

Ben on...Champions Trophy squad

The squad for the Champions Trophy has been announced:

Stephen Fleming (captain), Nathan Astle, Shane Bond, James Franklin, Peter Fulton, Mark Gillespie, Brendon McCullum, Hamish Marshall, Kyle Mills, Jacob Oram, Jeetan Patel, Scott Styris, Daniel Vettori, Lou Vincent.

The news is so new that the list as it appeared on the Black Caps site was full of typos.

Styris is currently injured, but should be back in time – it's over a month away after all. Michael Mason wasn't selected due to injury.

The big surprise is Mark Gillespie, who I hadn't even heard of as a possible selection until yesterday.

It's great to have a nearly full strength side with an exciting new face, and with some of the guys showing great form in England. Pity it's just the Champions Trophy.

Ah, the back pages are back

It is spring in New Zealand. I am sitting at my desk in my shirt-sleeves. There is watery sunlight dappling the surface of the harbour. And cricket has returned to the back pages of the national papers.

In Auckland, Richard Boock's New Zealand Herald article focuses on the make up of the New Zealand team's middle order. Meanwhile, in Christchurch Geoff Longley's article in the Press takes on the top order. In Wellington, the Dominion Post's Jonathan Millmow tells the national selectors why they should pick Wellington fast bowler Mark Gillespie as part of the bowling unit for next month's Champions Trophy in India.

So, it looks like the three major dailies have the entire team sorted between them then.

A good day is one where you learn something

I learnt something today. I learnt that Lou Vincent hit 78 for Worcestershire, that Craig Spearman hit a rapid-fire 100 and Hamish Marshall 56 for Gloucestershire and that Stephen Fleming ended the first day of Nottinghamshire's championship match against Middlesex on 33 not out.

What I failed to learn was how swing bowling works. This is a pity because there is a very excellent article on the subject over at Cricinfo. The article was written by Rabindra Mehta, a NASA scientist who has spent 25 years investigating the physics of the cricket ball.

Actually, this goes some way to explaining why NASA always seems to be spending vast sums of money without much success. Perhaps they should consider employing rocket scientists instead of swing bowling experts?

Anyway, although the article is written is a relatively reader friendly manner I found myself confused as soon as the term "laminar state" started to be bandied about. Sigh. I might go and make myself a cup of tea and then try again. If Brett Lee can understand the concept of swing, I am sure I can.

Wednesday, 6 September 2006

Styris injured

When I hear the words "back injury" three things come to mind. "Shane Bond", "Dan Vettori" and "Jake Oram". Thank goodness then, that none of those three are involved this time.

Tuesday, 5 September 2006

Something in the way of news

I have been looking for news stories, I swear. It is just a painfully quiet time of year on the cricket front. The best I have been able to dredge up is the news that Invercargill is going to host a season-opening domestic Twenty20 tournament in November. This event is an addition to the season and will not replace the (also new) Twenty20 competition.

Friday, 1 September 2006

Good news

Okay, so the news might come in what is otherwise just a showy promotional opportunity for Nike - but this article is worth reading just to see the words "Shane Bond" and "100 per cent fit" in the same place.

A fast bowling double

It is New Zealand Cricket Almanack time of year again and the selection of last season's two players of the year has been made. They are the fast bowling (well, fast and fast-medium really) duo of Shane Bond and Jimmy Franklin. In test matches Bond took 21 wickets at 15.85, while Franklin took 29 wickets at 27.34 and also managed to score 262 runs at 37.42. Shane didn't play any one dayers last season, but Franklin managed 11 - taking 8 wickets at 42.62 in them and scoring 105 runs at 17.50.