Thursday, 4 January 2007

Karl on ... 2006 – the ODI year in review

If our test year was dry, in comparison our ODI year was a drought. We played 14 ODIs – the fewest of any test playing nation. Bangladesh (28) and Zimbabwe (29) had at least twice as many, and even Kenya had more (16).

Excluding the rubbish that is 20-20, New Zealand cricketers played a total of 54 days of cricket through 2006. Whoever organises our international playing schedule should be sacked. I would prefer seeing the Black Caps go and thrash Bangladesh than play no cricket at all. In 2007 we will at least have more ODIs than 2006. Before we even play at the World Cup, we’ll play 13 games against Sri Lanka, England and Australia (and potentially more if we make the VB series finals). We will definitely play at least 3 at the world cup (against England, Canada and Kenya) and probably more. Unfortunately, after the world cup there are no more matches scheduled until December, when NZ is away in South Africa.

Of the 14 ODIs played, we had a good record – 9 wins and 5 losses for a win % of 64.3%, second only behind Australia. 6 of those games were against Sri Lanka (3 at the start of the year, 1 at the Champions Trophy and 2 at the end of the year). We finished even on 3-3. NZ played 5 against the West Indies (won 4, lost 1), and got to the semifinals of the Champions Trophy (beating South Africa and Pakistan, losing to Sri Lanka, and losing to Australia in the semi-final).

Only one player played in all 14 matches – Brendon McCullum, while Peter Fulton and Daniel Vettori both appeared 13 times.

Of the batsmen, Nathan Astle had a successful year, passing 50 on 5 out of 12 occasions and converting one of those into a century. The batting highlight of the year was the emergence of an heir-apparent for Astle – Ross Taylor’s 128 in his third ODI was sensational, particularly given the pressure of high expectations placed upon him. Players to finish the year with averages over 30 were Taylor (63.0); Astle (58.6); Fleming (35.5); Vettori (31.6) and Styris (30.2).

As in the test matches, the standout bowler was Kyle Mills. He played in 7 matches, taking 16 wickets at 15.25. Jeetan Patel had a great year taking 14 at 20 in 8 matches and Shane Bond showed his strike-power by taking 21 in 11 matches at 22.04. Both Daniel Vettori and Jacob Oram didn’t take many wickets but had good economy rates of about 4 per over.

The most frustrating aspect of the year has been the persistent injury problems to a number of core players – particularly Oram, Styris and Mills. For once, Shane Bond’s international appearances were unaffected by injury (probably helped by the lack of opportunities to play international cricket). The selection policies by the end of the year were becoming hard to stomach – playing Shane Bond in pointless 20-20 matches but not in ODIs is difficult to understand, as is depriving your best batsman (Fleming) of important game time to help him get his form back.

Yugan noted in a comment on another topic what his ideal World Cup eleven would be. The 2006 year would back him up with the following:

1. Stephen Fleming (c)
2. Brendon McCullum (wk)
3. Ross Taylor
4. Nathan Astle
5. Scott Styris
6. Peter Fulton
7. Jacob Oram
8. Daniel Vettori
9. Kyle Mills
10. Shane Bond
11. Jeetan Patel

If this team played at the World Cup I think that NZ has a very real chance of making the finals, if not winning. The mixture of batting with aggressive shotmakers and quality strokemakers mixed with a bowling side that can bowl sides out and contain, is a quality one that I think few others can match. As a one-day unit, they are also starting to achieve a level of consistency that they haven’t in the past. I think playing a month of cricket against Australia will sharpen them up very well. The key will be the selectors settling on a side very soon after arriving in Australia and then allowing that side to really start to hum.

1 comment:

parker said...

Agreed, the scheduling in 2006 was terrible and it's about time questions were asked of the administration in this country. No wonder there seems to be so little interest in the game at the moment. With the Blackcaps playing so little cricket, only the hardcore fans remain interested. This will have repurcussions in 10 years or so. Our current players grew up watching cricket in the late 1980s, when there was a lot more interest and we had a great team with plenty of role models. Do 10 year olds bother watching the game these days? Does watching the Blackcaps play to empty stadiums inspire children to become cricketers?