Thursday, 31 May 2007

Contracted players list

New Zealand Cricket has just announced its list of players contracted for the 2007/8 season. They are:

Shane Bond
Stephen Fleming
James Franklin
Peter Fulton
Mark Gillespie
Gareth Hopkins
Jamie How
Brendon McCullum
Craig McMillan
Hamish Marshall
Chris Martin
Michael Mason
Kyle Mills
Jacob Oram
Michael Papps
Jeetan Patel
Scott Styris
Ross Taylor
Daniel Vettori
Lou Vincent

I heard the idiots on Radio Sport speculating about the make-up of the list this morning. One idiot claimed his sources said Jesse Ryder was a shoe-in (so he clearly doesn't follow the sports news then). The other idiot wondered how low Stephen Fleming would rate on the list "now he has retired from test cricket". And these people call themselves sport's journalists.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Jesse Ryder - idiot

There has always been a fair amount of innuendo whispered about Jesse Ryder. The closest it ever seems to appear in the open is when a newspaper article refers to him having "a history". But here is something which gives us something a bit more concrete to go on. Ryder failed to turn up for a match for Ireland yesterday (he was playing as their overseas professional). The Ireland coach has not surprisingly announced that the young Kiwi is unlikely to play for his team again.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Karl on ... how much cricket do we play?

I've just posted a piece on how I'm convinced we're playing less test cricket than ever. Well, I've done a quick crunching of the numbers and the results are interesting.

We're not playing less test cricket than, say, 10 years ago. But overall we do seem to be playing less cricket. In terms of days of cricket played, 2005 and 2006 have been real lowlights, with 54 days of cricket in each year. 2007 is showing to be a bit of an anomaly but that's largely because of the tedious World Cup. Between now and the end of the year, if we're lucky New Zealand will play five tests. That will be the lowest since 1991.

Year Tests ODIs
1995 10 19
1996 6 22
1997 10 17
1998 6 23
1999 13 26
2000 9 25
2001 8 23
2002 8 31
2003 6 29
2004 10 25
2005 7 19
2006 8 14
2007 0 24

Karl on ... finding the edge

The Listener's Paul Lewis wrote an article recently which I agree with wholeheartedly. In Finding the Edge, he writes that the key to New Zealand succeeding in one-day cricket is succeeding in test match cricket. Have a read of it - I find it convincing, but then on this matter i'm easily convinced. My one area of disagreement with the article is that Lewis says that the focus on one-dayers in recent years has been in addition to, rather than at the expense of, test cricket. I disagree. I think we are playing much less test cricket than ever before. Although later today I'll do an analysis of how much we have played and report back!

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Ben on...don't play Zimbabwe

While news has been slow on the domestic scene, there has been action in other cricketing countries. India has avenged it's World Cup loss to Bangladesh. The West Indies have begun their tour of England. But the biggest news of the moment is that the Australian government has instructed the Australian cricket team not to go on their tour of Zimbabwe.

The issue of a potential boycott began to be raised during the World Cup. This was followed by hand wringing by the government and an even number of pro and anti comments by former players. It looked to be heading in the same direction as previous debates over tours to Zimbabwe, which ultimately left everyone except the ICC looking meek. It has taken hard man John Howard to finally take definitive action to cut cricketing ties with Mugabe's Zimbabwe.

Someone had to do it, and I'm glad it was Australia. It means so much more for the strongest cricketing nation to pull out of a tour. (Also, however, I feel uncomfortable about a government restricting its citizens from travelling, so I am rather two-facedly happy that it wasn't New Zealand that took this drastic step when it was an issue here a couple of years ago.)

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Ben on...job opportunity

Any budding coaches out there keen to help improve the Black Caps' batting performance?

NZ Cricket is taking applications for a head batting coach.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Ben on...the sudden end to the season

We're not the only people to go quiet after the end of the World Cup. I went to see if had any cricket news, only to find that their sports section no longer has a cricket subsection.

Ben on...squashball in a teacup

I'd be surprised if Sri Lanka make too much of the fact that Adam Gilchrist used a squash ball in his glove in the World Cup final, despite their threats of taking it up with the ICC. It looks too much like sour grapes for the losing finalist to complain, and the early comments on it seem to suggest the use of a squash ball inside a glove is not illegal.

It's a pity this little controversy has arisen over Gilchrist's incredible innings, but I don't think it will tarnish it in any way. We all know that Gilchrist is capable of innings like that without the help of squash balls.

I have to say though, that I do think Sri Lanka has a point. While it has been claimed that using a squash ball in your glove is no different from using padding, Dileep Premachandran made the observation that having the ball in his glove fixed a problem Gilchrist was having with his bottom hand and artificially changed his array of scoring shots, shifting it away from the off-side. (A Barbados paper also has a report about how the ball might have given more power to his shots by acting as a spring.) He was clearly using it as a batting aid, not for padding or protection. I'm not quite sure what the laws say about artificial aids, but I just don't think they're on.

It isn't something to make a fuss about, but I hope he doesn't do it again and I hope others don't try stuff on as well.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

New Zealand averages

player           runs average
Scott Styris 499 83.16
Stephen Fleming 353 39.22
Peter Fulton 297 37.12
Craig McMillan 228 32.57
Jacob Oram 165 33.00
Brendon McCullum 117 23.40
Ross Taylor 107 17.83
Lou Vincent 101 33.67
James Franklin 95 95.00
Hamish Marshall 81 40.50
Jeetan Patel 34 34.00
Dan Vettori 28 7.00
Mark Gillespie 2 2.00
Shane Bond 2 2.00
Michael Mason 0 0.00

player wickets average economy
Dan Vettori 16 27.93 4.57
Shane Bond 12 16.38 3.05
James Franklin 11 30.09 5.06
Jacob Oram 10 25.20 4.03
Scott Styris 9 26.88 4.24
Jeetan Patel 7 35.00 4.50
Craig McMillan 3 36.67 4.88
Michael Mason 3 44.67 4.87
Daryl Tuffey 0 – 6.67
Mark Gillespie 0 – 8.95

The future of Speed

Yesterday there was talk of a vote of no-confidence in ICC head Malcolm Speed. And then a sign fell on his head at a press conference. I believe that moment has sealed Speed's fate. It was a moment of great television that could easily be seen as both an omen of doom and an emblem of incompetence, and you don't get a worse combination. Like Don Brash clumsily walking a plank during the election campaign, this is a moment which cliche lovers will immeadiately call "a tipping point".

Two New Zealanders in the World XI

Cricinfo has surveyed its staff to find a World Cup XI and two New Zealanders made the team. Scott Styris was unanimously voted the best all-rounder of the tournament and was selected at number 5. And Shane Bond slipped into a bowling spot ahead of Shaun Tait and Nathan Bracken.

I think the selection of those two players in fair. They were real highlights in the New Zealand effort, but few amongst the rest of our crop did their talents much justice. Pre-tournament we might have expected players like McCullum, Oram and Vettori to be up there - but they couldn't quite pull it together.