Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Ben on...NZC upfront

New Zealand Cricket has published a statement explaining their side of the Bond debacle. In that statement they admit that Bond signed with the ICL in October under the understanding that NZC could release him from his contract to play in the ICL and that the ICL would only require him to play when he had no international commitments. Subsequently, NZC discovered that an ICC regulation (from 2003) prohibits releasing players to play in unsanctioned tournaments. NZC clearly screwed up here and it is good to see them being upfront about it.

Interesting to see that Bond signed for the ICL in October. This was after Fleming decided not to sign, after NZC stated they would not release contracted players, after Mohammad Yousuf dumped the ICL, after the IPL was set up as an alternative. With all this water under the bridge, it is inconceivable for Bond to expect to continue his international career after signing with the ICL.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Ben on...no Bond

The news is out that Shane Bond, who – as we've known for a while – has signed with the rebel ICL, is no longer a Black Cap. While there was some optimism that Bond might be given a dispensation to play in the remaining series before his ICL commitments begin, that was always a vain hope, as signing with the rebel league clearly breached his commitments to NZ cricket (and in fact, he had to be released from his contract) and the NZC are under no obligation to select him.

And why would he want to play? To enjoy the adulation of the crowd for one last time? Does he think we're still going to be behind him? Better if he slinks off now and pulls on the pink of the Chennai Superstars or the bubblegum strip of the Chandigarh Lions.

There's a fair bit of sympathy expressed for Bond in his decision to leave NZ, or understanding at least. And naturally I'd drop Mike in a minute if someone offered me a million bucks to blog elsewhere. The terms "security" and "young family" have been thrown about. I can tell you however, that a young family does not cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. It isn't security that is Bond's reward for signing away his future with the Black Caps, it's wealth.

Ben on...hundreds of dollars worth of cricket

So the most expensive ticket on sale for the New Zealand tour of England is £103 (the ODI at the Oval – they need the money). If I bought a ticket today, that would be NZ$265.

If I had $265 to spend on the England tour here I could see the two T20s ($30 a pop) and all five ODIs ($40 gold seating at each) and still have $5 left for a beer at one of those games. Alternatively I could get a pass for all 5 days at the basin test ($100 gold entry) and all the beer I could drink.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Ben on...England not looking so flash either

Immediately after my rather pessimistic look at New Zealand's poor position in the player ratings, Cricinfo ran a pessimistic story about England's recent form. Apparently England, whose fortunes were so high when they won the ashes in 2005, have slumped to a level of mediocrity not seen since the years leading up to 1999. Significantly perhaps, the earlier period of mediocrity culminated in a series defeat to New Zealand. (Predictably, a slump in form isn't considered to have reached its nadir until New Zealand beats you.) Perhaps history will repeat itself.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Ben on...NZ vs Eng by the ratings

The series against Bangladesh has been good for the ratings of some of our better players. (Despite the thrashing, it didn't do much for our team test rating – we gained less than a whole point.) Fleming has his highest ever test batting rating, currently putting him at a ranking of 16, just below Rahul Dravid. Vettori is also at a personal test batting high with a ranking of 29. He also sits just outside the top 20 in the bowling rankings. The big winner amongst the bowlers however is Martin, who has jumped into the top 20 during the Bangladesh series and now sits at 15.

Sounds all very good, but a look at NZ's position overall in the ratings is not pretty. Vettori, who bats at no. 8, is in fact our second highest ranked test batsmen, ranked just higher than Oram, who bats at 6 or lower. The next two rated batsmen, Vincent and Styris, aren't considered good enough to get into the team, and the next is the wicketkeeper. Apart from Fleming, none of the currently selected top order batsmen are in the top 50.

We are also short of bowlers with decent rankings. Ignoring the rebel Bond and the injured Franklin, we have bowlers ranked 15, 21, 41, 50, 63.

So how does all this compare to England, who we'll be playing early next month?

For the one-dayers, a quick look at the recent fixtures, from 2000 on, give us a win–loss record against England that should lead to a 3-1/3 to 1-2/3 result in the ODI series. Excellent. I think that is all the analysis the ODIs need.

For the tests, the last three series between NZ and Eng have been won, drawn and lost. There is a definite trend of worsening results for the Black Caps, and I suspect that things have worsened even further. England aren't terribly convincing at the moment either, however.

I'll compare the two teams in two ways for both batting and bowling, by highest ranked player and by the average rating of the top 5 batsmen and bowlers of each team. (There's no particular method here, I'm just making it all up.)


Highest ranked NZer: Fleming 16 (rating: 702)
Highest ranked Enger: Pieterson 9 (804)

Average rating of top 5 NZers: 549 (which would give a ranking of 37)
Average rating of top 5 Engers: 688 (18)


Highest ranked NZer: Martin 15 (626)
Highest ranked Enger: Hoggard 9 (695)

Average rating of top 5 NZers: 420 (38)
Average rating of top 5 Engers: 584 (23)

These numbers show that we are badly outclassed on current form. Bugger.

So the home series is pretty much a write-off, well before it has even begun. That's a pity, though really the big prize is the tour to England in May. Perhaps the best we can hope for is that the home series allows some of our players to play themselves into some form for the tour.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Ben on...NZ bottom of the table again

Australia's Daily Telegraph has published a list ranking the test teams in order of misbehaviour, measured by the number of times they have infringed against the ICC's code of conduct.

Casting some doubt on the claim that the touring Indians are little innocents and Australia the perennial bullies, India tops the table with 43 breaches.

Team offences since 1997
India - 43
Pakistan - 39
South Africa - 27
Australia - 25
England - 21
Sri Lanka - 18
Zimbabwe - 15
New Zealand - 14
West Indies - 13

As with pretty much any set of statistics, New Zealand languishes near the bottom. In fact, the greatest individual troublemaker, Sourav Ganguly, is nearly as naughty as our whole team, with 12 offences to his name.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Ben on...ugly on the field/ugly off the field

Man, this Bolliline thing has legs. It seems to be the only thing people have wanted to talk about over the past few days.

By all accounts it was a bitter test match. But as Martin Crowe says, "Same shit, different day" – so the Aussies played ugly, it's cricket. What is extraordinary is that so many Australians are expressing criticism of their team (in their own way, by sledging of course). It's nice to see that most Australians don't measure Ricky Ponting simply by his batting average. However, I see more than just disgust at the Sydney test in this reaction. There is a sense of catharsis in some of the criticism of the Australian team. I think Australians are expressing a long-held disgust. They have finally had enough of the arrogance, bullying and hypocrisy of this team.

So hopefully the Aussies will tone things down for the rest of the series. They'll be back to their old ways by the time we get there in November though. Watching the Australian team in full ugly mode can be as hard to stomach as watching a pack of hyenas feast on a buffalo carcass, but it is just a standard scene on the cricket savannah.

India's threat to run home like a spoilt 10-year old because things aren't going their way is something different though. That's an ugliness that's far more damaging to cricket.

Remember in back-yard cricket, it was always the most annoying kid that would try to make up the rules?

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Ben on...Ponting the bunny

Ricky Ponting says of reporting Harbhajan Singh, "I had nothing to gain personally from taking this action."

1st test:
RT Ponting  b Khan                      4
RT Ponting c Dravid b Harbhajan Singh 3

2nd test:
RT Ponting  lbw b Harbhajan Singh       55   
RT Ponting c Laxman b Harbhajan Singh 1

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Ben on...new ICC rules

Following rules need to be incorporated by ICC WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT to give the other teams a perfect clarification

(1) Ricky Ponting - (THE TRULY GENUINE CRICKETER OF THE CRICKET ERA AND WHOSE INTEGRITY SHOULD NOT BE DOUBTED ) should be considered as the FOURTH UMPIRE. As per the new rules, FOURTH UMPIRE decision is final and will over ride any decisions taken by any other umpires. ON-FIELD umpires can seek the assistance of RICKY PONTING even if he is not on the field. This rule is to be made, so that every team should understand the importance of the FOURTH UMPIRE .

(2) While AUSTRALIAN TEAM is bowling, If the ball flies anywhere close to the AUSTRALIAN FIELDER(WITHIN 5 metre distance), the batsman is to be considered OUT irrelevant of whether the catch was taken cleanly or grassed. Any decision for further clarification should be seeked from the FOURTH UMPIRE. This is made to ensure that the cricket is played with SPORTIVE SPIRIT by all the teams.

(3) While BATTING, AUSTRALIAN (except Adam Gilchrist) players will wait for the ON-FIELD UMPIRE decisions only (even if the catch goes to the FIFTH SLIP as the ball might not have touched the bat). Each AUSTRALIAN batsman has to be out FOUR TIMES (minimum) before he can return to the pavilion. In case of THE CRICKETER WITH INTEGRITY, this can be higher

(4) UMPIRES should consider a huge bonus if an AUSTRALIAN player scores a century. Any wrong decisions can be ignored as they will be paid huge bonus and will receive the backing of the AUSTRALIAN team and board.

(5) All AUSTRALIAN players are eligible to keep commenting about all players on the field and the OPPONENT TEAM should never comment as they will be spoiling the spirit of the AUSTRALIAN team. Any comments made in any other language are to be considered as RACISM only.

(6) MATCH REFREE decisions will be taken purely on the AUSTRALIAN TEAM advice only. Player views from the other teams decisions will not be considered for hearing. MATCH REFREES are to be given huge bonus if this rule is implemented.

(7) NO VISITING TEAM should plan to win in AUSTRALIA . This is to ensure that the sportive spirit of CRICKET is maintained.

(8) THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE : If any bowler gets RICKY PONTING - "THE UNDISPUTED CRICKETER WITH INTEGTIRY IN THE GAME OF CRICKET" more than twice in a series, he will be banned for the REST OF THE SERIES. This is to ensure that the best batsman/Captain will be played to break records and create history in the game of CRICKET.

These rules will clarify better to the all the teams VISITING AUSTRALIA