Friday, 31 October 2008

Ben on...Bangladesh, the agony and the agony

Prior to this tour, Bangladesh's greatest achievement in tests against New Zealand was avoiding an innings defeat. Things could only have gotten better.

1st test choke

When Bangladesh had the Black Caps at 52/4 in their first innings in the first test, they had a solid hold on a possible victory. Their grip loosened as the BCs recovered, but defending a target of 317, the game was Bangladesh's to win.

They couldn't do it of course. No doubt, the first test was a good one for Bangladesh, despite the fact that it was lost. And they can justly feel that grim satisfaction of knowing that they lead for most of the match. However, this wasn't the "one that got away". Bangladesh have failed to capitalise on a dominant position a number of times. Most famously perhaps, they squandered a 150-odd first innings lead against Australia in 2006, and they also let Pakistan squeak home by 1 wicket in 2003. They've butchered a few other first innings leads by poor second innings efforts.

One day they will turn a first innings lead into a win against a major team. And that will be great for the game in Bangladesh. However, I reckon the path ahead for Bangladesh doesn't lie in these fortuitous tests.

Fighting draw

The draw in the second test was of course a better final result for Bangladesh than the first test loss. They were however under the cosh for almost the whole of the game. At 44/6, chasing a follow on target of 162, you should have been expecting another loss. The 7th wicket fight back turned the match and saved the test. It was therefore the defining moment of the whole test series for Bangladesh.

It is performances like this that will move Bangladesh cricket forward. Sad as it may sound (and as insufferably arrogant it may be coming from an NZ fan), Bangladesh have to more regularly force the opposition to bat twice before they can think about winning matches.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Ben on...the follow-on target

Vettori's declaration on 262/6 was a good attempt to be aggressive and just what this game needed. And his three wickets were just what we needed.

On the last day, we'll be chasing 17 wickets. Very gettable. The only problem is the likelihood that NZ will have to bat again between the two Bangladesh innings, taking up extra time and requiring another calculation of when to declare. However, Karl has just pointed out to me some interesting aspects to the follow-on law (law 13).

Apparently the follow-on target depends on the length of the match, not just the grade.
Length      Target
5 days within 200 runs of opponent's total
3 or 4 days 150
2 days 100
1 day 75
The interesting aspect is that the length of the match is determined from when the first ball is bowled. So this will be a two-day match, with a follow-on target of 162, which is not all that low a total for Bangladesh. That dramatically decreases the likelihood of NZ batting again after the first Bangladeshi innings.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Ben on...prospect for the match

The third day of the 2nd test has been rained out, following the washout of the first two days. Even if the weather turns and allows play on the 4th and 5th days, surely there is no point continuing with this test. How could there possibly be a result in only two days?

Well, in fact there have been a few test matches decided within two days. It is also worth considering that extra time can be added to the remaining days, allowing a few extra overs, so we actually have a fraction over two days left. Assuming an extra hour can be added to each day, that should give a total allowable number of overs of 210.

Bangladesh have had many 3-day tests recently and a quick look shows that several of those were completed within 210 overs. During a disastrous 2005, Bangladesh were beaten by England in two tests in 190.1 and 190 overs, respectively, and twice by Sri Lanka within 182 and 198.1 overs. Also, they were beaten by NZ earlier this year within 195.5 overs at Wellington.

However, Bangladesh can take heart from history, as NZ has been rolled in some embarrassingly brief tests. NZ's first test match in 1930 lasted only 189.4 overs and the first NZ–Aus test lasted a scarcely believable 145.2 overs. There are a few other examples also, the most recent of which being a thrashing in 188.4 overs by South Africa in November last year.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Ben on...Cricinfo goes a little bit beige

Cricinfo has a new blogger, Paul Ford, a founding member of the Beige Brigade. (Who we can safely assume is closely related to Paul Holden of Stuff's Sideline Slogger.)

Paul contributes to the blog called Different Strokes, which features 'views from the outside'. I don't know where they draw the boundary, but clearly the Beige Brigade lie outside it.

His first post, Paul analyses Bangladesh and New Zealand based on their performances in the first test and concludes that New Zealand were deserving winners 'by a freckle'.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Ben on...a great escape

Awesome! Forget the 1st innings, ignore the quality of the opposition (and anyway, it's not like we've proven ourselves to be vastly superior) and don't let Cricket with Balls belittle us, the last innings of the test, chasing down more than 300, was a grand achievement.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Ben on...a five-day test

1st test: The 55-run opening partnership got me interested, the 90-run second-wicket partnership got me hopeful, but the 172 runs still required keeps me circumspect.

Also, that run out of Ryder's is the sort of snag that could start the unravelling of the whole innings.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Ben on...Ashraful vs New Zealand

Bangladesh lost the 3rd ODI in the 8th over of the NZ innings. Up to that point, Bangladesh had done well to keep the scoring in check and to dismiss Ryder and McCullum. But in the 8th over, How whipped out two boundaries to set the scoring on a path to a final total that was well out of reach for the Bangladeshis. From that over, NZ's run rate never decreased, and Bangladesh were never up with the required run rate in their innings.

In the eyes of some Bangladeshis however, the game, and the series, was only lost on the first ball of the 16th over of the Bangladesh innings. Playing that delivery, Ashraful shuffled across his stumps to get around the ball and scoop it over leg side, but instead letting it get past him and into his stumps. It was a shot so bad that he felt compelled to apologise to the nation. But for that one ball, that one shot, that decision, the series could have been won. It was that close.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Ben on...lovin' those new uniforms

Like the new Black Caps' uniform? No? Join the Facebook group.

Could be worse though. Check out the rejected designs.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Ben on...3rd ODI

ODI 3 to kick off in a couple of hours. Rather nervous. Can't really rely on Bangladesh's weakness to counteract NZ's capacity for epic failure.

The Bangladeshi fans can smell the fear.

The match is being played at Chittagong. Apparently the pitch there is slow but hard. A batting paradise it has been called, with some dew to assist the team bowling first. If things run similar to the first two matches, that won't help us too much.

Thinking positively however, there are several Black Caps who might have been expecting to go home with a bit of a boost to their averages who need to get their act together. For everyone to come out of this ODI series in the black, the top of the scorecard is going to have look something like this:

Ryder        65
McCullum 60
How 100
Taylor 70
Styris 95
Flynn 20 (not much of an average to maintain)
Oram DNB

Monday, 13 October 2008

Ben on...a Bangladeshi voice

I've been on the look out for a Bangladeshi blog to read during this series. The closest I have found is this fan site:

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Ben on...phew!

Wow. A 75-run win after being 117/7 might be New Zealand's biggest escape – but even if it isn't, it is easily one of the most important.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Ben on...mighty Bangladesh

I don't know what I feel worse about, the loss or having been infected by the overconfidence surrounding this tour.

Way to go Bangladesh. Win 7 against top-flight opposition. Only England and West Indies left to go. Let's give Bangladesh its due and review those wins.

1999 World Cup vs Pakistan

Bangladesh record their first major victory, by 62 runs over a Pakistan team who had already qualified for the next round and who clearly didn't mind losing to their brothers.

2004 vs India

Now a proper test-playing nation, Bangladesh won their 100th ODI, beating their neighbour by 15 runs, suggesting that Dav Whatmore was going to perform a miracle with Bangladesh as he had done with Sri Lanka.

2005 vs Australia

Not exactly welcomed in England just ahead of the Ashes, the Tigers give their critics a black eye with a 5-wicket win over Australia on the back of a masterful century by Ashraful.

2006 vs Sri Lanka

On a roll now, winning a big match every year. 4 wickets against Sri Lanka.

2007 World Cup vs India

Bangladesh's incredible World Cup. Helped keep India out of the Super 8s by beating them by 5 wickets.

2007 World Cup vs South Africa

Bangladesh didn't progress any further in the World Cup, though they showed they belonged with a big 67-run win over South Africa.

2008 vs New Zealand

Swaggering into Bangladesh like they were already the 2nd best team in the world, the Black Caps failed to take seriously their own efforts to talk up the opposition and were beaten in every facet of the game.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Ben on...worst case scenario

With the Black Caps self-destructing in the 1st ODI (149/6 off 40 as I write), threatening to cause major embarrassment to all the commentators predicting the Black Caps rising in the rankings and to me for my uncharitable assessment of Bangladesh's chances in this tour, it is timely to crack open the Predictor and work out what might happen to our ranking if the results don't follow the odds.

NZ lose 1

NZ fall to 113 points (from 116), holding fourth place from India by half a point.
Bangladesh up to 47.

NZ lose 2

NZ fall to 109, past India and Pakistan into sixth place.
Bangladesh up to 51.

NZ lose all 3

NZ fall to 105, dropping another rank past Sri Lanka into seventh.
Bangladesh up to 54, still sadly no where near reaching West Indies on 95.

Ben on...Glossy! New!

Just got a signed e-mail message from Daniel Vettori himself about the site:

We're Back!

Welcome to the new! Thanks for your patience while we got our new website ready. We hope you like it!

While the BLACKCAPS have been warming up for our series in Bangladesh, our website has undergone a transformation.

We've written to you, as a supporter of the BLACKCAPS, New Zealand Cricket or the game in general, that our new online presence is back and better than ever.

To receive regular updates on the latest news from our new look newsletter, just register on the site.

Thanks once again for support,

Daniel Vettori

And I have to say, the new site is pretty. The shambles that was the old site has been cleaned up – it now seems quite straightforward to actually find stuff. It also hits the usability notes: it's focussed on users, the pages aren't excessively busy, the navigation isn't as messed up as it was in the old site. Design wise, it's a winner.

It certainly beats the pants off the other associations, which all use pretty bog-standard templates. Cricket Australia | Tiger Cricket | ECB | BCCI (using a .tv domain, showing their priorities) | PCB | Cricket South Africa | Sri Lanka Cricket (MIA) | WICB

As I get most of my cricket from online sources these days, it's encouraging to see New Zealand leading the world in exploiting the internet. (We are kinda let down by this site though.)

That having been said, although there is a shitload of information on, there isn't a hell of a lot happening there. Perhaps there's some dynamic, interactive content coming, but until then I'll visit the site for the official word on schedules, but not much else.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Ben on...Bangladesh preview

The international season kicks off on 9 Oct with the 1st ODI of NZ's tour of Bangladesh and the 1st test of Aus's tour of India.

However, you would hardly know that there was anything on other than the Aus–Ind grudge series. Jeez, even the Eng–Ind series over a month away is getting more coverage.

So it is up to us to provide some shallow analysis of what the tour to Bangladesh is about.

The Black Caps are currently in Bangladesh for a 3-ODI, 2-test series. This is New Zealand's second tour to Bangladesh and the fourth series the two teams have played against each other. To date, there have been simply nothing in the way of fireworks between the two teams. New Zealand have won every full international by wide margins.


For Bangladesh, this series is the highlight of their home season. In fact, this series is their home season. No one else is visiting. They will be touring South Africa themselves, but they will be done with international cricket for this season by the end of the year.

The Bangladesh stocks have been hit by losses to the ICL, and much has been made about the fact that their list of probables includes six rookies. In my assessment however, while they will be hurt, Bangladesh will not be devastated by the ICL defections, and six rookies in a list of 24 isn't all that dramatic.

The confidence out of Bangladesh is ... mixed – "The players are charged up to play good cricket but I don't know why," according to one. Their hope is to win one match out of the five. Pfft. Fat chance. While anything can happen in cricket, Bangladesh is just too weak and New Zealand, for all our struggles against stronger teams, do not lose to weak teams. If Bangladesh wins a match in this series, it will be a major upset.

In fact, I'm going to give you the numbers. A NZ cricket fan expressing confidence his team will not lose has no credibility, so I'm going to have to prove my point with facts and figures.

Against proper competition (i.e. test-playing nations apart from Zimbabwe), Bangladesh has won 6 out of 119 ODIs. Their chance of losing a single ODI is therefore about 95%. The chance of losing three in a row is a product of the chances of losing each of them – about 85%.

In tests, Bangladesh has failed to win a single test against this competition after 45 attempts. Being as fair as possible, let's assume the chance of this happening is only 50%, so we're assuming Bangladesh has been neither lucky nor unlucky to get this result. A quick calculation on the back of an envelope equates this with a 98.5% chance of losing a single test, or a 97% chance of losing two tests.

Giving a grand chance of not winning a single match in this tour of 82.5% or nearly 5 to 1.

Players to watch: Mohammad Ashraful, with more test centuries than the rest of the squad combined ... in fact, the only current player to have scored test centuries – cripes! ... Ashraful is the great hope of Bangladesh and surely the rock that any success will have to be built on; Shahadat Hossain, Bangladesh's most penetrative bowler; Enamul Haque jnr, Dav Whatmore's protege and the other left-arm spinner in the competition; Imrul Kayes and Shamsur Rahman, two rookie batsmen looking to make good on the opportunities offered by the ICL defections

New Zealand

For New Zealand the equation is quite different: "hiding to nothing".

The Black Caps have to win every game or the tour will be a failure. And when they do win, what would they have gained? The ODI wins will push us up to no. 2 in the ICC rankings, but beating the 9th ranked team to go ahead of a team (England) we comprehensively beat a few months ago shows how bunk the ranking system is. Will the tour provide preparation for the Aus series in November? Well, it didn't work out that way last time.

Players to watch: For the individual players, there may be something more interesting riding on this tour. For several players – Redmond, Elliot, Flynn, O'Brien – this tour will be something of a second chance to stake a claim for further selection. A failure here could at least raise doubts about their selection in the rest of the season. This is of course Jesse Ryder's first appearance in a test squad. You'll recall that Ryder scored 196 ODI runs in February at a SR of 100, showing he has the stuff for the mid-length version of the game. If he did exactly the same in the tests we'd be pretty pleased, but what we really want to see is that he as a test game to complement his limited-over game.