Saturday, 28 June 2008

Ben on...first cab off the rank

Kevin Pietersen, England captain. Am I alone in being surprised by this appointment? I would have rated it as likely as, say, Parore being made captain in his day. But there has been no outcry from the English. "A new era" they're calling it. Pietersen claims to be humbled by the appointment, which is certainly something new in the new era. However, he also believes he's going to be so good at it he won't even have to try.

Ben on...more links

Just in time for the last match in the England series, I am adding BBC's Test Match Special to our links. It isn't really that special, but it is a decent professional perspective.

Cricket Mystery I am adding because it is a New Zealand site. It is pretty ugly and the posts are quite stuffy (not helped by the fact that I can hear John Morrison mumbling through his moustache when I read them). Mike on Cricket can hardly point the finger with regard to site design and hackwork, but at least we don't have a business strategist on our team. Anyway, it does look like it is getting better with time and they are posting with good regularity.

Pro-fern-ity is another NZ cricket blog from the LJ fraternity. There must be more of us out there, floating isolated and lost in the blogosphere. Where are you NZ cricket bloggers? Come home.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Ben on...controversy aside

Too much focus on the controversy here. Let's not forget it was a fantastic game of cricket, won by one run by the last batsman after the last ball. There are two classic final overs to an ODI: the no. 6 trying to clear the field in chase of double figures and the death bowler trying to prevent the no. 11 scratching a couple runs.

Relive the last over.

Ben on...the spirit level of cricket

The Collingwood Incident has kicked up some stink. It wouldn't be a decent controversy in New Zealand however without a bit of self-flagellation. According to some, Vettori is the villain for his potty mouth and petulance. And pretty much everyone has been quick to recall the run out of Murali, over which some believe we have surrendered the moral high ground on questionable run outs.

These two controversial run outs hardly bear comparison; they lie on opposite sides of the 'being a dick line'.

I would have been very happy if Murali had been called back and my respect for Fleming would have risen greatly. But really, Murali only had himself to blame. In every other similar circumstance, the batsman waits with the toe of their bat on the line, standing as far back down the pitch as they can to show their impatience, while the ball is returned to the keeper. Everyone understands that the ball is still alive.

The fundamental mechanic of running between wickets is that it is up to the batsman's judgement and his legs to get him to safety and the fielders' fielding skills to get him out. In Murali's case, his judgement failed him in a peculiar way.

In Elliot's case, the fundamental mechanic broke down. Having to deal with being bowled over is not supposed to be part of running between wickets. Obviously it was no one's fault, but to take advantage of a situation where the game has broken down is clearly at odds with the spirit of the game.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Ben on...dueling apologies

Trust New Zealand to respond to an apology by saying sorry:
"I think we're a little bit contrite ourselves. I think there was a little raw emotion there at the end that we're a bit disappointed in so I apologise to Paul and his team."

Talk about raw emotion! It doesn't come much rawer than a good "fuck you". It's good he apologised, but I actually really enjoyed seeing the boys letting their feelings show. There was a fair bit of anger on the balcony, but plenty of elation too. It's not far from "fuck you" to "fuck yeah!"

Ah, controversy!

Please feel free to abuse Paul Collingwood in the comments section.

In the immediate aftermath of The Oval match it seems that Collingwood is being a good deal of leeway by New Zealanders for the fact that he has apologised for running Grant Elliott out while the batsman lay dazed on the ground. But, how much of our generosity is the result of post-victory euphoria? If we had lost, you can bet your bottom dollar that right now I would be busy converting office stationary into an effigy of Collingwood and constructing a bonfire on Willis Street (probably outside the gym next door, just to piss off all the smokers who stand outside it - honestly, where are their health priorities?). And I imagine that I would not be the only one bristling with righteous indignation.

At the time Collingwood decided to uphold the run-out appeal, Ian Smith compared the event to the infamous under-arm moment. But he was premature. If we had lost the match I am sure he would have been right and Collingwood would have been reviled as Greg Chappell still is today. But we won. And that means Collingwood's moment of madness will hardly be remembered in six month's time, let alone 25 years. And for this reason, the England captain should be extremely grateful that his team choked, wobbled, shot themselves in the foot and lost the match.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Ben on...topsy-turvy

Strange things happen on the other side of the world – everything is opposite. I went to bed last night, praying for rain, with the All Blacks outscoring the Black Caps and woke up to find that our tormentors of the last two months have been humbled.

I am going to have to read the commentaries to find out how this could happen. A quick look at the scorecard hints it wasn't so bizzaro however: Elliot 56 & 2-9, Mills 47 & 2-42 and Southee 4-38. Looks like a top-shelf performance from a top ODI side.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Ben rules after we need them

Paul Collingwood seems to be the only person happy with the outcome of the last ODI. In contrast, Suave is livid.

The ICC has acted in admirable haste in amending the laws to include fiddly details about reducing the between-innings interval:
Where the innings of the side batting first is delayed or interrupted, the umpires will reduce the length of the interval.

In the event of time being lost (playing time
lost less any extra time provided) up to and including 60 minutes in aggregate, the length of the interval shall be reduced from 45 to 30 minutes. In the event of more than 60 minutes being lost in aggregate, the duration of the interval shall be agreed mutually by the umpires and both captains subject to no interval being of more than 30 minutes' duration or less than 10 minutes' duration. In the event of disagreement, the length of the interval shall be determined by the ICC match referee.
That will no doubt help the next time a similar situation arises. No help when a completely different problem arises however.

Wouldn't a better all-round solution be to simply allow some flexibility in the rules or allow for the application of common sense?

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Ben on...tour high point

Could this near possible victory be the high point of this dismal tour of England? It's the closest we've gotten to a win so far, so shouldn't that be some sort of distinction when looking back on this game? Not according to the Guardian over-by-over commentary:
"I think generally we should all forget that this match ever happened. Let us never speak of this nonsense again."
Sportsfreak didn't even get to start their OBO commentary, so over there the game was forgotten before it even began.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Ben old revolution

Keven Pietersen's newly legitimised switched-grip reverse sweep has been hailed as revolutionary. I don't recall it ever being called this when Craig McMillan pioneered it and I don't think his left-is-the-new-right reverse seeping ever got the MCC in a twist. But then I don't think he ever used it to the same effect as Pietersen, but then again he never faced Scott Styris.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Ben on...polarising Vettori

He has his fans (357) and he has his non-fans (13); Danny is a polarising guy. To some he's the thinking woman's crumpet. While to someone else, he has one of cricket's XI most punchable faces.

Ben on...rating the test series

Cricinfo has rated the New Zealand and England players on their performance. The eleven English average a mediocre 6.5, while the thirteen New Zealanders rate a poor 5. But what do numbers really mean? Suave (who seems very angry these days) has expressed his ratings in words, six per player.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Ben on...we're useless, especially Mike

Remember that tipping challenge Mike and I signed up for? The post-test series update has been posted at Sportsfreak. It's a close contest, with six tippers within 2 points of the top spot. Mike and I on the other hand are both within the 2-point margin of bottom place.

Our scores have also been helped by the several bonus points we've earned. Mike got a good one last week, getting a consolation point for picking that a guy who didn't even play would get man of the match. For my part, I got a sympathy point for picking Redmond to top the New Zealand test run scoring, much to Sportsfreak's amusement; he got 54, a good 189 off Taylor's top place. In my defence though I will note that Redmond is far and away the biggest scorer on tour with 545 runs and two centuries. Which just makes things that much funnier really.

The competition is going to continue through the ODI series though and we all know NZers are better at one-dayers.

Ben on...copping it

The Black Caps were always going to cop it after their defeats in this test series, but Jonathan Millmow has sent down a beamer that catches Vettori right in the faceguard.

Our biggest problem in this tour was our lack of depth. We can't fault the lesser lights for doing no better than we expected, the likes of How, Flynn and O'Brien. We were always going to need decent performances from our stars, Vettori, Oram, McCullum, Taylor and Mills. While they did perform passably well in England, they each played worse in some way than they did in the home series – or in other words, before their IPL sabbatical.

We can only speculate as to what effect missing the start of the tour to play twenty20 might have had on these players, but it is hard to imagine that it was anything other than detrimental to their test form, particularly to Vettori's captaincy.

It certainly looks bad for New Zealand to lose like we did in the last two tests. I myself would find the loss easier to swallow if there wasn't this doubt over our preparedness. With the heat being turned on Vettori, I wonder if he would still claim that he's not worried about how it looks.

Vettori main culprit in gutless showing

The fall-out from our inept performance in the third test continues, with Jonathan Millmow giving the team a real blast in the Dominion-Post. Jonathan may be harsh, but it is hard to disagree with anything he says.

Meanwhile John Bracewell does his best to make Dan Vettori feel valued by revealing that he wishes Stephen Fleming had stayed on as test captain.

Monday, 9 June 2008

The third test

Don't worry guys. Don't get upset at the result in the third test. John Bracewell says "If we're patient enough and we're persistent enough eventually we'll end up with an era of very good cricketers,".

"We can't afford to (panic), our cupboard isn't that full anyway. We've picked the right guys, it's just keep exposing them (to test cricket)."

Phew! So that's alright then.

Of course you could argue that John Bracewell has been whistling the same frickin' tune for four years. And you could also argue that the reason the frickin' cupboard is bare is that most of our decent players have quit rather than play under him.

You could also argue that Bracewell's last sentence doesn't make any sense. But that would just be picky.

If you can be bothered reading them, Dan Vettori offers some more excuses here.

Personally I am sick of excuses. So reading Scyld Berry in the Telegraph was kinda liberating. He just tells it as it is. We can't bat, and we don't have a decent bowler.

Looking at the third test through the retrospectoscope, you do have to ask one question though. Why on earth did we go into a test on a wicket famed for swing with four into-the-wicket bowlers and a spinner? Inserting England and letting them score 364 was criminal. Of course being knocked over for 123 and 232 was criminal too, but then we didn't leave our best batsmen for the conditions on the bench. Tim Southee would have been as much of a threat on that wicket as any of the English bowlers, but instead we picked four seamers. Madness.

Still, if there is one positive from this test match it is that the loss was not the result of a single bad session. It was the result of a whole bunch of bad sessions. And Bracewell has been calling for consistency, so we must see this a step in the right direction.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Good news for Lou

Lou Vincent has just signed a deal with Lancashire. Of course he should be playing for New Zealand, but I am just glad that he is playing at all.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Asif arrested

The soap opera which is Pakistani cricket continues. Drug cheat/fast bowler Mohammad Asif has just been arrested in Dubai. According to the Pakistan Board of Control he is being detained on "suspicion of possessing drugs". Early reports quoted PCB officials as saying that Asif was found with opium. As you can imagine heroin possession is not treated very lightly in Dubai.

Because this is a cricketer from Pakistan we are talking about, the drama does not stop there. Asif now appears to be simultaneously claiming that the drugs were planted by airport officials, and that they are an innocent medicine for sore elbows that he has been carrying around in his wallet for months.