Archive for March, 2008

Petty politics – sack the spin doctors, UoA!

March 28, 2008

Hard on the heels of the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) finding that University of Auckland (UoA) managers were wrong to fire Dr Paul Buchanan for an ‘intemperate’ e-mail, comes the spin and lies.

Exhibiting the kind of denial that would normally get you committed, UoA vice-chancellor Stuart McCutcheon seems to think the bosses won!!!

McCutcheon said UoA management “believed the upholding of the decision to sack him was ‘an appropriate outcome'”.

Except UoA lost!!! And were fined $68,000…

Perhaps UoA should pay the $68,000 fine they were given for unjustified dismissal by sacking their pathetic spin doctors who write the VC’s speeches.

And eat some humble pie, take Dr Buchanan back, and ensure he has some training in what are appropriate e-mails!

Vettori endorses cricket slave trade?

March 27, 2008

NZ men’s cricket skipper Daniel Vettori seems to have lost his grip on reality a touch. In media remarks following NZ’s 2-1 test series loss to England, and the retirement of Kiwi batsman Stephen Fleming, Vettori has referred to players as “product”.

 Ross Taylor is apparently “a great product for a number of years for New Zealand cricket”, while new fast bowler Tim Southee is a “polished product” (which Vettori then contradicts later, claiming Southee is “unpolished”… maybe someone applied a bit of sandpaper to rough him up again?)

Following the disturbing meat market that was the Indian IPL cricket players auction (bidding for players to join IPL Twenty20 teams), it is disquieting that a senior NZ cricket player should talk of human beings as ‘product’. It follows former skipper Fleming’s talk of ‘entertaining’ the fans rather than ‘playing the game’, and reveals the gradual shift that business has had on sport. May it end soon…

It was nice that Vettori could talk of ‘polished’ NZ performances though 🙂

A fitting end for Fleming

March 26, 2008

“Ruing this series” was Stephen Fleming’s comment after his last test innings for NZ saw him post 66. The former NZ captain retires from test cricket after a delayed fit of pique at his sacking as captain, to allow the long-groomed Daniel Vettori to take over.

While several NZ commentators rue Fleming leaving NZ while clearly still one of the better batsmen available, it was ironic that the last innings should see Fleming fall on a trademark score of 66 to spin bowler Monty Panesar; many of Fleming’s innings have ended in the mid-twenties or mid-sixties when he loses concentration after ‘getting set’ or ‘posting his half century’. This accounts for just 8% of his innings tallying to 90 or more.

However, there is no doubt NZ’s selectors will not enjoy trying to find a decent replacement. With his average just getting over the 40 threshold (by 13 runs!), Fleming will be a loss in the batting lineup, particularly overseas where he averages nearly 46.

However, this high offshore average compared to the 33.87 average Fleming had on NZ pitches, hints at the nature of his scores. Beating up perennial losers Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka when they were relative newcomers to test cricket account for his highest scores, and are the only nations against which he averages 50 or more. It was notable that the 2 teams he had lowest average (of 25 and 32) and strike rate (of 40.81 and 40.73) against were world champion side Australia and star studded India. He will also be irked at being the sole test batsmen to get over 7000 runs but not post 10 test centuries…

Despite this, Stephen Fleming brought a solid contribution with the bat on a regular basis. If this sounds like faint praise, it is not. Recall Mark Richardson was lauded for just such a contribution, despite a strike rate worse (37.66) than Fleming’s rate of 45.82. More telling, Fleming’s last season has seen him average nearly 50, which he only topped in 1998, 2004 and 2005/06 (and 2003 where he posted his top score of 274* on tour against Sri Lanka). So he appeared to have plenty of runs in the tank.

One wonders if selector Sir Richard Hadlee quit because of the troubles he foresaw in trying to replace the vast number of players who have quit NZ cricket?

It did irritate to hear Fleming lauded for his weaknesses though. Making a virtue of necessity, Fleming’s sloth-like speed in the field was transformed to a soft pair of hands in the slips (where he was good off quick bowlers). Add to this his reputed ‘great’ captaincy skills (his record does not back this claim, with 28 wins from 80 captained he won just 35% – by contrast, the truly great Australian skipper Steve Waugh won in 51% of his tests)).

 Either way, NZ can survive ‘post-Flem’ if there is no panicked rush of under-19 players into the national team… (think Daniel Flynn, Tim Southee, and the slightly older Jesse Ryder if he can heal, and leave the nurses alone!)

Finally! Hadlee goes as selector

March 3, 2008

At last the ‘living legend’ Sir Richard Hadlee has moved on as selector for the NZ men’s cricket team. Hadlee’s bizzare selection fantasies have ruined many careers and teams, from his desire to pick a Praetorian guard of players over 6ft tall, to his fetish with picking players straight from age-group teams to the national side, in the hope he would ‘find’ the next Tendulkar. Rationality wept…

And judging by the stupidity inherent in Dion Nash’s comments, so should he. If you’re a selector, you select the side, not delegate the task to the coach and captain. Least of all the captain, who has the obvious conflict of interest – they are up for selection themselves!

Yet according to Nash:

 the final choice was left to coach John Bracewell and captain Daniel Vettori

Aaargh!