Archive for February, 2009

Nats to ban Black Caps Zimbabwe tour?

February 16, 2009

Woohoo! Good news, from the National government, of all people. Prime Minister John Key has strongly hinted that the Nats will ‘order’ the Black Caps to not tour Zimbabwe this July. If so, this would let NZ Cricket off the hook for potentially millions in default fees, under ICC rules that block a nation cancelling a tour for political reasons. Essentially, the ICC recognise that if the NZ government ban the Kiwi cricketers from touring Mugabe’s land, then the decision is taken out of the hands of NZ Cricket CEO Justin Vaughan.

This can only help Zimbabwe’s quest for human rights; despot Mugabe is a known cricket fan, so it will hopefully send him a clear message that respecting human rights in Zimbabwe is more important to the world than a cricket tour (much as we like the latter).

Crumpled Black Caps

February 16, 2009

Vettori is right to be peeved – his team performed poorly chasing down 150 in last night’s T20 Sydney match. But there was always doubt about Elliot’s ability to accelerate above ODI scoring pace of 6 an over, so if they wanted to win perhaps they should have kept Ross Taylor (maybe with a runner for his hamstring twinge).

The Chappell-Hadlee series draw reflects the balanced teams – Oz has slumped and NZ risen to a similar level, though those pesky Ozzies are already bouncing back up the skill ladder. So are NZ, but we are still hamstrung by bizzarre selections like repeat failures Peter Fulton and Craig Cumming. Hopefully the selectors have now got the message… though it appears not, with the feeble Ian Butler reselected for the T20 match. Sigh.

Cricket compendium

February 11, 2009

STAND UP, SENIORS IN DA HOUSE!

Kiwi captain Dan Vettori has called on himself and the other senior players in the Black Caps to ‘stand up’ for the final Chappell-Hadlee series deciding match in Brisbane. Correctly identifying the failure of Vettori and Kyle Mills to take wickets is a good first step, but rallying calls aside, what moves are Vettori and co. doing to enhance their wicket-taking skills, and the positive strokeplay of nervy batsmen like Fulton, Cumming and Broom?

Perhaps the Kiwis could break into 2 mini-teams and play mini-matches against each other in training to recreate match tension? Penalties for losing players…

Barring a miraculous turn-around, surely it is time for selectors to admit Peter Fulton and Craig Cumming are not up to international play against better sides? They have had chances, and have been dropped and brought back, and failed again, against a weaker Oz side. Hard to see how they will then prosper in the upcoming Indian series.

And to show we haven’t forgotten, when Matthew Sinclair replaced the bypassed Jesse Ryder for 1 Windies game recently, because Ryder was too drunk to train a few days before, we were told by selectors that Sinclair was ‘next cab off the rank’ after he was dropped for the remaining match. Yet Ryder went home injured, and Hopkins was taken as injury cover for McCullum with Cumming filling in for Ryder, yet no Skippy… why is that? (noting Sinclair could cover for McCullum too, as he used to keep for CD quite tidily).

OLD NEWS, BUT…

SHOW ME THE MONEY!

Hard to believe, but potty-mouthed Andrew ‘Roy’ Symonds has been upholding the purest of cricketing principles. His criticism of NSW picking Brendon McCullum for their IPL Twenty20 side may have been poorly expressed – describing the selection as “un-Australian” and McCullum as a “lump of shit” – but Symonds has touched on the essence of competitive sport. Total commitment to your team.

As soon as the ICC allowed McCullum to play for 2 competing teams, the spectre of match-fixing raises it’s dread visage. Commentators have avoided the issue that haunted the late 1990s, but the question has to be asked:

Would McCullum put in a lesser effort for one team in the hope of advancing his career, or the team that gave him the biggest payout?

Naturally, the same question applies to any player in a similar position. Not since the late South African skipper Hansie Cronje admitted taking bribes for altering his performance has cricket seen such an ugly potential for changing the face of the game.

If a team’s sponsors offer a bigger payout to players for a win, will conflicted player’s like McCullum back off their efforts for the team offering a smaller boost to their bank balance?

And who, or what process, decides which team McCullum plays for if both ‘his teams’ get to a playoff against each other?

The only solution is for a global ban by the ICC on players training or turning out for more than one team in the same competition. And to thank Andrew Symonds for his stark warning of the dangers posed by double-dipping players, even if it was expressed in the nature of a gruff ‘get in behind’.