Archive for March, 2009

Black Cap 2nd test tweaks

March 22, 2009

Former Black Caps wicket-keeper Adam Parore reckons NZ need to finesse their middle order batting lineup to have a chance in the 2 remaining tests, now India have won the first test. Ryder at 5 and McCullum at 6 is Parore’s solution to the problem he correctly identifies as ‘dodging the new ball but having time to make centuries’.

However, having your best batsmen ‘dodge the new ball’ only works if you don’t start with 3 inexperienced batsmen, as NZ just did to their chagrin. Better to bracket new and experienced batsmen so the departing batter gets replaced by a similar one. The experienced players are Ryder, McCullum and Taylor; the newbies McIntosh, Guptill and Flynn (kind-of).

For example, open with Ryder and McIntosh, and bracket McCullum & Guptill at 3/4, and Taylor & Flynn at 5/6. So – if McIntosh is out, bring in Guptill, but if Ryder drops, bring in McCullum; Taylor replaces McCullum, while Flynn comes in after Guptill falls. That way, you always have a harder hitting older batsman paired with a newbie, to stabilise things, and (hopefully) avoid a rapid rout of the top order, nullifying Parore’s effect of putting the best batsmen in the middle order to ‘protect them’ from the new ball.

That said, the case is stronger than ever for ‘Skippy’ Sinclair to get a bat in the last 2 tests. And I remain unconvinced about James Franklin’s conversion from fast-medium left-arm pace bowler to batting allrounder with medium-fast bowling. He has not shone.

But if poor bowling prizes are given out, surely all three spots on the podium would go to Kyle Mills? He has truly lived up to his test ranking of 41st in the world. Good against teams like Bangladesh & West Indies, Mills is exposed every time against good sides like Australia (Chappell-Hadlee series) and India. Swap him for a genuine quick bowler, like Wellington’s Mark Gillespie, who has been given treatment little better than Sinclair by the selectors.

So, my lineup for the last 2 tests?

  • Opening pair – Jesse Ryder & Martin Guptill
  • first drop – Brendon McCullum & Matthew Sinclair
  • 2nd drop – Ross Taylor & Daniel Flynn
  • allrounder – drop Franklin for the evergreen Chris Harris! 🙂 (I know, the ICL farce). Okay, chuck Tim McIntosh in to open with Ryder, and drop Guptill, Sinclair and Flynn 1 bracket down each.
  • bowlers – Dan Vettori, Mark Gillespie (instead of Mills), Iain O’Brien and Chris Martin.

That gives 4 pace bowlers (Martin, O’Brien, Gillespie and Ryder), spinner Vettori, and I reckon if Harry could be picked, he would do quite well on these flat wickets – it’s all about guile. All while retaining 6 genuine specialist batsmen.

But we’ll see…

No contingency for Auckland rail…again

March 5, 2009

Yet again, transport policy setter ARC, transport policy implementer ARTA and rail operator Veolia are caught with their trousers round their ankles! When will they start to put in place adequate contingency plans for a variety of potential system’s failures? Hell, or any contingency plan beyond ‘dither for 2 hours, then get all passengers a taxi chit or hope they go away’.

Accident’s and equipment failures happen. The real beef I have is how poorly ARC, ARTA and Veolia respond – every time! They should list every kind of outage they can realistically expect (from Auckland’s volcanos erupting to signals loss to points jamming or derailments) and what measures they will take to rectify and keep passengers informed and moving.

Instead, another ludicrous mega-billion plan to disrupt the services in pursuit of an unachievable utopia.

Did the Remuera Rd rail overbridge naturally crack the other day, or was it caused by the Newmarket rail station upgrade (bozo with bulldozer?). Why was the bridge not physically inspected during the station upgrade planning process? (what are those project managers paid for, hmmm? will there be a penalty for them for this oversight?).

Interesting that in the Remuera Rd bridge article linked to above, no answer was given by Ontrack to the obvious question by Newmarket Business Assoc. ceo Cameron Brewer; namely, why did no-one working under this bridge spot the cracks earlier?

Passenger growth is badly hurt by the perpetual ‘incremental improvements over 20 years’ mentality pervasive in ARTA. These risk averse bunnies should be axed – give the implementation of public transport planning back to ARC and save on paper pushers.

Inconsistent Kiwi cricket selectors

March 5, 2009

Aaaargh! Can someone please explain to me how the NZ cricket selectors are consistent in picking their ODI squad? Wicketkeeper Brendon ‘mouth’ McCullum aggravated a thumb injury in the Napier ODI, so will likely bat only in tommorrow’s 2nd ODI between NZ and India at Wellington. His replacement is supposedly Peter McGlashan from Northern Districts (McCullum though, has a history of keeping and batting even if injured, so McGlashan may yet dip out).

The question arises because, in the just completed Chappell-Hadlee ODI series against Australia, NZ flew Gareth Hopkins over as cover for McCullum when he was injured then. So what has happened to make the selectors revise their views on the superiority of Hopkins over McGlashan? It’s not unavailability of either player due to domestic matches, as all 6 Kiwi provincial sides are playing on the same day as the 2nd ODI (surely a scheduling & marketing stuff up?)

I make no claim as to which keeper is better – Hopkins or McGlashan – just that there should be clear reasons for changing selections over such a short timeframe… Perhaps it is this from Glenn Turner:

“Peter McGlashan is a good improviser with the bat in the middle order, and also gives us cover for Brendon McCullum as wicketkeeper.”

But that comment was to justify swapping Hopkins for McGlashan when shifting mode from ODI’s to a Twenty20 match.

Oh, and wasn’t it nice to see the players straight back from injury/exile perform so well against India in the Napier ODI? No, you weren’t impressed by the ducks of Oram, Butler & Mills? You must have been distracted by the mere 190* of Jamie How in the first class NZ A match against the English A side. That’s the way to regain your place at the top level!!! (of more concern is James Franklin and Trent Boult not taking wickets – though the wicket may have been a tad flat).

Gaddafi stadium grief

March 4, 2009

As many will have heard, the Sri Lankan cricket teamwas attacked as they went to Gaddafi stadium in Lahore to play the 3rd day of their test against Pakistan. 5 players were wounded but have been treated, and several Pakistani security staff and the team bus driver it seems are dead. The Sri Lankan team are being evacuated by a chartered plane back home.

3 things jump out at me from this:

  1. Hopefully the imbeciles who blithely say ‘sport and politics don’t mix’ now understand that you cannot separate the political situation in a country from the sports that take place in that country. Either the sports are directly related to the politics (apartheid teams in South Africa) or the sports are used as a target for political groups to ‘make their point’. Either way, sports must always consider how they relate to political situations, and whether the sport is helping or hurting the political situation (no suggestion of that in this attack).
  2. The weapons & explosives makers should be held responsible. The companies that make the weapons that can be traced back as being used in this (and all) attacks should have to pay for the costs – compensation and medical/funeral costs to families of the dead & wounded, rebuilding property damaged, etc. It is abundantly clear that weapons makers are complicit in selling their tools of death to those willing to use them unjustly, so the cost of these weapons being used – the externality – should be charged to those profiting from the sale of the weapons. These weapons don’t just pop into the hands of those willing to shoot up a cricket team!
  3. The International Cricket Council (ICC) needs to sensibly review it’s criteria for touring countries. Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India have all had terrorist attacks, so we should not have to have the Prime Minister (as we just did in NZ) saying he ‘does not want’ the cricketers to tour a country (Zimbabwe over human rights abuses) deemed unsafe/undesirable to tour for political reasons. Set safety criteria and human rights criteria. If a country fails safety criteria, play in a neutral venue and pay the revenue to the ‘host’ nation you could not visit. If a country fails the human rights criteria, play in a neutral venue and pay nothing to the ‘host’ country, to put pressure on that nation’s government to get up to international standards of human behaviour.

If we look at these points above, amidst our sorrow at the attack on the Sri Lankan team, then cricket and sport in general may be part of the solution to human rights & political problems. After all, can we really play sport as relaxation & amusement when whole societies are suffering so much it is expressed in these attacks?

Oh, and this kind of witless, dribbling nonsense from a Pakistani cabinet minister is extremely unhelpful.