Archive for the ‘cricket’ Category

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…

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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.

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’.

The good, the bad and the Black Caps…

December 1, 2008

And so ends another eminently forgettable test series against the neighbours, with results all too familiar to Kiwis. Not the farewell Bracewell would have wanted as coach, but a clear signal to new coach Andy Moles of the challenges he faces.

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Fourth times a charm for NZ Cricket

November 26, 2008

And so yet another confident contender embraces the role of incumbent Black Caps coach. Congratulations to new NZ mens cricket coach Andy Moles, who will hopefully bring his Warwickshire batting experience to bear profitably on the all too fragile Kiwi batsmen.

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Kiwi Bangla bunglers

October 26, 2008

Not much on cricket lately, so as we in the southern hemisphere dust off bats & balls, I thought I’ld point out that the plucky fellows of Bangladesh almost toppled NZ in the first cricket test!

For those familiar with the long struggle Bangladesh have had getting up to test status, this is stunning, and good news for global cricket. Granted, NZ are ranked 7th of the 8 major test teams, and have lost several core team members to retirement or the ICL or IPL recently, but so too have Bangladesh lost players to the ICL.

On home wickets, Bangladesh had good spinners (as usual), but also put up a reasonable pace attack and batted to a respectable score. Leaving 317 for NZ to get in the 2nd innings should have seen a hometown win, but Dan Vettori stepped up with the only fine performance throughout the test from NZ; 9 wickets bowling and 2 half-centuries batting.

Sadly, the second (and final) test has already lost 2 days to rain, so may not get a result… Hopefully, Bangladesh will take heart from this (and an ODI win) for the future, and we can only hope NZ selectors will learn their lesson (seems not – they picked all-rounder Grant Elliot to replace injured Jacob Oram, instead of picking a decent quick bowler to replace the woeful Kyle Mills).

Cricket ‘champions’ for beating 1 team?

August 24, 2008

Pakistan may find themselves playing just India over the ODI knock-out Champions Trophy, if other teams follow the lead of South Africa. The Africans have just announced they will not play in Pakistan, where the tournament was due to be hosted.

With International Cricket Council ceo Haroon Lorgat declaring it too late to swap venues, there is a real prospect of the Trophy descending beneath the level of farce the ICC managed when they finished last year’s World Cup in near-darkness.

Hopefully Pakistan will unbend their stiff backs and shift the venue to Sharjah, where successful tournaments have been held, and which offers the cheapest airfares for Pakistani’s to see the games. A large quota of seats for Pakistani fans would create the advantages of home matches as much as possible, and the bulk of the revenues could still go the Pakistan Cricket Board.

NZ Cricket should show some balls and also boycott the tournament unless shifted to a safe venue. NZ teams have twice (in Sri Lanka) and once (in Pakistan) been close to bomb attacks. Wouldn’t a venue shift be better than having a (good) possibility of cricketers limbs being blown off?

Update: The ICC have announced the Champions Trophy will be postponed – good! Better still, work to have an alternative venue ready in case – as is likely – Pakistan is still unsafe next year.