Archive for the ‘sport’ 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! ūüôā (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).

NZ Rugby blues not solved by cash

April 28, 2008

It has been interesting watching the fur fly following the release of the NZRU report into the 2007 Rugby World Cup fiasco.

While ‘Pinetree’ Meads has called for the guillotine for all NZRU administrators (no argument from me on that!), and NZ Herald columnist Paul Lewis wants privatisation to solve all woes, it is clear that neither move will solve rugby issues in NZ.

Lewis himself scotches the idea that privatising the provincial rugby unions or Super 14 franchises (the latter currently owned by NZRU), saying

Once private investment comes to town… clubs can assemble a creme de la creme playing roster and pay them accordingly… private investment is probably the only way that enough money can come into the game here to prevent the wholesale drain of our big boys… [but] It is also a moot point whether this will attract enough money [to keep them].

Tempting as it is to agree with Meads that a reversion to 1 coach and emptying Joe Stalin out of his mausoleum to conduct a little purge at NZRU HQ, such moves are not going to solve the core problem.

When faced with a 25-40% drop in TV viewers and similar drops in gate takings at matches, it is clear that your ‘product’ (the rugby games) are either of such low quality people can’t even be bothered watching them for free, or that you have saturated the market with said ‘product’. Given the quality of matches does not seem to have dropped enough to cause the free fall in viewers, it is the number of matches that is too high.

 Elementary, my dear Watson, yet evidently too tricky for the NZRU to work out. Perhaps that is because recognition of the real problem carries the obvious conclusion the rugby union do not want to hear Рless potential revenue making matches to flog to TV corporations.

Like the farmer who killed the fabled goose that laid the golden eggs (to try get more out of the gooses’ insides), the NZRU is faced with having to content itself with a certain number of matches to market, or drowning the market in matches and killing the marketing appeal of said matches.

One solution:

  • Scrap the Super 14 competition now
  • Use the vacant timeslots to develop a set of genuine regional competitions (say South Pacific,¬† North Pacific, European, South Atlantic) which opens up the comp’s to teams currently excluded, like Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Argentina, while giving the US, Canada and Japan a competitve level of rugby in the north. Strengthens international rugby and reduces the need for players to nation-hop to get good rugby.
  • The above regional comp’s would still leave time (beacause¬†regions have less national teams than the 14 Super 14 teams)¬†for regular scheduled bilateral international tours, which also develops rugby as a global game.
  • Enforcing tight national player origin rules on the above comp’s allows the IRB and national rugby unions to relax player restrictions for club comp’s- not a total cure to player bleed to ealthy club comp’s but a start.
  • Add to the above a higher level of taxation by the national unions targetted specifically for supplementary player payouts, and the financial incentive is there for players to turn out for their national team.

Not that hard really, is it? Which makes you wonder why the NZRU hasn’t paid me a hefty consultant fee yet? hehe.

The last point is the key to solving player drain, but it will draw squeals from the foreign clubs, which are mostly privately owned. The big downside to privatised rugby teams – their owners just want maxiumum profits, so will always be opposed to higher levies on them to fund other aspects of the game.

Oh, and sacking NZRU ceo Steve Tew would help… maybe send Colin Meads to do it? (and wish to be a fly on the wall ūüėČ )