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).

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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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NZ left-wing govt elected…or not

November 22, 2008

Grrrr – the desire to let vent with a righteous “I told you so” is incredible about now. The Chief Electoral Office has just released the final NZ 2008 election results, and the National-Act-Dunne government stands.

Total MPs are:

  • National 58, Act 5, United 1
  • Maori 5
  • Labour 43, Anderton 1, Greens 9

News and opinions are up at NZ Herald and Stuff (both based on a NZ Press Association article, which incorrectly equates a 0.32% party vote gain for the Greens as 70,000 party votes – it is actually a rise of 22,991 votes), and National party activist blog Kiwiblog (who notes how close Labour came to pinching another MP off National).

Update: The Greens now have their views up on the final result.

But it should have been close, and wasn’t. Why?

Because the arrogant left-wing parties that used to form the government refused to even consider the desperate need to remove the 5% threshold gerrymander (it was raised informally with them regularly over the last 5 years). Without any threshold (and with no rounding up of partial MPs), a Labour-Anderton-Greens-Maori-NZFirst government was possible. It would even have been able to be formed if we took the ‘natural’ 0.83% threshold (equating to earning 1 list MP) and rounded. Sigh.

No-threshold results (meaning no discarded votes) would have been:

  • National 53, Act 4, United 1
  • Maori 5
  • Labour 40, Anderton 1, Greens 8, NZ First 4

giving a total of 116 with a majority of 58 (including speaker) to Labour-Greens-NZFirst (the lower total seats is despite the 2 overhang seats of the Maori Party, and is caused by rounding all parties partial MPs down – they have to earn the full MP to get them).

Taking the ‘natural’ 0.83% threshold and rounding up or down partial MPs would have given:

  • National 55, Act 4, United 1
  • Maori 5
  • Labour 42, Anderton 1, Greens 8, NZ First 5

giving a total of 122 MPs with majority (including speaker) of 61 to Labour.

Of course, that assumes people would still have voted the same way, which they almost certainly would not have if they knew the threshold was changed or not there at all. One assumes voters would be less inclined to tick the ‘media stunt’ Bill & Ben Party, and that voters would be more likely to vote for minor parties like Family Party, Kiwi Party, NZ Pacific Party as they had a more realistic chance of getting the roughly 12,500 or 17,000 votes (depending on whether you round or not) required to EARN a list MP.

An interesting sidepoint is that with a 0.83% threshold¬† – or better still with none – the annoying “win 1 electorate and get all your party vote, even if under 5%” rule would be unnecessary, simplifying the rules nicely.

Incidentally, all other variations of threshold and ’rounding vs truncation’ would give a National-led government, sometimes with 1 MP each to the (supposedly) Christian fundamentalist Kiwi Party and to the Bill & Ben Party. But if people want those parties to represent their views in Parliament, so be it – that’s democracy. What is not democracy is the stupid Labour-Greens MPs and party workers sitting on their hands complacently, wondering why they are now in opposition for the next 3 years! And the NZ public have had 153,461 of their votes ignored…

The Essential Qualities of Marriage

November 19, 2008

It is hard to express how gob-smacking and insulting this French appeals court ruling on a marriage is. Tragic for the couple involved, but even more so for France, if a handful of witless ‘feminists’ and judges can overturn global human understandings of what a marriage is.

Summary of events – Islamic husband rejects wife on wedding night when he discovers she is not a virgin. She agreed the next day to his request for annulment of the marriage. Lower court annuls marriage, but ‘feminists’ howl, so gutless minister forces state to appeal, and appeal court overturns ruling. Meaning the marriage still stands, despute niether husband nor wife considering their marriage valid, and dishonesty of 1 party to the marriage going into it.

Stunning. At the heart of this decision is what the court accepts to be the ‘essential qualities’ of a marriage, breach of which are grounds for annulment. The French appeal court claims that a spouse lying, and misrepresenting their sexual history do not undermine the trust and love necessary for marriage. Which makes you wonder what French appellate judges consider marriage to be? I wouldn’t trust a business partner who lied to me, let alone misrepresented their business history to me; how much more important to be upfront in an intimate relationship like marriage?

Article 16 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights states:

Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

How can the a spouse give ‘free and full consent’ if that consent is undermined by lies by the other contracting partner? Quite apart from trust, it is a legal nonsense.

And the court appears to have overlooked the implications – the most obvious of which is that they have come within a hair’s breadth of legalising adultery, and nullifying millions of divorces! After all, adultery involves a spouse lying about their sexual activity – same as this wife – but about sexual activity after the marriage takes place rather than before (as for the wife in this case).

But if sexual history and honesty about that history are not ‘essential qualities’ of marriage, a strong case can be made that post-marital adultery is no more a breach of marriage than ‘pre-marital adultery’ (fornication). With adultery being the sole grounds for a huge proportion of divorces, the Douai appeals court may have rendered such divorces void. Which would make for a really awkward Christmas, to say the least…

Sadly, a large part of the reaction against the initial annulment that led to this crackpot appellate ruling, seems to have been anti-Muslim bigotry. References to virginity having no place in marriage in this ‘democratic and secular’ France reveal nothing about the state of the claimed marriage, but a lot about the attitudes of those pushing the annulment overturn. Notice these hypocritical ‘feminists’ have not been howling over the woman who ‘divorced’ her husband over his ‘Second Life’ computer game adultery

Get a brain ‘feminists’ & French courts – no spouse (male or female) has a ‘human right’ to cheat on their husband or wife before or after the marriage. Lying about it certainly undermines the whole basis of marriage – the two people becoming one in love.

Scrap undemocratic thresholds!

November 10, 2008

New Zealand has voted in a new government, and this outcome would not be altered by variations on the current 5% MMP threshold, but…

The 5% threshold is nothing more than a disgraceful Labour & National gerrymander designed to inhibit the number & size of the minor parties that get elected, and consequently keep the 2 big parties entrenched (alternately) in power. A truly shameful and undemocratic farce. No Right Turn and Graeme Edgeler have both blogged on this already (update: and so has National party activist David Farrar at Kiwiblog and a more rational post by Green party member Ari at g.blog).

Tiddler parties find it relatively easy to get the 500 voters they need signed up as party members, so they can register their party and have it appear on the list of parties (so they can get a share of the party vote). But the hurdle is then enormous to get enough party votes to cross the ‘5%¬† of the party vote’ threshold to actually get MP’s allocated to their party (roughly 110,000 votes). So ‘conservative Christian’ Kiwi Party and ‘single-issue’ Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party parties register, but with only 11,659 and 7,589 votes respectively, they have no chance of passing the 5% threshold.

There is a backdoor way of avoiding the 5% threshold – get 1 or more electorate MP’s elected, and any amount of party vote your party has is counted. For example, Jim Anderton keeps winning Wigram electorate, so his 0.93% of the party vote is counted (though it is not high enough to get him a second list MP).

But what would the NZ election outcome look like if there was no 5% threshold? Depending on round-off, NZ First would have gained 5 list MP’s, and the Kiwi Party and The Bill & Ben Party would have got 1 list MP each, at the expense of 1 ACT, 2 Labour and 4 National list MP’s. Of course, if the voting public knew they had no threshold, the chances of the ‘joke’ Bill & Ben Party getting that many votes is far lower.

With 120 MP’s (unless there is an overhang, caused by a party winning more electorate seats than their proportion of the party vote would have given them), there is a ‘natural’ threshold of 0.83% of the party vote – every time a party wins 0.83% of the party vote, they get another list MP.

So having no threshold means a party either wins electorate seats or gets chunks of 0.83% of the party vote to get each list MP. This then gets complicated by the problem of what to do with the tiny proportions of party vote that aren’t enough to get that party another list MP. That is, if a party gets 2.7% of the party vote, that entitles them to 3 list MP’s (3 x 0.83% = 2.5%) but leaves 0.2% of the vote ‘wasted’ – not enough to get another MP.

So the Chief Electoral Officer junks the party votes that don’t earn another MP, or don’t give enough votes for a party to get even 1 list MP (assuming that party didn’t win an electorate seat). They then recalculate the party vote share based on this new, slightly smaller ‘pie’ of 120 MP’s, and allocate enough list MP’s to add with each parties electorate MP’s to get their total ‘slice of the pie’.

Removing the threshold altogether does run the risk of ‘extreme’ or ‘joke’ parties winn ing a list MP, but that is democracy – if people vote that party in, they should get the representative of their choice. And the prospect of joke MP’s is lower when people know there is a lower threshold. But even if such ‘extreme’ or ‘joke’ parties get an MP, they would have little impact. Peter Dunne & Jim Anderton have next to no impact on laws, with just 1 MP each.

But a large part of that is because party vote is rounded up or down to make whole list MP’s (instead of 1/4 a list MP, say). Truncating party vote means parties have to actually earn every vote to make up 0.83% of the party vote to get each list MP. Meaning the Kiwi Party, with 0.56% of the party vote would not get any MP’s, instead of having their 0.56% rounded up to 0.83% and get 1 list MP (and have Taito Phillip Field’s NZ Pacific Party – on 0.33% of the party vote – get rounded down to nothing).

Time to junk the 5% threshold – it is undemocratic, totalatarian nonsense. Of course, scrapping the 5% threshold just makes MMP more democratic – there is a whole other debate on why a party-based electoral system like MMP is nowhere near as democratic as it should be… (think MP’s ignoring overwhelming public opinion on issues that they hope will go away before the next election).