Posts Tagged ‘test cricket’

NZ vs Pakistan – 1st test analysis

December 2, 2009

NZ won the first cricket test against Pakistan by 32 runs.

Man of the match should have gone to the groundskeeper – Dunedin turned on a perfect test pitch. Started good for batting, gave a bit of variable bounce to bowlers at the end. Nice.

Bowlers from both sides were good – not just Bond (who was very penetrative). Chris Martin stood out taking 3 times his usual 1 wicket per innings in both innings.

But what on earth is Fulton doing back in the batting lineup? Tried & failed repeatedly at intl level. Pick Chris Harris instead for goodness sake. He at least can score centuries at domestic and intl level!

Anyway, Bond is out injured for the rest of the series; siiiiiigh. He should play if at all possible and recover during the Bangladesh series – NZ don’t need him to beat the Banglas, but do to topple Pakistan.

It poses a selection dilemma – the next replacements are Daryl Tuffey and Tim Southee – good bowlers, but NZ now really need to pick 5 strike bowlers to bowl out Pakistan twice, whereas with Bond they got away with 4. Former NZ test opener Mark Richardson agrees.

It would be nice if NZ used Mark Gillespie – their only genuine fast bowler other than Bond – but great figures don’t equate to selection it seems. We shall see.

But the dilemma is that the need for 5 strike bowlers cuts batsmen to 5 – presumably McIntosh, Guptill, Flynn, Taylor and Elliott. However, this lineup is still very new and unstable. Why not use the experienced Harris, Astle, McMillan and yes, Matthew Sinclair? Keep Taylor and let the others play for NZ A to get experience at international level. Otherwise we are likely to just burn off fresh talent again in a hail of confidence destroying Pakistan pace before they find their feet… The time to introduce newbies is against Bangladesh.

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A fitting end for Fleming

March 26, 2008

“Ruing this series” was Stephen Fleming’s comment after his last test innings for NZ saw him post 66. The former NZ captain retires from test cricket after a delayed fit of pique at his sacking as captain, to allow the long-groomed Daniel Vettori to take over.

While several NZ commentators rue Fleming leaving NZ while clearly still one of the better batsmen available, it was ironic that the last innings should see Fleming fall on a trademark score of 66 to spin bowler Monty Panesar; many of Fleming’s innings have ended in the mid-twenties or mid-sixties when he loses concentration after ‘getting set’ or ‘posting his half century’. This accounts for just 8% of his innings tallying to 90 or more.

However, there is no doubt NZ’s selectors will not enjoy trying to find a decent replacement. With his average just getting over the 40 threshold (by 13 runs!), Fleming will be a loss in the batting lineup, particularly overseas where he averages nearly 46.

However, this high offshore average compared to the 33.87 average Fleming had on NZ pitches, hints at the nature of his scores. Beating up perennial losers Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka when they were relative newcomers to test cricket account for his highest scores, and are the only nations against which he averages 50 or more. It was notable that the 2 teams he had lowest average (of 25 and 32) and strike rate (of 40.81 and 40.73) against were world champion side Australia and star studded India. He will also be irked at being the sole test batsmen to get over 7000 runs but not post 10 test centuries…

Despite this, Stephen Fleming brought a solid contribution with the bat on a regular basis. If this sounds like faint praise, it is not. Recall Mark Richardson was lauded for just such a contribution, despite a strike rate worse (37.66) than Fleming’s rate of 45.82. More telling, Fleming’s last season has seen him average nearly 50, which he only topped in 1998, 2004 and 2005/06 (and 2003 where he posted his top score of 274* on tour against Sri Lanka). So he appeared to have plenty of runs in the tank.

One wonders if selector Sir Richard Hadlee quit because of the troubles he foresaw in trying to replace the vast number of players who have quit NZ cricket?

It did irritate to hear Fleming lauded for his weaknesses though. Making a virtue of necessity, Fleming’s sloth-like speed in the field was transformed to a soft pair of hands in the slips (where he was good off quick bowlers). Add to this his reputed ‘great’ captaincy skills (his record does not back this claim, with 28 wins from 80 captained he won just 35% – by contrast, the truly great Australian skipper Steve Waugh won in 51% of his tests)).

 Either way, NZ can survive ‘post-Flem’ if there is no panicked rush of under-19 players into the national team… (think Daniel Flynn, Tim Southee, and the slightly older Jesse Ryder if he can heal, and leave the nurses alone!)