The top-order batting clique that we sent over to Aus looked pretty damn strong and possibly the strongest we have to call on: Ryder, McCullum, Guptill, Taylor. So Ryder has to go and spoil it by having a sore shoulder. There seems to be a good chance that he won’t play in the series at all.
And who do they choose to replace him with? Craig Cumming, who we last saw three years ago scoring a forgettable 13 – in fact you might have forgotten entirely that he ever played ODIs.
This is a dramatic weakening of our top order. In the 12 matches they have respectively played, Cummings has scoring 161 runs and Ryder 330. How is it that our second tier is half as strong as our top selections?
It is hard to tell if this article in the Daily Telegraph is attacking New Zealand or Australia. “One of international cricket’s worst sides” they say of us, which stings a bit. It’s true, sure, but it is our test ranking that brings our overall ranking down and we’re in Aus to play an ODI series.
I suppose the point of the article is actually to point out how crap Australia must be if a crap team like New Zealand rates our chances.
However, they demolish their own argument without realising it. About half-way into the article they quote Rod Hogg who reckons that Australia should really be ranked about number 4 in the world. So, checking the ICC ranking table, shifting Aus down to 4 and shifting the others up, South Africa goes to no. 1, India to 2 and into spot 3 goes New Zealand. Hey look! So in actuality we’re ranked above Australia. No wonder we fancy our chances, and the Telegraph should too.
Early last year, New Zealand beat England 6-2 over two ODI series. Shortly after that, England beat South Africa 4-0. And now South Africa have beaten Australia.
So what does it mean then for the relative standing of these four teams when Australia inevitably beats NZ in the Chappell–Hadlee?
So Andy Moles is confident that we can take it to the Aussies in next week’s Chappell–Hadlee. As well he should, it is our turn:
04/05: drawn (1-1)
05/06: Australia (1-2)
06/07: New Zealand (3-0)
07/08: Australia (0-2)
And I reckon we can do it. Australia are a team on the slide. They’re being creamed by South Africa (222 all out in the 4th ODI). Their lineup is in upheavel (only 7 of the squad from the last Chappell–Hadlee remain in the current squad). Their fans are turning against them. And, y’know, my 3-year old gets a lot of Aussie DVDs out of the library – the Wiggles, Raggs, the Hooley Dooleys – and if they’re anything to go by, your typical Australian is childish and annoying and likes dressing up like a goofy animal… Ah, who am I kidding?
The Aussies will be all over us in the Chappell–Hadlee. We’ve slid at least as far the Aussies – I mean, we’d love to be as competitive with South Africa. And only 5 of our squad were in the last C–H series.
Still, it should be a great series to follow. There’ll be 5 whole matches. Australia will have a few weaknesses to exploit and we’ve got some players who we still haven’t had the opportunity to see perform under pressure.
Players to watch
Kyle Mills: Has had a very disappointing season in the test series, but remains very strong in ODIs. Has something like six times as much experience as Southee, the next most experienced strike bowler, so will be the pivot of our strike bowling team.
Martin Guptill: McCullum, Ryder and Taylor should be the most entertaining batsmen to watch, but Guptill’s performance will be interesting as he could be playing for a long-term position in the team.
Mitchell Johnson: Playing terribly against SA, but destroyed us in the tests last year. Which Mitchell is going to show up?
The new openers: Shaun Marsh and David Warner; they have a difference of 35 in their strike rate (in Warner’s favour) and abut 15 in their averages (in Marsh’s favour). I’m intrigued to see which approach better pays off.
I’ve been worried since I posted on Symonds’ drunken radio faux pas that perhaps I was making something out of nothing. The Aussie papers and Cricinfo have been reporting Symonds as calling McCullum a “lump of s…” But those dots could mean any number of things. Perhaps he had called him a “lump of sugar” or a “lump of stilton”, with me unfairly jumping to conclusions.
But Stuff and the Herald, not afraid to call a lump of shit a lump of shit (or of triggering sensitive content filters), have confirmed the worst.
Maybe he’s just doing it to confuse us, but Matthew Hayden has gone all nice in his retirement.
Firstly, he’s working to promote the development of cricket amongst Aborigines. A most admirable mission.
Secondly, he’s saying some charitable things about the state of New Zealand cricket. At least I think so. He at least attempts to blame the ICC for the state of things here. It’s just not entirely clear what he thinks of the state of things. He recognises that our international schedule has been disappointing, and we do play less matches than almost all the other teams. The problem he sees, however, seems to be that McCullum is not getting paid enough. Jeez, maybe it’s just the communist in me, but McCullum is the last Black Cap to need a top up to his salary.
But anyway, taking his comments at face value it is encouraging to hear these sentiments from outside NZ:
It’s pretty tough. I feel very sympathetic towards a country like New Zealand, which has some wonderful cricketers but they don’t get enough international opportunities.
The audio doesn’t seem to be available just yet. Pity, I’d love to hear it. Andrew Symonds calling McCullum a lump of shit, that is.
Symonds was interviewed by wacky old Roy and HG on radio last night. Apparently rather pissed – or “confused” as the papers are describing him. Fair enough on a Friday night, but honestly, drunk in charge of a radio microphone? Not smart.
So McCullum cops it (or maybe it was McCallan – the pronunciation was tripping him up). But Symo also let slip, out of his “confusion”, that he pervs at Mrs Hayden when he’s over at Matty’s place for a meal (who’s a sissy for having a coffee maker).
The squad to play Australia in the Chappell–Hadlee is as follows:
Daniel Vettori (Captain)
You’ll see that Flynn has dropped out, as was looking necessary; Fulton back in along with Iain O’Brien who hasn’t played in ODIs since Napier last year before he found his mojo in tests, replacing Gillespie. Chris Martin misses out again, but he has been only intermittantly convincing in ODIs. The eye openers are the new inclusions of Trent Boult and Brendon Diamanti.
Boult is in the team because he has been picking up wickets in the State Shield at a strike rate of 32.69. Diamanti has a tidy limited overs record, with fair to middling averages with both bat and ball – he could probably replace Grant Elliot in the team and few would notice.
With 14 in the squad and – I would guess – O’Brien and Patel juggling 12th man duties, Boult and Diamanti may have to ride their chances of getting a run.
The last 12 months really has been a season for debuts. The teams is rebuilding of course, but throwing in yet another two new faces half way through the season, one of them a 19-year old, just feels like indecisiveness. Perhaps after finally hitting the jackpot with McIntosh and Guptill, the selectors want to take a few more gambles.
By my reckoning, these are the debutants since about this time last year, in any form:
Close to a whole new team, just short a keeper and a spinner.
In case you’re wondering why I’m not listing your site in the sidebar anymore, I’ve shifted my blogroll onto its own page: Links. Along with several non-blog sites and a selection of newspapers.
It’s not really supposed to be a definitive list, but if you think you should be there let me know. I’d also be very interested in hearing about other newspapers I could list or any other interesting sites.
According to Andrew Symonds, it is unAustralian for McCullum to play for NSW.
For someone born in Birmingham, he knows a lot about what it means to be Australian. Trial by media – unAustralian, being friendly with the opposition – unAustralian, going to Pakistan – unAustralian.
But how Australian is hypocrisy? I don’t see Symonds ripping up his IPL contract.