It is as if the world had righted itself on its axis. The Black Caps have made the semis of an ICC tournament. Global warming has been turned back. Kraft have revealed the iSnack was a hoax. (Though in a troubling sign of the coming apocalypse, Grant Elliot continues to prove to be a match winner.)
New Zealand destroy England, knock Sri Lanka out of the tournament and shame South Africa, all while imploding themselves.
Heard on Radio Sport (Mark Richardson?) this morning: “You can’t bag this New Zealand team because you’ll end up with egg on your face.”
Well I was totally barking up the wrong tree in my last post, and it never feels better than it does to be wrong in your pessimism. New Zealand defeated Sri Lanka by a good 38 runs and showed that they still know how to play the game better than most.
It was a classic victory in the Black Caps mould – a great top-order partnership, a wagging tail, tight bowling and good fielding. It even fitted in a couple of other NZ signatures with a batting collapse and a saving innings by Vettori, creating a donut shaped innings with a 12-over, 6-wicket, 3-RPO hole in the middle.
I am forced to reconsider my negative assessment in my previous post.
This was incidentally the 18th time we have scored over 300 runs setting a total and we have successfully defended every time we have scored this high. That is an awesome record that no other country can match.
To make it to the semis, we have to beat England (or tie or share a no-result). We’re currently level on points with Sri Lanka but so far behind on net run rate that we can’t overtake them except on points. We have had little trouble with England in ODIs recently, but they are the form team of the competition.
And we should so play Jesse Ryder. He’s awesome when he’s injured.
After the loss to South Africa I have been joined in my pessimism by severalcommentators (though not, notably, by the captain). England’s victory over Sri Lanka may have lowered the barrier to the semi-finals a fraction, but it has opened the dismal possibility of New Zealand finishing last in its group. (Also, it would have been nice to be playing a complacent Sri Lanka tonight.)
Having powered our way into the semifinals of the World Cup just a couple of years back, we’ve fallen quite some way. It all goes back to about a year ago and our loss to Bangladesh in the opening match of the ODI series there. We did go on and win that series and then beat West Indies at home and tie with Australia in the Chappell-Hadlee before going down against India at home, overall not a bad result for the season. However, I feel our results of 08/09 flattered to deceive and the poor results of the last month are just a continuation of a year-long decline.
That one loss against Bangladesh last year should not have happened. Anyone can lose to Bangladesh due to the vagaries of the sport and there were mitigating circumstances around the team being ill-prepared. But the truth is we struggled on that tour despite the weak opposition. The 2-1 win against the West Indies in January disguises the fact that we should have destroyed them as we have done in previous tours (4-1 in 2006, 5-0 in 2000). There were some really good wins in the first two games of the Chapell-Hadlee, with some impressive fighting spirit shown. But letting the Australians back into the series in the next two games is barely excusable. We were then strongly dominated by India in the home series. We have seriously lost our invincibility in ODIs.
This decline is reflected in the ratings as well. This time last year we were sitting on a high of 116 points, on the cusp of 3rd spot. We are presently on 103 points, down in 7th spot.
Okay, there’s my little rant. I hope it has appeased the cricket gods. The match against Sri Lanka is starting right now and hope to all that there is to hope to that I am wrong in my analysis. Go the Black Caps!!
Looks like Gary Kirsten is a bit of a prude. He doesn’t want any ownership of the ‘sex dossier’, even though it essentially went out in his name and was the biggest talking point at the tournament until everyone cottoned on to the prospect of India playing Pakistan. Perhaps Kirsten doesn’t have much of a sense of humour.
Or maybe the atmosphere of sanctimoniousness and self-rightous piety is so rarefied in certain sections of India that a public official, even the coach of the national cricket team, can’t mention s*x without getting a bollocking. Apparently supporters of the BJP, India’s foremost nationalist party, burnt effigies of Kirsten. That’s a pretty aggressive reaction for such a trivial matter. Looks to me like the BJP members have been getting too much sex.
I’ve managed to obtain a copy of a ‘vision document’ prepared by coach Gary Kirsten for the Indian team. It outlines the coach’s plans to improve the performance of the Indian players in their drive to be the best team in the world.
It’s four damn pages long. I don’t have time to read that sort of epic. So I put it through Wordle to get the gist of the document:
If you believe the chattering, this Champions Trophy tournament is going to be the saviour of 50-over cricket. Puh-lease. It wasn’t so long ago that the CT was the embarrassment of the international schedule. Really, if the format is dependent on this tournament, then it is already dead on its feet. Put a bullet in its head.
The shortcomings of 50-over cricket have been well outlined. To that I would like to add that the existence of the Duckworth-Lewis system is powerful evidence that the game is fundamentally flawed. But the problem isn’t so much the format of single 50-over innings. There is something rotten about the very idea of ODI cricket. If it is possible to simultaneously schedule the excruciatingly over-long 7-match Eng-Aus series and the offensively short NZ-SL-Ind tri-series, the format is the wrong tool for the wrong job.
After so many dismal ODI showings in the last few weeks, who would have thought that it could all come together so well in one game.
It was nice to see the message about partnerships getting through in the previous game against the Warriors, but the 95-run Guptill-Taylor partnership was the only good thing to come out of that match. But this morning, we had some decent partnerships, then a wagging tail and then some unholy destruction with the ball. 103-run victory.
But, let’s not read too much into this. Given the terrible performances of late, this win could just be a fluke. However, it does make the Champions Trophy more interesting because of the possibility of another fluke.
Speaking to the press, Daniel Vettori claimed that NZ can win the Champions Trophy. Ha! Maybe he is trying a bit of stand-up comedy after all.
Actually, I reckon it is just the Herald sensationalising beyond the call of duty. Everyoneelse is taking the ‘must build partnerships’ angle.
This is the first ICC tournament NZ has gone into where I haven’t been confident of a semi-final finish. It will be an early exit for New Zealand, almost certainly. To get through, we will likely have to beat three of our group opponents, South Africa, Sri Lanka and England. We’d fancy ourselves against England perhaps, but we have no show against the other two.
Our one-day fortunes have crashed recently. Our win/loss ratio for 2009 is a sorry 0.62. Remarkably though, we have simply the best bowling attack in world cricket. We have 4 top 20 ODI bowlers. In fact, 3 top 10 bowlers. In fact, 2 top 5! And we have proven, though inconsistent, powerhouses amongst our batsmen. It is the same team that almost carried away the Chappell-Hadlee earlier this year, but they have deflated over winter.