It’s pretty exciting that it has been decided to put the Chappell–Hadlee Trophy up for grabs in tonight’s match between New Zealand and Australia. Well actually it is not that exciting, but it does give the game much more significance than it had previously. Since the format of this World Cup has been carefully crafted to hand-hold the top teams into the next round, there is almost nothing riding on this match. Neither NZ or Aus are in any particular jeopardy of being eliminated in this first round, it only counts for the seedings in the quarter-finals – and how exciting is that really? The only interest we can take from this long month of pool matches is whether Bangladesh gets into the quarters ahead of the West Indies.
Any game against Australia is an exciting game of course, but I’m following tonight’s game as a Chappell–Hadlee match, rather than a World Cup match.
Whether or not you can accept this bald fact at face value, it does show that NZ is in fact a damn good ODI team. We’ve just fallen off the pace something desperate of late.
We’re currently ranked 7th in the world by the ICC ranking. However, this time last year we were 4th, a position we held pretty consistently since the last World Cup. There have been no major changes to the side (once Fleming stepped aside as captain) in that time. There’s no reason we can’t regain our winning form against big teams.
After having my confidence in the Black Caps utterly shredded by a terrible season, particularly by the horror of a warm-up match against India, and then this fairly dramatic preview by Cricinfo (“a demoralised New Zealand are ripe for the picking”, “the team the minnows are targetting in this group”, I had been feeling rather anxious leading up the game against Kenya, in case the team who has already knocked over West Indies and Sri Lanka in World Cups were capable of another surprise.
My imagined worst case scenario was so very, very different from the actual result that I can’t really process it. A 10-wicket win, less than 24 overs required to bowl them out and only 8 overs required to chase the target down. It seems unreal.
Two rather contrasting warm-up matches for the Black Caps. In the first we dispatched Ireland by 32 runs – not a thrashing, but comfortable. In the second we were royally fucked by India by 117 runs.
They’re just warm-up matches, so we can’t put too much stock into the results. However, I feel that these two games pretty accurately reflect where we are at the moment. On the one hand, we should have no great fears of the minnows. We face Kenya, Zimbabwe and Canada in our pool, and losing to any of them would require a fairly monumental balls up. However, it is equally hard to picture the Black Caps beating the three good teams in our pool, Australia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. We have fallen so far off the pace. To win any of these three matches, someone is going to have to pull of something exceptional, such as Southee’s 5-for in Wellington or Ryder’s century in Auckland.
We’ve fallen into the gap between the minnows and the sharks.
In the past I have tried to prepare a schedule of New Zealand’s upcoming matches. I haven’t been able to keep up with that task this year however. So instead for the World Cup, I have prepared a Google Maps map of all New Zealand’s fixtures. You’ll find it the bottom of this post. The colour-coding denotes variously warm up matches, pool matches, quarter finals, semis and the final.
It doesn’t quite look as good as I was hoping – I was hoping for more of a tangled web with less gaps. This is partly because we play two games at the same venue in a couple of cases. The map is definitely bulked up by the inclusion of the finals however. As it is impossible to predict which quarter final we will make (if we make the quarters), I have included them all, and both semis, and final, just in case.