Jul 5 2009

Unlucky Ireland

Up until the real battle for the semi final spots started, everyone’s darling at the World 20-20 was Ireland.

Ireland had managed to qualify for the super 8s, while certain test-playing nations failed to, to wit Australia and Bangladesh. This certainly proved that they are the strongest associate nation (non-test-playing nation). While it should be noted that they qualified thanks to a win over Bangladesh, that’s an achievement we are unlikely to see any other associate manage, especially now that Kenya has fallen away.

It has been that way for a while however. Compared to the other associate nations, Ireland are in their own league. They completely dominated the recent 2009 World Cup Qualifier (thus topping the World Cricket League) and they have won the Intercontinental Cup every year since 2005. They also have full ODI status and actually have some points in the rankings.

However, having made the super 8s, they were then soundly beaten by New Zealand and Pakistan and beaten by Sri Lanka. They had three opportunities to pick up super 8 points, but ended their tournament with only a win over Bangladesh from the qualifying round. Consider how disappointing New Zealand’s tournament was, with wins over only Scotland and Ireland, though NZ made Ireland look pretty damn poor when they played each other.

If Ireland, the top associate nation, went home from the World 20-20 happy with their performance whereas NZ, a very lowly ranked test-playing nation, went home disappointed despite having outperformed Ireland, you get some idea of the gulf between the associate and test-playing nations.

That gulf is well known, however.

Now, according to the future tours programme, NZ is currently scheduled to play Zimbabwe. That tour is not going ahead, essentially because of political differences between NZ and Zimbabwe. This leaves the NZ players doing nothing. This is a genuine window in NZ’s fixtures. Was any thought given to scheduling a small tour of Ireland during this window? The NZ players were already in the northern hemisphere. It is true that Ireland is now involved in the Intercontinental Cup, but this window opened months ago, leaving time for arrangements to be made if there was the will.

Ireland needs to be better rewarded for its achievements against the associates and needs more matches against higher ranked teams if they are going to progress further. I think with NZ’s regular winter window, we are in a unique position to help Ireland out every now and then. I know we did the same for Zimbabwe way back when (maybe only once, but I do remember Jeff Crowe leading a whistle stop tour there), which might have done much to lead them towards test status.

Jun 29 2009

Off again in 10 months, but when’s everyone coming here

I’ve just come round to the news that the next World 20-20 will be played in 2010, not even a year after this years tournament. Sheesh. Don’t leave your seats, it’s non-stop action in 20-20.

The deal is that the rescheduling of the Champions Trophy (the one that was taken off Pakistan) would have given us a Champions Trophy at the end of 2009 and another at the beginning of 2010, so they have changed the 2010 one to a World 20-20.

With the World Cup due in 2011 we really are chocker with tournaments. Something’s gotta give and it’s gotta be that Champions Trophy. My understanding was that the Trophy’s purpose was to bring big tournaments to places outside the big 8, places like Kenya and Bangaladesh. But since the 2002 tournament in Sri Lanka, it’s been nothing but a little orphan world cup. And now a cuter orphan with more personality has shown up, the World 20-20. What do we need the Champions Trophy for?

Let’s hope the World Cup survives until at least 2015 when it is held in NZ and Australia.

Y’know, the World Cup was last held in Australasia in 1992. Since then there have been 4 Cups, 5 Champions Trophies and 2 World 20-20s. Then there’s next year’s Trophy and 20-20 and 2011′s Cup, making 14 tournaments, none of them held in Australia or New Zealand. What’s with that? Couldn’t Australasia have been tossed even a single Champions Trophy or World 20-20 in all these years?

Jun 26 2009

Diving out of the cup

I put together a graph of the last game New Zealand played in the WT20 against Sri Lanka to show how we let that game, and the cup, slip away from us. The following graph shows how the average of the partnerships in that game declined across the game. The decline in the curve shows how the average was pulled down as the rate of loss of wickets increased.


It occurs to me that this graph could apply to the whole tournament for New Zealand. Starting out with some decent warm up matches, then once the tournament starts the only peaks were the two wins against the minnows, with the rest of the games comprising a slow hopeless decline.

That’s all I have to say about New Zealand at the World Twenty20.

I’m making this post 5 days after the end of the tournament and 10 days after New Zealand’s last game. Part of the reason for my slackness in posting is because of the flu. But the main reason is that I’ve gotten a copy of The Wire on DVD.  I just can’t stop watching it.

Jun 15 2009

Pakistan bearing gifts

In all my talk about what New Zealand needs to qualify for the semis, one scenario I have not considered is Pakistan losing to Ireland, the two teams thus elimination each other and allowing New Zealand to qualify without even beating Sri Lanka.

You have to have a very short memory to not realise that Ireland beating Pakistan is not beyond comprehension. (For those with short memories, Ireland beat Pakistan at the ODI world cup in ’07.)

However, such a bonus to New Zealand, on top of the favourable draw, the drafting in of Scotland and results falling our way, would simply be unconscionable. It would mean that New Zealand would qualify for the semis due to wins over only Scotland and Ireland. And that would be not at all deserved.

Jun 15 2009

Ireland deliver a gift

Last night Ireland played Sri Lanka, one of the three remaining games in New Zealand’s super 8 group that I mentioned in my last post. As expected, Ireland lost – but not by much. They managed to get within 10 runs of Sri Lanka’s total.

With the win over Ireland, Sri Lanka consolidate their position at the top of the table, with 4 points over NZ’s and Pakistan’s 2 each. However, the close loss has decapitated their net run rate. From +0.95 after their game against Pakistan, they have shrunk to +0.7.  This remains a good net run rate, but it is a gift to New Zealand. Less than a day after I wrote about the challenge to New Zealand in getting through to the semis (and followed up in the mainstream media), Sri Lanka has smoothed our way somewhat.

To get through to semis we still need to beat Sri Lanka. However, all we need is a win. Even a tie for that matter. With our net run rate now above Sri Lanka’s, a win will keep it above Sri Lanka’s, ensuring we qualify above them.

Jun 14 2009

Two steps forward, one back

New Zealand lose to Pakistan by shit loads. That really was a bad game. Possibly it was just one of those games that come around now and then. Except that it joins the list of nuttings Pakistan has dealt us in world cups. This game also joins the regular procession of embarrasing collapses inflicted on us by Pakistan, that Cricinfo so kindly reminds us of by providing a link to a 2003 article about that very topic.

Also, even leaving aside the impact such a big loss will have on the team’s confidence, the size of the loss has put a big dent in our chances of qualifying for the semis. Pakistan outscored us by 7.59 runs per over to 5.35, a massive difference of 2.24 runs per over (actually leading to a net run rate in their favour of 2.64). This pretty much eradicates the 4.15 runs per over net run rate advantage we took from our own thrashing of Ireland.

This leaves the three leading teams in New Zealand’s group pretty much level pegging in terms of points and net run rate, as this table shows:

Team Points NRR
Sri Lanka 2 +0.950
New Zealand 2 +0.943
Pakistan 2 +0.740
Ireland 0 -4.50

The remaining games are Sri Lanka v. Ireland, Pakistan v. Ireland and NZ v. Sri Lanka. The results of the first two are foregone conclusions, leaving the last a must win, just to ensure New Zealand ends on as many points as Sri Lanka and Pakistan. That’s fine. There are always must win games in tournaments. The problem is that Sri Lanka and Pakistan both have chances to seriously boost their net run rates with their games against Ireland, helping their chance of qualifying for the semis over New Zealand. So New Zealand will not only need to beat Sri Lanka on Tuesday, but to beat them heavily.

Jun 13 2009

Flashing by

Goodness, but this 20-20 is fast! Take a few days off and half the tournament has gone. Since I last posted (about the warm-up win over India), four games have gone by. However, the tournament is only now beginning for New Zealand.

The first of those four games I missed was our warm up loss against Australia. A game that would have been nice to win, but it wasn’t even part of the tournament itself.

The second game was the crazy 7-7 game against Scotland. Having a game reduced to 7 overs was probably the best thing Scotland could have hoped for and they still lost heavily. The points for this game were always going to be a gift to New Zealand; the game didn’t even need to be played or even scheduled. NZ could just have started the round on 2 points.

Given that Scotland was no competition in Group D, NZ and South Africa were always going to qualify for the super 8s. So the game between them was irrelevant for the tournament, as widely reported. Not only were they both certain to qualify for the next round, but because no points are carried through to the next round, the only thing that mattered was qualifying. So New Zealand loses (agonisingly), but still the competition hasn’t started.

The next match was the first match of the super 8. As it happens, this was another game where the points could have simply been handed to New Zealand.

Assuming also that Sri Lanka and Pakistan, the other two teams in New Zealand’s super 8 group, have no trouble against Ireland, the super 8, from our standpoint is simply a contest amongst three teams, with New Zealand yet to play either of their opponents. The first of these games is tonight in fact, against Pakistan. Now this match matters.

Pakistan has already lost to Sri Lanka. Therefore, if they lose to New Zealand they will be elminated. Whereas a loss by New Zealand will mean they will need to beat Sri Lanka to be in with a chance of qualifying for the semis. (It will be down to run rates in this case.)

So now the tournament begins.

Jun 2 2009


Allaying all concerns that the previous 1, 2, 3 warm up victories over half of the tournament’s minnows were merely flattering to deceive, the Black Caps have rolled India. Hoody hoo!

Now we should first recognise that this is just a warm up match. It could well be that India just weren’t trying as hard as they might. Despite playing 12 players (to NZ’s 11 – Bloom and McGlashan, listed on the NZ scorecard, didn’t get onto the field), India chose to rest Virendar Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan.

Still, NZ’s score of 170 was a good one against a slightly weakened India, and defending that when India were on track to win right up to the end of the 16th over was a massive effort. It was over 17th over, bowled by Vettori which went for 2, and the 18th over, Oram going for 3, that won NZ the game. It was such a surprising turn around given how comfortably in control the Indians were, you could almost conclude that they lost on purpose, just for practice, so they know what not to do in a real game.

I was very impressed by Oram’s bowling. I had been composing a post about the oddity of Oram’s fine ODI record, but poorer records for the versions of the game on either side of the ODI code. I mean, if he’s better in ODIs than in tests, he should be better in 20-20s than in ODIs. But he’s made that post redundant by showing that he’s actually a good 20-20 bowler. Someone else I reckon would have been good in 20-20s is Chris Cairns, as an intelligent bowler and a big hitter. But James Franklin (27 off 10 across the last four overs) seems to be filling that role quite nicely.

You can see a few highlights here. (At least you can in New Zealand; I don’t know about the rest of the world.) It’s a nice little clip, showing Vettori’s wickets, and an odder set of three wickets you’re not likely to see.

So that’s three wins from three against India (though I don’t think this one counts as an official game, given that both teams were given the option of playing as many as 13 players). If I understand the tournament schedule properly, NZ and India won’t be playing each other until at least the semi-finals.

Flight of the Conchords:

Jun 1 2009

Heating up

The Black Caps have sneakily slipped in another warm ups match, v. Netherlands. A 90-run thrashing. The sort of margin that shouldn’t be attainable in a 20-over match. This follows a 7-wicket victory over Ireland and a last ball win over Bangladesh, so on the face of it it looks like the team is improving, though the rankings of the opponents have decreased in each successive match. There will be a huge turn around in the quality of the opposition when we play the first official warm up tonight against India.

McCullum scored a good 62. Franklin bowled a great 3/10 off 4. But the game will probably be remembered as being the international debut of Dutch-stralian Renaissance man Dirty Dirk Nannes, so beloved by Cricket with Balls.


May 28 2009

Getting warmer

Cricinfo has been a bit faster in reporting on New Zealand’s second warm up match, against Ireland. Another win, blessedly, and much more convincing than the last-ball win against Bangladesh. A 7-wicket win with 3 overs to spare.

Taylor’s 74 off 36 was the stand out performance, of course. He’s developing a knack of hitting massive scores very fast; his 81* off 33 (along with Gilchrist’s 85 off 35) is quite conspicuous in the list of IPL high-SR knocks, amongst several relatively middling scores. However, Ryder’s 3/4 off 4, including 2 wickets off 2 balls, tore the Irish innings apart.