Jan 24 2012

Squad vs squad

So, the NZ home international season has now started, with the NZ XI–Zim warm-up match completed.

You’d like to think that a warm-up match – particularly one with most of the home test squad playing – might tell you a bit about the players’ current form and how they might play against each other in the upcoming matches. Unfortunately, a match where 4/5 batsmen in an innings retire and the other team lose loads of their wickets to a player who doesn’t even qualify to be in the test team, is not going to have great predictive potential.

Instead, let’s compare the two squads.

New Zealand

Here’s the squad most of whom played in a team good enough to beat Australia:

Zimbabwe

And the team that came close to beating New Zealand:

So

Looking at those two lists, NZ clearly have the wood over Zimbabwe. That Zimbabwe squad is looking very shabby and full of holes, even compared to a NZ squad with more mediocrity than class.

Still, this is the 8th ranked team playing against the de facto 9th ranked team. It isn’t an even contest, but it would hardly be an upset if Zimbabwe made it competitive.


Oct 7 2010

Celebrating McCullum

Brendon McCullum has won the T20 Performance of the Year at the ICC Awards for his 116 against Australia at Christchurch. I haven’t bothered to find out what the other contenders were, I don’t need to – there could be no contest to that amazing innings.

Relive it below (or see a longer version in two parts with better picture quality, more inane commentary, but less annoying music):


Apr 22 2010

IPL NZ round up

With Bangalore eliminated in the first semi final, the NZ contribution to the IPL is done. (Okay, except for the 3rd place play off, and Fleming’s work as Chennai coach.) Just as I turn my attention to the competition.

Oh well. Time enough for me to summarise the NZers achievements before the whole thing wraps for another year.

Only four NZ players in the comp this year. Some were missing from injury – Ryder, Oram, Mills – and Styris was simply not wanted.

Brendon McCullum

114 runs in 5 innings. Half of those in his last. Ho hum. But of course, after his very first IPL innings, it was always going to be downhill for Brendon.

Ross Taylor

88 runs from 7 innings. Dear me!

Daniel Vettori

33 runs from 3 innings. And just 2 wickets, going for over 8 an over.

Shane Bond

1 run from 2 balls faced. A credible 9 wickets at an average of 25.

Nothing to write home about – pretty sorry in fact – but recorded for the record.


Mar 22 2010

Only in Wellington

From Cricinfo:

101.4 Hauritz to McCullum, no run, full ball hits the foot marks and turns sharply from outside the off stump, McCullum doesn’t offer a shot and the ball thuds into his front pad. Huge appeal but not given, the decision is referred and it looks like McCullum is safe as ‘virtual’ is not available because the cameras have been taken down due to the wind
Ponting is not happy with this result and is having a talk with the umpires about it, unsure what he is trying to achieve, maybe saying he would not have referred if he known no ‘virtual’ was not available? Or, are they discussing the future of referrals in this match?

Mar 1 2010

Loving all the hating

When you’ve tanked the bowlers around the park on your way to an unbeaten 20-20 century, getting the finger from one of those bowlers is the highest form of flattery. Tait is presenting to McCullum here in a frustrated acknowledgement that McCullum was fricken’ awesome the other night.

In contrast, despite what others might think, the Lancaster Park crowd was jeering Shane Watson because he is a dick, not because we respect his abilities with bat and ball. We openly hate him, we don’t secretly rate him.


Nov 9 2009

Linchpins

New Zealand defeats Pakistan in the second ODI, regaining 4th spot in the ICC rankings.

A 64-run win would have been seen as a spanking, if the previous match had not been a 138-run slaughter.

The match was most notable for Brendon McCullum’s 131 off 129, which contributed hugely to the win.

Considering what a star Brendon is, it is remarkable that this is his first century against a decent opposition (though it is one that any batsman would be happy to have in his record). Ruffling through the stats however suggests that though he hasn’t hit 100 very often, his contributions are important for New Zealand wins. McCullum’s average is twice as large in wins as it is in losses. Also, when he scores 50 or above, New Zealand is twice as likely to win.

For Pakistan, it almost seemed like they were waiting for Shahid Afridi to do for them what McCullum did for us. By the time Afridi came in (in the 27th over), the top order had muddled along, allowing the required run rate to touch 8/over. When he went first ball (c. Taylor, b. Styris), there was no oomph left.

Phoenix Foundation:


Aug 9 2009

Balance of talent

You have to love the Otago Daily Times and their eternal optimism. From any number of press-conference sound bites, they chose ‘NZ has talent to win’ from Vettori as their headline.

It’s nice to believe that Vettori has faith in his players, but the quote the ODT article uses is just an empty throw-away platitude. If the Black Caps are going to succeed in Sri Lanka, they are going to have to do it by hard graft and good strategy. I don’t want to run down the ability of our players, but except for a couple of exceptions, natural talent is not our greatest strength. (It is a fair point that lack of experience is one of our weaknesses though.)

In contrast, Sti Lanka is overflowing with naturals. Their batting line up is lead by the eminently talented Sangakarra, currently the number 1 batsmen in test cricket. With him will be Jayawardene, another fine, fine player. The series against Pakistan has also unearthed another natural talent, Angelo Mathews, who scored 191 runs in the test series and bowled a good few overs as well.

I’m not sure where he is injury-wise, but if Muralitharan plays he will of course be the greatest talent on the park. However, the latest bowling wonder in Sri Lanka has been Ajantha Mendis. He’s still finding his feet, but if he is going to break through against any team, it’s likely to be the Black Caps. He gave us a lot of trouble at the World 20-20, the results of which give him a 20-20 bowling average against NZ of 3.

Against this, New Zealand has potential top-20 talent in Taylor and Ryder, McCullum has a gift for the limited-over formats and Vettori carries much of the team’s talent. For the rest of the team though, while there is plenty of ability there in the likes of Guptill and O’Brien just as quick examples, match-winning talent is a bit short at present, if you can see the distinction I am making.

The facts are, Sri Lanka are a better team than us by a long way. If we are going to succeed in this tour, we are going to have to play very well.


Jul 27 2009

Contract battles

Country first, cash second” claim the headlines after the NZ IPL contractees deigned to sign their NZ Cricket contracts. The headlines naturally simplify the issue greatly, but mange to be extremely generous to the players.

The story is that the six Black Caps who are contracted to IPL franchises weren’t keen to sign their NZC contracts until they were assured that their international obligations weren’t going to get in the way of them turning out for their franchises. They were given until last Friday to sign, which they all did in the end.

Let’s name these six:

  • Brendon McCullum
  • Daniel Vettori
  • Ross Taylor
  • Jesse Ryder
  • Kyle Mills
  • Jacob Oram

That all six IPL players who were offered national contracts were holding out on signing, it was clearly a joint decision, probably organised by the Players’ Association.

Before Friday I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. In contract disputes, “employees” generally have only one bargaining chip, withdrawing their services. So you shouldn’t take such threats too seriously. The threats have to be made of course, but they are more a bargaining position than a real likelihood. My feeling was that the delay in signing was just a message to NZC that they should give more concern to the players’  positions.

However, the statements coming from the players since signing have got me very concerned. Reports are that the players’ have got pretty much all they could have hoped for. The test series with Australia has been shortened by a whole test so that the tour will finish by 31 March, allowing the IPL players to be available for half the IPL tournament. That is a massive win for the players and a serious blow to the summer’s cricket. And yet the players continue to threaten to pull away from international cricket in favour of the IPL and talk about the decision to play the Aussie series to be a big decision. We’re also being told that Vettori had to convince some of the others to sign. Could they actually have seriously been considering not signing their NZC contracts? Was it more than just bluster?

And on top of that, we are being asked to applaud these players for their magnanimity, despite them having sabotaged the Aussie series and threatening to sabotage future tours. Well maybe some people will. The best I can say is that I am not as disappointed in them as I might have been.

And please everyone, stop talking about families. I have a family and it doesn’t cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

Jonathan Millmow has had his say in today’s paper, expressing his disappointment and covering a few other issues.

Amongst all the talk of the sacrifices made by the IPL Black Caps and their loyalty and priorities, consider these aspects:

  • We’re missing out on a test against Australia this summer. That’s not solely the fault of these players, but is certainly due to the IPL. That’s a big sacrifice NZ cricket fans are being forced to make – there is a huge difference between a 3-test series and a 2-test series. NZC may also be making a huge sacrifice here, assuming tests still make money. It also means less match fees, which is a sacrifice for the non-IPL-contracted test players.
  • The IPL is for current players or retired players, not for uncommitted players. As I understand it, every player in the IPL needs a non-objection certificate from the player’s home board. So choosing money over country wouldn’t have been that straightforward anyway.

May 28 2009

Take that Lalit!

Ever wanted to throw a tomato at Lalit Modi? Of course you have. I have, many times. A good, juicy, over-ripe one right in the nose for splitting cricket and getting so many good New Zealand players banned. But even this morning I was tensing my tomato-throwing arm when I read that the ICC had to deny his claims that his Champions 20-20 League had been added to the Future Tours Programme. Who does he think he is?

And I wouldn’t be the first – 2379 tomatoes have already been thrown at him. (I should say though that I am also inclined to give him some applause for creating the IPL and for the Herculean feat of ensuring it ran this year.)

This Connect site, where people are throwing tomatoes and bursting into applause, looks like it might contain countless buried treasures. A quick browse shows that Harbhajan Singh and Shanthakumaran Sreesanth are in a duel for tomatoes (with 484 and 472, respectively). However, Saurav Ganguly is in a league of his own with 7165.

It’s hard to think who is most tomato worthy in the New Zealand team. Ross Taylor maybe for not valuing his wicket more highly. Jacob Oram for all his whining recently. Jesse Ryder for trying to piss his career away. Brendon McCullum for being too big for his boots. Worthiness is not of great importance here though; since it is an Indian site, the most important thing is visibility, and with his gold helmet glinting at the beginning of every Kolkata innings, no New Zealand player is more visible than Brendon McCullum. And therefore McCullum leads the other New Zealanders in pretty much every category, with 1262 tomatoes thrown at him, 3618 roses handed to him, 518 pairs of hand ringing out applause and 3 songs dedicated to him. And then there are the comments: “God’s miracle”, “hearthrob”, “he is best”, “hats off”, “fan!”, “you bloody ghorey” (that last by the way is not so complementary).


May 25 2009

Kiwis in the IPL, final stats

Batsman M/I Runs Avg SR Avg×SR
Brendon McCullum 13/13 285 23.75 119.24 2831.95
Kyle Mills 0/0 0 - - -
Jacob Oram 13/8 88 14.66 94.62 1387.1292
Jesse Ryder 5/5 56 11.2 114.28 1279.04
Scott Styris 2/1 14 14 175 2450
Ross Taylor 11/1 280 31.11 134.61 4187.7171
Daniel Vettori 7/4 34 17 106.25 1806.25
Bowler M/I Wkts Avg Econ Avg×Econ
Kyle Mills 0/0 0 - - -
Jacob Oram 11/7 5 26.6 8.58 228.228
Jesse Ryder 5/5 3 38.33 6.76 259.1108
Scott Styris 5/5 5 12.8 8 102.4
Ross Taylor 11/1 0 - 13 -
Daniel Vettori 7/7 7 25.85 7.81 201.8885