Jul 7 2009

Tourists

The squads for the tour of Sri Lanka have been announced.

First up is the test squad:

  • Daniel Vettori (captain)
  • Craig Cumming
  • Grant Elliott
  • Daniel Flynn
  • Martin Guptill
  • Chris Martin
  • Brendon McCullum
  • Tim McIntosh
  • Iain O’Brien
  • Jacob Oram
  • Jeetan Patel
  • Jesse Ryder
  • Ross Taylor
  • Daryl Tuffey
  • Reece Young

I’ve marked three names in this list in red, the non-contracted players. I find it surprising that just a week after indicating their favourite players in the contracts list, the selectors change their minds and offer up a slightly different list. In this respect, Tuffey is an interesting choice, as he wins selection above the contracted players Kyle Mills, Tim Southee, James Franklin, Ian Butler and Brent Arnel. Reece Young also displaces the otherwise preferred back-up wicket keeper Gareth Hopkins, as well as Peter McGlashan (though McGlashan hasn’t yet figured in the test equation). In contrast, Craig Cumming only knocks one contracted batsman out, Neil Broom, who hasn’t been considered for test cricket anyway. Which poses the question as to whether the contracts list is weighted too much in favour of bowlers.

I don’t disagree with the selections too much however. I would have like to see Franklin in for Elliot. I would of course liked to have seen Shane Bond in the test squad, but it was definitely sensible to hold him back for this leg of the tour. I would also rate Tuffey above Mills and Southee, on current form. I don’t think I personally would have given Cumming a second look. However, I must admit to being pleased he has been given the chance to erase the memory of what must be one of the worst cameos earlier this year when he was called into the one-day squad to play one match, in which he scored 0 and dropped a catch, but also thereby missing the State Shield final, which his team Otago lost in his absence.

The ODI/20-20 squad brings in the following:

  • Shane Bond
  • Neil Broom
  • Ian Butler
  • Gareth Hopkins (ODIs only)/Peter McGlashan (Twenty20s only)
  • Nathan McCullum
  • Kyle Mills

With the following being dropped:

  • Craig Cumming
  • Daniel Flynn
  • Chris Martin
  • Tim McIntosh
  • Iain O’Brien
  • Daryl Tuffey
  • Reece Young

So big differences between the test and limited over squads, with about half the squad changing.

One of the reasons such changes can be made is because NZ A is playing across the Palk Straight in Chennai, assuming it is confirmed. The NZ A squad includes most of the guys added for the limited over leg:

  • Peter Fulton (captain)
  • Brent Arnel
  • Shane Bond
  • Neil Broom
  • Brendon Diamanti
  • Gareth Hopkins
  • Jamie How
  • Peter McGlashan
  • Nathan McCullum
  • Kyle Mills
  • Tarun Nethula
  • Aaron Redmond
  • Tim Southee
  • BJ Watling
  • Kane Williamson

In some ways this is actually a more interesting squad than the test squad. There are a couple of players there who I would like to stay in touch of the test squad, Peter Fulton and Jamie How, who I think are better than they have been. As well as the future of NZ cricket, Brent Arnel, Bradley-John Watling and Kane Williamson, or so we are to believe. And other exciting additions, Tarun Nethula and Shane Bond actually back playing for New Zealand.


Mar 8 2009

The world’s worst batsman

I was disappointed to learn last week that Chris Martin (avg. 2.17, high score 12) is not the worst ever test batsman, the honour for which goes to Pommie Mbangwa (avg. 2, high score 8).

However, NZ really cleans up in the list of worst ever specialist test batsmen. NZ owns the list. Of 41 specialist batsmen with averages under 25, there are 11 NZers, including the batsmen rated the worst, Lawrie Miller (avg. 13.84, high score 47).

There are several names in the list from the 50s and 60s, when NZ cricket was completely out if its depth internationally. However, there are several more recent names, including test incumbent Jamie How.

They are all heroes and we salute their efforts. Also, if you look a bit deeper, there are stories that sit alongside the stats that change the context of their “achievements” somewhat. For example, Lawrie Miller had his best match (aggregate of 72) in the NZ’s first ever test victory. Similarly John Parker featured in our first win over Australia. Trevor Franklin, while not achieving much himself, was half of one of the best opening pairings we’ve had; his partnerships with John Wright averaged 55. It’s interesting to note actaully how many of the players are specialist openers, starkly demonstrating the problems we’ve had in that position. A couple of the players also have reputations as bowlers (perhaps because their batting reputations are so poor), such as John Morrison. I also note Bruce Murray bowled only one over in his career, but gave away no runs and took a wicket, perhaps making him one of the best ever test bowlers.


Dec 9 2008

Selections – the bats

The newspapers are all over the selections for the West Indies series. Rather than rephrase the debate in my own words, I thought I would look at the selections separately, starting with the batsmen.

Jamie How

Looking at How’s record, he must be charmed. He averages less then 25, but has outlasted a slew of other openers: Redmond most recently, but Bell before him, as well as Cumming, Papps and Hamish Marshall, most of whom have not done much worse than How. He did show some real class in the two series against England earlier this year, with 428 runs in 12 innings, and the legacy of that should keep his place in the team secure for at least the rest of the season. Also, with a career now amounting to 30 innings, he is our most experienced batsman (excluding McCullum) – a senior member of the team, believe it or not. With no one else really challenging for the spot, How’s experience and proven ability are valuable.

Tim McIntosh

The dark horse in the selection as he is the only debutant. In first-class cricket he has the ability to score really big. Already this season he has scored a 191 for Auckland, and last year he scored a 268, with a 205 the year before that. The problem he has is that aside from these big innings, he doesn’t get a hell of a lot of runs. In each season, about half his runs come from these big single hauls. To my mind, we want the opposite in the Black Caps; we want an opener who doesn’t necessarily get big scores, but always gets a start. McIntosh is due for a trial though – the next opener through the revolving door – and he is one of my players to watch for the series.

Daniel Flynn

Has little in the way of results to show (still working towards his first test 50), but has impressed with his technique and approach to the game. Worth persevering with then. The talk is that he will be promoted to 3, which I have already suggested would be a good move. Flynn might not do much better at 3, but the test will be whether Ryder does better at 5.

Ross Taylor

Shouldered with the responsibility of being our chief batsman since Flem’s retirement, and has responded well. We know he’s got more in him and we know we’ll see it as he gains experience.

Jesse Ryder

The wunderkind has had a distinctly average start to his test career. However, as long as he keeps his head, there is no reason he should ever be out of the team.

Brendon McCullum

The gloss seems to have come off McCullum recently. He was a superstar earlier this year due to this one-day exploits and his IPL paypacket, with commentators gushing about him being the new Gilchrist. In tests he doesn’t nearly live up to that hype – however, he still is one of our best batsmen. I think he is best at 7, where he gets the chance to graft a bit with the all-rounders, but also pick up bonus runs with the tail-enders against tiring bowlers.