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.
Here’s the squad most of whom played in a team good enough to beat Australia:
- Ross Taylor (c) – 20th ranked batsmen
- Trent Boult – 3/26 in bowling Aus out for 136
- Doug Bracewell – already fulfilling his big destiny in first season
- Dean Brownlie – scores a 50 in every test (admittedly, only 3 so far)
- Martin Guptill – ranked within the top 50 (Don’t think that is impressive? Check out the Zimbabwean squad)
- Brendon McCullum – hitting and missing as an opener
- Chris Martin – 210 test wickets (the Zimbabwean squad has 145 between them)
- Tim Southee – slowly approaching higher mediocrity
- Kruger van Wyk (wk) – not quite good enough for SA, good enough for us?
- Daniel Vettori – fricken’ awesome
- BJ Watling – battling for a gap in the team rather than on his own merits
- Sam Wells – who knows?
- Kane Williamson – not exactly setting the world alight at this level so far
And the team that came close to beating New Zealand:
- Brendan Taylor (c) – Wellington’s only Twenty20 centurion (I think)
- Regis Chakabva – 1 test to his name, against us
- Elton Chigumbura – 1449 Facebook likes
- Graeme Cremer – a rhino!
- Kyle Jarvis – a quick with an SR of <50
- Hamilton Masakadza – holder of 2/5ths of the squad’s centuries, i.e. 2
- Shingi Masakadza – test virgin
- Stuart Matsikenyeri – opener of thoroughly modest ability
- Tino Mawoyo – 66th ranked batsman, second only to Brendan Taylor
- Keegan Meth – test virgin and a struggler in ODIs
- Forster Mutizwa – test virgin, not too shabby in ODIs
- Ray Price – 63rd ranked bowler, second only to Kyle Jarvis in the squad with Mpofu injured
- Tatenda Taibu – a genuine keeper/batsman, and a relative veteran with 27 tests
- Prosper Utseya – 1 test, nearly 8 years ago
- Brian Vitori – 88th ranked bowler after 2 tests, but 56th after 1
- Malcolm Waller – hit the winning runs against us at Bulawayo
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.