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.


Mar 9 2011

Messy

Had a go watching last night’s match against Pakistan on live internet stream. It was not a great experience – the video seemed to quite consistently cut out when the ball was mid-pitch. All the ads came through okay though. And one of the attractions of watching coverage from overseas is getting to see inside  foreign cultures through watching their advertisements. I think I was watching some British coverage last night and one ad stood out. It was an ad for Cadbury Creme Eggs and it culminating in an egg rupturing and spraying its gooey filling all over the place in some bukkake frenzy. It’s almost enough to put you off Easter.

I gave up following the game after an hour or so, so it wasn’t until the morning that I discovered the mess that Ross Taylor had made of Pakistan. Taylor hadn’t scored a century for over two years and had become swollen and distended with all the runs backing up inside him. Last night, the pressure had built up too much and he burst and gooed all over Pakistan.

Taken by Trees:


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.


Feb 8 2010

The most dangerous man in cricket

You know to keep your eye on the game at a 20-20 match, right? Not just because of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it nature of the action, but because some thug might be whacking a six RIGHT AT YOUR HEAD!

And be particularly careful when Ross Taylor is playing. He holds the record for 6s in 20-20s, with a massive 115 6s from 63 innings, including 28 from this year’s HRV Cup alone.

The guy’s a hazard!


Jan 15 2010

Gah! Gah!

Wellington score a respectable 161/8 but are still beaten by 68 runs (chasing Auckland’s 229). Gah!

But despite Wellington being on the receiving end, it really is heartening to see a team score over 200 in a match. And good to see Lou Vincent amongst the runs, even if only in his games against Wellington. And Guptill’s 62 off 35 was heartwarming. It would be my hope that Auckland get through to the Champions League so that Vincent and Guptill can be unleashed against the world. (Also want to see Victoria get through, so that Ross Taylor gets a run.)

In championing Auckland in this way, I suppose I have lost hope for Wellington. With 5 games still to play in the Cup, Wellington are going to have to outscore two out of Central, Otago and Auckland by 3 wins and Northern by 1 to make the final. A hard task and possibly numerically impossible. Oh well. Beating Canterbury is as good as making the finals though.


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

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.

Dimmer:


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

May 23 2009

Kiwis in the second half of the IPL

When I first took a look at how the New Zealanders were doing in the IPL, I found that most of them needed to lift their game if they were to make an impact, or their franchises had to give them more of a run.

How much have things changed over the second half of the IPL?

Kyle Mills – Mumbai Indians

Not given a single game for the team who ended up second from the bottom. Probably already left South Africa to join the NZ 20-20 squad.

Scott Styris – Deccan Chargers

Didn’t add to the two games he had played when I last reported. Piggy’s descent into obscurity continues.

Ross Taylor – Royal Challengers Bangalore

Had a slow start to the tournament, but really accelerated in the second half. Ended up second highest run scorer for Bangalore with 236 runs averaging about 30 at 134, particularly helped out by his 81* of 33. Not bad in the end, and possibly winding up for a good knock in the semis.

Jesse Ryder – Royal Challengers Bangalore

Pretty much dropped by Bangalore after a poor first half of the tournament. I think he played one game in the second half, where he scored 22, which actually pushed his average into double figures.

Jacob Oram – Chennai Super Kings

Continued on as he started; hit a few runs when he got a bat and knocked over a couple more wickets in the second half of the tourney. A most middling of middling performances. He sits a bit below half way down in both the batting averages and bowling averages.

Daniel Vettori – Delhi Daredevils

Despite having a tidy first half to the competition, Vettori has only been given two games in the second half. Fairly perhaps as he has taken no more wickets and only picked up a handful of runs. Delhi go into the semis as top qualifier, so they are likely to be happy with their winning lineup, which doesn’t include Vettori.

Brendon McCullum – Kolkata Knight Riders

One of the more abject performers of the first half, in both his batting and his captaining. He managed a couple of wins in the second half, but combined with another 5 losses. His batting improved considerably, including an 84 and a 81*, which gives him two entries in the top 10 high scores for all teams. These scores did enough to push his average and strike rate to 24 and 120 and out of the embarrasing zone.

So, with the semis and final still to be played, it has been a rather quiet tournament for the New Zealanders. Taylor has been the stand out, and he hasn’t even been playing to his usual standard. Really rather quiet.