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.


Dec 24 2009

Bond re-retires

When the news emerged that Shane Bond would miss the 2nd and 3rd tests of the Pakistan series because of injury, he made a comment about considering his future. This seemed a pretty heavy thing to be thinking about when you had just a tiny abdominal tear. It was clear then that he was revisiting all the arguments that lead to his first retirement from test cricket after the South Africa tour of 2007. It seems this year’s injury reminded him why he made that decision in the first place.

There have been two contrasting reactions to Bond’s retirement. Short of a Length nominated Bond for retiree of the year with the following valediction:

Shane Bond: Shane has always been very special. He has a last name that reminds you of all those horrible chemistry classes which dwell on elastomers or something like that. He had the kind of pace and swing a national cricket board would kill for. It takes talent (and bad luck) to end up playing 18 tests over a career spanning eight years, yet to take 87 wickets at an average of 22 and strike rate of 39 in those tests. With all of that on his resume, it should come as no surprise that even in retirement Bond did something different. He retired twice in 2009! First from the ICL (who are themselves a nominee! you might say he’s a reference to the ICL in coding terms. Then again you might not…) and then from Test cricket. That makes Shane so unique that he’s almost a shoo-in to win the award.

Whereas Sportsfreak remarks:

So that’s it then. Farewell Shane Bond from test cricket. Like stardust sprinkled loosely, quite a few nice shiny bits, but no real long-term illumination. It is easier not to miss someone when you are used to missing them.

A true assessment of Shane Bond lies somewhere between the praise of the first and the harsh truth of the second. On the one hand, Shane Bond was an exceptional cricketer, with an almost unbelievable bowling average of 22.09 and a strike rate of 38.7. On the other hand, he missed many, many more tests than he played during the length of his career. But you can’t focus on one of these aspects without acknowledging the other.

With Shane Bond in the team, New Zealand won five tests for every test they lost. You simply have to be astounded by that figure. Not only was he individually outstanding, as per his individual stats, but he lifted the rest of the NZ bowling attack. If this was all you could see of Shane Bond’s record, you would have to have rated him as the best bowler in the world. However, over the length of his career, NZ actually lost more tests then they won; his impact on NZ’s record was greatly affected by his regular non-availability.

So when reflecting on Shane Bond’s retirement, it is not just the incredible talent that Short of a Length celebrates that we will miss, nor we will dwell solely on his perpetual absences, as Sportsfreak does. But rather we will rue what might have been. What we missed because of his absences. What his legacy might have been and where New Zealand cricket might now be if he had played in 3/4 of NZ’s tests during his career rather than 1/4.


Dec 2 2009

I feel like I’ve been kicked in the guts and torn something

I heard that Shane Bond is out of the rest of the Pakistan series by Twitter. I wasn’t expecting to ever read anything worthwhile there, so the news hit me like a shock.

To avoid major disappointment, I have tried quite hard to suppress any feelings of hope for the future of NZ cricket. For example, I have convinced myself that Jesse Ryder’s attitude will end up foreshortening his career. However, I had allowed myself to believe that we’d get to see Shane Bond play through at least this home summer, despite Shane’s terrible injury record. Blinded by optimism I guess.

So after musing very briefly in my previous post that we are too reliant on Shane Bond, we are now going to be hit by the reality of that. Apparently Tuffey and Southee will be coming into the team, which shows the measure of Shane Bond, having to be replaced by two bowlers. The return of these two players to the team is happy news in its own way, but in an effort to quash hope I have to note that I can’t see Daryl Tuffey stretching much beyond his record of an average of 30-odd and SR of 60-odd, nor do I see Tim Southee improving to a level much beyond that of Tuffey or Chris Martin.


Nov 28 2009

A crucial factor

God I love test cricket. Maybe I’m just caught up in the euphoria of the moment, but that feels like one of the special New Zealand wins. Certainly of recent times. Of course, in recent times any test win is special – we haven’t had a decent test win for a year and half.

But seriously, it was a good win. We put 100 runs on Pakistan after the 1st half of the match, then managed to hold on to our lead despite an embarrassing batting collapse in the second half. Mostly though, the match was special for the fight shown in the 4th innings. The guys just kept on trying even though there were several times when it looked like Pakistan were going to get away.

I rode quite a roller coaster today. I wasn’t feeling too confident with a target of only 250. It’s not a bad target to defend, but recent performances had left me lacking in optimism. The two early wickets in the Pakistan innings evened things up though, and from then it was several hours of fluctuating emotions as the game ebbed and flowed.

It looked to me like Umar Akmal and Shoaib Malik were going to steal the match. They got to within 100 and I could easily see them sticking around to the end or near enough to the end. We have seen New Zealand deflate in the 4th innings so often. So Malik’s wicket was important; it brought the game back within reach. However, it was Umar Akmal’s wicket, c&b Shane Bond, that was crucial. Getting rid of Umar before he could build another partnership was the winning of the match.

While that wicket was crucial, it was Bond’s overall performance that gave us the match. 8 wickets at a strike rate of 37. It is fantastic to have him back in the team. We are a different team with Bond leading our attack.

But that is such a troubling thought. That we should be so reliant on one player. We came no where near replacing him in the two years he was away and there are no firm prospects on the horizon.

But enough pessimism. At the moment I just want to glory in the win.

Kenny Rogers & The First Edition:


Sep 2 2009

Bond, back

Welcome back Shane Bond. Now, no pressure, but please save New Zealand cricket.


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.


Jun 28 2009

2009-10 contracts

Here is the list of contract players for 2009-10:

  • Brent Arnel
  • Shane Bond
  • Neil Broom
  • Ian Butler
  • Grant Elliott
  • James Franklin
  • Daniel Flynn
  • Martin Guptill
  • Gareth Hopkins
  • Brendon McCullum
  • Tim McIntosh
  • Chris Martin
  • Kyle Mills
  • Iain O’Brien
  • Jacob Oram
  • Jeetan Patel
  • Jesse Ryder
  • Tim Southee
  • Ross Taylor
  • Daniel Vettori

.
The new names in the list are

  • Brent Arnel
  • Shane Bond
  • Neil  Broom
  • Ian Butler
  • Grant Elliott
  • Martin Guptill
  • Time McIntosh

The big news is Shane Bond’s return. It is great that the hatchet has been buried. I would say it is highly likely Bond will be playing in Sri Lanka, sooner than I had expected. Ian Butler’s return is a real fairystory that is being overshadowed by Bond’s story. The only bolter on the list is Brent Arnel; as far as I can tell the only uncapped signing, though he has been picked for a Black Caps squad before. Arnel has been playing for Northern for about 4 years, I think, and has encouraging figures of 77 wickets at an average of 26 and SR of 57 – comparable to Southee’s figures. Guptill is an obvious signing. McIntosh acceptable. Elliot a bit depressing. And Broom, really one of NZ’s top 20 players?

The players that have lost contracts are

  • Peter Fulton
  • Mark Gillespie
  • Jamie How
  • James Marshall
  • Michael Mason
  • Aaron Redmond
  • Scott Styris

Styris dropped. Wow. I’m not actually surprised that he was dropped. I’m just surprised that he has fallen so far so fast. And it’s not like he hasn’t been trying to keep his career alive. There should be no tears shed over the other drops. It is disappointing we didn’t get more out of Gillespie, but there just wasn’t a place for him in the team.

The list of players who missed out, apart from those contracted last year, is endless of course. But I’ll try to think of a few notable ommissions.

  • Darryl Tuffey. Back in the frame but will have to fight to prove himself. We probably won’t see him considered for the Black Caps until after he’s played some domestic cricket.
  • Nathan McCullum. Given that he is a first choice for the 20-20 team, it’s an oddity that he isn’t getting a contract.
  • Peter McGlashan. Again a victim of being a 20-20 specialist when 20-20 is considered at all in setting contracts. However, he goes straight into the team if Brendon McCullum can’t play or can’t keep.

May 21 2009

ICL shatters, Bond released

The ICL are doing their best to put on a brave face – “This is not a setback” – but the news that 50 ICL players have been granted a release from their contract indicates that the league is in for a radical shake-up. 50 players out of a total of 155, likely including the best talent, won’t even leave enough for a 12-man squad for each of the nine teams. Chances are they’ll collapse in the very near future, but even if they don’t, gone will be any pretense they are an alternative to the IPL.

They could still yet gain official recognition of some sort from the ICC, in which case they could perhaps function as a development/retirement league for players yet to break into the IPL/Ranji Trophy or those coming to the end of their career. But whatever happens, a greater distinction between the ICL and IPL will be great for cricket. Free from the attraction of the ICL, we should then get to see the best cricketers in the world available for internationals and maybe the IPL.

And I am talking of course about Shane Bond, reportedly one of the players to leave the ICL. It was a decision he had to make really. His main claimed reason for why he stuck with the ICL was because he was under contract with them, so when they offered to release him from his contract ealier this year, he would have had to think of another reason to stay stuck with them. And the main reason for staying, the $800,000/year salary, would have become less compelling the longer the ICL was in arrears paying it.

We’d have to say now that it is likely that Shane Bond will be back in the New Zealand team before too long. (Maybe in time for the home series against Pakistan?) Perhaps even back in the test team, despite him having retired from that form of the game. (It would be a weird twist if the ICL had revived Bond’s test career.) The way is clear for him to return, he has softened his stance on not representing New Zealand again and his form appears to be as good as ever.

Now I’m one of the seemingly small minority in New Zealand that thinks that Bond brought his exile on himself. However, I wouldn’t go as far as Richard Boock, who suggests that Bond shoulnd’t be welcomed back into team. I think everyone would be better off if we let bygones be bygones and try to put the unpleasantness of the last year and half behind us.


Apr 30 2009

Will they? Won’t they?

With the BCCI offering amnesty to players in the ICL, the one remaining obstacle to the rebel NZ players returning has been breached. With the Indian board allowing their players to return to the fold, they will also drop their objection to NZ players returning to sanctioned cricket if they leave the ICL.

It’s an interesting move by the BCCI. Some are taking it to be an effort to exploit the ICL’s apparent difficulties. I wonder though if it might be an attempt to head the new APL off at the pass.

It has been a while now since the possibility of the rebel players returning arose, with the ICL offering to release the NZ players from their contracts. We’ve heard nothing since then, and it is reported that none of them have as yet taken up the opportunity to jump ship.

Were they waiting for this amnesty before making their move? Tuffey has certainly expressed his interest in returning and with his excellent recent first-class season he’d have to be confident of getting back into the Black Caps. Bond of course would walk into any team. However, he’s choosing his words carefully. He seems to still have his mind on the ICL. His contract is still worth $800,000 – that’s a lot to walk away from. But surely he can expect at least that much in the IPL.

We’ve got to expect that by the end of next month that both Tuffey and Bond will have handed in their ICL contracts and started warming up for the Black Caps.


Mar 29 2009

Welcoming home the prodigal sons

There have been several hopeful stories of NZ’s ICL rebels possibly being welcomed back to the fold due to a reconciliation between the ICL and BCCI. In all of those stories, the hope turned out to be despairing. There would be no reconciliation between the two.

The only credible end to the impasse with the BCCI refusing to recognise the ICL was for the ICL to fold. With the ICL’s cancelling of its March “World Series”, the collapse of the ICL seems to be on the cards. Another strong indication that the ICL is at least shrivelling up is the report that an offer has been made to the New Zealand members of the league that they can be released from their contracts if they choose.

If this report is true, it is a very interesting development. While it might be optimistic to think that gaining release from their contracts would automatically remove the rebel stigma from them (Hamish Marshall has left the ICL but is still treated like a pariah), it is still a necessary step in their rehabilitation.

The NZ players in the ICL are Shane Bond, Darryl Tuffey, Nathan Astle, Craig McMillan, Chris Harris, Andre Adams and Lou Vincent. Astle, McMillan and Harris are all effectively retired or beyond selection. They would have no good reason to ditch their contracts. The other four however are interesting cases. Adams and Vincent would remain potential selections for New Zealand (considerably more so with Bracewell moving on), though they would have to fight hard for places in the squad. Shane Bond is a bit of a mystery. Almost everyone involved in cricket in New Zealand would want to see him back playing for New Zealand. However, he has stated many times that he would not come back even if the opportunity arose. It might also invalidate a lot of the content of his tell-all autobiography. Of course, he hasn’t absolutely ruled it out, to my knowledge, and he could always add a happy-ending final few chapters of leading the Black Caps bowling at the 2011 World Cup and some IPL glory.

If anyone is going to make best use of this opportunity it is Darryl Tuffey. While he is by no means NZ’s best bowler, our heavy artillery is so depleted, he would be welcomed back enthusiastically.