Category Archives: New Zealand

The New Most Annoying Cricket Ad

If you watch the Ten Sports highlights of the first Compaq Cup match, you’ll see a new marketing ploy. As a replay of a bastman’s wicket begins, a cookie — or biscuit, as my Anglophone friends say — starts to crumble in the right top corner. It’s timed so that the the graphic completely disappears as the ball reaches the batsman, which almost compels the viewer to watch the ad, rather than the replay it supposedly sponsors.

Then the brand name shows up, you’re cursing yourself for falling for it, and the next deluge of mindless, 15-second ads begin. Sigh.

Ashish Nehra Returns

Nothing much to say about the India-New Zealand ODI, but I’m happy to see that gangly, Delhi boy back in action once more. I still remember his 2003 World Cup exploits, especially that match against a hapless England. Alas, the long recovery from bad form and injuries has done nothing to change his run-up, which isn’t exactly eloquence personified. The elbows move more than the legs.

Daniel Vettori Should Switch To A Different Team

Was just watching the Sri Lanka-New Zealand series (because someone should). My heart feels for Daniel Vettori, who may not be as brilliant as Shane Warne or Muralitharan, but deserves at least a better team to captain than the lot he currently has.

Take a look at the series stats: Vettori took the second highest number of wickets (after Murali and before latest spin sensation Herath), and he scored the fourth most runs (the only Kiwi in the top 5).

In fact, watching him score 140 runs in the 2nd innings put me in mind of his counterpart, Kumar Sangakarra, who valiantly tried to stave off defeat against the Australia in 2007 with a brilliant 192, most of them made with tail-enders. You had the sense that this man was bigger than all of his colleagues put together.

(Interestingly, the Australians won that game with the same margin as the Sri Lankans did in this one.)

At that point, Sri Lanka was at the start of its transition, with a weak batting line-up and a retiring bowling one. Now, they’re the second in the world. The hope is that Vettori, the suffering martyr of New Zealand cricket, will be able to cobble together Taylor, Oram and Guptill into a competitive team at some point, but I’m not holding my breath.

My Favorite Cricket Photo

Kridaya has his most iconic cricket photo up, an image of a long Australian slip cordon against some Kiwi tailenders. I like the picture, but I like this one too: Michael Holding, in full flexible display, kicking some stumps over after a West Indies-New Zealand series marred by horrible umpiring:

Yikes: Samir Chopra Faces Down Mean Comments

My word! Samir Chopra has had a rough week over at Cricinfo’s blog, Different Strokes. He wrote a fairly persuasive case against M.S. Dhoni’s declaration, which was enough to make me a believer. Others, however, weren’t as sanguine and sent a number of nasty comments to Chopra, who responded today. You can judge what he was up against from his points. For instance:

You’re just drawing on the benefits of hindsight. Why didn’t you say this before?

What would you have said if New Zealand would have chased down the 500?

Lastly, have you ever played cricket or captained a team in your life?

Quite testy stuff. Chopra’s larger point, however, remains valid:

More broadly, I would say that it doesn’t really matter what my (or anyone else’s) background is when it comes to writing on cricket or on anything else. What needs evaluation is the argument, not the person making the argument.

Indian Players Return To Mumbai

After over two months of relative obscurity in New Zealand, the Indian cricket team’s players returned to hot and crowded Mumbai, surrounded by security guards, photographers and well-wishers. I wonder if they miss New Zealand already?

Was Brendon McCullum’s Catch Legal?

I’m coming late to this, but My Two Cents argues Brendon McCullum’s catch off Rahul Dravid’s paddle sweep should have been disqualifed. Law 41 states:

7. Movement by fielders
Any significant movement by any fielder after the ball comes into play and before the ball reaches the striker is unfair. In the event of such unfair movement, either umpire shall call and signal Dead ball.

He then links to AGB Cricket, who has a nice letter from someone at the MCC. The letter says two factors need to be considered in these situations: a) How significant is the movement? (After all, wicketkeepers regularly move behind the stumps before a delivered ball reaches the batsman.) b) Is the movement anticipation of a batting stroke? The paddle sweep requires an elaborate set-up and every fielder knows it’s coming. McCullum only moves after Dravid has chosen the stroke, which makes it less shady.

So, yes, the McCullum catch seems perfectly cricket to me, especially when you consider we allow batsmen to move significantly after a bowler has delivered a ball.

More importantly: is this the end of the paddle sweep?

Second Thoughts on Dhoni Declaration

Samir Chopra makes a compelling case against Dhoni’s late declaration in the third Test against New Zealand:

Why did Dhoni need 600 plus runs on the board? To set attacking fields? Why were 500 runs not enough? Because New Zealand had scored 600 runs in the¬†first¬†innings of the last Test? And if he wanted to set attacking fields then why didn’t he set them? I didn’t see fields that were consistently the hyper-aggressive fields that a captain with 600 runs on the board could set…If the idea was to get 600 runs on the board and go on all-out attack, then why was the Indian team’s demeanour in the post-tea session on the fourth day that of giggling schoolboys? […]

Dhoni wanted to save the match first. A win was a bonus. He didn’t get it and it didn’t matter to him. A series win was more important. Fair enough. Those are his objectives. But if he is going to be a truly different Indian Test captain, he will need to snap out of a conservative mind-set that has been characteristic of most that have preceded him. And part of the way to do it is to back yourself and your team to win in lots of different settings.

I had argued that 600 versus 500 would have allowed for a more attacking mindset, but I see now that it also could works the other way. That is, because India knew they couldn’t lose, they may not have pushed hard enough for a victory, and instead became complacent.

Chopra and I disagree somewhat over how much this matters. I think he wants some Austraian ruthlessness, where every match played should be a match won. As I wrote before, I’m ambivalent: while I want India to top the ranking tables, I don’t want them to become Australian in the process either.

Dhoni Rightly Justifies His Declaration

And he uses the same logic that I did in my previous post. That is, had they not scored the extra runs, they would have gone in with a different mindset that may not have allowed for as much attack as they needed. From Cricinfo:

“You can’t really bank on the weather,” Dhoni said. “What we were expecting was a minimum of 110 overs. But we didn’t even get that much. And it is about the mindset as well. When you have that extra 80-odd runs on the board, you can have those extra catching fielders hanging around for a longer duration of time.

“What we wanted to do in the second innings was to attack, attack and attack so that even if one ball goes in the air, you want a fielder to catch it. That’s only possible when you have the extra 70-80 runs. You don’t want to change your plan, whatever position you are in. With two days of play, we knew it may rain, but at that point of time, it was not certain. With the amount of wind that goes around, there was a very good chance that the clouds would have been blown away also.”

Leave Dhoni’s Declaration Alone

I’m so sick of this scenario, which seems to recur more often these days: India lead 1-0 in a Test series and find themselves in an impregnable position in the final Test. The debates over declaration then begin: should India have declared earlier and given themselves more time to bowl New Zealand out? Why isn’t India more attacking, and so on.

Here’s why I think those arguments don’t make sense: if you take the time to bat the other team out, as India did when it put a 600+ target up, the other team reacts accordingly in strategy. New Zealand knew that a draw was the only thing possible, and that’s not an easy attitude to have for almost two days. The pressure was always on.

Now, imagine if India had left it at 500+: that sounds just as impossible, but with 180 overs and a run-rate below 3 an over and a pliant pitch, New Zealand could have mapped out a more attacking approach.

So, that’s my point: it’s always easy at the end of the Test match to second-guess decisions and alter time-lines. But you can’t do that, because New Zealand may have acted differently with an earlier declaration. Just because New Zealand are currently 281/8 now does not mean they would have scored the same in different circumstances.

And come on! India won the series! It’s over!