Monday, 31 August 2009

You Think We Are Crook: How Bad Are New Zealand?

In these times of despair when the national team has lost the Ashes and all and sundry associated care more about keeping knifes from their backs than accepting responsibility - except maybe the coach, who rather cunningly put his hand up, blamed himself and endeared himself to everyone from Ponting upwards and in so doing, kept his income stream steady ... where was I?

Oh yes, in these times of despair, it is the Australian way to find someone else who is doing even worse and heap derision on them, as a means of feeling better about ourselves. All the better if they live across the ditch, all have girlfriends call Baaarbaraaaa and keep beating us at a favoured winter equivalent to cricket. No, its not the game they play in heaven, its the game they play in the off season.

Our sheep shagging brothers across the Tasman have just lost 0-2 from two against those lovely fellas from Sri Lanka who, a long time ago were most famous for tea and Kamahl but by this stage of their cricketing history has passed beyond such lofty achievements and have produced the crankiest and possibly fattest captain in Test history - although The Big Ship Armstrong might present a fair wrestle over a meat pie with Fattytunga - through to giving the cricketing world the most unusual, controversial and successful bowler of all time. Times have changed. In the early sixties, they legislated to get rid of bowlers called Charles but today, with political sensitivities the way they are and with all the money and power residing on the sub continent, we legislate to include them!

Actually, to say New Zealand lost is a gross exaggeration. In truth, they were flogged. Sri Lanka scored 400 plus in both their first innings and New Zealand only managed one total in four innings beyond 300 and then, only when their skipper Dan Vettori scored a heroic 140 batting up the order at 8. In fact, so bad are New Zealand, that Vettori is now considered an all rounder, although not apparently by himself, because he usually bats at 9. The century was no fluke, as Dan the Man scored 272 at 68.0 for the series and was also their top wicket taker with 10 wickets at 32.5.

Do I not rate the Kiwi skipper? Far from it. He's a fine cricketer but his status among NZ's best is what worries me. Admittedly the Sri Lankan series victory lifts them No 2 Test playing nation and yes, they have the remarkable Murali sending them down, all mystery and china plate eye balls and yes, the Sri Lankan batting line up on slower wickets is thick with stroke makers ... it's just that, how does a bowler of reasonable talent who bats with application but little else, became such a dominant force in the NZ side.

Vettori is at best a handy late order bat who plays straight. How can he bat four times in a losing side, mostly at 9, record those numbers without the benefit of not outs? The next best Kiwi batsmen averaged 39 (Taylor) and 31 (Ryder)? Likewise, Chris Martin 5 @ 43, Iain O'Brien 6 @ 53 and Jateel Patel 7 at 55 were all a long way behind their skipper in the bowling numbers.

If I were the Kiwi sellectors, apart from worrying how that ram is looking at my girlfriend, I'd be making sure security is taking good care of one Daniel Vettori. He should be travelling on a separate plane - preferrably QANTAS - because if New Zealand cricket ever has a Man United moment, they could afford to lose the other ten. Don't have Vettori with the rest of the mob (although they are unlikely to use that particular collective noun for fear of untimely arousal).

At least this quandary about how much worse the rest of the Kiwi cricket team are than their skipper and how much better our fallen Aussie side is than them, gives me something else to ponder about the land of the Long White Cloud. For the time being, at least, I can set aside other matters ... such as, how can a two hour flight create such differences between us, here in Dorothy's Land Of Oz and a group of people who can't conquer normal things like vowels and animal husbandry without making themselves sound queer?

(Click the title if you want to link to Cricketragics and other cricket stuff)


  1. Apart from talking about Australian cricket, the nation I speak most about is New Zealand, then Sri Lanka, then West Indies, then…….

    A very good Kiwi friend of mine who will remain Toneless explained it very well when we discussed the absence of a sporting budget in the country. It was clearly explained how much a cricket academy would cost NZ and what we have in Aus is more than the entire sporting monies in NZ. Therefore rugby always has and always will take the majority of focus in every sense.

    Irrespective, it still boggles the mind how NZ are just so crap at test cricket. We’ve seen in Aus that Guptil, Ryder, Taylor, Vettori, McCullum can hold their own. I don’t rate Martin and Obrien though and Oram looks like he may be past it. How much do they need Shane Bond! But still, how, after all these years, have they remained the whipping boys of test cricket! Bangladesh and Kenya have despairing absolute poverty to contend with so you can forgive them for not taking the steps forward that some expect. Zimbabwe have Mugabe – enough said. West Indies are a conglomerate of nations with contractual problems and a bunch of whingeing 20/20 advocates who have no respect for fellas that paved the way for West Indies cricket (from Frank Worrell through Garner/Holding etc and finishing with Sir Viv – Lara may have been a superstar but he doesn’t sound like a true leader from what I’ve heard).

    The saddest thing is I don’t think there’s much room for hope for poor old NZ. You know how so many people go on and on about how good a captain Fleming was? How many test series wins did they achieve under him? Do they accept mediocrity as standard and anything above is a bonus?

  2. One of the men I respected most in this life was a proud Kiwi who never missed a chance to stir Aussies. He played his cricket at a good enough level to have been a team mate of TGP (The Great Paddles) and was still an off spinner of note when we played with the same club in Armidale in the 1980's: he captaining firsts and my insufficient technique sufficient to score occasional runs in 3rds.

    He hated rugby and all it stood for in NZ - privilege, private schools, wealth and power. From the working classes, league was his game and of course cricket. I asked
    him once about rugby and he told me that "rugby was for the 15 New Zealanders who couldn't play cricket."

    He often sang a similiar tune about the lack of money put into in all others sports except rugby in NZ.

    The poor bugger lost a long tussle with cancer last year. Where ever he is, mind you, as a lecturer of english, a proud Kiwi and a stirrer to boot, I hope read the post!

  3. I for one cant blame the Aetearoans for being proud of the one thing that they are good at (OK there is more than one thing but they probably don't want criminal charges).
    And comparing Union to League is like comparing an interesting game full of guile and skill (if a little 1 dimensional) to a massive pile of guano.
    As for their cricket....well, as long as they have to wear white, wooly jumpers during test matches, you can't blame them for being a little distracted.
    It's probably just as Wal your mate remains toneless, Lefty.

  4. stop being a social butterfly sledgey while i'm flogging myself over an edit suite looking at you rapping!

    ps. going well!

  5. Must be hard reducing 9 and a half minutes of GOLD down to a 30 sec. slot!

  6. a sad reflection of NZ's value of anything other than rugby in the sporting arena.

    while i think we (Aus) need to re-evaluate our cricketing training/academy, at least something is in place; the fact NZ have a big 0 will play out indeffinatly on the field.

    i wonder if some sought of joint venture could be established for development between the 2 countries: imagine in the spin campus having Warne and big Dan taking classes of left and right handers respectively! oooooaaaaarrrggggh wrist spin!

  7. I hope not. Keep them over there in the shaky isles. Warnie speaks badly enough now ... can you imagine what NZ vowels would do to him?

  8. LOL!
    hadn't taken that into account when i was drooling at the prospect of all of that wrist action!