Category: New Zealand (page 1 of 18)

Total Bits and Pieces Cricket: Is England’s current approach the future or simply the best way for them to do things at the minute?

England in Sri Lanka (via Sky Sports)

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“Our bowling is an area of concern”

Katherine Brunt leathers a six (via BBC)

So said South Africa captain Dane van Niekerk after her team had conceded a world record 216-1 in a T20 against New Zealand and then a few hours later conceded 250-3 against England.

“An area of concern” is a great way of putting it. “An absolute liability” is just that little bit too straightforward, while “absolute dog toss” isn’t a very diplomatic way of rating the performance of your team-mates.

“We spoke between games about what we wanted to do, but did the complete opposite,” she added.

She didn’t say why.


England need a short-pitched specialist like Neil Wagner

Neil Wagner (via Sky Sports video)

Asking someone to bowl with the old ball is not the same as picking someone who has built their career around bowling with the old ball.

Asking someone to bowl short is not the same as picking someone who has built their entire career around bowling short.

Being tall does not guarantee bounce.

These are the kinds of things we’ve written about somewhat more coherently for Wisden.com.


The fourth innings ‘ball hundred’

New Zealand v England, April 2018 (via Sky Sports)

Runs are not always the objective for a batsman. If a team finds itself behind in a game such that a win becomes almost impossible, the objective generally becomes survival. Similarly, if you’re one-nil up in a series and it’s the final Test, a draw means a series win.

In these scenarios, the meaningful unit of measurement is not ‘runs’ but ‘balls faced’ – hence the concept of the ‘ball hundred’. Facing 100 deliveries when your team is trying to bat out the final day is a significant contribution.

Top scorers are irrelevant. It’s all about the top facers.


Is Stuart Broad back and is that necessarily a wholly good thing for England?

Stuart Broad appeals (via Sky Sports)

The future’s here. The future’s even more of Stuart Broad bowling with the new ball. You might think that sounds suspiciously like the past and you’d be right. Sometimes things don’t change all that much.

Actually one thing’s changed. Whether it’s enthusiasm, rhythm, a minor technical tweak or a combination of all three, Broad appears to have recovered some effectiveness.

Between his mostly insipid Ashes performances and now, Broad renounced video analysis and started training on feel and this wilfully primitive approach appears to have proven beneficial. He has regained some pace and just took a bunch of cheap wickets against New Zealand.

Is this resurgence a good thing?

Yes, obviously it’s a good thing

England have had precisely one wicket-taking bowler for most of the last year – James Anderson. Broad’s resurgence means they now have two. This means there’s a good chance they’ll lose Tests by much narrower margins when the batting utterly collapses. Losing by much narrower margins is a very legitimate and reasonable goal for England away from home at the minute and one we fully support.

There’s also the fact that Stuart Broad is an immensely enjoyable cricketer. Many people hate him, including a surprisingly large number of England supporters, but that isn’t the same as not enjoying his presence. Whether you feel affection or not, who doesn’t feel a twinge of some emotion or other whenever he appeals? And who would honestly claim that he isn’t the most watchable batsman in world cricket?

What’s less clear is what this apparent rejuvenation means long-term.

Mark Wood is not Neil Wagner

Wagner has carved out his very own niche as an attritional short-pitched fast-medium bowler. It really shouldn’t be a thing, but somehow it’s been working for him – not least because it is a role he has committed to in a manner that would put Daniel Day Lewis to shame.

You need someone to bowl 10 overs on the bounce at the batsman’s armpit? Neil Wagner will give you 12. Neil Wagner is no dilettante. Neil Wagner is going to pummel that armpit to Hades if the batsman doesn’t get bat, gloves or arm consistently in the way.

Wagner gives New Zealand a unique avenue to explore. He is one egg in a very different basket. This load-spreading egg transportation policy is one that England are currently looking to mimic.

Unfortunately, Mark Wood is not Neil Wagner. This is not at all how Mark Wood bowls. While he does have a bouncer, it is not his stock ball and yet the Wagner approach is largely how he has ended up bowling for England upon his return to the side.

Because who else will?

No-one, that’s who

Sometimes this is the price you pay for being the quickest bowler. Remember when Broad was England’s “enforcer” and how woefully ineffective he was when he had the job?

Wood can, in theory, be sawn, sanded and reshaped, but you do end up with a very different thing after doing all of that, even if it’s’ still made out of the same raw material. That’s all well and good, but what Mark Wood started out as – a fast bowler aware of the existence of the stumps – is a very fine and desirable thing indeed.

Without Full-Pitched Broad, Wood might perhaps get to bowl how he normally would. Without New Ball Broad, maybe Chris Woakes would have taken a few more wickets this winter.

What you are describing is really just displacement – you can’t blame Stuart Broad for England’s main bowling problem, which is their inability to find a half-decent way to get something out of the Kookaburra ball once the shine’s worn off

Yeah, okay, the exact approach of one of England’s only two effective bowlers and when he gets to bowl are pretty low on the list of England’s concerns at the minute.

However, the very top of that list runs something like this.

  1. Find a middle order batsman
  2. Find a top order batsman
  3. Find any sort of Test cricketer whatsoever because seriously it’s been absolutely bloody ages since anyone new secured a place long-term

Point three is where Broad has an impact because new ball bowlers and quick-bowlers-who-pitch-it-up are two things England really should be able to find even when they’re otherwise shit at cricket. The fact that Broad and Anderson have rendered both of those  ‘things the team absolutely does not in the least bit need’ for the last however-many-years means that an obvious route into the side has closed.

Seriously, England need to find someone – anyone – soon

Moeen Ali was dropped for this Test. While that doesn’t negate all of his many wonderful performances, it does mean that all of the stalwarts in the team started playing international cricket a really, really long time ago.

It’s the very nature of stalwartcy (not a word) that such a player is of course likely to have been around a fair while, but at some point teams have to find new players who are going to be solid, regular picks and there is no sign that this is happening. Not one sign. Not anywhere in the team. (Even Dawid Malan’s apparent solidity pretty much hinges on other people being slightly worse. He’s currently averaging 29.85 in Test cricket.)

When we wrote on this subject in January, we pointed out that Moeen was the man to have most recently become a mainstay. Moeen made his debut in 2014. Hopefully he gets back into the side, because his batting is slightly magical. His absence also means that the player whose name has most recently made the move from pencil to pen is Ben Stokes who debuted in 2013.

Churn

We used to work for a company where we eventually stopped attempting to learn new colleagues’ names because they would quite often not last a week because the company was rubbish and dying.

Stuart Broad’s resurgence is great and fun and pleasing, but you do feel that England could find a replacement new ball bowler more easily than they could find a middle-order batsman and it would be nice to have at least one newish player in the team whose name might be worth committing to memory.


When was the worst moment to tune in on the day England were 58 all out?

Ben Stokes (via Sky Sports video)

England were 58 all out today and New Zealand didn’t even have to stoop to a bowling change. Being as play largely took place during the UK night, England supporters will have first seen the score at all sorts of different points, depending on bedtime, alarm time and bladder size.

When was the worst moment to start following events?

0-0 in England’s innings

There’s a case for saying that those who were there from the beginning got it worst. We disagree. Even though it occurred at hellish pace, seeing a collapse unfold gives more time to come to terms with what’s happening. There’s greatly reduced shock value.

18-3

This probably gets our vote. At 18-3, the score is already bad enough to provide an unhelpfllu sleep-denying burst of adrenaline in the middle of the night. You would then have seen the score become 18-4 and then 18-5 and then 18-6.

Six wickets is a lot of wickets, while 18 runs is very few runs. 18 is the score at which the situation officially moved from ‘gravely troubling’ to ‘hugely disastrous’.

58 all out

A horrifying score, but yet you’ve missed the light relief of Craig Overton’s forlorn late sally and now have to endure the protracted drip-drip erosion of hope via Kane Williamson’s bat. This is not a good moment at which to tune in.

123-3 in New Zealand’s innings (England 58 all out)

We just felt like we should include a mid-New Zealand innings option. This seemed the best/worst. At 123-3 and England 58 all out, the situation is already full-on dogshit and there will be precisely nothing else to cheer for the whole of the rest of the night/day.

175-3 in New Zealand’s innings (England 58 all out)

The full and complete horror, all in one go.


Six very important things to watch out for as New Zealand take on England in Big Man Cricket

Stuart Broad (via Channel 5)

Hat-tip to Marlon Samuels for coining Big Man Cricket, a term that really does sum up the might and majesty of the longest format rather well.

1. The Great Neil Wagner

First and foremost, make sure you watch The Great Neil Wagner, whether on live coverage or via the tiny five-minute highlights packages that get put out after each day’s play. England don’t play New Zealand very often – and even then not for very long – so this will be one of the few opportunities you will get to see him – and let us tell you that The Great Neil Wagner is full-on fascinating in every conceivable way.

2. England’s opening bowlers

There are whispers that Stuart Broad might not come on for the second over and may instead appear for the seventh. This is of earth-shattering significance because ‘opening bowler’ is a key part of a cricketer’s identity. The corollary of such a move would be that someone else would of course have to bowl the second over. Who would that be? It seems a bit high profile for Chris Woakes, even though it would definitely be Chris Woakes.

3. Will Mark Wood play?

Odds are that he won’t, but if Ben Stokes’ minor key back-knack keeps him from bowling then either Wood or Craig Overton may get a game. Hopefully Wood gets in because as we keep saying, he may never get another chance.

4. Stuart Broad’s general competence as a bowler

Stuart Broad reckons that walking around Trent Bridge indoor school listening to music has made him a good bowler again. We may be deliberately omitting some of the crucial aspects of this practice time, but the crucial question remains whether it was well-spent or not. For what it’s worth, he genuinely sounds like he might be quite enthusiastic about cricket, which would seem to us to be a good thing.

5. James Vince, if he plays

We’ve actually reached a point now where we secretly want England to keep picking Vince and for him to keep edging to slip when seemingly well-set. Obviously it isn’t that fiercely-held a secret because we literally just wrote it down in the expectation that other people would read it.

6. Tim and Trent

New Zealand’s opening bowlers know what they’re doing. What they will mostly be doing is almost exactly the opposite of what The Great Neil Wagner will be doing.


You’ll never dismiss Jonny Bairst- oh…

Jonny Bairstow had made 104 runs off 59 balls when this happened.

Jonny Bairstow (via Sky Sports)

Two things to note.

One, the bail is illuminated. Two, the position of Bairstow’s back foot.

Pondering the former with reference to the latter, you might like to consider the path his bat took.

Still, the job was done by this point. Bairstow had helped England secure a breathtakingly impressive 3-2 series triumph and so averted a woeful 3-2 series catastrophe.

Recalibrate your forecasts. England should now attain overconfidence at some point this summer, meaning the traditional World Cup self-immolation will most likely occur at some point the following winter rather than during the tournament itself.

Having missed this final match, Ross Taylor took his own private series 2-1.


A second Kane Williamson would have been handy

Kane Williamson (via Sky Sports)

“This game is not over until you get Kane Williamson out,” said Nasser Hussain when the New Zealand captain reached his fifty.

Entirely untrue. England never did get him out, but still won.

Kane Williamson scored getting on for a quarter of the runs in the match. No-one else passed 50.

Kane Williamson was Lord Megachief of Gold once.


England are back to loving 50-over cricket again

Stokes and Buttler (via Sky Sports)

In the wake of their victory in the second one-day international against New Zealand, England have forgotten about Test cricket again and are back talking about the 50-over World Cup.

Having officially changed policy after the first match, they’ve now officially changed back again.

Ben Stokes or someone may or may not have said: “Really, for the foreseeable future, it’s all about 50-over cricket for us, building up to that 2019 World Cup on home soil.

“There’s a lot of international cricket, and so we have to prioritise. Today we prioritised 50-over cricket and I can see us doing that quite consistently going forwards as individuals, as a unit, as a group and as a team.”


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