Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Test preparation 101 - the KSW way

KSW raises his bat - more please...

After a short autumn break New Zealand are due to head to the Caribbean, and Florida, to do battle with the West Indies. While a struggling Windies side tours England, their Kiwi counterparts are spread far and wide – preparing on their own before a short pre-tour training camp. They will emerge from a glut of IPL T20 cricket on the sub-continent, the gyms and the indoor nets at home and the daily grind of County Cricket.  Along with Martin Guptill, emerging talent Kane Williamson has chosen the latter – an expectant cricketing public waits with baited breath.

Kane Stuart Williamson is the most promising youngster to emerge in New Zealand cricketing circles since a Harry Potteresque Daniel Vettori made his test debut 15 years ago, as a naïve 18 year old.  The 21 year old Northern Districts batsman has the potential to be a true great of our game – a prodigy long earmarked to reach the top of the cricketing mountain.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

New Zealand's Wisden Cricketers of the Year – who’s next?

Kane Williamson and Doug Bracewell - Wisden Cricketers of the Year in waiting?

For a country similar in size to Sydney, Australia (or the counties of Kent, Essex and Hampshire), New Zealand has produced some exceptional cricketing talent who have left an indelible mark on our great game. A dozen of them have received the game’s ultimate accolade, being named one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year.

Friday, May 25, 2012

New Zealand's Wisden Cricketers of the Year - winning is a habit

A Crowe cover-drive: poetry
Since the end of the 1979/80 summer and a series victory against the West Indies at home, New Zealand has continued to record any number of firsts. They went 12 years unbeaten at home in a test series following what was a spiteful series marred by some of the worst acts seen on a cricketing field. The actions of Windies legends Colin Croft, Michael Holding and future ICC Match Referee Clive Lloyd sully my memories of the start of an era of West Indian dominance. How severe would Lloyd have been in his official capacity on players who shoulder charged an umpire, kicked stumps out of the ground when a decision didn’t go their way, or kept their charges in the changing rooms as a protest for 12 minutes after play was due to resume?

Monday, May 14, 2012

New Zealand's Wisden Cricketers of the Year – Sir Richard Hadlee

Sir Richard in familiar pose
I had intended for this piece to cover New Zealand’s four ‘modern’ inductees to Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year but the more I read about Sir Richard Hadlee, and the more personal memories I recalled, I thought it was apt that Paddles was shown the reverence he deserves and exalted to a spot on his own. Why? Yes, he was a fantastic cricketer – there is little sensible argument that can sway pundits away from the premise he was, and will likely always be, New Zealand’s finest cricketer.

But the true confirmation of his greatness? He is the only New Zealand sportsman to regularly, and almost singlehandedly, move the gaze of a sporting nation away from the All Blacks, and as with the performances of the most dominant rugby force on the planet he was able to change the mood of our tiny island nation. At a time when Fox, Fitzpatrick, Buck and Kirwan were at their prime Sir Richard usurped them all as New Zealand’s most recognisable sporting star.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New Zealand's Wisden Cricketers of the Year - the firsts continue

Glenn Turner on the attack at Worcestershire
Part 2/3:

From the mid-1950s through the 1970s those honoured with the opportunity to wear New Zealand’s iconic black cap, emblazoned with the silver fern, continued the progress of the trailblazers of the New Zealand game. It was a period of peaks and troughs – more ups than downs when context is applied. There were undoubted struggles but looking back through rose-tinted glasses it was an era of international development nonetheless. At times, such as on the 1971-2 Windies tour New Zealand played largely for the draw because of relative strength of their batting when compared to often sparse bowling stocks, but that was preferable to series defeats suffered at the hands of England both home and away in 1962-3 and 1965 respectively.

New Zealand was the lowest ranked test nation throughout though there was no Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe or Bangladesh to supplement results. Yet over a quarter of a century they managed to win tests, and a series for the first time. The Kiwis had their first truly professional cricketer in the mercurial Glenn Turner, who regardless of his struggles with the game’s administration at home did wonders to lift New Zealand’s profile on the world stage, most notably in England. Whilst some of the results weren’t as strong as we were to see through the 1980s when New Zealand had, what is arguably, its most competitive side in a period when test cricket  was at a peak, this group of cricketers continued to build a base that enabled Hadlee, Crowe, Cairns et al. to flourish in the decades that followed.