Saturday, July 28, 2012

New Zealand versus West Indies – by the book

The current test series in the Caribbean involves the two sides at the heart of my cricketing love – New Zealand and the West Indies. One is a patriotic, almost familial, love for the countrymen of my home land, the other an unconditional but passionate affair for the men assembled from a collection of tiny Caribbean islands who instilled in me a love of our great game from an early age.

The 2012 edition is the 14th series between two sides as different as a withering recluse and a gregarious extrovert – it’s not hard to guess who sits where. Numbers and statistics never tell the full story – they often hide the human element that is so pivotal in sporting endeavours. What follows involves both numbers and stories – statistics and situations that provide some insight into 60 years of enthralling history.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

When the Calypso Kings ruled Babylon

The fast and the furious (courtesy of ESPNcricnfo)
More than 30 years ago, New Zealand and the West Indies did battle at the end of a long Southern summer. The 1979/80 home test series was full of talking points, though many of them had little to do with the quality of the cricket played in the middle. As the two sides again prepare to do battle in the Caribbean it’s apt to look back at a series that proved a significant milestone for both countries.

It may seem unusual that I have chosen to reflect on such an ill-fated series, but the conduct on the field is only a small part of the significance of that series. It was more about what those three tests started than what happened on the field of play. For the Windies it was their last series defeat in 15 years – the beginning of the Fire in Babylon era. While there was no Spark in Wellington to follow for the Kiwis, their first test series victory in New Zealand would see them embark on a 12 year unbeaten series run at home.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ryder set for domestic return

I'm going to come back stronger than ever and make an impact for Wellington. This is the first step in the next stage of my career and I'm going hard out - whatever happens in the future will happen. I want to play for New Zealand again, but I'm taking one step at a time.
           Jesse Ryder, Sunday Star Times (8 July, 2012)

Courtesy of FairFax NZ
I have tried in earnest to make this blog about cricket - what happens in the middle, not that which occurs outside my viewing or listening realm. Whilst I haven't always been successful, for the most part I have tried to remove personalities out of discussions - what relevance is the view of one looking inside out, without context? Should the personality of a cricketer, and what they do in their private lives, matter? No. It may provide a weak background to a cricketing story but for mine anyway, the two are separate issues, provided one does not impact on the other. Scribes and bloggers only seem interested when personal (read: off-field) issues affect the cricketer, and his cricket, and only when in an adverse way - it makes more compelling copy for the masses, I guess.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Florida's T20 post-mortem

For all the questions raised about cricket in the home of the brave I was pleasantly surprised by the two-match T20 series in Florida to kick off New Zealand’s West Indies tour. It may not have the history of the Kensington Oval or the dancing masses of Sabina Park but Florida’s Broward County ground didn’t look out of place as an international venue – if only the cricket had matched the surroundings.

The United States’ only ICC sanctioned international ground has undergone a cricketing transformation from the tentative baby steps it took when New Zealand first toured in 2010. Whilst it lacked the pace and bounce of the best limited overs wickets so do many in both New Zealand and the Caribbean. It had enough of both, and minimal sideways movement, to allow players to swing through the line with confidence – Smith, Bravo and Pollard went at it from ball one. The indifferent efforts of a sub-par New Zealand line-up shouldn’t be seen as a reflection on the wicket, more of the lack of preparation and absence of mental toughness that international cricket requires.