Pressure on experienced Blackcaps duo

Australia are in the perfect position to snare victory in Brisbane today, but for a New Zealand perspective, a lot of pressure is on the current partnership of captain Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor – two of the most experienced heads in the squad.

A win is possible for the Blackcaps, but unlikely.

A lot will need to go Brendon McCullum’s way, including the weather potentially, but seeing out a day of cricket with seven wickets left in the shed has been done many times before, despite the general feeling that this Blackaps side isn’t up to the task.

It seems that a lot of the Blackcaps chances of holding on for a draw rest on the partnership between Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor.

Sure, Jimmy Neesham and BJ Watling can certainly bat long periods of time, but after them, the resistance in the batting order to an Australian bowling attack featuring the likes of Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson is fairly weak.

Many would say that Australia must take wickets early in the opening session to be confident of victory. This is potentially wrong, both Taylor and McCullum are batsmen who can get set and get out quickly in all forms of the game.

Quite simply, this match will go down to the wire until the last half hour of the day, and if New Zealand has wickets in the shed at that point, they will go a long way to securing the draw.

McCullum shouldn’t go out to the crease today with the mindset of winning, he has to reign himself in and bat time.

‘Pathetic’ Australia bowled out for 60

It wasn’t just a story of ‘all out of 60′ in the fourth test, it was one of the worst batting performances in test cricket history.

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Australia was bowled out for 60 runs last night as Stuart Broad took 8-15 in under ten overs in Nottingham.

The highest run scorer in the innings for Australia finished on just 14 runs.

So much has been made about Michael Clarke’s captaincy in the last week – and surely now the white flag will be flying.

The Australian media has slammed their cricketing side, and one famous cricket has asked the question of if the Australian ‘WAGS’, the partners and girlfriends of the players, are partly to blame for the shocking performances in the tour thus far.

The Ashes is all but lost for Australia, and their side is in a state of shock overnight.

Michael Clarke labelled it as the ‘worst day’ of his cricketing career, and many say it should be his last as captain.

Heroes fall at last hurdle with nation behind them

It wasn’t the result New Zealand was hoping for, but Michael Clarke and his Australian brothers paid the ultimate respect to Phillip Hughes in Melbourne by winning the Cricket World Cup.

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Australia beat the Blackcaps with ease.

It was a CWC final that broke the hearts of New Zealanders.

It was just a different performance than any other in the tournament from the Blackcaps, and it was the performance that the nation was dreading.

The Blackcaps won the toss and chose to bat first.

Mitch Starc’s wicket of Blackcaps captain Brendon McCullum in the first over set the tone for what would go on to be a dominate performance by Australia.

Nothing went right for the batsmen, and when Grant Elliot failed to rescue the innings, New Zealand were doomed to finish on a total that never felt near the desired mark.

Trent Boult again showed his class as arguably the best bowler in the world with an early wicket of Aaron Finch to give New Zealand a small ray of hope.

But lets be honest New Zealand – the Blackcaps were never in the contest.

Sitting in front of the television screens would have been a painful experience for the Blackcaps loyal, but what needs to be taken away from this is just how well our cricketers did to make it to that stage in the first place.

Brendon McCullum said quite famously “this is the time of our lives”.

It wasn’t only the time of his life, but the time of our cricketing lives also, something that has been said a lot in the last week.

This is the possibly the best Blackcaps side you will ever see.

The entertainment and excitement that the two games at Eden Park and Wellington gave to cricket fans is more than enough to warrant what has been not only our best World Cup on the field, but the most exciting for the public.

Winning in Melbourne against Australia was always going to be one hell of a task.

The Blackcaps may not have won this tournament, but they have captured the love and hearts of an entire nation on a level never before seen for cricket in New Zealand.

CWC 15: Big Sri Lankan challenge awaits Australia

Australia is still a side looked at as big CWC contenders despite a tight squeeze in Pool A heading towards the finals.

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The Australian media slammed the performance of the side following their batting collapse and eventual narrow lose to New Zealand last Saturday.

Despite Australia’s bounce back coming against an associate nation, Australia returned to their dominant best yesterday against the U.A.E in Perth.

Posting 417 batting first, Australia never looked anything but certain and thumped the U.A.E by a record 275-runs.

Warner blasted 178, before Glenn Maxwell bashed 88.

Mitchell Johnson took 4 wickets with the ball, pace bowlers Josh Hazlewood and Mitch Starc joined with two wickets each.

Shane Watson has been dropped from the side for the returning power of James Faulkner, though Faulkner failed to deliver in his first match back.

Australia currently sit third in Pool A, and if they beat Sri Lanka on Sunday, will qualify for the quarter finals, where they could play South Africa, and if successful in that bout, a potential rematch with New Zealand back at Eden Park.

Sri Lanka are fresh off a dominant victory over England in Wellington last Sunday.

Sunday’s clash against Sri Lanka will be crucial for the Australian’s to win and win well.

CWC 15: Emotion for the ages

Yesterdays Cricket World Cup bout between Australia and New Zealand was one for the ages.

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A packed out Eden Park was brought to its knees after the Blackcaps almost lost what looked to be an easy victory after Trent Boult ripped through Australia’s batting lineup with figures of 5/27.

Brad Haddin was the top scorer for Australia, ending on 43 as Australia collapsed to be all out for 151.

Wether it was poor batting from both sides or some remarkable bowling, Australia clawed themselves out from the clutches of defeat in an over from hell for the Blackcaps.

Mitchell Starc took two wickets in a row and left the Blackcaps needing a further six for victory with just a wicket to spare.

Starc was unable to break through Trent Boult in two attempts.

The next over, Kane Williamson smashed a six down the ground to win the most emotional match of the Cricket World Cup so far.

The biggest concern for both Australia and New Zealand will be how quickly they collapsed with the bat on such a perfect batting deck.

It was always going to be an historical match, but the  February 28th showdown between Australia and New Zealand at Eden Park will go down as one of the most intense, emotional and shocking matches in CWC history.

The latest update from NZ Cricket is that Brendon McCullum’s arm injury is in the all clear – a positive for Blackcaps fans.

Michael Clarke’s career potentially over

The drama in cricket continued today after Australian captain Michael Clarke revealed his career may be over after yet another injury.

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After returning to the crease to bat on after suffering a back injury, Michael Clarke battled with his body throughout the first test against India, playing with a back injury that was being seduced by painkiller injections.

On the final day of the test match he tore his right hamstring while fielding.

The injury will see Clarke ruled out of the test series against India and potentially the rest of the summer.

But Clarke’s admission that his career may be over during the media conference took a few off guard.

The Australian skipper has been battling his body for a longtime now and has suffered five major notable injuries since March this year.

It is a cruel blow not only to Clarke himself, not only to the team, but also to world cricket because it just feels at the moment like one more comeback from injury and a sudden relapse again would call time on the career of Michael Clarke.

A career that despite all its amazing feats that will go down in history, is still so young.

Clarke still has so much to give to cricket, and it would be a terrific shame if he wasn’t able to come back from this.

Just last month Clarke injured his left hamstring, now he has torn his right hamstring.

But through it all Clarke has maintained that he has no regrets about returning to the field during the first test against India while suffering a back injury.

Clarke called it the most important game of his career.

It is also a game that in the worst case scenario for cricket, could well be Clarke’s last for Australia.

Whatever the next couple of months leading into the Cricket World Cup brings, and hopefully Clarke will be able to play again and be a part of that tournament, there is simply no denying that he is one of the bravest cricketers ever to play the game.

Caution must be taken with Michael Clarke returning in test

Michael Clarke could return to the crease today after taking painkiller injections overnight for his back injury which is said to be a disc issue.

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Clarke left the field yesterday with back spasms and was at a local hospital receiving treatment for much of the afternoon.

Word out of Australia prior to play today is that Michael Clarke has been batting in the nets and is desperate to get back to the crease at some point either this morning or this afternoon.

But to be honest, while the Australian skipper is obviously showing some terrific guts in his bid to get back on the field today, caution needs to be taken with a return to the crease today and the decision must be weighed heavily.

The injuries are becoming more and more frequent which is what is most concerning.

Clarke was originally ruled out of opening test against India but passed a late test to make the side.

It is clear that Clarke’s determination to play is largely in part to the passing of Phil Hughes. Clarke wants to get a century and he wants to get it in this match especially.

With the Cricket World Cup just over 60 days away, what is the risk of Clarke suffering another and potentially more damaging injury between now and then if he forces his body to play on with just a temporary fix?

You’d have to say there is a high chance.

It remains to be seen if Clarke will take the field in Adelaide today, but word out of the Australian camp is that he is desperate.

Cricket! Keep the bouncer in the game

The bouncer is an integral part of cricket, and nothing should change that.

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The cricketing world is in a deep state of mourning, and this afternoon the world will pause for one final farewell to the late Phillip Hughes.

Players from all over the world are expected to be in Macksville, including the entire Australian Test team as well as legends of the game including Brian Lara and Glenn McGrath.

There is simply no denying that the sudden death of Phil Hughes is the most tragic story in the history of cricket.

But through all the sadness, the fundamentals of cricket should not be changed. Talks of banning the short pitched ball commonly referred to as a bouncer are utterly idiotic.

Yes, even with the death of Hughes, talk of banning the bouncer as a result of all this is completely and utterly idiotic.

Getting rid of short pitched bowling would further favor the game of cricket towards the batsmen, and undoubtably the impact of this would result in a game that would slowly over time become less and less exciting.

Stuff columnist Mark Reason wrote a column this morning titled “Phillip Hughes death highlights cricket hypocrisy” discusses this very issue, and is one of the most silly things to be written in the wake of the Hughes tragedy.

In one particular line in Reason’s column, he writes that “the circumstances that led to the tragedy have been fostered by Clarke and others”. This is not only untrue and unfounded, but quite a disgusting comment to make in light of the current heartbreak Clarke and his Australian teammates are going through at the moment.

Excuse me Mr. Reason.

Calling cricket players hypocritical because they are so sad at the moment and your implying that because bowlers in recent games prior to Hughes death bowlers have implemented the bouncer as a tactic to get batsmen out is somehow reason for them to not be allowed to grieve is one of the most disgusting things anyone has written on this situation in the last week.

Sometimes you wonder why the NZ media has the faith to hire such writers.

The battle between Mitchell Johnson and the English batsmen last summer, although brutal, was one of the most exciting and edgy things cricket has seen in a long time.

Let’s not forget it was the Ashes.

For god sake ICC, please don’t change the fundamentals of cricket. Change nothing, the death of Phillip Hughes which honestly was just a freak accident and the game shouldn’t suffer because of it.

Blackcaps break record as tears for Phil Hughes continue to flow

The Blackcaps have broken the record books by scoring their highest ever test total of 690 this evening.

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Much has been made about the death of Phil Hughes, and Blackcaps have shown the ultimate almost careless show of respect to the Australian batsmen by putting on a clinic of attacking cricket rarely seen in the test game.

And the thing is, none of the achievements seen in this test match have been met with a single cheer by any player.

Such is the grief in world cricket at this moment in time.

Blackcaps captain Brendon McCullum along with vice captain Kane Williamson formed a partnership with has given the Blackcaps a tremendous lead over Pakistan, and breaking a record along the way as well.

McCullum scored a double century, ending on 202 and became only the fourth batsmen in world cricket to score three double-test centuries in a calendar year.

Kane Williamson came close to a double century also, but was dismissed just shy of the feat on 192.

The total of 690 is the highest ever scored by New Zealand in an international cricket test.

In a statement to the Hughes family, Brendon McCullum said the focus in the Blackcaps camp throughout this test hasn’t been the performance, instead the thoughts and emotions towards Phil Hughes who tragically lost his life on Thursday.

International Twenty20 Cricket should remain a special rarity

It doesn’t seem like too long ago that Twenty20 Cricket was just a rare party like concept of our summer game.

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This is not the case now.

Back in 2005 when the Blackcaps played Australia at Eden Park in the first ever Twenty20 international, the concept of the game was short, fast, and entertaining.

It was a new idea, and even more importantly, only something that happened once or twice a season, and it was a terrific success.

Now days there are Twenty20 Cricket World Cups, domestic Twenty20 leagues including the IPL and Champions League which take place on a yearly basis, and everywhere you look Twenty20 forms of cricket are becoming much more frequent.

Money is big in T20 cricket, as is corruption.

It could be argued that Twenty20 cricket has opened the door for for some of the minor associate nations as well, giving players in that under developed cricket countries an opportunity to be picked up by big IPL or BBL teams and given the opportunity to perform on the world stage.

There is also much more Twenty20 specific talent being looked for by cricket scouts and selectors the world over.

We sat next to Lance Cairns during the opening weekend of Georgie Pie Super Smash while he was scouting for NZ Cricket.

Twenty20 would have seemed a laughable concept of the game back in his hay day.

In Australia and England in particular, the international side for Twenty20 cricket seems to be its own operating enterprise as you often see specific coaches and specific players who get selected only for the handful of Twenty20 games that Australia play throughout their home summer each season.

The current series against South Africa was a good example of this.

Players that some cricket fans who tuned into Nine’s Wide World Of Sport cricket coverage wouldn’t have ever heard of before.

In Australia’s case in most Twenty20 internationals, only a handful of players who are regular ODI starters feature in the T20 side, and hardly ever does a test cricketer make an appearance these days accept for the recent case of Shane Watson. To kick off this summer, Aaron Finch captained the team, while Wellington Firebirds’ big signing Brad Hodge suddenly left the Georgie Pie Super Smash to become the batting coach for Australia’s Twenty20 unit.

When did you last see Mitchell Johnson play T20 cricket for Australia apart from in a World Cup?

But this exciting but not so much new form of the game has given certain big time players a foot in to international cricket early in their careers. It was only a few years ago that David Warner stormed onto the scene in T20, now days he is a regular test starter for Australia.

Otago Volts regular Ryan ten Doeschate is a good example of a cricketer who applies his trade all over the world and almost exclusively in the T20 form of the game.

Or how about a player like Quinton de Kock, a batsmen who can seemingly perform at both ODI and T20 level with decent results.

To a Martin Guptill, who showed just this past couple of weekends during the Georgie Pie Super Smash that T20 cricket can allow him to break the shackles and play what is clearly his natural game, leading to back to back scores past 50, including an unbeaten 84 against Otago, at a time where negative faithless Blackcaps fans were calling for his dismissal from the international level all together.

In many ways it is a shame that the concept of Twenty20 cricket has changed to a more standard business like form of the game compared to what it was back in 2005 and 2006.

Back then Twenty20 used to feel like cricket’s special event, something to bring a different audience than the traditionalists, and something that sides would do special things for to mark the occasion – the Blackcaps a good example of this when they wore the classic Beige uniforms and then later on some of the classic old school shirts from the early to mid 90’s era to mark these special Twenty20 occasions.

Twenty20 is more constant, and in a little ways not quite as impacting on the younger generation of fans especially that it once was. It is just another form of the game now, and some already believe that cricket needs a little bit of a change up or something big and new to garner more interest.

The latest experiment is the day/night test matches, trailed in the First Class scene in Australia this week.

Twenty20 is here to stay however, and this blog understands that buyers are rumored to be setting their sights on NZ Domestic Cricket associations.

The hope is to turn the domestic T20 game on these shores into an IPL/Big Bash like concept with big money behind it.