Improved Blackcaps Put Lacklustre England To Task

Dropped catches and early wickets will haunt England as they reflect on defeat to a much-improved Blackcaps opposition in Wellington. 

The series is now drawn heading to Nelson’s third T20 international, and for the first time in this reasonably new series, the inexperience of the English showed itself on a beautiful Sunday afternoon with perfect conditions for cricket.

But the experience that actually was in the sheds let England down, exampled by James Vince who dropped several easy catches in the field. Just where Vince’s poise, control, and level-headedness had gone to after his stellar showing in Christchurch was anyone’s guess.

New Zealand, meanwhile, were back to something near where they envisioned being after their heavy defeat two days ago. It wasn’t easy and defending 176 presented more than a few storms to navigate, not the least of which a blazing 36 from paceman Chris Jordan to keep the result uncertain late in the chase.

Jordan’s departure saw victory ensured, credit to Mitch Santner who bowled well again to finish with figures of 3/25.

Earlier in the day, the platform for victory had been set by a noticeably more aggressive New Zealand batting performance led by Martin Guptill and finished off by James Neesham. Respectively, the two added 83 runs to New Zealand’s kitty which were crucial in the outcome of the match.

Plus, it added the batting confidence that you sense Guptill in particular needed. Continue reading Improved Blackcaps Put Lacklustre England To Task

James Vince Guides England To Easy Win To Start NZ Tour

A maiden T20 half-century for James Vince has helped England to any easy opening win on tour to New Zealand, chasing down the hosts middling total with ease.

Bowling first in the sun and playing three debutants didn’t appear to impose much concern for England, but it was the classy orthodox batting of Vince that ensured a comfortable win chasing a total of 155.

Outclassing every other batsman with ease, Vince notched his maiden T20 half-century and never looked back. Hitting seven fours and two sixes in his 59, the offside dominant innings featured a strike rate that far outclassed any other, and by the time he was dismissed, the English were in the position to close out.

Thanks all to Vince and a well-executed bowling plan earlier in the day to restrict a usually powerful New Zealand batting arsenal. Continue reading James Vince Guides England To Easy Win To Start NZ Tour

Jeet Raval: The Find That New Zealand Were So Desperate For 

Jeet Raval has firmly established himself as the ideal partner to Tom Latham at the top of the New Zealand batting order in Test cricket.

If only the Blackcaps opener could’ve stuck around for another 16-runs. That’s exactly what Jeet Raval will be saying to himself at the tea break this afternoon. Dismissed for 84, Raval had played the near-perfect innings, and was on track to bring up his maiden Test century, and fell short again.

But regardless, Raval is the find that New Zealand have been searching for at the top of the order and is the ideal choice to partner Tom Latham.

Jeet Raval: The Find That New Zealand Were So Desperate For 

For many seasons prior, New Zealand struggled to find an opening pair that could be effective in Test cricket. Tom Latham, clearly seen as an opening specialist in the longer form, needed a partner that could spend several hours at the crease.

Jeet Raval was, and still is, that man. He was a diamond in the rough that had to wait his turn, and waited he did.

A fellow left-hander, Raval has averaged a tick under 50 since making his Test debut last summer. Teams that the 29-year old has batted against at the International level include South Africa and Pakistan; two of the better bowling attacks in World Cricket.  On debut, Raval scored 55 and 36, before achieving his highest score of 88 later in his first International summer. In First-Class cricket, Raval has a highest score of 256 and has converted half-centuries into tons nearly 50% of the time.

The point being, Raval was always going to rack up the runs for New Zealand, and his still young International career is proving it.

Raval Goes For 84 Prior To Tea Break

In today’s performance, Raval was aggressive towards the balls that deserved it, and cautious under a barrage of high balls that the West Indian bowlers sent his way. All poise at the crease, Raval played like a batsman that really didn’t want to lose his wicket.

Raval has said in recent media reports that he wants his batting average to improve, and despite his obvious desire to dig in for a day of batting at the crease, Raval also took calculated risks, even when the ball may not have been right in his wheelhouse. One example being when he attempted to cut the ball and very nearly found the slip fielder, only to attempt the shot again on the very next ball to hit it perfectly.

The choice in shots wasn’t always fantastic, but the vision was sign of a batsman in form and seeing the ball well. If only that could’ve continued.

New Zealand are 173/3 at the tea break.

Guptill Not Disappointed Over IPL Snub

Martin Guptill wasn’t the only surprise to come out of the IPL Auction in 2016, he and other big names have all missed the cut.

Despite a double-century in ODI cricket and a century in T20 cricket, Guptill wasn’t brought by any franchise for this seasons Indian Premier League.

A low reserve of just $111,000 and a sublime last 12-months with the bat wasn’t enough to buy Guptill a ticket to his first IPL, and it makes Guptill the highest T20 run scorer to not have picked up a contract.

The Blackcaps have said they are baffled by Guptill’s omission but insist that he will forget about it quickly.

Guptill didn’t find out his IPL fate until after the Blackcaps loss to Australia in Wellington last night, but team members have said that Guptill showed no signs of disappointment.

Colin Munro was brought for $67,000 by Kolkata and Tim Southee went for $556,000 to Mumbai, double his original reserve.

Guptill’s test selection thoroughly deserved

Martin Guptill’s return to test cricket will, and should be watched with great interest during the upcoming English tour.

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Guptill has been absent from the test arena for the past couple of seasons.

The Blackcaps selectors have experimented with Hamish Rutherford, Peter Fulton, and Tom Latham as the top of the order.

All of those batsmen performed well, but Blackcaps coach Mike Hesson says that Guptill can cover a “variety” of batting positions in the test matches.

In his test career, Guptill has two centuries with a highest score of 189 and an average just under 30.

Being the leading run scorer in the Cricket World Cup was always going to begin conversations on Guptill’s return to test cricket, and the Blackcaps selectors haven’t waited on making a decision that some of Guptill’s critics would call a gamble.

While Guptill is clearly a much better batsman in ODI cricket, his career is still young in the test arena and this is an opportunity that the Blackcaps opener has never been in a better position to take advantage of.

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: Blackcaps on the verge of history

The Blackcaps will take to the field tomorrow with an entire nation behind them as they fight, once again, to win a Cricket World Cup semi final.

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It was in Auckland back in 1992 that New Zealand batted first and set a modest total against Pakistan, only to see their effort come to nothing as the visitors chased the runs down to advance to Melbourne, and eventually win the tournament that year.

Semi finals are something of a sore spot for the Blackcaps from an historical perspective, and if the pressure becomes too much, history will repeat itself very quickly.

South Africa is a side full of dangerous players in every position.

Led at the top by two superb opening batsmen in the form of Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla, the strength with the bat goes through arguably the world crickets toughest middle order with AB de Villiers and JP Duminy, and the explosive talent of David Miller as well.

Miller is a batsmen who if allowed to settle could smash 100 runs in a handful of over’s on a ground as tiny as Eden Park.

On the bowling front is one of the games best pace bowlers, Dale Steyn,

Steyn’s brilliance is backed up by spin bowler Imran Tahir, one of the leading wicket takers in the world cup so far.

It isn’t as if the Blackcaps haven’t performed well against teams with some seriously good cricketers either.

Australia, Sri Lanka, and England for that matter were no mugs and players like David Warner, Kumar Sangakarra, and Eoin Morgan don’t usually miss fire to often.

This Blackcaps unit hasn’t fluked their way to a semi final at this world cup – they have got there through some brilliant cricket especially with the ball.

The news of Adam Milne’s tournament-ending injury is a big blow for the Blackcaps in terms of a pace standpoint, a factor that could well have undone the likes of AB de Villiers early on.

Wether it is Mitchell McClenaghan or Matt Henry, the replacement for Milne goes into Eden Park with the ability to be just as potent with the white ball.

Runs will come easily at such a small ground with such powerful batsmen on both sides, but as the game against Australia proved for the Blackcaps, with strong bowling even the most powerful of batting line ups can be torn apart in good batting conditions.

How will Daniel Vettori go in what will likely be his last home game for his country?

Brendon McCullum as captain has been brilliant in the last month, but he needs to play an extremely mature role with the bat in this match, regardless of if the Blackcaps bat first or are chasing.

Martin Guptill averages 11 against South Africa, but traditionally performs well at Eden Park.

Based on form, Blackcaps should win and win well.

South Africa have been the talk of the tournament both prior to its beginning and during, but they have stumbled their way to the playoffs before easily taking care of Sri Lanka in the quarters.

But with such an explosive batting and bowling line up with amazing consistency, South Africa in the minds of many are still favourites in this semi final, despite the level of expectation that a packed Eden Park will give to the Blackcaps.

History is meant to be re written, and for both sides tomorrow is opportunity to do so.

But this is the time for the Blackcaps, it has to be now.

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.

CWC 15: Southee brilliance as England implode in Wellington

The Blackcaps have pulled off one of the most dominant performances in CWC history after annihilating England this afternoon in Wellington.

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In a total collapse, England were rolled for just 123 after Tim Southee took career best figures of 7/33.

Not only career best figures, but Southee’s effort with the ball broke another record – the best figures for a New Zealand bowler in ODI cricket.

Middle order Joe Root was the only batsmen to really put up a fight with a score of 46 while the rest of the team proceeded to fall around him.

England captain Eoin Morgan managed to hang around at the crease for a while before getting dismissed for 17 off the bowling of Daniel Vettori.

In the run chase, Brendon McCullum bashed the fastest international half century for a Blackcaps batsmen in ODI cricket.

McCullum smashed eight 4’s and seven 6’s in his knock of 77 which featured a strike rate of over 300 to get New Zealand comfortably on track for victory as the evening break approached.

After McCullum’s dismissal, the crowd boo’d loudly as the umpires signalled the evening break despite the Blackcaps needing just 11 runs for victory.

When play resumed, Martin Guptill was dismissed on 22 as Chris Woakes snuck the ball through to the stumps.

The Blackcaps cruised to an easy 8 wicket victory and are arguably the form team so far at CWC.