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

Australia Destroyed At Eden Park… Again

Australia will be seething after pulling the Blackcaps back to a par total at Eden Park, only for the run chase to be over within the space of ten overs.

At 6/41, no side in world cricket could have brought it back after New Zealand dominated the opening hour of the run chase with sublime bowling.

Chasing 208 to win, key batsmen for Australia failed to fire, including captain Steve Smith who chopped the ball onto his stumps.

David Warner will rue his decision to listen to batting partner George Bailey and not refer his LBW decision when replays showed the ball was clearly going over the stumps.

Warner’s wicket was the turning point of the match.

Proven match-winners George Bailey and Glenn Maxwell also failed to fire with the bat, all being dismissed cheaply.

Trent Boult and Matt Henry shared three wickets a piece for New Zealand.

A record partnership for Australia against New Zealand between Matthew Wade and James Faulkner wasn’t enough to claw Australia back into the game.

Earlier in the day Martin Guptill was unlucky not to reach another ODI century after being run out for 90.

Young batsman Henry Nicholls went past 50 in another impressive performance.

Some calm bowling on a ground with short boundaries saw Australia slow the run rate when New Zealand were looking at posting a score of 400.

McClenaghan rips through Sri Lankan lineup as Blackcaps win

The Blackcaps have taken a 1-0 lead over Sri Lanka thanks large in part to Mitchell McClenaghan and Corey Anderson.

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After Sri Lanka surprised many by electing to bat first, Blackcaps bowlers performed well and restricted the dangerous Sri Lankan batting lineup to a pedestrian total of 218.

Mahela Jayawardene was the only real stand out batsmen for Sri Lanka.

Jayawardene showed his batting class once again with a superb score of 104 as the former Sri Lankan captain played many roles during his innings. Jayawardene was not only aggressive when needed, but he also took to some risky platform shots which sent the ball over behind the slip cordon and was also at times a big anchor to the innings as wickets were falling around him.

Adam Milne picked up 2 wickets while Mitchell McClenaghan put in one of his best performances as a bowler for the Blackcaps in ODI cricket, taking 4 wickets including a triple-wicket maiden over.

The run chase got off to a fiery start as Brendon McCullum smashed 51 off just 22 balls on his return to the top of the order.

With an RRPO of just 4 per over, McCullum’s quick run scoring came in handy later on in the innings as wickets quickly began to fall after his dismissal.

With the Blackcaps in a little trouble following a quick succession of wickets, Corey Anderson played arguably his most mature innings yet for the Blackcaps, scoring 81 and batting together with Nathan McCullum to bring the Blackcaps home to victory.

There are two main points of concern for the Blackcaps from this run chase.

Martin Guptill was dismissed on just his third delivery after playing so well for the Auckland Aces recently, and also Grant Elliott only managed a single run before being bowled as he tried to cut a ball that was too close to his body, he too coming off recent success in domestic cricket.

Not a brilliant performance with the bat undoubtably, and if Sri Lanka had have gotten perhaps 50 more runs this match could well have been a different story.

But the Blackcaps bowlers stood up today and as competition for spots in the bowling lineup in particular heats up, Mitchell McClenaghan will go to sleep tonight knowing he could have just staked his claim for preferential bowling choice in the World Cup.

JD Ryder: A personal viewpoint on a favourite cricketer

It had occurred to me before now, but the fact remains that I’ve written a lot about Jesse Ryder during my five or so years as a writer.

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Favourite Blackcap? Check. Favourite cricketer? Check. Favourite sportsman? Check. Favourite sports story? Check.

They are probably the reasons why much of the cricket related content here on THE REAL MICHAEL PULMAN has revolved around Jesse Ryder.

On the face of it, Ryder seems to be a man that is troubled, but also a man that the media love to hate. On the evidence of the past few years, Ryder is a man who was superb on the field but not too amazing off it.

I always liked Jesse because of what he did to me as a viewer when I would watch him bat, he was just something a little more exciting than anyone else in the game to me, and through all the incidents off the field I always found it easy to stick by him and continue to be a fan.

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You could be forgiven if you asked me why I was a fan of what is clearly a troubled individual in the NZ Cricket community.

Simply put, I like how no matter what seems to happen off the field, Ryder always seems to come back into the conversation.

His form has just improved and improved.

Secondly, I just haven’t seen a batsmen in all my years of watching cricket who can hit the ball as far and as clean as Ryder does. He waits and waits at the crease, and then hacks at the ball. It is almost lazy, and scary too because there never seems to be much thought or effort in any of the strokes you see Jesse play, and yet nine times out of ten the ball will be hit long enough to clear any boundary in world cricket.

Especially since the Christchurch incident and the comeback to cricket from that, it seemed that on the field Ryder was in the form of his life.

To me, there is absolutely zero question that the Jesse Ryder you see with the bat at the moment is a Jesse Ryder who has never been better, form wise anyway.

When the Christchurch incident happened, my first reaction was shock, and like so many people in New Zealand, I naturally assumed that we wouldn’t see Ryder take to the crease ever again. Then what? About a year later, here he is walking out on Boxing Day at Eden Park to open the batting for the Blackcaps alongside another personal favourite of mine, Martin Guptill.

The pairing of Guptill and Ryder was my most preferential that the Blackcaps have had in recent seasons.

As this is a personal take on Ryder, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I was very, very upset and more than a little disappointed in Jesse back in February of this year when he was dropped from the Blackcaps side yet again.

What quickly saddened me was the situation, because here I was (as a fan) seeing Jesse bat for the Blackcaps once again and suddenly it was all taken away.

And in all honesty, we saw what we saw in the video but what did you really see?

Is it not ok for Ryder, a human being and grown man, to go out on the town and have a few drinks with some mates?

You have to keep in mind that we live in an age where nearly everybody has a smartphone with a camera, and anybody can snap a photo or a video and upload it to social media within seconds.

I think Jesse is just a type of person who doesn’t see himself as any different.

But he also probably realized that with his potential inclusion in the Cricket World Cup, more attention would have been placed upon him and this could be one reasons in the many for his decision to withdraw from the New Zealand A tour.

I said at the beginning of this piece that much of the cricket related content on this site has been around Jesse.

So where to now? I don’t know really.

I want to say that by some miracle cricket fans will see Jesse play in the Cricket World Cup, but it seemed unlikely a week ago, now it seems near on a forgotten wish.

I feel that it is a shame, I think it is disappointing for New Zealand Cricket and the CWC tournament, and I believe that if the Blackcaps don’t ever play Jesse again, they will be doing both themselves and cricket fans in this country a tremendous disservice. I rate Jesse, as a cricketer, one of the best to ever play the game.

But I don’t know the reasons for any of this, and in all honesty I don’t feel it is my business to know.

The media don’t know Jesse, the fans don’t know Jesse, and I don’t think even all the Blackcaps players know Jesse. I don’t know Jesse personally, bar a few conversations on social media, but if the vibes I’ve gotten from others who do know him are anything to go by, I believe that Ryder (while not being perfect) just doesn’t see himself as anything special, and someone who potentially deeply hates the media attention placed upon him.

I got a comment on Facebook the other day on a piece I wrote about Jesse and it said “good things happen to good people, and there is nothing good about him”.

Based on what? The things you hear in the media?

Sure Jesse hasn’t helped the situation over the course of his international career, I understand that completely but again, I don’t know Jesse too much personally, all I know is what I see on TV.

Jesse knows Jesse, and if I would submit anything to you it would be that if nothing else, Jesse loves playing cricket.

Despite all the talk around right now, if we never see Jesse play for the Blackcaps again I would hope that one day when he is sitting at his home he looks back on the good things he did while on the field, including playing test cricket for New Zealand and achieving the very pinnacle of what you can do as a cricketer.

The very best of luck with everything Jesse.

Mike Pulman

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.

Proteas bring best of the best to Bay Oval as Blackcaps summer begins

World Cup preparations continue for the Blackcaps as they begin their 2014/2015 campaign officially tomorrow in the opening match of the ANZ Series against South Africa.

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The lineup that the Proteas have brought over isn’t to be scoffed about either.

All the big names have touched down in New Zealand including Dale Steyn, Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Vernon Philander, and of course their captain AB de Villiers.

Steyn and de Villiers are absolute world class cricketers, arguably the world’s best batsmen and bowler is in this side alone.

Whichever way you look at it, the Proteas are sporting a terrifically strong side in this series.

News out of the Blackcaps camp this morning was that Jimmy Neesham will open the batting for the Blackcaps with Martin Guptill. Daniel Vettori also makes his return to international cricket, finally, and TIm Southee will sit out the first ODI as Mike Hesson looks to rest his star bowler.

In what promises to be an interesting series, it is imperative that the Blackcaps just find their feet in this series.

If results don’t go the way of the Blackcaps, it will be an un ideal way to start the summer.

But there is simply just so much cricket ahead for all these players that a 2-1 series loss wouldn’t be the end of the world either. The NZ Public will jump on the bandwagon if a series victory were to occur, but even with such an exciting series to begin the summer, wins or losses won’t impact upon the World Cup chances for or against at this point in time.

Daniel Vettori’s performance should be the thing people watch, and his return to international cricket after all this time should see a pretty decent tune in tomorrow.