Posts tagged ‘new zealand’

Remembering The Past

While much media attention has been given to the tributes being paid by the Australian cricketers to the unfortunate premature passing of their team mate Philip Hughes this year, we should not forget that the New Zealanders had a stalwart of the game close to death for whom they were no doubt playing, former captain Martin Crowe.

The World Cup final was expected to be the last game of cricket Crowe will watch. Crowe had written on ESPN Cricinfo website that he was very close to death due to a terminal blood disease.

“My precarious life ahead may not afford me the luxury of many more games to watch and enjoy,” said Crowe.”This is likely to be it. I can happily live with that.”

Crowe, was a wonderfully gifted and elegant batsman who is the second highest Test run-scorer in New Zealand history with 5,444 runs at an average of 45.36. He captained the Kiwis in the 1992 World Cup. Sir Richard Hadlee once said that Crowe was the only man whose wash bag was bigger than his kitbag!

Crowe had worked with some of the Black Caps players contesting the final, including batsmen Ross Taylor and Martin Guptill. It was the form of these two batting lynchpins that boosted Crowe’s spirits in the final days of his battle with illness.

“To see the two sons I never had, Ross Taylor and Marty Guptill, run out in black, in sync with their close comrades, drawing on all their resolve and resilience, will be mesmerically satisfying,” he told Cricinfo.

It is a shame that sport has to have one winner in contests such as we witnessed on Sunday as both Philip Hughes and Martin Crowe deserved to be remembered by their respective teams. Crowe may still be with us for the time being but those who saw him bat will never forget his elegance. May his legacy live on and his suffering be painless.

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March 31, 2015 at 11:31 am Leave a comment

Refusing to Step Out of the Limelight

What a shame that Australia’s triumph in the Cricket World Cup has been overshadowed by the performance of Shane Warne and his post match interviews, but honestly is it really a surprise to anyone.

As insightful as Shane Warne may be as a commentator when he actually focusses on the game he has struggled to come to terms with the fact that he is no longer a member of the Australian Cricket team. This has been evidenced in his continually throwing parties for the team and attending parties with them. There is nothing worse than a player who cannot accept that his time has come to an end and Warne appears to have struggled with that fact.

Channel Nine has to take some of the blame for the focus moving away from the team and onto one of their commentary team, as they should have briefed him to stick to talking about the game. It is all very well having ex players in the commentary box, but they must possess the skills to do the job. Many of the current ‘ex players club’ sadly do not. Most fans assume that the players will go and have a few drinks after the game, and therefore do not need an interviewer to ask such an obvious question, similarly we do not need to hear questions such as “you must be happy with the win?” Most want to be given an insight as to how the player felt during the game, how the game shifted, key points within the game that led to victory.

Back in February Geoff Lemon of the Guardian wrote a brilliant piece on the decline of Channel Nine’s cricket coverage entitled Just Not Cricket. This was written on the eve of the World Cup, but has been justified by the end result.

Either arrogance has seen Mr Lemon’s comments ignored, or quite simply those with contracts at Channel Nine at the present time could not give a damn what the viewer wants. Luckily there was excellent commentary on the radio, with Kevin Peterson being a revelation.

It comes down to be professionalism and sadly Shane Warne has shown a lack of that by being unable to distance himself from the team. His constantly referring to players by their nicknames is another example of his failure to move on. During the World Cup with an international audience, not just one in Australia many viewers would not have had a clue which player was being discussed when only a nickname was used.

It is a shame that such a solid performance by Australia to win their fifth World Cup has been overshadowed by a man desperate to stay in the limelight.

The Word Cup still in this writer’s opinion dragged on way too long. However the best teams ended up contesting the semi finals. The South Africans showed their class in terms of the way they handled the defeat and showed that there are still gentlemen who play cricket. New Zealand found the big occasion just too much but also played the tournament in a spirit that won them many friends. India’s defence of its title was valiant, but as was evident in many games struggled chasing a total, a total that was larger than it should have been due to their not having a truly world class bowler. Australia were almost Germanic in their consistency. There were signs that this team has a new breed of cricketers who are prepared to take responsibility when those around them fail, and that is ominous for other teams around the world, especially England and the upcoming Ashes series.

 

March 30, 2015 at 9:30 am 1 comment

Memories that Last, Will the Cricket World Cup 2015 Deliver?

They say that age catches up with us all, and watching the Cricket World Cup labour its way through the group stage this writer realises that he yearns for yesteryear.

I am old enough to remember the first Cricket World Cup, although back then it was named The Prudential Cup, that was 40 years ago. I can remember India’s Madan Lal bowling the first ball and England’s Dennis Amiss scoring the first century, 137 runs off of 147 balls, a respectable strike rate even by today’s standards. It was one game that Sunil Gavaskar would have loved to forget in that opening match, he batted the full 60 overs for India for a score of 36 not out!

Maybe it was because I was younger then, but cricket back then was not just about a batsman smashing a ball into row “z.”. One of the most memorable moments was West Indian Roy Fredricks hooking the fearsome Dennis Lillee into the mound stand at Lords for six, something that was almost unheard of then, only to find he had trodden on his wicket.

The players seemed more real back then. They were not all clean shaven or sporting designer stubble. They were more earthy, more gritty more real. They showed emotions, frustration, as well as joy. they also intimidated, boy did they intimidate.

In 1975 the format was simple. There were 8 teams in two groups, the top two teams crossed over and met in the semi finals. The tournament back then lasted 14 days, and 18 matches were played. In 2015 there are 14 teams playing 49 matches and the tournament is lasting 43 days. It is almost impossible to keep people’s interest for such a long period of time. In 1975 teams had 3 days off between games. In 2015, Australia and Sri Lanka have had 7 days off from their first to second game. Why is there such a gap? Even in football 32 teams play at the World Cup yet the whole tournament is finished in a month.

In 1975 there were no restrictions on field placing, and there were no cricket helmets. Thigh pads were in fact a relatively new invention, replacing the folded towel tucked inside the jockstrap. The bowlers in 1975 were genuinely quick and menacing, and knew how to bowl, varying pace, bounce and the angle of attack. Maybe that was why I yearn for yesteryear. Just look at some of the names: Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson, John Snow, Richard Hadlee, Imran Khan, Andy Roberts, Keith Boyce and Bernard Julien, nearly all legends of the game.

There were batsman who could adapt to any form of cricket, not just specialists at smashing the ball when it doesn’t move on a dead track. The likes of Greg and Ian Chappell, Doug Walters, Sunil Gavaskar, Gundappa Viswanath, Glenn Turner, Majid Khan, Javed Miandad, Zaheer Abbas, Duleep Mendis, Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd, Roy Fredricks and Gordon Greenidge.

1975 was pre-Packer and World Series Cricket, and the players wore white, there were no numbers on their backs and no games were played under lights. The reason the World Cup was hosted by England was that daylight saving meant they could get 120 overs in one day. There is no doubt the coloured clothing and floodlights changed the game and that they have brought a bit of pizzaz to one day cricket, but something is missing in the World Cup; the same thing that to be honest has been missing in the last two World Cups.

Is it the calibre of the players? How many of today’s players will we remember in 40 years times as greats of the game? Is it the format, a long drawn out affair that needs to be trimmed back and finished a fortnight earlier? Or is it the lack of a contest between bat an ball? If we look at the games that have piqued the interest in 2015, they have been in the main the games played in New Zealand, where the ball has moved and the bowlers have had a chance of picking up wickets. The games in Australia have followed the modern day trend, teams wins the toss, bats first hits a big total, team batting second fails to reach it. ODI’s in the last ten years have more games with this scenario that the authorities wish to admit.

If the Cricket World Cup is to keep people interested, do away with the power play, do away with the field restrictions, and do away with the limit on the number of overs a bowler can bowl; Why should they be restricted when a batsman does not have to retire at 50? Let’s make this more about cricket, rather than a slogfest. Everyone who watched the New Zealand and Australia game will remember that for a very long time. It was a close affair as it was a game in which the bowlers were able to put the batsman under pressure, and the batsmen in both teams showed they were not up to the task. I hazard a guess that this game will this be remembered by more people than a David Warner 100 of 86 balls. Of course it will. People will remember the game as a whole, rather than just one batsman thumping the ball into the stands ball after ball.

In 1975 I remember those moments mentioned, as well as Gary Gilmour’s 6 for 14 at Headingley to bowl out England for 93, Glenn Turner ending up top run scorer after scoring two centuries in three games. (Believe it or not no New Zealander scored 100 in a World Cup after that until 1992 when Martin Crowe did!). Alvin Kallicharan taking on Dennis Lillee in full flight without a helmet; he hit 35 runs off the last ten balls he faced from Lillee. Lillee and Thomson batting and continuing to run as the crowd invaded the pitch thinking the game was all over. Then of course there was Viv Richards’ three run outs in the final. Special memories.

So far Trent Boult’s five wickets v Australia along with Mitchell Starc’s six wickets in the same match stand out, as well as Tim Southee’s seven against England. AB de Villiers 162 v the West Indies was memorable, as was Chris Gayle’s 215. However in an era where bat dominates ball so often one feels that memories of these two innings will fade with time.

The game has changed and not more so than in the rewards, in 1975 the prize money for the winning team was GBP4,000 and the West Indies players received GBP100 each for the whole tournament! This year the winning team will take home $4.3million!

Prize money GBP4,000

March 4, 2015 at 4:18 pm Leave a comment

Playing The World Cup By Numbers

Cricket is a game that loves statistics, so with the World Cup starting today in Australia and New Zealand we thought we would share some on the tournament.

As most fans will know there will be 49 matches over 44 days between 14 teams played at 14 venues, seven in New Zealand and seven in Australia. It will be interesting to see if after 44 days everyone’s interest is still as high as at the start. The one criticism of this tournament in recent times has been that it has dragged on too long. The target is a billion expected viewers on television around the world, that too will be tested if it does start to drag.

The total prize money up for grabs is $11.5million with the winner taking home $4.3million. There is an additional $4.6million if a team goes through the tournament unbeaten. The losing finalist will go home with $2million. The losing semi finalists will each receive $692,000 while the losing quarter finalists receive $346,000. For winning your group and remember there are only two groups these teams will pick up $52,000 each. The six teams eliminated from the tournament at the group stage will receive $40,000 each. Should just cover the airfares and accommodation!

Looking at some of the history Sachin Tendulkar is the greatest run scorer in World Cup history having played 45 matches he accumulated 2,278 runs at an average of 56.9. Ricky Ponting is second with 1743 in 46 matches at an average of 45.8 and West Indian Brian Lara third with 1225 in 34 matches at an average of 42.2.

The highest individual score record goes to South African Gary Kirsten who scored 188 against the UAE in 1996.

The leading wicket taker in World Cup history is Australia’s Glenn McGrath with 71 wickets in 39 games. Second is Sri Lanka’s Muralitharan with 68 wickets in 40 matches, while Pakistan’s Wasim Akram is third with 55 wickets in 38 matches. It is worth noting that Glenn McGrath is the only player in the top five to have taken a five wicket haul twice.

Adam Gilchrist is the number one wicket-keeper with 52 dismissals in 31 matches 45 caught and seven stumped. Sangakarra is second with 46 dismissals 36 caught and 10 stumped. South African Mark Boucher comes in at four with 31 dismissals all caught, the only one in the top five with no stumpings.

There are some records in One Day International cricket that are unlikely to be broken during the world cup but should be looked out for: Rohit Sharma’s highest ODI score for India v Sri Lanka of 264 in 2014. In that innings he hit a record 33 fours.

South African Herschelle Gibbs hit six sixes of Dan van Bunge’s fourth over during the 2007 World Cup in St Kitts. All of the legitimate deliveries in the over went for six!

Chaminda Vaas took eight wickets for Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe in Colombo in 2001, the only eight wicket haul in ODI’s. HIs figures were 8 overs, 3 maidens 8 wickets for 19 runs.

The highest ODI score by a team is 443 by Sri Lanka against the Netherlands in Amstelveen in 2006. While the record stand in ODI history was between Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar against New Zealand in Hyderabad in 1999 when the put on 331 for the second wicket.

Will any of these records tumble in the next 44 days? It will be a display to remember if they are.

February 14, 2015 at 4:41 pm Leave a comment

Humility a Good Place to Start

It came as no surprise to hear that on the eve of Australia’s second consecutive Asian Cup final appearance some federations within Asia would like to see Australia returned to Oceania.

This site has covered many of the issues that have been building up and gaining more momentum since 2010. If Australia manages to lift the trophy tonight then many will feel that this will strengthen their position to remain a part of Asia. However it may just have the opposite effect, as with victory will come a lucrative trip to the Confederations Cup a year out from the World Cup in Russia.

If that were to happen Australia would not be the first to suffer such a fate. As the host nation Israel won the Asian Cup in 1964 and were then exiled in 1974 before finally joining UEFA in 1991.

Australia’s best hope will be a change at the top of FIFA, and it may well be that Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein may be their best hope to topple Sepp Blatter as President. The trouble is with so many candidates putting their hands up, and Africa pledging allegiance to Blatter once more, all that may happen is the various candidates dilute the votes from the other confederations and see Blatter sail home yet again.

According to Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein “reform is crucial.”  He has also stated “We have to bring the administration of sport into the current time we live in. I want to bring back that confidence.”

He has also stated that “in the coming months I will be looking to sit down and talk to all our member associations and listen to them. I am not coming in to dictate. I have my ideas but I have to hear back from my colleagues.”

There are many who feel that the World Cup finals may well be opened up to all and rather than having qualification places allocated to various confederations a draw will be carried out which will see the possibility of European teams having to play, African, South American or Asian opposition in order to qualify. Qualification will then be based purely on merit and the Finals will witness the truly top 32 teams in the world.

There is a problem with this plan, what to do with Oceania. This is without doubt the weakest confederation within FIFA. There are some who feel that the confederation should be split, with Australia and New Zealand and the more northerly island nations been incorporated into Asia and play a tournament to go into the main draw. The other nations be absorbed into Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football and play under the same conditions.

For Australia to be returned to Oceania would be ruinous for the game, that has made such strong advances in the last ten years within the nation’s psyche. It would also have a knock on effect on the game in New Zealand as currently they are almost always guaranteed a great chance to qualify for a World Cup, but via one play off match. When they qualified for the 2010 finals New Zealand knocked out a team from Asia, Bahrain, and it was perceived that Australia had helped New Zealand knock out one of its Asian counterparts by having the Wellington Phoenix play in the A-League.

There have been many other issues that have irked members of the Asian Confederation and it would be wise for Australia to show a little humility should they win tonight. The same applies to their post analysis of their hosting of the tournament as a whole.

One thing is clear the FFA are going to clean up their act in terms of how Asia perceives them and the way they operate. They will have their work cut out for them in the months up until the FIFA elections in May, and they will have to think very carefully who they align themselves to, as their future will clearly depend on it.

January 31, 2015 at 3:10 pm 1 comment

Stuck in Time

Australian Rugby has been through a pretty torrid time of late, but wins against the Barbarians and Wales will have put a smile on the face of many of those with furrowed brows a month ago.

They say that success can often hide many issues that continue to exist behind the scenes, and frequently that has been proven. Let us hope that there is no papering over the cracks and that any problems are given due attention and solutions found.

Interestingly Rugby in Australia does not appear to have moved on too far in the past 70-odd years as the following quote, which was made by Cyril Towers to the Daily Telegraph in Sydney in 1940, will attest.

“I’m tired of the Union’s petty muddling and stupid administration. They’ve killed my enthusiasm for football. Until we adopt New Zealand methods and put men at the head of affairs who understand football, the game won’t have a chance. Young and promising players are not in the race unless they are in big with the executive. Ability on the field does not mean a thing. It is far more important to go down to headquarters and pat a few people on the back than it is to play brilliant football.”

Towers has been described as “one of the most accomplished exponents of back line play Australia has ever produced, and it is improbable that any centre played with greater guile than Towers at his best.”

As much as people moan about the way things are today, it often pays to look back at history and find out how things changed, if they did. Often you can learn a lot. The one thing the ARU needs to be careful of is that top flight players do not lose their enthusiasm for the game and head overseas for the money, as currently those wearing the green and gold are in the main here for the pride they have in wearing the Australian colours. If that becomes a chore they will soon head overseas.

With the World Cup around the corner the ARU and the game in general cannot afford that.

 

November 12, 2014 at 7:51 am Leave a comment

Heroes and Men of Valour

Today the world reflects on those who served in the War to end all wars, and so we should. Sadly few lessons have been learned and wars still are being fought on the battlefields and in the minds of those who return from such conflicts.

At the time of the First World War Australia’s population was just around four million and a total of 416,809 Australians enlisted in the Australian forces, of which 32,231 were from Western Australia. Australia suffered its highest ever mortality rate, with 61,720 being killed and over 156,000 wounded, many of whom died within 18 months of returning home.

Sport has played a big part in keeping the sports up in war time. There was the famous rugby match played beneath the Pyramids in the Great War, as well as games of football between British and German troops during a ceasefire. In the second World War sporting events were used to keep everyone’s spirits up and war time internationals were held in Britain; caps of which are not on the official record.

According to Australian historians football, or soccer as it was then known, was regularly played by Allied troops at Gallipoli and also amongst Australian troops based at Lemnos in Greece in 1915. In fact Victorian Sports historian Dr Ian Syson has revealed that records show an extensive and co-ordinated soccer programme within the Australian forces – and there was even an Anzac “Ashes” series between Aussie and New Zealand troops. The prize was a silver razor tin case, containing cigar ashes from one of the soldiers who landed at Gallipoli.

There have been many sportsmen who deserve to be remembered for their heroics in the face of war. We thought we would share some with you.

Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse, VC and bar, MC, RAMC. He is a man begging to have a movie made of his life. He is one of only three individuals to be awarded the Victoria Cross and Bar (Two Victoria Crosses). Chavasse was medical officer of the 10th Battalion, the King’s (Liverpool) Regiment and was initially best known as an outstanding athlete at Oxford University, going up to Trinity College with his twin brother, Christopher, in 1904. It was there that Noel studied medicine and was a key member of the Oxford University athletics and lacrosse teams. He represented Great Britain in the 400 metres at the 1908 Olympic Games in London, finishing second in his heat which was not enough for him to qualify for the final.

Lieutenant General Sir Philip Neame, VC, KBE, CB, DSO, Chevalier Legion d’Honneur, Croix de Guerre (France), Croix de Guerre (Belgium). Neame is the only man to win a Victoria Cross and Olympic gold medal. He was a lieutenant in the 15th Field Corps of Royal Engineers. He was an outstanding sportsman at Cheltenham College, and was one of 14 old boys from the school to win the Victoria Cross. His Olympic gold medal came in the 1924 Paris Games in the four-man running deer team competition, when Great Britain won from Norway and Sweden.

From the world of football we have Second Lieutenant Donald Simpson Bell, VC. Donald Bell was the first professional footballer to enlist for the First World War, with the 9th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment, and he is the only professional footballer to be awarded the Victoria Cross. Bell was a gifted all-round sportsman who played for Crystal Palace, Bishop Auckland and Newcastle before turning professional with Bradford Park Avenue in 1912. He died five days after the heroics that won him his Victoria Cross and many felt his efforts on that day warranted a second.

From the Equestrian sporting world came Brigadier General Paul Aloysius Kenna, VC, DSO. Paul was awarded the VC in 1898 after serving in Sudan and was killed at Gallipoli in 1915. He was thought by many at the time to be possibly the finest horseman of his age. In 1893/94 he was the top-rated polo player in the British Army in India. He was also a jockey and rode over 300 National Hunt and Flat winners before turning his attention to show-jumping. He led the Great Britain showjumping team on tour to North America in both 1910 and 1911. He was also selected to lead the Great Britain team at the 1912 Olympics. Unfortunately they arrived in Stockholm late, and performed very poorly. Kenna wrote an angry report to the British Olympic authorities on how British teams should be prepared and trained for future Olympics.

In Rugby League comes Second Lieutenant John ‘Jack’ Harrison, VC, MC. John Harrison was one of the greatest players in the history of Hull Rugby League Club. He first came to the attention of York but soon transferred to his native Hull, where he scored 106 tries in 116 matches, including 52 in the 1913-14 season, a club record that still stands to this day, and is unlikely to ever be beaten.

Rugby Union has contributed four Victoria Cross winners, three Irishmen and one Englishman.

Lieutenant-Commander Arthur Leyland Harrison, VC. Harrison, was a promising England forward who had people talking about a long and fruitful career following his two appearances in the 1914 Five Nations Championship. He played in the back row against Ireland and then moved into the second row against France, when England won 39-13.  He won his Victoria Cross posthumously for his part in the Zeebrugge raid of 1918,

The three Irishmen are remarkably all from the same Rugby club in Dublin, Wanderers, and are to be the subject of a documentary currently under production by Ashley Morrison called “Fight in the Dog.”

Robert Johnston was not only a team mate of Thomas Crean but also a great friend. The two played for Ireland and then toured South Africa together in 1896 with the British and Irish Lions when, like Crean, he decided to stay on. With the Boer War imminent they joined the Imperial Horse (Natal). Johnston was 27 and a captain when he was awarded his Victoria Cross at the Battle of Elandslaagte, Johnston was badly wounded and was nursed back to health by Crean.

Major Thomas Joseph Crean, VC, DSO. He was the Richie McCaw of his generation, although slightly more boisterous off the pitch, where he had a reputation as a hell-raiser. He was a key player in two championship-winning sides for Ireland. He trained as a doctor at the Royal College of Surgeons and received the Royal Humane Society medal for saving a fellow student from drowning in the sea,

Brigadier Frederick Maurice Watson Harvey, VC, MC.  Harvey played for Ireland against Wales in 1907 and France four years later, before emigrating to Canada and embarking on a career in the military.

These are just some of the men from sport who won the highest military honour, there were many other unsung heroes, from the world of sport and from all walks of life.

Today we talk of epic battles on the sporting field, and of heroes coming to the fore, but today of all days we should put those words in context and recall those who really fought in epic battles or any battle, for all are heroes for giving us the freedom to enjoy life and sport the way that we do today.

November 11, 2014 at 12:16 pm 1 comment

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