Annual trans-Tasman cricket series in jeopardy

GEOFF LONGLEY
Last updated 05:00 17/06/2011

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OPINION: The Chappell-Hadlee Trophy one-day cricket series between New Zealand and Australia is in danger of falling into one of Canterbury's earthquake silt pits and sinking without trace.

The series, which had become established as an annual fixture after being launched in 2004-05 and produced some memorable matches, will not be played this summer for the first time since its inception six seasons ago.

A scaling down of the significance of the series appeared to occur when it was reduced to just one match last season. The game was played in India at the World Cup when Australia accounted for New Zealand in pool play.

Australia has just announced their fixture list for next season and while there is room for two tests against the Black Caps pre-Christmas, there is no scope for three one-dayers to follow, which really only takes a week. Yet the Baggy Greens will have an extensive diet of one-day cricket this summer having reinstated the tri-series concept hosting India and Sri Lanka. That raises the spectre of why the tri-series was canned in the first place in 2007-08 when interest was waning in the one-day merry-go-round of matches, four of them at least not involving the host country.

Much has been made in recent years of the overkill of the 50-over game, the number of meaningless matches played and the impact that the arrival of T20 has had on the limited-over game with many fearing for its future. Yet with the New Zealand v Australia rivalry, here was a short, sharp series with drama aplenty on both sides of the Tasman.

Many of the matches have been memorable encounters. Who can forget Mathew Sinclair's searing one-handed boundary-riding catch in Melbourne in the opening game in 2004. Then there was Chris Harris, playing his 250th match, batting No11 with a badly damaged arm trying to steer New Zealand through to an unlikely win in the next game.

In New Zealand the series has produced some of the Black Caps finest moments, notably a stunning run chase at Christchurch in 2005-06 when New Zealand mowed down Australia's 331 for seven at the time the highest successful run chase in history.

The following season just before the World Cup in 2007 New Zealand kickstarted their campaign with an historic 3-0 drubbing of the Aussies including:

A 10-wicket win in the first match – the first time Australia had been beaten by that margin in 646 matches.

Australia then posted 336 a record at Eden Park which the Black Caps then gunned down.

In the final match at Hamilton Australia made 346 with Matthew Hayden hitting 181 but still the Black Caps triumphed against the odds.

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So while Australia does battle with India and Sri Lanka across the Tasman, New Zealand will be grappling with minnow Zimbabwe in a series before hosting South Africa in March.

Surely the powers that be are not so blinded by money that they cannot see the value in cementing this mouthwatering trans-Tasman derby into a permanent slot on the international fixture list. Then again when it comes to anything involving India the dollars rule and tradition honouring two foremost cricketing families flies out the window.

- The Press

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