The A to Z of the cricket summer
Cricket writers Jonathan Millmow, Fred Woodcock and Sam Worthington cast their cynical eyes over the good, the bad and the ugly of all levels of cricket this summer.
A is for the Average test team that we have become, average being the kind way to put it (after all, it is the end of the season). On the upside, in Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor and Mark Guptill, we might, just might, have better times on the horizon. Can we have Shane Bond back too, please?
B is for Blog. Respect to Iain O'Brien for his sometimes wacky but always entertaining blog entries on the internet. Luckily for Obber, they weren't the only things keeping his name in the headlines, as he had a pretty decent summer on the field, too.
C is for Championship, the State Championship, which guarantees two things every season nobody will turn up to watch and Mathew Skippy Sinclair will top the run-scoring charts (904 at 75.33). We should also mention Canterbury's Hamish Bennett as the top wicket-taker with 26.
D is for Dhoni, of the Mahendra Singh variety. Not the best gloveman in the world but a great leader and batsman who provided arguably the shot of the summer with one of his sixes in a one-dayer in Christchurch ... you know the one.
E is for Elle Abel and Evan Watkin. Local club umpire Elle and her boss Ev hit the headlines regarding a gem of an umpiring story in which she called wide for a ball smashed to point, setting the stage for what was an average home summer at best for the men in white coats at international level, with too many howlers for our liking. Chin up.
F is for Firebirds, who stumbled their way through another domestic cricket summer with nothing to show for it. In what is being mooted as a possible new slogan for Cricket Wellington, "there's always next season".
G is for Gayle, Chris Gayle. You've got to love the way this man hits a hundred like it's the most effortless thing he's done. Very cool, man. Honourable mention Gautam Gambhir.
H is for Hadlee. When he became an inaugural inductee to the ICC Hall of Fame, this provided the perfect opportunity to reminisce over old times. "I remember my third over in the first innings of the second test against England in 1978, the fifth ball nipped away off the seam..." A great cricketer, and a great memory.
I is for ICL players still out in the cold. Forget Daryl Tuffey, Craig McMillan and Hamish Marshall, it's Bond we're worried about. Yes, our only strike bowler. The country's best bowler. Speed, guile, experience, ability. Surely it doesn't have to end this way.
J is for Jesse Ryder, who has the game if he can stay on the straight and narrow. He's a bargain buy for Bangalore at US$160,000 but must be New Zealand's player of the year and possibly rate as high as No 3 on the contracts' list.
K is for Kyle Mills, who was a late withdrawal from the State Championship final but should be fit for IPL. On a serious note, he bowled superbly when New Zealand punched well above their weight in the drawn Chappell-Hadlee series.
L is for Lou Vincent. Is he still playing cricket?
M is for, who else but, Chris Martin. The people's favourite who has now taken 160 test wickets, only Chris Cairns, Daniel Vettori and Hadlee having taken more. He can't bat but then again others can't bowl. His omission from the West Indies series was dumb.
N is for Nethula, Tarun: New Zealand's next legspinner?
O is for Opportunities missed: 2-0 up in the Chappell-Hadlee series then 2-2 then rain, having Aussie on the ropes in Brisbane and losing by 159 runs, having India 204-6 and letting their weak tail wag to 379.
P is for Pakistan, where international cricket is no longer played after the despicable attack on the Sri Lankan team bus.
Q is for the queer selection of Trent Boult for the Chappell-Hadlee series. Would the selector who went into bat for him please stand up.
R is for Jeet Raval, the Auckland opener who knocked up 256 the third highest maiden first class century. Not bad for a former No11.
S is for Steven Spoljaric. The Eastern Suburbs import was by all accounts a lovely bloke but ruffled club feathers by taking five wickets, smashing 150 then flying back to Australia the next day. The Australian was later banned from the Pearce Cup final.
T is for Tendulkar, who needs no introduction. Was on track to score the first ODI 200 in Christchurch before pulling up lame but still thrilled fans throughout the tour in what might be his last bat on New Zealand soil. Honourable mention Ross Taylor.
U is for Unbelievable Indian batting lineup. If you didn't get down to the Basin, Westpac Stadium or McLean Park, you've got rocks in your head. Sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, Yuvraj and Dhoni reads like the cricket version of a Hollywood blockbuster's all-star cast and, barring Yuvraj, all delivered.
V is for Virender Sehwag, the most ferocious and fascinating batsman in world cricket. John Wright and now Gary Kirsten have taken turns tearing their thinning hair out when he gets bored and throws his wicket away but more often than not it was New Zealand's bowling Sehwag was tearing apart.
W is for White Ferns. A brave effort to tip out Australia and India but New Zealand's women's cricket team fell one hurdle short in the final against England. Wellington all-rounder Lucy Doolan starred in the final while skipper Haidee Tiffen retired.
X is for X-factor bowling. Unfortunately, we have none. Vettori, Martin, O'Brien, Mills and Tim Southee are all game triers but just don't scare anyone on flat pitches. New Zealand's test ranking won't rise unless Bond returns or Dion Nash unearths some whiz-kid from Waipukurau.
Y is for Yuvraj Singh: at least we could get one Indian batsman out. Thanks Yuvy!
Z is for Zaheer Khan. Somewhat wayward and uninspiring in a previous life, Zaheer has improved remarkably in the past two seasons and is now the rock of the Indian bowling attack. Zaheer stitched up New Zealand's batsmen all test series with aggressive, controlled left-arm swing and we thank him for having a name starting with Z.
The Dominion Post