Archive for the ‘new zealand’ Category

The length of the World Cup, combined with the fact that India exited very early, has meant that people in India have nearly forgotten that the World Cup is going on. Some of us fans of genuine cricket (without the patriotic craziness) have followed the Cup through the Super 8 stage.

Now, we finally approach the knock out rounds, where ‘winner takes all’! The first semi-final is scheduled for today, New Zealand vs Sri Lanka. Bond vs Jayasuriya, Vaas vs Fleming, Murali vs Styris, Vettori vs Mahela… etc. Yes, I am trying to hype it up, like the media usually do!! Trying to put some spice into the game…

The fact is that, it will be a great game. I am a solid Sri Lanka fan at this time, and I expect them to win today. I also expect them to put up a tough fight in the finals thereafter, whether they play South Africa or Australia.

One or the other way, its three good one day games coming up.

On the question of the World Cup format, much as the ICC is defending it (they do not have a choice, do they?), the fact remains that it was one long and boring structure. I quite like the suggestion that one expert gave – that 2 teams from the non-Test playing countries should make it, and then, the 10 teams (including these two) should play each other once. The best 4 of the teams, after this, should make it to the semi-finals, and then the finals. Should be fair to all, as they get a chance to play all the rest and not just have a bad break of the draw.

After losing the previous game against New Zealand, losing the number one ODI team ranking to South Africa, and getting loads of criticism in the media and blogosphere (refer my earlier post), Australia apparently came back all charged up and roaring, for the final one day game against New Zealand, in the Chappell Hadlee Trophy.

Led by a stupendous batting effort from Hayden (an unbeaten 181, the highest ever ODI score by an Australian, carrying his bat through), Australia topped their previous game score and posted 346 runs in the 50 overs. NZ had rested their main strike bowlers, Shane Bond and Vettori. For Australia, McGrath was not playing.

When NZ started their reply, they lost 4 quick wickets for around 40 something, and then the 5th for a little over 100. It appeared to be an all too familiar setting, with Australia coming back big time, to assert themselves with a thumping victory, following some losses.

But things took a different course. Led by a phenomenal belligerent innings by McMillan, and supported very well, by McCullum, NZ turned in a fantastic batting performance, to pip Australia at the post, AGAIN! Thats the fourth big score of Australia that has been chased down, by an opponent, this year.

To add to the worries for Australia, they now have Hayden on the injury list too. How bad is his injury will be known soon. But that is one more concern for Australia anyway.

As for the Australian bowling, it keeps looking worse. At the end, with Franklin at the crease, at 8 wickets down, and still a lot of runs needed to be got, it was the Australian bowlers who let it go, it would appear!

And poor Hussey.. his surprise captaincy elevation, has certainly not got off to a good start, losing all three games that he lead in..!

Hopes for the other teams sore high, in the midst of this continuing Australian debacle.. !

The Australian cricket team has been playing with what looks like its bench, against New Zealand, in the Chappell Hadlee series. And they have got beaten twice in a row, and have also lost the number one position in international ODI ratings, to South Africa, in the process. They lost the first game big time – by 10 wickets, after getting bowled out for under 150. And then in the second game, they put up a big total of 336, and New Zealand chased it down!

It tells me a few things.
So much for Australia’s famed bench strength. Perhaps its not quite as great as its been made out to be. The little that I saw of these games, I could sense that there were just 2-3 batsmen who looked good (Hussey, Hayden – both regulars, and Hodge), and in bowling, there was not much to offer beyond McGrath and Bracken. Watson also got hit and Hogg got thumped big time. The rest of the guys looked quite ordinary.

A much stronger Australian side got beaten by England in the tri-series finals. Ponting, Lee, Clarke, Gilchrist were all there then. And still they lost – in straight games. Which proves that they are certainly beatable. Over the recent years, they had created a feeling of invincibility. Heck, that is out of the window now.

And I am going to stick my neck out and say that they will NOT win the World Cup. I am not saying who will win; at this time, all I am saying is that Australia won’t.

Which brings the question of the quality of the Australian team, over the next couple of years. With Warne, Langer and Martyn already gone, McGrath to go after the WC, there are going to be few new faces there.

Clarke and Hussey look like great inheritors of the Australian spirit. Of course, Ponting will be around for a while. And Hodge holds a lot of promise. There is of course, Hayden, Gilchrist (don’t know for how long, though) and Symonds should get fit soon. So the batting looks okay as long as all of these guys maintain decent form. But its the bowling that looks pretty vulnerable.

Lee appears to be the only real strike bowler. Bracken, Stuart Clarke in pace, or Hogg in spin, don’t look like matchwinners by any circumstances. I don’t know what has happened to Stuart McGill. He should finally get his chance without Warne’s shadow lurking behind him, and he can be a good prospect. But overall, if a team wants to beat Australia in the next year or two, they have their best chance in out-batting Australia, by going after a weak bowling attack.

Meanwhile, the eternal underdog down under, New Zealand, should be feeling fabulous, and so also the traditional arch rivals, England, both of them having beaten Australia, going into the World Cup!