Brace Yourselves

The Kiwis are here and after many years, they have a Bracewell with them again.  While “Bracewell” may not be as big a name in New Zealand cricket as say, Crowe or Hadlee, it does hold a place in New Zealand cricketing tradition.  This New Zealand team includes a seamer, Doug Bracewell, 21, who has played just one Test match but he is from a family with a fine pedigree in New Zealand cricket and he is in form.

Most of you would know that the most famous Bracewell is John.  He played 41 Tests for New Zealand between 1980 and 1990 and took 102 wickets, and you would have to say that he is New Zealand’s second most accomplished spin bowler.  He was at his peak in the summer of 1985-86 when New Zealand beat Australia in Test series both home and away.  While the victory in Australia came mostly on the back of Sir Richard Hadlee (33 wickets in three Tests), Bracewell had a lot to do with the solitary victory in the series in New Zealand.  He took 10 wickets in that match, including a match winning 6-32 in the second innings.  John Bracewell was one of the few spin bowlers that I saw trouble Allan Border, a master of spin, on a regular basis.

John Bracewell has three brothers who also played first class cricket on and around New Zealand’s South Island.  There are two older brothers, both of whom played a little first class cricket and also his younger brother, Brendon, played six Tests between 1978 and 1985 and it is he who begat Douglas Andrew John Bracewell.  As we are doing some in depth genealogy here, it is worth nothing that Brendon named his son, taking a given name from each of his brothers.  How nice.  Which brings us back to Brisbane.

Doug Bracewell has just completed the warm up match with New Zealand against Australia A and he had a good match with bat and ball.  Coming in down the order, he smashed 73 from just 79 balls and he was the best performed of the bowlers with 4-87.  As I said, Bracewell has played just a solitary Test.  He played in New Zealand’s recent one-off Test against Zimbabwe, in Bulawayo.  That proved to be quite an experience for young Bracewell.  Zimbabwe was chasing a mammoth 366 for victory and had reached a position of needing just 63 more runs, still with five wickets in hand.   Bracewell came on and took three quick wickets, finished with five for the innings and with his captain, routed the Zimmers still with 34 runs to spare.

I don’t mean to put the Kiwis down but only the times they ever beat Australia in Test series were in the mid-eighties (not counting a one off Test at the end of the decade).  This was at a time when Australian cricket was at a very low point.  And it did coincide with a time when New Zealand had a pretty handy team which included players such as Wright, Edgar, Coney, the Crowes, Smith, Chatfield, John Bracewell and let’s not forget the Aussie’s nemesis, Sir Richard Hadlee. 

This New Zealand visit corresponds with another trough in Australian cricket, especially considering the injury list and it also corresponds with a Bracewell being in what is quite a useful team.  Now I admit there is not much science in this analysis but cricketers do tend to be superstitious, but perhaps the Bracewell factor will help the Kiwis account for the Aussies.  New Zealand has not taken a Test from Australia since March 1993 – more than 18 years – could December 2011 see the drought break?  Brace yourselves!

PS: It has to be recorded that Jesse Ryder and Ross Taylor hit 23 sixes between them on the final day of the warm up match.  Yes, that is twenty-three.  Two-three.   And that is against the mighty Australia A attack, which, as it turns out, will miraculously transform into the Australian attack come this Thursday.  Ryder cleared the rope 16 times, equalling the record for a first class innings.

14 thoughts on “Brace Yourselves

  1. andrewg, good thoughts. Very funny about Imran. I think you missed Chris Cairns and Wasim Akram – not sure about the beer but he was a colourful character. And dare I suggest Richard Hadlee. I doubt he can be counted amongst the funsters but he was one hell of a cricketer and on his day could hit a ball a long way. And I think Neville Longbottom may be Mark Ealham. Oh, and Roy Symonds – never quite made it to super star class but was cast in the mold you are talking about.

    Bon voyage andrewg and don’t forget that america has the internet so you can keep up with the NZ Tests from afar.

  2. I think one Sir Vivian Richards would also slot well into that illustrious group – perhaps more as a batter but a handy bowler to have up your sleeve in the shorter version of the game.

  3. interesting stuff guys. lance cairns certainly was something of a cult figure, the aussies loved him too. recalling all those sixes he hit one day still makes me smile. a bit like when bacchus marsh did. can’t recall the details but the emotion lives on.

    cricket needs more super-sized all-rounders i believe. just think of the guys who’ve met that description and they’re classic characters in the main:

    – keith miller
    – mike proctor (i think he was off the wrong foot too)
    – gary gilmour
    – imran khan
    – ian botham
    – lance cairns
    – andrew flintoff

    please let me know of any i’ve missed and who was that bloody awful guy the poms tried a few tours ago. reminded me of neville longbottom? great all-rounders…guys handy with a bat, a ball, or a flowing glass in hand, although in imran’s case one should replace glass with girl.

  4. ajebec, I’m glad you have finally discovered the internet, and you have found me out. I had looked at the first two tests of the 1985/86 series already today and Cairns appeared in neither, so I didn’t check the third! My slackness has found me out.

    That is an interesting point you raise Wazza, about grade cricket. Our top cricketers are lucky to play Sheffield Shield these days, let alone grade cricket. Perhaps the Aussie cricketer’s calender is fuller than a New Zealander’s, but I imagine that they are away much of the time, too. Wazza, how long has it been since you had the privilege of bowling in the nets to Chris Cairns?

  5. ah, yes, i’d forgotten about that. i now remember countless backyard tests with friends where you’d bowl an over copying the style of one player, then become another player for your next over and so on. it was always fun being lance cairns.

  6. excalibur! that’s what it was called. i just remember being amazed, as a kid, to see this thing that looked more like a baseball bat on steroids than a cricket bat. the theory (as i remember it) was that it was less likely to give edged catches to the ‘keeper/slips cordon as cairns went on the slog.

    just did a wikipedia crash course and lance cairns did indeed play in that 85/86 series. however, he only managed to get into the side for the last test, in perth, and didn’t score any runs or take any wickets. his team still won, though.

  7. An impressive memory for detail re Lance Cairn’s famous bat Ajebec, named Excalibur it was a thing of fokelore here in NZ.

    Wanting to emphasise Dongles point re a small playing pool in NZ rather than name drop, but both Lance and Chris played for the same club that I did for a while and Excalibur has dispatched a fair few of my wayward outswingers out of the nets and accross the carpark. Not sure how many of the top Australian Players play club cricket anymore, but a part of the love of the game here is borne from the fact that many of us have played at clubs where (current and former) Test and One day players are an integral part of the set-up and put a lot back into the game at grass roots level.

  8. Thanks for your insights Wazza, especially the local interest you have added. You are correct about whom the sixes were hit. I think things got a bit silly at the end when Warner and Cowan came on – Cowan went for four in one over. Perhaps they were trying to help Ryder beat the record. Anyway, I didn’t want this fact to stand in the way of my Australia A transformation line. For me, these two matches are a lottery – between new comers, and has beens, the Aussie present more of an unknown to me than the Kiwis do!

  9. andrewg, forgive me if I have it wrong and anything is possible when you write on the train without internet, and then try to fix things up. but it is three brothers – two older, one younger perhaps I can add some clarity to the wording. Ajebec, thanks for reminding us of another NZ cricketing household name. I think it says something about NZ cricket – it’s not a very big playing pool. Anyway, Lance did not take place in that series. He hit Lillee for those five sixes a couple of years before that, and in fact, never had much of a Test career. He was a classic one day all-rounder.

  10. The Bracewell name brings back many memories – I was both coached by, and played with a Bracewell in my younger days in Northland.

    Watching Doug Bracewell bowl, he reminds me very much of the Kelly Bracewell I played with in both looks, temperament, and the ability to let a ball rip at sheer pace that makes it unplayable.

    While it’s true that Taylor and Ryder tore the Australia A apart with 23 sixes in the second innings, I think a fair few of those came once a fair chunk of the bowling line-up had been named as included in the Australian team to play the Black Caps, so perhaps they backed off a bit for fear of injuring themselves…

    We don’t tend to do well when we approach a game with a level of confidence that our recent history doesn’t support.

  11. interesting indeed. bracewell versus cummins should provide some interest at least.

    btw, there also seems to be a changing number of brothers in that family if you care to read that paragraph again!

    here’s hoping for a competitive two matches (i refuse to call it a series).

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