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Venerable Vettori

Sri Lanka has swept aside a very disappointing team of Black Caps, easily winning the home two Test series 2-0.  However, the New Zealand captain may have found some consolation in what proved to be a big match for himself personally.

Not only did Daniel Vettori join a very elite club – the 300 Test wickets and 3,000 runs club, but he scored his fourth, and highest, Test century.  Vettori peeled off 140 runs as New Zealand at least offered some resistance, mustered 400 runs and reduced the losing margin to two digits.

Reproduced below (courtesy of Cricinfo) is the aforementioned list of those lucky enough to take so many wickets and make so many runs. It is sorted (by me) in order of wickets (not deliberately to get Warnie on top).  The list is also enhanced (by me) to include wickets per match and the all rounder quotient (bowling average divided by batting average).

Player Span Mat Runs HS Ave 100 Wkts w/m BBI Ave 5 Quotient
SK Warne (Aus) 1992-2007 145 3154 99 17.32 0 708 4.88 8-71 25.41 37 0.68
N Kapil Dev (India) 1978-1994 131 5248 163 31.05 8 434 3.31 9-83 29.64 23 1.05
Sir RJ Hadlee (NZ) 1973-1990 86 3124 151* 27.16 2 431 5.01 9-52 22.29 36 1.22
SM Pollock (SA) 1995-2008 108 3781 111 32.31 2 421 3.90 7-87 23.11 16 1.40
IT Botham (Eng) 1977-1992 102 5200 208 33.54 14 383 3.75 8-34 28.4 27 1.18
Imran Khan (Pak) 1971-1992 88 3807 136 37.69 6 362 4.11 8-58 22.81 23 1.65
WPUJC Vaas (SL) 1994-2009 111 3089 100* 24.32 1 355 3.20 7-71 29.58 12 0.82
DL Vettori (NZ) 1997-2009 94 3492 140 29.59 4 303 3.22 7-87 33.51 18 0.88

You all know that I love stats and analysis so here goes.

The “club” of eight comprises two distinct types.  There are five genuine all rounders (all with quotients greater than one).  Four of those are Hadlee, Botham, Dev and Imran Khan – iconic all rounders from the glorious final era of the all rounder (from the late seventies through to the early nineties).  What an alignment of the planets it was for the cricket world to be simultaneously graced with such players from all corners of the globe.  South Africa had to wait for its representative until later, due to its exile.  Of course, if South Africa has have been part of the cricket community in the seventies and eighties, Mike Proctor’s name may well have been in this list.

The other members of the club are bowlers who were very handy with the bat.  Warne is the only one not to have scored a Test century and he failed by just one run.  In the modern era, players have so many matches that someone handy with a bat can rack up a serious career aggregate.  Three thousand runs is not what it used to be.  Then again, it’s not to be sneezed at.

Also note that New Zealand, not one of the giants of World cricket, is the only country with two members of the club, while all other members of the “big eight” have one member, except the West Indies (which has none – Sobers is their best).

And finally, have a look at the two left-armers at the bottom.  Their numbers are remarkably similar.

Congratulations on a fine achievement, Daniel Vettori.  I wonder how long until we can call you “Sir Dan”?

The skier who would play cricket

Dirk Nannes made his one day international debut for Australia against Scotland overnight.  While neither the match, nor Nannes’ performance were remarkable, Nannes himself is a fairly remarkable chap.

In a previous life, Nannes was a World Cup mogul skier and narrowly missed selection in the Australian team for the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics.  Nannes no longer skis competitively but he owns a snow tour operation.

Nannes is also a handy musician and has studied saxophone at university.

With all that skiing, Nannes has been somewhat of a late bloomer as a cricketer (he is now 33).  I guess it is more a case of being a later starter.  Nannes has played just 22 first class games of cricket but had an impressive last season for the Delhi Daredevils in IPL and represented The Netherlands in the T20 World Cup earlier this year.

Nannes does not have a Cricket Australia contract but I think it is great to see someone who is obviously talented and determined with a great zest for life, having some success on the international cricket stage.

England Respects the First Innings and Wins the Ashes

For the first time in 56 years, the final Test in an Ashes series was started with the series level.  For the first time in 119 years, a captain presided over the loss of the Ashes for a second time.  And wouldn’t you know it, England won easily.  Broad fired the Aussies out, Trott galloped to a century on debut and I can’t think of any more clever little clichés.

Some Aussies have blamed the selectors – surely Hauritz must have been picked.  Many, and not just Aussies, have been up in arms about the pitch.  But neither of these are excuses.  To illustrate my point, we are going to have a short quiz.  From the following numbers, pick the odd one out:  a), b), c) or d).

a) 332
b) 160
c) 373
d) 348

That’s correct.  The answer is b).  An innings of 160 is the only score that is unacceptable for a completed innings in a Test match.  Was it made on a different pitch to the other three?  Would Nathan Hauritz have stood a good chance of increasing its size?  No need to answer.  The big question is:  Would Hauritz have reduced a) or c)?  That is a good question and entirely open to debate.  Let me say this:  I acknowledge that Haurtiz is a better bowler than North.  Then again, so is Swann.  North took 4/98 in while Swann took 4/120 in the respective innings.  Hauritz was not the definitive answer.

All and sundry have been bemused over the series statistics.  Australia had six of the top seven run scorers (all behind Andrew Strauss).  Australia had the top three wicket takers.  Australia had eight centuries in the series to just two from England.  With such weight of statistics, how then did England win?  I have some ideas:

Half of Australia’s centuries were scored in just one innings – at Cardiff – they should have won that match but did not.   Australia had three bowlers upon whome they were largely reliant. England’s attack  shared the load.  Lord’s was won with match-winning wicket performances from Anderson and Flintoff.  Neither of those players had much impact in the rest of the series.  Broad did the job in the final Test after a rather ordinary first three Tests.

When Test cricket and ODI cricket are compared, it is often observed that Test cricket is about the long haul.  You can have a bad session, or even a bad day and still recover.  This series was interesting however, because the last four Tests each had a horror session, featuring a spectacular collapse (three belonged to Australia).  They were so spectacular that only in the 3rd Test was Australia able to claw back to equal footing and a draw.

When Australia loses in England, it is almost always for the same reason. They don’t know how to play good swing bowling.  The 2009 Ashes was no different.

And a final goodbye to Freddie.  While he took no wickets in his final innings (and indeed he took just one wicket in his final two Tests) he finished on a very winning note.  Not only that, he had his moment of glory.  His run-out of Ponting was quite spectacular and was an important moment in the match.  That piece of fielding was impressive.  But consider that he is a big, tall unit with a buggered knee, running to his wrong side and it is even more impressive.

Onto the one dayers now.  Australia starts with a hit-out against Scotland (one they should not take lightly).  And then it is two T20’s and seven one-dayers against England.  Seven?  Are that many matches really necessary?

Broadsided

Stuart Broad arrived in the big time today, much to the surprise of many.  I for one thought he was a pretty boy who was a bit lucky to be in the side.  The bowling all rounder who needed to work on his bowling.  I have to admit that I was rather pleased with Broad’s meaningless six wicket haul in the 4th Test because it meant he’d be in the 5th Test.

Let me tell you what a “broadside” is.  I just read a book on the Battle of Trafalgar, so I’m rather well placed to paint a picture.  Most of you would know that it’s a naval term about firing guns.  In the glorious days of the galleon, ships of the line had 60, 70, 80 or sometimes upwards of 100 guns, positioned all down both sides of the ship, on two, three or even four decks. The optimal execution was to be at close range and bring your side to bear at the stern (rear) of your enemy and fire all guns at once.  This would rake shot and destruction down the entire length of the boat causing terrible damage.

A good description of the second session, I’d say.  In the second session of day two of the final Test, Stuart Broad broadsided the Aussies and has all but won the Test and the series.  Along with some help from Swann and umpire Rauf, Australia were brought to their knees, losing eight wickets in the session.

Let it be said that Broad received no help from the umpires and bowled magnificently.  He took the first four wickets, five of the top seven of which four were comprehensively bowled or lbw.  Broad scarcely bowled a bad ball.  I don’t recall a cut or pull shot.  Well played Stuart Broad.