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Posts Tagged ‘jacob oram’

The obvious point to make ahead of a New Zealand – Pakistan Test series is that the two sides have, on the face of it, diametrically opposed approaches. New Zealand are sometimes dull, usually reasonably efficient and often mediocre, whereas Pakistan are exciting, unpredictable, inconsistent and fleetingly brilliant.

Recently, though, New Zealand have been through a series of upheavals which the average Pakistan fan would not find it difficult to empathise with – a bloodless coup to depose the coach and misbehaving players, to name the most prominent. Shane Bond’s return to the Test side will provide a boost, although he is unlikely to be the player that he was two years ago, notably with regard to raw pace. Meanwhile, Jacob Oram’s retirement and Jesse Ryder‘s absence through injury mean that the overall balance of the side may take some time to get right.

Pakistan have (of course) been through upheavals themselves, with Younis Khan’s resignation, which was apparently at least partially motivated by a lack of support from players such as former skipper Shoaib Malik. New captain Mohammad Yousuf has not always seen eye-to-eye with Malik in the past, so there could still be some issues to resolve on that front. Adjusting to the low temperatures of November in New Zealand will also be a challenge, whilst Mohammad Asif‘s return to Test cricket following his drugs ban provides some welcome good news.

Pakistan’s recent Test form has been poor, and although New Zealand are in a ‘transitional period’, the home side will probably be slight favourites for the series win.

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There has been a lot of talk recently about the rise of Twenty20 freelancers, with Andrew Symonds and Andrew Flintoff both being linked speculatively with the idea of wandering Twenty20 specialists playing in four or five different countries’ domestic Twenty20 competitions a year rather than playing for their country.

Kevin Pietersen is the latest player to be linked with this idea (some less kind commentators may suggest that he has already displayed what some would call a mercenary approach in his move from South Africa to England), with PCA chief executive Sean Morris predicting “the day of the freelance cricketer with players turning down England contracts” in favour of the money on offer as ‘marquee’ players in overseas leagues.

There has been an interesting development on this front in New Zealand, with six Black Caps players agreeing new contracts which effectively surrender some of their IPL income. Daniel Vettori, Brendon McCullum, Kyle Mills, Jacob Oram, Jesse Ryder and Ross Taylor all agreed deals with New Zealand Cricket following a  delay whilst”scheduling conflicts between the … international programme and the IPL were clarified“. Unless some wide-ranging agreement is reached between national boards to compensate one another for the conflicts which arise between players’ commitments to overseas leagues and their national (and domestic) sides, this is a story which looks unlikely to go away anytime soon.

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Group E

  • The West Indies may have hammered Australia, but that victory owed a lot more to Chris Gayle’s power-hitting than it did to competent fielding from the team at large. Conceding as many runs as the side has recently probably won’t see them progress any further, but such is Gayle’s talent that few totals are unequivocally out of reach if the Windies bat second.

Group F

  • Ireland have exceeded many expectations by reaching this stage, and the lone Associate side remaining in the competition will need more than a little luck to progress any further. The match against Pakistan, though is bound to rekindle memories of 2007, and there’s still a chance of another upset or two being sprung.
  • New Zealand haven’t shown as much promise in their two group matches as I thought they might, but the quality of Vettori, McCullum, Oram and Taylor (if all are fit at the same time) will raise hopes of a Semi Final place.

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New Zealand beat India in their recent warm-up match for this tournament, which is bound to raise hopes that the Black Caps will pose a real challenge. Brendon McCullum is perhaps the archetypal Twenty20 batsman (as he showed in his dramatic introduction to the IPL last year), and Daniel Vettori and Jacob Oram are both top-class bowlers in the short format, so anything is possible, but it would still be quite a shock if New Zealand were to take home the trophy.

Scotland’s preparations for the competition have been hit by John Blain’s walk-out, and the Saltires’ fortunes in general have been on a downward curve for the last four years. Gavin Hamilton (who has played Test cricket) is still around, but there seems little hope for Scotland to win a match in the tournament, especially given the group they find themselves in.

South Africa are now the top-ranked ODI team in the world, and have beaten Australia twice in their last two T20 Internationals, but their reputation as ‘chokers’ hasn’t yet been entirely shaken off. The recent emergence of the likes of JP Duminy and Morecambe’s own Wayne Parnell – along with the experience of players such as Kallis, Steyn and Smith – may prove enough for the Saffers to finally get their hands on an ICC trophy.

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New Zealand and the West Indies go into their two-Test series both looking for a boost, but with radically different recent histories.

For the Black Caps, a struggle to overcome Bangladesh was followed by failure against a vulnerable Australia, and the selectors’ dissatisfaction with the latter is evident from the changes that have been made to the Test side for this series. Out have gone Aaron Redmond, Chris Martin, Grant Elliott, Tim Southee, Peter Fulton; in have come Jacob Oram, James Franklin, Mark Gillespie, Tim McIntosh and Jeetan Patel.

The West Indies, or at least some of them, come in to the series radically richer than they were a few weeks ago following the Stanford Super Series. What effect this will have on the team dynamic, and on the relative importance afforded to Test cricket as opposed to Twenty20, remains to be seen.

The fact that the home side have recently slipped behind the tourists in the ICC Test rankings has not been lost on either side, and this factor promises to increase the pressure on both sides. Recent history between these sides suggests that New Zealand are favourites, but the Windies will fancy their chances, and this should be a close (and, I hope, entertaining) series.

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New Zealand’s selectors, following the 2-0 series defeat to Australia, have made wholesale changes to their Test side for the home series against the West Indies.

Out go (amongst others) Chris Martin, , Aaron Redmond and ‘two-metre’ Peter Fulton; in come Tim McIntosh, Jeetan Patel, James Franklin and Jacob Oram.

The Black Caps badly need some sucess against the Windies, with the tourists having recently overtaken their hosts in the ICC Test rankings. With John Bracewell‘s replacement by Andy Moles as coach, there’s an opportunity for Vettori‘s men to make the sort of progress in Test cricket that has so far eluded them.

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Bangladesh surprised many with their trouncing of New Zealand in the first ODI, but surprised no-one in their later slide into defeat, culminating in the loss of the deciding match by 79 runs.

There were more positives for the Tigers to take out of this series than they usually have, though. Shakib Al Hasan bowled well, taking 5-91 over the series from 30 overs bowled in total. Naeem Islam made a good 46 not out today, whilst Junaid Siddique was inspirational in the first game.

For New Zealand, the embarrassment of potentially losing the series was averted principally due to Ross Taylor and Jacob Oram.

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