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Posts Tagged ‘jesse ryder’

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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Away from the tension, hype and seagulls (yes, honestly, seagulls) of the build-up to the final Ashes Test, New Zealand and Sri Lanka are preparing for a Test series of their own.

For most of the tourists, Test cricket in Sri Lanka will be a new experience (only three members of the Black Caps’ squad have played a Test in Sri Lanka before). Their recent record is a cause for concern – a mere four Tests won in the last two-and-a-half years (with three of those coming against Bangladesh). None of the likely front-line bowlers have much experience of Sri Lankan conditions, which may prove costly. The likes of Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder will be taking a step into the unknown, and – on recent form – New Zealand’s top order is hardly likely to set them up with a comfortable platform to do so.

The hosts will be comfortable favourites, and will be looking to sneak the Number 2 spot in the ICC Test Rankings. Ajantha Mendis looks set to miss out given Rangana Herath‘s performances against Pakistan, whilst Murali returns to the side to worry New Zealand’s inexperienced batting line-up.

Anything other than a Sri Lankan series win would be a massive surprise.

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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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Ahead of the Second Test in Napier, with India having been so convincing in the first you would have been offered stratospheric odds on New Zealand forcing them to follow on, Sehwag twice getting out for less than 35 and Jesse Ryder making a double century. Yet all of those things have come to pass.

Most worrying for India in their quest for a first series win in New Zealand is the way that Sehwag’s magic touch seems to have deserted him, resulting in scenes like this more often than scenes like this. If the bloggers’ deity is to return to the old ways of recklessness, perhaps he will be proved mortal after all, and those who have questioned his brains in the past may be making their case again.

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Lots of things have happened in the last 33 years. Punk, Margaret Thatcher, Chernobyl, a cloned sheep, and my entire life. Until today, that list didn’t include an Indian Test win in New Zealand.

India’s 10-wicket win in Hamilton was effectively sealed by Harbhajan Singh‘s 6 for 63 in the second innings, but it was Sachin Tendulkar who deservedly claimed the Man of the Match trophy following his sublime knock yesterday.

For India, the next goal is their first ever series win in New Zealand, which few would now bet against. For the Black Caps, getting anything out of the series will be an uphill struggle, especially given the poor showing with the bat so far from everyone other than Ryder and Vettori (without whom, New Zealand’s first innings would have been even more embarrasing).

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Cricket isn’t the sport it used to be.

Time was, even the most portly of players could find a place in most international sides (and judging by Jesse Ryder and Dwayne Leverock, many still can), and even chain-smokers were thought to have sufficient physical conditioning to bowl for England .

No longer – it seems it’s no longer OK to be an unfit cricketer. Samit Patel has been dropped by England for the forthcoming One Day matches against the West Indies, owing to ‘unsatisfactory fitness‘.

Where does this leave Rob Key? Joking aside (Key has actually slimmed down considerably since his, ahem, peak), the modern game – especially in its limited-overs variants – makes physical demands of players which were never made of the likes of Gatting or Grace, and there should probably be a minimum fitness requirement, even for spin bowlers.

I hope that this doesn’t herald the end of overweight international cricketers, though. In these difficult times, cricket fans everywhere are in need of a few players with the ‘XXL-factor’. Failing that,  I’ll settle for someone who makes the gulf in class between my own pathetic attempts at cricket and the real thing seem just a little less than it actually is. How else can I rationalise my dreams of taking the wicket that clinches the Ashes, or knocking off the winning runs in the World Cup final?

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Wow. I have to admit, I didn’t see that coming. Australia were dismissed for a mere 214 on day one of the First Test between Australia and New Zealand.

Tim Southee took 4-63, and the behemoth that is Jesse Ryder chipped in to take 2-7, including the wicket of Michael Clarke for 98.

In response, the Black Caps were 7 without loss at the close. Can they get themselves a decent first innings lead, or will they throw away their best chance in many years to win a Test in Australia? Things are getting very interesting indeed…

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