Musings from Beyond the Boundary – 20 August

Musings from beyond the boundary – cricketing thoughts through the eyes of Trevor Auger, an Auckland Cricket Society and Supporters Club Member.

Exciting young Aces batsman Glenn Phillips has made an excellent start to his career in the international T20 leagues following his late call-up to the Jamaica Tallawahs in the CPL. In his first outing for the St Lucia Stars he contributed 32 off 21 balls at the top of the innings and then two days later he improved on that with 51 off 47 balls against Martin Guptill’s Guyana Amazon Warriors.

Against the Warriors, Phillips was sixth out in the 19th over, with the score at 120, and this proved a crucial performance as the Tallawahs successfully defended a conservative 128/7. Phillips’s Auckland teammate Martin Guptill made 33 as the Warriors battled their way to 126/4 when the innings closed.

Another Aucklander, Colin Munro, remains the top run scorer in the competition thus far, with 230 runs at an average of 46. His Trinidad and Tobago Knight Riders colleague Brendon McCullum is sixth in the aggregates with 178 runs at 35.6.

Munro and McCullum started the week compiling just 9 runs between them against the Barbados Tridents, for whom Kane Williamson’s 30 wasn’t enough to prevent the Knight Riders snatching a last over two wicket victory.  Next up though, Munro managed a 30-ball 36 against the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, while McCullum featured against the struggling Warriors, one game later, with an unbeaten 65 from 45 balls including 4 fours and 4 sixes.

Across the Atlantic an even busier week of T20 cricket as the quarter-finalists were decided in the NatWest T20 Blast. The most extraordinary performance of the week didn’t come from a New Zealander though, but from Yorkshire’s Adam Lyth who careered his way to 161 off 73 balls against Northamptonshire. Yorkshire finished on 260/4.

Spare a thought for the Northamptonshire opening bowlers: Ben Sanderson, who had previously played for Yorkshire, conceded 77 runs from his four overs while at the other end Richard Gleeson’s four over spell cost 61. Neither managed to pick up a wicket.

The most successful Kiwi batsman in the competition has been Luke Ronchi. His 401 runs at 33.4, with a strike-rate of more than 182, has helped Leicestershire to a quarter-final position. Last week his 15-ball 32 took his team to 58/2 off just 4.3 overs when he was dismissed.

Colin de Grandhomme’s 22-ball 34 assisted Warwickshire to a comprehensive win over Durham, after Jeetan Patel had taken 2/22 and Grant Elliott 1/22, and the Birmingham-based team is another to earn a quarter-final berth. Patel has been a big part of their success and his 19 wickets is the equal second-highest in the league.

A number of the New Zealanders figure prominently amongst  the competition’s wicket-takers: Adam Milne, Tim Southee and Ish Sodhi all  have 15 victims (Milne’s coming at an average of just 12.4), while Jimmy Neesham and Matt Henry have 14.

This week Milne had 3/26 and Neesham 2/26 for Kent against Surrey, although their team still lost and is now out of contention. Henry’s Derbyshire is looking forward to a quarter-final against Hampshire, and the Cantabrian will have enjoyed his week with a return of 3/42 and a 10-ball lower order innings of 20 against Durham. Amongst his victims was Tom Latham, out for 28.

Another fancied team to miss out on a quarter-final spot was Middlesex, but Tim Southee impressed for them through the week as Gloucestershire were dismissed in less than 16 overs for just 100, Southee took 3/9, while Steven Finn had 4/24.

Almost as important as wickets in T20 cricket is a bowler’s economy rate, and Jeetan Patel and Mitchell Santner both make the top ten for bowlers with more than 10 overs under their belt. Conceding between 6.6 and 6.7 runs per over, their parsimony has been a feature throughout the competition. Santner finished with a creditable 13 wickets but his campaign is also at an end with Worcestershire not proceeding to the next stage.

Somehow in the midst of all the white-ball festivities, the schedulers managed to squeeze in a round of County Championship cricket as well. Most of the New Zealanders engaged in T20 action sat out the four day games, but Tom Latham starred with an innings of 124 for Durham against Leicestershire. He shared an opening partnership of 234 with 21 year-old Cameron Steel who went on to score 224.

Steel has an interesting background, being born in California and playing age group cricket for both Western Australia and for Somerset. He averages 43 in his 15-match first class career to date.

Amongst the other Kiwis in action, Kieran Noema-Barnett scored 59 and took 2/54 for Gloucestershire and James Franklin made 55 for Middlesex as they lost to Warwickshire, for whom the ever-present Jeetan Patel captured 2/3 and 2/19 as well as scoring a handy 24 down the list.

Of course there’s been test cricket in England too, and the West Indies will be fiercely disappointed with their capitulation, after some fine batting by Alastair Cook and Joe Root, England captains past and present. With West Indies and England being our two test match tourists of the summer there is particular interest in this series. The team from the Caribbean is an inexperienced side but they have more to them than they’ve shown over the last few days.

And let’s not forget the women’s game where Suzie Bates has further under-lined her pedigree, scoring the first ever century in the English T20 competition, the Kia Super League. Playing for the Southern Vipers against the Loughborough Lightning, Bates scored 119 not out from 72 balls, striking 15 boundaries and four sixes.  She then followed up with 3/15 from three overs, as well as a spectacular catch – quite a day at the office.

This performance also made for a unique double, as White Ferns team-mate Sophie Devine holds the record for the highest score in the Australian Women’s Big Bash, with her 103 not out.

And while we’re mentioning top New Zealand women’s cricketers, congratulations to Trish McKelvey, Jackie Lord and Jill Saulbrey who have all recently been awarded Honorary Life Membership of the M.C.C. McKelvey was the first New Zealand woman to score a test century and her 155 not out against England in 1968/69 was the highest test score by a New Zealander at the Basin Reserve until Jeremy Coney’s unbeaten 174, also against England, in 1983/84. McKelvey also captained New Zealand to test victories over Australia and South Africa, New Zealand’s only test wins in the women’s game.

Leg-spinner Lord took 55 wickets at 19.1 in 15 tests. She is the only New Zealand woman to take 10 wickets in a test match, and of the twelve times a New Zealander has taken five wickets in a test innings she has been the perpetrator on four of those occasions. She has also captured 25 wickets in 15 One Day Internationals, at the remarkable average of 12.7

Left-arm medium fast bowler Saulbrey sits second behind Lord amongst New Zealand’s test match wicket-takers with 35 wickets in 11 matches and a best of 5/32 in the Durban victory over South Africa, when her match return was 8/52 off 67 overs, 41 of which were maidens. In her last test, against Australia at the Basin Reserve in 1974/75, she made her highest test score of 68, batting at number nine and sharing a record 87 run eighth wicket partnership with Carol Marett.

A wonderful honour for three worthy recipients.