Musings from beyond the boundary – 28 May

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

A disappointing end to the Black Caps sojourn in Ireland, with Bangladesh chasing down New Zealand’s 270/8 with five wickets and ten balls to spare.  The Champion’s Trophy commences this week and after another brace of warm-up matches, New Zealand will continue to look for more solidarity and more consistency from the all-rounders who are still struggling to impose themselves with both bat and ball.

The exception with the ball is Mitchell Santner, who has climbed the ICC ODI Bowling rankings to number 11 spot, with Trent Boult and Matt Henry the two Kiwis featuring above him.

However with the bat, the same ICC rankings tell the story: Neesham at 66, Anderson at 71, Ronchi at 78 and Santner at 95 – to win over the next few weeks will require the lower middle order to perform more effectively than in recent times.  The high-scoring close finishes in the recent warm-up matches between the other sides only highlights the pressure on New Zealand’s batsmen.

The time in Ireland was interesting, and the home team will have been frustrated to see that the gap to the top echelon in the 50-over game remains significant.  For the New Zealanders it must have been difficult with players coming and going. Some of the interesting selections in the original party, like Worker, Rance and Kuggeleijn enjoyed only limited opportunities, while Nicholls and Wagner weren’t sighted at all.

Of those who are not in the Champions Trophy line-up, Sodhi and Bennett probably best enhanced their standings in the pecking order, while Colin Munro will have been unhappy that despite playing in all the Tri-Series matches he managed to dominate only once, with his spectacular innings in the second match against Ireland.

In the warm-up matches across the Irish Sea the major upset was Scotland’s remarkable win against Sri Lanka, the team from north of the border chasing down 287 to win by seven wickets with an astonishing 43 balls in hand.

The Cricketer magazine has highlighted the end of a remarkable record, with Jeetan Patel joining the New Zealanders for the Champion’s Trophy. Warwickshire’s County Championship match against Hampshire this coming weekend will be the first competition match in four day or any of the limited over formats that Patel has missed for his county side since September 2012 – testimony both to his durability and to how highly rated he is in the English game.

Patel’s Warwickshire aren’t playing this weekend, but Essex are up against Surrey at Chelmsford and have been put under the hammer by Kumar Sangakkara who made 200 before being caught by Neil Wagner.  Wagner failed to take a wicket with the ball, but Matt Quinn had another useful outing with 3/66 in Surrey’s 369.

Away from the international and first class circuit, several other Aucklanders are involved in England over the northern summer. Jeet Raval is turning out for Cuckfield Cricket Club in the Sussex Premier League, while Michael Guptill-Bunce is with Lytham Cricket Club in the Liverpool and District Competition.

Meanwhile 18-year-old Finn Allen, who debuted for the Aces at Eden Park in the T20 match against Central Districts at the start of the year, has made a good impression with both MCC Young Cricketers and with the Surrey Second XI.

For the Young Cricketers he’s notched up 95 against a Yorkshire Second XI which included Ryan Sidebottom and England Lion Jack Brooks in the attack, 64 against the Northamptonshire Second XI and a double of 47 and 48 versus the Worcestershire Second XI. In his solitary outing to date for the Surrey Seconds he made 30 against Essex.

Back home, this week Auckland Cricket farewells Chief Executive Mark Cameron.  After six years in the role, Mark moves on to take the reins at Bowls New Zealand.

Over his time with Auckland Cricket both the Aces and the Hearts have won each of the major trophies on offer, the Plunket Shield and the respective 50-over and T20 tournaments. However perhaps the legacy of which Mark will be most proud is the youthful talent coming through to the senior sides, and in particular the Aces where players like Phillips, Ferguson, Solia, O’Donnell, Allen and Horne have made such an impact over the last eighteen months. In the women’s game Katie Perkins was the only Auckland representative in the Women’s World Cup touring party four years ago – in 2017 she is joined by another three of her Hearts teammates, Huddleston, Green and Peterson.

Auckland Cricket supporters have plenty to thank Mark for, and will wish him well as he takes the next step in what has already been a varied and successful career in sports management.

It is a time of significant change for cricket administration across the Major Associations. With Wellington’s Peter Clinton and Canterbury’s Lee Germon also moving on over the winter, the three most-experienced CEOs have departed, following not so far behind the veterans Blair Furlong (Central Districts) and Ross Dykes (Otago) both of whom retired in recent years.