Musings from Beyond the Boundary – 6 August

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

What a start to the Caribbean Premier League for Colin Munro and the Trinbago Knight Riders as they saw off the St Lucia Stars in the first match of this year’s contest.  The St Lucia Stars had managed 132/9 in their 20 overs before Brendon McCullum and Sunil Narine began the Trinidad and Tobago team’s reply.

Narine was out to the first ball he faced, with the score on 5, and that brought Munro to the crease to join his former Black Caps skipper. The two of them added an unbeaten 132 in 61 balls to see their team home in just 10.4 overs. The Aces player finished on 66 from 39 balls with 3 sixes and 7 fours, while McCullum was even more destructive, his 58 occupying just 27 balls and including 7 sixes.

One of the bowlers to suffer was Munro’s Auckland team-mate, Mitch McClenaghan, who went for 32 runs in just 2.4 overs.

Another Aucklander to come under the hammer in the last few days was Colin de Grandhomme – his single over for Warwickshire against Worcestershire in the NatWest T20 Blast cost him 30 runs as the Australian all-rounder John Hastings hit him for a four and a six from the first two deliveries, and then consecutive sixes from his final three balls.

De Grandhomme did score 23 with the bat, following on from his earlier 37 off 16 balls against Northamptonshire, as Warwickshire continued to get value from their New Zealand contingent. Through the past week Jeetan Patel has made the headlines as the top wicket-taker in the T20 Blast thus far, while Grant Elliott has had innings of 23 and 38, alongside an unbeaten 45 against Lancashire in a match where de Grandhomme took 2/29.

The rest of the Kiwis in action in England had steady weeks. Mitchell Santner enjoyed a good all round match against Northamptonshire – even though his side lost, Santner top-scored with 38 and took 1/30 from his four overs.

For Somerset, Corey Anderson scored a 17-ball unbeaten 41 against Sussex, Kieran Noema-Barnett took 12 balls for his 33 as Gloucestershire beat Somerset in another of the week’s matches, and Luke Ronchi gave Leicestershire their accustomed rapid start against Lancashire with a 10-ball 21 at the top of the order.

Ronchi was less successful against Derbyshire, managing only 5 as Matt Henry gathered his best figures of the competition to date, with 3/18.

The best news from England though was that Tom Latham was back in action for Durham, making 9 against Yorkshire in his comeback match after being laid up since the Champions Trophy with a stress fracture in his foot.

Back home, the International schedule for the coming season has been announced and it has raised a few eyebrows. The good news is that Auckland finally sees a test match once again, for the first time since the victory over India in February 2014, although we don’t yet know whether or not this will be a day/night affair.

Harder to understand, and I stress that these paragraphs are a personal opinion, is why Auckland won’t see a single ODI this summer, in spite of there being 13 one day matches scheduled around the country against three different visiting teams. Given the very exciting one day internationals at Eden Park over recent seasons (and the generally good attendance), the absence of even one match in 2017/18 is very puzzling.

In contrast, Hagley Oval sees a test match and three ODIs, while Wellington, between the Basin Reserve and Westpac Stadium, sees one test match, three ODIs and two T20 Internationals.

Meanwhile Auckland’s three T20 Internationals are all at 7pm on week nights, hardly ideal for encouraging family attendance nor attracting the casual spectator for whom this format is tailored, faced as they are with the battle through the Auckland rush hour traffic to make it to the Park.

Very sad this week to hear of the passing of Sir John Graham. While he has been a Board Member of Auckland Cricket for the last 18 years, and Patron of the Auckland Cricket Association, his achievements in sport and education are legion, as reflected in the multitude of glowing tributes which have appeared in the last few days.

While I had been in the same place at the same time with Sir John many times over the past forty-something years I first really got to enjoy his company just last summer as we sat side-by-side watching the Aces beat Canterbury at Eden Park. The discussion started with the cricket, but it soon roamed far beyond the game in front of us. After Auckland’s victory we shook hands in parting both saying how much we’d enjoyed each other’s conversation and looking forward to the next match in the calendar.

We çhatted at another game or two as the domestic season continued, and I was looking forward to resuming our friendship in the summer ahead. Alas it was not to be, but in those few hours of his company I quickly came to recognise why he is held in such high esteem in so many circles. Charming, knowledgeable, open-minded, diplomatic and honest – wonderful qualities and a delightful gentleman.

We could all do well, to remember the mantra which he brought to the Black Caps in his time as the New Zealand Team Manager – “Better than Before”.