Musings from Beyond the Boundary – 18 August

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

News this week of the passing of former Indian captain Ajit Wadekar at the age of 77. A test average of 31 belies the significance of Wadekar’s contribution to Indian cricket – in 1971 he captained the side to away series victories first in the West Indies, and then a few months later in England.

Only once before had an Indian side won a test series abroad and that had been in New Zealand in 1967-68. Wadekar was on that tour and played a big part in India’s 3-1 success. In the first test In Dunedin he had an impressive double of 80 and 71, falling to Jack Alabaster’s leg-spin in both innings. Then after New Zealand had squared the series in Christchurch, Wadekar led the Indian come-back in Wellington by scoring 143, what proved to be his only test century. It was also the only three figure score by an Indian in the four-test series.

When New Zealand toured India in 1969 Wadekar topped the Indian batting averages and aggregates. In a low-scoring series he made 49 and 40 as India won the first match and then 32 and 23 as New Zealand evened things up in Nagpur. In the tense third test his 14 was India’s second-best as they hung on at 76/7 in the fourth innings. The weather had the final say and the series was squared.

By 1971 Wadekar had become captain for the five test match tour of the Caribbean. India’s second test victory at Port-of-Spain was not only the team’s first against the West Indies in 25 matches but also sufficient to seal the series, with the balance of the matches drawn, the majority in the visitor’s favour.

Wadekar himself averaged less than 22 with the bat in this series, but he was supported by the remarkable performances of the debutant Sunil Gavaskar and the experienced Dilip Sardesai. Gavaskar sat out the first test, but in the remaining four, the first of his illustrious career, he scored 774 runs at an average of 154.8. Sardesai, who had played only one test since 1967 and hadn’t passed 50 since his 106 against New Zealand at Delhi in 1965, was almost as impressive with 645 runs at 80.3.

On to England and Wadekar started well with 85 at Lord’s in the drawn first test. Rain almost certainly saved India in the second test, but Wadekar’s double of 48 and 45 played an important part in India’s four wicket victory in the final encounter at The Oval, a game in which Chandrasekhar’s second innings 6/38 proved pivotal.

Just for good measure Wadekar made it back-to-back wins against England as he led India to victory at home in 1972-73, but he retired after England turned the tables in 1974.

Turning the tables will be what India will be seeking to do over the coming days at Trent Bridge, having lost the first two tests of this year’s series very comprehensively. England have recalled Ben Stokes after his acquittal earlier in the week, but that has meant that last season’s Auckland Ace Sam Curran has missed out, after being Man of the Match in the first test and being England’s third top scorer in the second match.

It was a better week for another former Aces’ T20 guest player, with Tymal Mills picking up a hat-trick for Sussex in the Vitality Blast. He took Glamorgan’s last three wickets as they collapsed to be all out for 88 in 13.3 overs, handing Sussex a 98-run victory. Mills finished with 3/20.

Amongst the New Zealanders in action, Corey Anderson continued to shine, again against the unfortunate Glamorgan. Somerset won by 29 runs on the back of Anderson’s 30-ball 72, which included six sixes. He managed 23 from just 11 balls later in the week, but this time Somerset ended up second-best to Kent.

Kieran Noema-Barnett also played an eye-catching hand for Gloucestershire with his unbeaten 57 from 37 balls against Surrey, an innings which included four sixes. He then chimed in with 1/30 to help his team to a narrow five-run win.

For the Birmingham Bears, Grant Elliott took 2/23 and Jeetan Patel 1/15 as Lancashire slumped to 102 all out, handing Elliott’s team a seven wicket victory. Later in the week though they were on the receiving end from Worcestershire following Moeen Ali’s 56-ball 115. The Bears fell 15 runs short despite the middle order efforts of Elliott with 29 off 16 balls and Colin de Grandhomme, whose 31 occupied 20 balls.

And Ish Sodhi’s 1/33 against Yorkshire trumped Kane Williamson’s unbeaten 44, as Nottinghamshire played their way into the quarter-finals. With Tom Latham’s Durham, Adam Milne’s Kent, Sodhi’s Nottinghamshire, Anderson’s Somerset and Noema-Barnett’s Gloucestershire all making the final eight, there remains plenty of Kiwi involvement in the competition.

The same can be said of the Kia Super League where Amy Satterthwaite, Sophie Devine and Suzie Bates now sit 4th, 5th and 6th in the runs table, with Devine the leading wicket-taker (and Bates and Southern Vipers team-mate Amelia Kerr 10th equal on the bowlers’ list).

Devine’s Loughborough Lightning are now atop the competition ladder having beaten the second-placed Western Storm a few days ago. Devine took 2/27 and then scored 38 at the top of the order as the Lightning enjoyed their second nine-wicket victory of the week. The first had been against the Lancashire Thunder, for whom Amy Satterthwaite had made an important 47 before falling victim to Devine, who finished with 2/22 from her four overs and then scored 22.

Suzie Bates continued her return to form with a destructive 82 off 57 balls against the Surrey Stars, scoring 62% of the runs added while she was at the wicket. Unfortunately Sara McGlashan and Amelia Kerr could manage only eight apiece as the Vipers collapsed to 147/9, and in spite of Kerr’s 2/26 and Bates’ 2/22 the Surrey side finished on top.

The Aces are making their mark across the Atlantic in the CPL where Colin Munro is the tournament’s second highest run-getter at present, with Glenn Phillips in 10th spot, while Mitchell McClenaghan is the second-highest wicket-taker. This week Phillips scored 58 against the St Lucia Stars and 41 against the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots (a match in which Ross Taylor scored a brisk unbeaten 51, his first half-century of the completion).

Munro started the week with 35 against the Patriots , but things weren’t looking so bright for his Trinbago Knight Riders team when he was out for 25 with the score 71/3 in the tenth over, chasing the St Lucia Stars’ 212/2.

However Brendon McCullum and Darren Bravo then teamed up in a quick-fire match-winning partnership. McCullum added 68 and Bravo remained unbeaten on 94, including ten sixes from the 36 balls he faced, as the Knight Riders finished victorious with a ball to spare. They had required 85 runs from the last five overs before Bravo hit Kieron Pollard for five sixes in six balls (after Pollard himself had earlier hit seven sixes in his 23-ball unbeaten 65).

Remarkably, the penultimate over of the match, bowled by Mitch McClenaghan, cost just two runs, and included two wickets (one of which was McCullum). Amongst the carnage around him, the Auckland left-armer finished with 2/21 from his four overs.

Later in the week, McClenaghan bowled his Aces team-mate Martin Guptill for just 7 as the St Lucia Stars had the satisfaction of beating the Barbados Tridents and hence registering their first win in 16 matches. It had been a tough start to the tournament for Guptill who’d fallen for a second ball duck against the Guyana Amazon Warriors earlier in the week.

The other Auckland Ace in action in the West Indies was Mark Chapman who dismissed Luke Ronchi for 42 as the St Lucia Stars went down by three runs to the Warriors at the start of the week. Unfortunately for Chapman, Ronchi returned the favour by stumping him for just 2. Sadly Chapman also missed out against the Jamaica Tallawahs and was on the sideline for his side’s first victory. His day will come.