Musings from beyond the boundary – 21 May

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

It was a longer wait than everyone anticipated but finally the White Ferns World Cup team has been announced and four of the Hearts will be in England next month when the competition kicks off on 24 June, with New Zealand meeting Sri Lanka in Bristol.

Originally word was that the team was to have been announced soon after a training camp at Lincoln in mid-April, but the naming of the squad was pushed back another month as a further camp was convened in Lincoln over the weekend of 13/14 May.  Then the players were kept waiting until early on the Monday evening before they received the news of the selectors’ final decision.

The four Hearts players picked in the touring party are Maddy Green, Katie Perkins, Anna Peterson and Auckland’s International Player of the Year, Holly Huddleston, and they can look forward to an exciting four weeks of competition through which all eight teams play each other before semi-finals at Derby and Bristol, and the Final at Lord’s on 23 July. The White Ferns experienced the Melbourne Cricket Ground earlier this year, and that will certainly have whetted their appetite to go one better and play at the Home of Cricket with the World Cup at stake.

Meanwhile in Ireland the Black Caps have turned in two solid performances to see off Ireland and Bangladesh in the first round of the Tri-Series Competition.  Ireland will have been disappointed with their showing to date, while Bangladesh will be rueing another of the lower order batting collapses which plagued them in New Zealand last summer – this time they lost 4 for 14 in 15 balls at the end of the innings, including three wickets in the last over.

For New Zealand almost everyone has made a worthwhile contribution in at least one of the two games to date (Sunday evening’s match against Ireland is still to come), with Hamish Bennett making an emphatic return to the national colours.

While the wickets came against Ireland, Mitchell Santner had another good spell against Bangladesh and he has been well-supported by Ish Sodhi in both games. Meanwhile with 10 scores of 25 or better across the two matches the batsmen are also running into some good form.

Neil Wagner has again missed out on the chance to make his white ball debut for New Zealand, being released back to his county side, Essex, as the first of the IPL players made their way to join the squad in Ireland their Indian commitments coming to an end. Wagner returned to England and immediately picked up 3/55 against Somerset in his first game back, and a few days later he helped his team secure a semi-final spot in the one day Royal London Cup after seven wins from eight starts.

That big match is still almost a month away and in the meantime the County Championship has resumed with Essex performing strongly there as well.  Having scored 360 in their first innings (with the almost inevitable hundred from Alastair Cook leading the way) they have Hampshire battling at 92/7.  So far Wagner has been wicketless, but Matt Quinn, who took the new ball ahead of the New Zealand test player, has 2/19 from his nine overs. Incidentally, this is a strong Hampshire batting line up with each of their top six boasting an international pedigree (with four separate countries – world cricket today!)

A mixed week for the Aucklanders on the big stage – both Mitchell McClenaghan (currently the third-highest wicket-taker in this year’s IPL) and Lockie Ferguson have been named as likely starters in the looming T20 Final in India, but, in the space of less than a week, each of Martin Guptill, Colin de Grandhomme and Colin Munro managed first ball dismissals – in three different matches in two separate countries.

In closing, another snippet from the 2017 Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack. New Zealand cricket-followers will remember Martin Snedden’s three day duck against England at Trent Bridge back in 1990. In a rain–truncated test match Snedden came in as nightwatchman late on the first day with the score 170/5. On day two the weather allowed only 18 runs to be scored, none of them by Snedden, who remained unbeaten once again. However on the third morning, after the addition of two more runs by John Bracewell batting at the other end, Snedden was caught by Graham Gooch off the bowling of de Freitas for 0 – an innings which was now into its third day and had occupied 29 balls (and 39 minutes at the crease).

Wisden’s story is of a similar vein but documents a three day and three over hat-trick, and once again there is an Auckland connection. In a County Championship match in 2016 between Essex and Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire’s Craig Miles dismissed James Foster with the last ball of an over. He then had Matt Quinn caught off the first ball of his next over, the dismissal ending the Essex first innings and the second day’s play. Two days later Essex were already 59/4 in their second innings when Miles was thrown the ball and with his first delivery he bowled Ravi Bopara. A three day hat-trick, and victims two and three, Quinn and Bopara, both former Auckland representatives.

Incidentally while Essex lost this match, Matt Quinn starred with bowling figures of 7/76 and 4/87, still his best match return.