It’s always an interesting time of the year when the domestic contracts are awarded and we find out who’s moving where. On that count, there’s good news for Auckland with the return of Kyle Jamieson and the arrival of Corey Anderson, both with the potential to make a big contribution to the Aces in next summer’s campaign.
Jamieson has an impressive record in all formats, with 67 First Class wickets in 22 matches, 20 List A wickets in 18 matches and a very impressive 38 T20 wickets in 23 matches, including his 6/7 against the Aces at Eden Park on New Year’s Day. Throw in a first class batting average approaching 19, helped along by three First Class 50s, and his value becomes very evident. His pace, accuracy and bounce will add a new dimension to the Auckland attack, whatever the length of the innings.
Corey Anderson needs no introduction and his inclusion in the side is a mouth-watering prospect. Assuming the domestic schedule takes similar shape to last summer we have the Black Caps engaged in Test cricket against England and then Australia for much of the time when the domestic short-form competitions will be in progress. With a bit of luck, that means for at least some of those matches an Aces top order including Guptill, Munro and Anderson alongside Glenn Phillips and Mark Chapman – entertainment guaranteed!
One name missing from the Auckland contract list was Michael Guptill-Bunce who has decided to retire from representative cricket. Guptill-Bunce made his debut back in 2013, and in 38 First Class matches he averaged almost 33, with three hundreds and fifteen fifties. He’s been a solid contributor at or near the top of the order and he’s also been a significant figure in the field with 35 catches, just under one per match.
Another noteworthy retirement is Brad Wilson., latterly from Otago but previously from Northern Districts. His First Class career began in 2005 and he started in impressive fashion. Opening the batting for Northern Districts, appropriately enough against Otago, he delivered a more than useful double of 96 and 35. He went on to play 111 First Class matches, averaging over 32 and hitting 14 centuries, a very handy domestic career.
The World Cup takes centre-stage in England, but in the background the County Championship continues, giving James Anderson the chance for a protracted run in his Lancashire colours as he builds up for the return of Test cricket later in the season. He’s making an impact too, most recently with match figures of 9/47 off 33 overs against Derbyshire, for whom Logan van Beek had a quiet match as Lancashire concluded a 10-wicket victory.
Van Beek had taken 2/71 in his previous game against Glamorgan, but his performances through the English summer haven’t yet gone beyond the ‘useful’ and he will be disappointed not to have contributed more lower order runs.
In a spite of the recent damp weather in England it is Jeetan Patel’s star which continues to shine. Not only did he claim 4/48 against Yorkshire to help Warwickshire to a 3 wicket win, he has also brought up 700 wickets for his County. 40 of those wickets have come in this season’s County Championship at an average of 17.1. Only the South African-born Essex off-spinner Simon Harmer has more First Division victims – 42 at a very similar average to Patel’s.
There’s been international cricket happening in the Netherlands over the last week too, with Auckland’s Max O’Dowd making his One Day International debut for the Netherlands against Zimbabwe. O’Dowd already has 14 T20 Internationals under his belt as well as a handful of First Class matches for the Netherlands, and he has made an outstanding start in the 50-over Game. In his first match he scored an unbeaten 86, batting through the innings as the Netherlands scored 208/3 to beat Zimbabwe by seven wickets. In his second game he set his side off with 59 as they scored 291/7 to better Zimbabwe again. This was the Netherlands’ biggest successful ODI run chase and they achieved victory after having been 167/5 at one stage.
And then there was the World Cup, and a pair of nail-biters in Birmingham and in Manchester. Much has been written of Williamson’s performance against South Africa, but what a great hand Colin de Grandhomme played. His record at Edgbaston for New Zealand and for the Birmingham Bears is impressive – he’s now scored 432 runs there from 264 balls, for an average of 43.2 and a strike rate of 163.6.
On to Old Trafford and the West Indies, and One Day International Cricket at its best in a game of ever-fluctuating fortunes. Any win after losing both your openers first ball is meritorious, and again it was a Williamson master class which set the scene for the gripping climax that was to come. Over the last week the contest has come alive, with England losing to Sri Lanka and New Zealand and India surviving close finishes to remain unbeaten.
If New Zealand has an issue to address it is the dependence on Williamson and Taylor with the bat, and Boult and Ferguson with the ball. Several others have played their parts on various occasions, but when the pressure has been on these four have been the ones to absorb it, and deliver with consistency. As they approach the business end of the contest the Black Caps will be looking to display the depth we know they have.