Musings from Beyond the Boundary – 8 October

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

A grey, breezy Saturday may not have been the perfect start to the season, but the weather couldn’t detract from some excellent cricket, as the Jeff Crowe Cup got under way.

Both Parnell and Suburbs New Lynn passed 300 in their first innings of the season, and top-scorer of the day was Michael Barry, as the team from out west crossed the bridge to upset North Shore.  Barry, fresh from the Aces’ pre-season sojourn on the Gold Coast, scored an unbeaten 152 in quick time, brightening the day with 11 fours and six sixes.

North Shore then collapsed to be all out for 98 with the well-travelled Ronnie Hira top-scoring with 34. For Suburbs-New Lynn the destroyer was Eli Meenhorst, who snatched 5/26 in his first Premier outing – he returned the best bowling figures of the round.

Parnell’s Ben Rainger was the day’s other centurion, contributing 111 to Parnell’s 300/7. University put up a good fight in response, but in the end could only get to 245.

At the other end of the spectrum, Howick-Pakuranga had a big nine-wicket victory after bowling out Birkenhead for just 93, with Matt McEwan taking 3/19 in his first match in Auckland following his move from Wellington over the winter.

Next week the Premier men will be joined by the women, with the start of the T20 competition for the Pearl Dawson Trophy.

Disappointing news from India, with Sean Solia having to return to New Zealand with a hamstring injury before he’s had a chance to get on the field. Solia had missed the two first class games and would have been eager to make a mark in what had been a fragile batting line-up in those first two encounters.

The positives to be taken from the innings defeats by India A were the consistency of Jeet Raval at the top of the order, the return to form by Henry Nicholls at the last attempt, with his 94 in New Zealand’s second innings 210 in the final match, and Colin Munro’s all round efforts in the same game. The disappointment was the collapse from 124/1 to 210 which brought about the early finish on the final day.

Colin de Grandhomme has joined the tourists for the latter part of the One Day Series, replacing Solia. As well as offering the side some additional experience, this will allow him to get in some early preparation before the Black Caps series immediately following the ‘A’ tour.

Also announced during the week was the White Ferns team to travel to Sharjah later this month to take on Pakistan in three ODIs and four T20 Internationals. Four of the Hearts were named in the touring party, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Katie Perkins and Anna Peterson, and they’ll be looking forward to the challenge of playing in very different conditions from those they’ve experienced of late.

Plenty of activity on the international scene too, but the most astonishing match was another in the UAE, where Sri Lanka have travelled to take on the Pakistani men.  The first four days of their First Test were something of a grind as Sri Lanka took almost 155 overs for their 419, thanks in large part to Dinesh Chandimal’s nine hour, 372-ball, unbeaten 155.

Pakistan replied with an even more pedestrian 422, from 162 and a half overs, with all the top seven reaching double-figures while the veteran Rangana Herath bowled 40 overs in taking 5/93.

Then things changed. Suddenly Sri Lanka were dismissed for 138, this time the leg-spinner Yasir Shah taking 5/51, and that left Pakistan chasing just 136 to win. At the end of the eighteenth over they were 36/5 and the game was tipped upside down. Sarfraz Ahmed and Haris Sohail stabilised the innings but when Sarfraz fell with the score on 78 the contest was wide open again.

Twenty runs later Sohail followed him back, after top-scoring with 34, and Herath did the rest, mopping up the last three wickets to finish with 6/43 and deliver the Sri Lankans an unlikely 21 run victory. It has not been an easy time for Sri Lanka since the retirements of Jayawardene and Sangakkara and this win will be very important in restoring both pride and confidence.

In the process of wrapping up the innings, the 39-year-old Herath became the first left arm spinner in the history of the game to take 400 test wickets – it has taken him 84 tests, an impressive strike rate. To place this in perspective, Sir Richard Hadlee’s 431 test wickets came in 86 tests, and Imran Khan’s 362 took him 88 tests.

Herath also became just the fourth bowler to take 100 wickets in the fourth innings of test matches. Of bowlers with over 300 test wickets only Mitchell Johnson has taken a higher percentage of his tally in the fourth innings. It was also Herath’s 11th five wicket haul in the fourth innings of a test, four more than either Muralitharan or Warne managed in their prolific careers. A very impressive record…