What a week it was for Will Young. We’ve known for a long time now of his class and skill and he proved it beyond doubt with his 301 runs in three innings against the Australian World Cup squad last week. What a disappointment for him that shoulder surgery will now see him out of action, it seems well into next summer. And this, weeks after missing his Test debut when the Christchurch match against Bangladesh did not proceed.
Young made his first class debut as a 19-year-old against Auckland in 2012 and he has fashioned a fine record since, in all formats of the game. He averages 41.6 in first class cricket, 36.9 in List A encounters (not helped by his performances against Australia, as these were apparently unofficial matches) and 25.1 in T20, at a strike rate of 131.5 and including 55 sixes in 60 innings. There are few batsmen in New Zealand better to watch, and we’ll look forward to his recovery and return to the game next year.
It was an impressive week for an inexperienced New Zealand side up against a close-to-full-strength Australian team, for whom Steve Smith looked ominous in his return to the national colours. Of the New Zealanders off to the World Cup there was good time at the crease for Tom Latham and Tom Blundell, handy all-round performances by Jimmy Neesham, and Matt Henry was on song with the ball. Henry Nicholls had to sit out the last two matches with an injury but the word is that he will be fully recovered well before he is required in England.
The Australians had summoned their World Cup players home from the IPL and, in Glenn Maxwell’s case, from county duties in England to play the three match series against New Zealand and they got the tight competition they would have been seeking.
For New Zealand, Hamish Rutherford returned from England to join the line-up and though he had a quiet series he was coming off some scintillating form for Worcestershire.
He had opened up with 123 on his County Championship debut against Leicestershire and then scored 108 in his first Royal London One Day Cup match, against Lancashire. A couple of games later there was 126 versus Northamptonshire and then 42 against Warwickshire, for whom Jeetan Patel took 3/37.
Patel was in action again against his Wellington Firebirds team-mate Logan van Beek when Warwickshire played Derbyshire and van Beek chose this match for his best performance of the competition ending with 3/69. Otherwise he has been expensive on several occasions, although picking up handy wickets here and there.
After his good start with Middlesex, Ross Taylor had a quiet couple of matches before scoring 94 in 85 balls against Kent to help his team into the quarter-finals. That is as far as they went though, going down to Lancashire. Chasing Lancashire’s 304/4 Taylor was fifth out for 6 when the score was 24/5. The wonder of it was that Middlesex went on to reach 284, losing by just twenty runs.
Matt Quinn hasn’t been sighted for Essex over the last couple of weeks, but his Aces team-mate of last summer, Daniel Bell-Drummond, leads the batting averages for Kent.
After the New Zealanders’ under-stated IPL campaigns it was good to see a few of the Kiwi contingent finishing the tournament with some handy performances. Trent Boult seems to be coming into some form at just the right time after finally enjoying a run of appearances for the Delhi Capitals. He had 2/27 against the Rajasthan Royals when one of his victims was Ish Sodhi, who himself relished some rare game time, taking 3/36. Boult then had 1/37 against Sunrisers Hyderabad, for whom Martin Guptill scored a destructive 19-ball 36 with four sixes and Kane Williamson added 28. Then Boult had 1/20 off four overs against the Chennai Super Kings, getting Faf du Plessis and breaking the opening partnership between the South African and Shane Watson – both batsmen scored 50.
The stand-out performance from a New Zealander over the last fortnight was Kane Williamson’s unbeaten 70 in 43 balls against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Williamson will have relished some time at the crease and feeling bat on ball to such effect after what had been a very lean series for him to that point. Colin de Grandhomme was in the Royal Challengers Bangalore side that day, but didn’t make an impact with bat or ball.
Alongside the closing stages of the IPL, the Women’s T20 Challenge has also been under way, with Suzie Bates, Sophie Devine, Lea Tahuhu and Amelia Kerr all invited to participate. The wrist-spinner Kerr has had a good tournament with two hauls of 2/21, and then 2/29 and an important 36 runs in a losing cause in the final. Interesting to see that White Ferns opening bowler Tahuhu was batting at number 7 for her side, the Supernovas, and had bowled just one over in her two matches leading into the Final. On that occasion though she took the new ball, dismissed both openers and finished her four overs with 2/21, setting her side on the path to a four wicket victory.
Finally this week, sad news of the passing of West Indian batsman Seymour Nurse, at the age of 85. Nurse was a key member of the great West Indian batting line-up of the 1960s and the star of the West Indian visit to New Zealand in 1969. They had just been beaten in Australia and he had made the decision to retire from international cricket at the end of the New Zealand leg of the tour. He went out in style, steering West Indies to victory in the First Test at Eden Park with innings of 95 and 168 as the visitors chased 348 for victory, winning with three overs left in the match.
In the Second Test, which New Zealand won, Nurse made 21 and 16, but in the drawn Third Test at Christchurch he scored 258. This is still the highest score by a batsman in his last test match. His final innings for the West Indies was back at Eden Park, when he scored a typically attractive 80 in just over an hour and a half against the Governor-General’s XI.
Nurse played 29 Tests and averaged 47.6. After his retirement he became involved in administration and coached many of Barbados’s finest. He had also represented Barbados at football.
I had the privilege of meeting him at Kensington Oval in Barbados in 2014. He was strongly-built man even then, quietly spoken and humble. On discovering that I was from New Zealand he simply said, “I played there once.”
Firm of opinion, he commanded respect and was clearly held in the highest regard by his colleagues. Desmond Haynes paid him a touching tribute on Facebook, reprinted on ESPNCricInfo: “My coach my mentor, we all from the Holders Hill area [just to the north of Bridgetown] love this man, we used to walk like Seymour, bat like him and try to talk like him. Thanks for everything you have done for me.”