Musings from Beyond the Boundary | 2020/21

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Musings from Beyond the Boundary | 2020/21

Praneel HiraFeatured

Perhaps the best thing about watching the WHITE FERNS taking on Australia in an ODI last Saturday was the pleasure of watching New Zealanders playing a longer form of the game, after a diet of T20 through this truncated year of cricket.

It was unfortunate that the Australians were able to dominate, as they had through the first two T20s, and once again their psychological dominance seemed to play almost as big a part as their cricketing prowess. Make no mistake, this is a very good Australian team, but they played against a New Zealand team which struggled to seize and hold the moments of superiority they created.

WHITE FERNS of the past have long talked of the Australians’ self-confidence and expectation of victory and the difference this made to their game. Indeed, when New Zealand won the World Cup in December 2000 the victors felt they had gone into the Final in the superior state of mind after consciously working on strategies to undermine the Australians’ poise and to unnerve them.

With the Women’s World Cup now postponed twelve months until 2022, this short series is important for New Zealand in terms of their build-up. The selections for both the T20 Series and the first ODI have smacked of experimentation, and the desire to find out more about some of the players.

Katie Perkins showed her class and experience in the first ODI when she was given more time at the crease than she would have expected after being listed at number 7 in the order. She came to the crease at 83/5 with the innings barely half over and was soon joined by former HEARTS teammate Maddy Green.

This pair added 62 together in a partnership that offered the bowlers something to work with, but in spite of another excellent display of accurate medium pace from Rosemary Mair the Australians were far too good on the day. Green’s 35 was New Zealand’s highest individual score in the four matches played thus far – Australian batsmen have bettered that tally four times.

Despite the global situation, there has been a surprising amount of cricket played in recent months under various conditions and in assorted venues. The CPL was concentrated in Trinidad and Tobago where the Brendon McCullum-coached home side beat the St Lucia Zouks in the Final, finishing the tournament unbeaten.

For the Trinbago Knight Riders, Colin Munro was injured late in the tournament but still ended with a run aggregate in the top 13, averaging 34.5. Second amongst the tournament run-scorers was Munro’s Auckland colleague Glenn Phillips, who managed 316 at 35.1. These two continued their records of success in the Caribbean, where in 2019 Phillips had finished the fourth highest run-scorer with Munro 13th again.

The surprise package amongst the New Zealanders in Trinidad was Scott Kuggeleijn, who finished as the tournament’s top wicket-taker with 17 wickets at 15.6 for the beaten finalists and was only dismissed twice in six innings to average 19 with the bat.

In England, the County Championship was thrown into disarray and first-class cricket was played for the Bob Willis Trophy, eventually won by Essex.

Finals Day in the T20 Vitality Blast should have been this past Saturday, but the rain put paid to that and there was talk of 5-over matches, and bowl-offs in the Edgbaston Indoor School should the bad weather persist through two designated reserve days. The second, on Wednesday, was hastily arranged in response to a poor forecast for the previously-scheduled Sunday.

With the semi-finals and final still to be played, 2018-19 Auckland ACE Daniel Bell-Drummond is the competition’s top run-scorer, averaging 42.3 from his 11 matches. Another former ACE, Matt Quinn has taken 10 wickets in eight matches for Essex, while Otago’s Hamish Rutherford has the seventh-highest run aggregate and is averaging 39.1 for Worcestershire.

In the United Arab Emirates the IPL is well underway, and it has been good to see Kane Williamson back on the field and starting with 41 after early injury niggles. With the ball, Trent Boult already has six tournament wickets at 21.5, and only three bowlers have more victims at this stage of the series. The other New Zealanders have had a quiet start with Jimmy Neesham the only one to have enjoyed significant game time thus far, but eyes will be on them as the tournament proceeds.

Back in New Zealand we have plenty of cricket to look forward to across the country as the summer’s schedule comes together. A line-up of Super Smash Double–Headers for the HEARTS and the ACES from 3 January through to 7 February is an appealing way to bring in the New Year, while the first international match on the calendar is less than two months away – the Friday night T20 against the West Indies on 27 November.