An abrupt end to the New Zealand first class season and an equally abrupt, and early, start to the Northern Hemisphere’s summer of cricket. The New Zealand Cricket Awards Dinner was on the Thursday, the day after the scheduled final day of the summer’s last test match (which of course didn’t happen). The following day most of the New Zealanders bound for the IPL were on their flights to India. That emphasises just how stretched the playing schedule is for our top players, and how little time they actually get to spend at home.
Days later the IPL was under way with Royal Challengers Bangalore collapsing for 70 against Chennai Super Kings in the first match of the tournament. Colin de Grandhomme was the only New Zealander involved in the opening skirmish and he managed just 4 before falling to Ravindra Jadeja. Overall it’s been a quiet start for the New Zealand contingent, with a number yet to see game time. Auckland Ace Mitch McClenaghan has been the only Kiwi to catch the eye thus far with his 3/40 for Mumbai Indians in a losing cause against the Delhi Capitals.
For the Delhi side, Trent Boult had 1/42 – he was part of a formidable pace attack alongside Ishant Sharma and Kagiso Rabada, but he ended up sitting out the Capitals’ next match. The other Aucklander in action thus far has been Lockie Ferguson for the Kolkata Knight Riders – he had 0/34 against Sunrisers Hyderabad and then 1/42 versus Kings XI Punjab.
ESPN Cricinfo have published a very interesting article about Ferguson and his role as a death bowler, and it highlights a side of his bowling that we may not have been so aware of here in New Zealand. In his T20 career for Auckland, Derbyshire, New Zealand and in the IPL his bowling economy rate in overs 16 to 20 is 6.87, one of the lowest in the world among bowlers who’ve delivered at least 15 overs amongst the last five of the innings.
In his entire career, up until last week, he had been hit for just eight fours and three sixes in the death overs, and in the last five overs he bowls almost 9 balls, an over and a half, for each boundary conceded.
Good news from a New Zealand perspective was Kane Williamson’s return from injury to resume the helm at Sunrisers Hyderabad. He scored 14 from 10 balls in his initial foray of the contest, following a second significant opening partnership between Jonny Bairstow and David Warner at the top of the order.
The English season has also commenced, earlier even than last year, and it has started with Somerset inflicting a massive defeat on Cardiff University. Chasing 615 to win in the fourth innings, the students were shot out for just 46. Craig Overton, whom we saw in action for England in the Eden Park Test last year, took 6/24 as the University lost by 568 runs.
This was the largest defeat in terms of runs in a first class match in England (and the eighth largest loss anywhere) and will inevitably renew discussion about whether these matches between the universities and county XIs should continue to be accorded first class status.
The New Zealand Cricket Awards made for the usual excellent evening. It was a reflection of the strength the Black Caps have shown through most of the summer, especially at Test level, that Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls and Neil Wagner left the presentations empty-handed in spite of the multiple telling contributions that each made to the seasons’ successes. (Latham and Nicholls were recognised for their selection in the ICC Test XI for the year).
Talking to a handful of the players it was rewarding to see just how much pride and satisfaction they were taking from their deserved second place in the ICC Test Match rankings. It was clearly as significant an achievement for the players as it was for the supporters.
Amelia Kerr monopolised the women’ awards, and how often anywhere in the world has the schoolgirl player of the year also been the One Day International Player of the Year! It was interesting to hear her interviewed and remark that she had to start consistently scoring runs against the top attacks and that she wanted to bowl her wrist-spinners a little quicker – interim White Ferns coach Bob Carter had suggested a modification to her run-up. Clearly she is not resting on her laurels and her desire to improve bodes well for her on-going career.
Perhaps the highlight of the evening was the conversation with Ewen Chatfield, after he was awarded the Bert Sutcliffe Medal for outstanding services to cricket – as interviewer Simon Doull said, we could have listened to him all evening…
One big improvement over last year’s event was that the season’s calendar enabled the summer’s domestic cricket awards to be announced on the night. Last year the domestic schedule had not been completed by the time of the Awards celebration, and this really takes something away from the night as a true celebration of the summer’s cricket. This time it was great that players like Devon Conway, Natalie Dodd, Frankie MacKay and Tom Bruce could enjoy their moment, and the acclaim of the wider cricket community.
Amongst the major associations, Central Districts finished the season atop the pedestal. They will have had to reorganise the display cabinet to fit the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield and the Men’s Burger King Super Smash trophy alongside the Plunket Shield which they retained from last season. When it counted, the Stags and the Hinds did the business and proved worthy winners – hard to argue that overall they were the domestic summer’s two best sides.
Image credit: Photosport.co.nz