Plenty of cricket to look forward to again next summer with the release of the season’s international itinerary over the last week. Unfortunately all we’ll see of England and Australia at Eden Park will be twenty obvers a side, but at least this time round we will get to enjoy an ODI against India as well as the Anniversary Weekend T20 double-header.
In fact Anniversary Weekend will be a bit of a cricketing bonanza for us with T20s against India on the Friday night and Sunday night, and the White Ferns taking on South Africa in ODIs on the Outer Oval on the Saturday and Monday. Four different games of international cricket in four days is hard to complain about!
Once again, we miss out on a Test match in Auckland, but the timing of the England tour, and only two Tests being played against India, will have counted against Eden Park. Test matches in Auckland in mid-November don’t sound like a winning proposition and the Basin Reserve and Hagley Oval remain the premium venues for later in the summer. Eden Park will have to wait for another year (or longer!).
Meanwhile there is Test cricket not too far down the road in Hamilton and Mt Maunganui, for those who don’t mind a drive. And there are the three Tests in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney in December and January. Tickets are on sale now, so it’s a good time to get those flights sorted!
Meanwhile it’s three out of three for the Black Caps in England, in spite of making their match against Bangladesh much closer than it looked like being up until that last half hour or so. New Zealand know better than most how competitive Bangladesh can be – they have played them far more regularly than almost all the other major Test playing countries – and this was no exception.
And let’s not forget that in the 2015 World Cup New Zealand only managed to beat Bangladesh by three wickets, chasing down 288 thanks to a Guptill century, so this tournament’s game was certainly not unprecedented.
The game also demonstrated what a difference Shakib Al Hasan makes to the Bangladesh eleven. Back after missing the New Zealand tour through injury he made his mark with bat and ball, and he did the same again with his century against England. Bangladesh fell short in that massive chase but they’ve done enough to show their win against South Africa was no flash in the pan.
A few wobbles for New Zealand against Afghanistan but in the end a comfortable victory. Great to see Lockie Ferguson pick up another four wickets. He now has 54 wickets in thirty ODIs and over the last nine months he has made himself an integral part of New Zealand’s fifty-over attack And an outstanding return from Jimmy Neesham, returning to form with the ball and creating plenty of wicket-taking opportunities. With a World Cup five wicket haul he joins illustrious company – Hadlee, Bond, Southee and Boult are the only other New Zealanders to achieve this.
It was sad to see Rashid Khan exit the game after ducking into a short delivery from Ferguson. He was a big loss to Afghanistan’s attack, and it would have been intriguing to see how the New Zealanders would have handled one of the best spinners in the World at the moment.
The exposure to a bowler of his calibre when faced with a conservative run chase would have been valuable preparation as the intensity ramps up very quickly now with India to face during the week. From here there is not a game which you could say New Zealand would enter as out-and-out favourites. Let’s hope Williamson and Taylor can sort out their running between the wickets, as they must have used up a tournament’s worth of good fortune already.
Behind the glamour of the World Cup, the County Championship continues in the background, and at the moment Somerset lead Division One from Hampshire and Yorkshire. The team from Taunton have been runners-up in two of the last three English summers, but in 128 years of trying they have never won the County Championship. The title would be something very special for them, in particular for 43-year-old opening batsman Marcus Trescothick, who has scored more than 26,000 first class runs in a career stretching back to 1993. Incidentally, in that debut season he played three matches, had six innings and scored 14 runs… Fortunately the selectors persevered.
Perhaps the best-performed New Zealander in action in England over the last couple of weeks has been playing in the County Championship First Division. Warwickshire captain Jeetan Patel has had an exceptional couple of matches at Edgbaston, coming away with 22 wickets.
First up as Warwickshire beat Surrey, Patel had first innings figures of 4/53 from 31 overs. In the second innings he opened the bowling and this time his 31 overs delivered 8 wickets for 36. His match figures read 62 overs, 32 maidens, twelve wickets for 89.
He followed that with 6 for 16 and 4 for 72 in a drawn match against Nottinghamshire, when his match figures were equally impressive: 60.4 overs, 28 maidens, ten for 88. The 39-year-old just keeps on keeping on, and that 8 for 36 was his best innings return in a career that began at Eden Park in February 2000, when Wellington took on Auckland. He started as he meant to continue, taking 5/145 off 59 overs as Auckland scored 515/7 declared in their only innings.
Lancashire lead the County Championship’s Second Division, where Logan van Beek had a useful outing for Derbyshire as they beat Leicestershire by 65 runs. The Wellington all-rounder took 3/20 and 1/33, and chimed in with handy innings of 15 not out and 26 in an important victory which helped his side to fourth place in the points table.
Amongst players with an Aces connection, Matt Quinn has been out of the top Essex line-up, and had a quiet game for the Seconds against Middlesex Seconds last week. The Essex top side played Kent, for which side Daniel Bell-Drummond had a solid match, scoring 28 and 81. That wasn’t enough to earn the win though, as Alastair Cook‘s double of 125 and 90 ensured Essex finished on top.
Finally this week, congratulations to French Open winner Ash Barty. The Australian played cricket for Queensland, and for the Brisbane Heat in the inaugural season of the Women’s Big Bash in 2015-16, before returning her attention to tennis.