November 17, 2008

Paul Ford

Ten reasons New Zealand can win

Paul Ford
Jesse Ryder pads up for a hit in the nets, Sydney, November 11, 2008
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Daniel Vettori, all-rounder. The greatest No. 8 batsman in the history of Test cricket is, disappointingly, the prized scalp amongst the fresh New Zealand batting line-up. Putting his headline bowling ability and developing captaincy acumen to one side, even Ricky Ponting will recognise that he is the talisman of our effort too. On the other side of the equation, he won’t be batting at number eight in Brisbane – it looks highly likely he will be forced to ratchet himself up the order one spot to No. 7 to accommodate the smorgasbord of medium pace bowlers needed in the XI.

Jamie How is in form. This hasn't happened for a while – in fact he has not made it to 41 in his past seven Test match innings: 29, 40, 19, 16, 36, 8 and 8. He needs to do a better job as the senior member of his opening pairing with Aaron “Son of Rodney” Redmond.

Jesse Ryder is the new messiah of the Black Caps. The New Zealand version of Greg Ritchie is something of an unknown quantity for Australia, and his magnificent timing and utter disdain for bad bowling augurs well if Watson, Clark and Johnson dish up anything short and/or wide. That belligerent streak can be his Achilles heel of course – a la Craig McMillan he tends to occasionally contract a bit of white crease fever that affects his decision-making.

We are going to pick four pace bowlers. We must do so in order to give ourselves a sniff of winning. The sticky weather in Brisbane this week makes it even more likely. The downside of course is that none of them are Richard Hadlee – and not one of them is Shane Bond either. I think it is time we amended the Bring Back Buck banners (a common sight at all NZ sports events, alluding to rugby player Wayne Shelford’s axing from the All Blacks in 1990). Yes, it is time for the Bring Back Bond banners to start appearing with monotonous regularity.

Simon Katich. Are his nicknames really Stiffler and Duck Blaster? Quite odd. More certain is the fact he is ugly but effective in grinding away at one end, while Hayden bludgeons away at the other. Katich is also much more comfortable against Vettori. Brilliantly rebranded as “Simone Cattick” by an Indian journalist during his recent press conference whinge about negative Indian tactics. In the same news item, the two batting Michelles pop up too: Hussey and Clarke. New Zealand couldn’t be beaten by a pack of girls, surely?

We have the best wicketkeeper in the world. Maybe. Of course he is playing as a top-order batsman so his run-making ability needs to take precedence. A savage player on his day, he will be dreaming about Jason Krezja.

Australia is not a Third World country … so Matthew Hayden should feel comfortable. Complacent even. Completely irrelevant but should get a few bites from rabid Indian fans just for mentioning it.

Our top order is made of the wood that Phil Horne was nicknamed after: balsa. In fact if you took a moment to zero in on our most recent 10 opening batting efforts against Australia you would be holding your head in your hands by the end of it. An average first-wicket partnership of 14.8 means the bar is set quite low for the Gabba.

Ricky Ponting is angry. Very angry. Incandescent with rage. He is set to put the devil in Tasmanian Devil. He has the Peter Roebuck voodoo doll in effect. Rumour has it he might even wear that famous gift from his grandmother under his cream Test shirt on Thursday as well: yep, the “Future Australian captain” t-shirt. Hopefully he is distracted enough to not add too many to the pile of runs that sees him sitting pretty as the most prolific scorer of Test runs at the Gabba in history.

New Zealand have not said anything too stupid in the lead-up. The serial offender, coach John Bracewell, appears to have been completely muzzled or perhaps he is speaking in tongues so complicated even journalists can’t crack the code. (Is Braces actually over there?) Of course, the same reporters have manipulated our players' words and headlines to make it sound like we think the Australians used to be good, but now they're rubbish - sample headlines: “Kiwis claim they have the firepower to tackle Oz top order”, “Hands rubbed with glee as empire looks crumbly”, “Black Caps can be number one” and “NZ zero in on Ponting”.

Paul Ford is a co-founder of the Beige Brigade. He tweets here

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Posted by BG on (November 21, 2008, 21:17 GMT)

subramanian.g: "It is inevitable mate, Australia is going to win this series 3-0." Inevitable is it? Care to put some money on that? I'll give you good odds. Now let's see... the first test in in Brisbane, the second is in Adelaide ... and ... um ... remind me again where the third test is being played?

Posted by BG on (November 21, 2008, 21:04 GMT)

subramanian.g: The problem is not that Paul wrote this article while drunk, it's that you read this article while sober, uptight and unloved.

"...and pup bites me.", Indeed.

Posted by subramanian.g on (November 21, 2008, 13:36 GMT)

Paul, your lack of respect for Mike Hussey and pup bites me. Were you flat drunk when you wrote this apology to an article? Isnt this a case of taking a beer room conversation to a reputed cricket website. It is inevitable mate, Australia is going to win this series 3-0. New Zealand is no doubt a good team but it is just not good enough to beat Australia in Australia. I hope and pray that Roy comes good and Haydos finds his magical touch back.

Posted by redneck on (November 21, 2008, 4:05 GMT)

what have you got to say now barra??? prehaps you forgot to take your oponents seriously and got carried away before you even saw new zealand bat!

Posted by waterbuffalo on (November 20, 2008, 18:29 GMT)

"Only the weather Gods can save New Zealand now"-indeed, I don't know about 'saving' but they have certainly helped. Nobody bothered to consider the different pitches in India and the Gabba that the batsmen have to get adjusted to in a week, and now the result is obvious to everyone; it is difficult even for veterans like Hayden and Ponting to change their length, footwork, and to deal with so much movement. Congratulations New Zealand on a brilliant First Day, couldn't happen to a better country, considering all the youngsters you have and how the Aussies were putting you down(like they do everyone else). Your bowlers and fielders have done you proud and hopefully a couple of batsmen can make you just as proud as well. Good Luck!

Posted by Philpott on (November 20, 2008, 11:49 GMT)

How dare you come on here and write stuff that is not a serious analytical diagnosis of the state of NZ cricket. I'm going to go and self harm now.

Some of you need to lighten the F up. It's NZ cricket...you have to take most (if not all) things tongue firmly in cheek.

Posted by Barra on (November 20, 2008, 7:56 GMT)

As usual, Aussies blow so much wind up their behinds that they foget to actually take an opponent seriously. Weren't you the same guys who said you were going to flog the Poms a few years ago and then India last month. Uh-oh, you just got rolled by a 19 yr old with less than 5 tests and a chubby part timer. Perhaps get your 'All-star 'A'side'to play us and it will be competitive. Kiwis to win this one inside 4 days.

Posted by S. Bond on (November 20, 2008, 6:59 GMT)

Ha ha if i was over there at the gabba it would certainly be game on. However I am not. so my prediction is it will be my mate Jesse who takes it to the Aussies and claims the first game for us. PS. Ponting will struggle if the wickets do anything at all the bunny.

Posted by Marcus on (November 20, 2008, 4:48 GMT)

Maybe you should have mentioned Tim Southee as well- Australia five down for 134 so far, and all of a sudden New Zealand are in front.

Posted by Mattius on (November 19, 2008, 23:25 GMT)

I do not expect new zealand to come close in this series. As far as i see it their only three class players are vettori mcCullum and Taylor. The rest of the team are just going to be passengers i think. The batting line-up is brittle with only taylor averaging over 35 and the bowling line-up, while it may trouble Australia early on a green GABBA track, is likely to really struggle once the deck flattens out a bit. As much as i would like to see a contest i don't think that will happen until the boks come out

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Ford
Paul Ford (aka Paul Holden) is a co-founder of the beloved Beige Brigade, the patriotic and long suffering Kiwi supporters' cult that is a bastion of things brown, tan, tongue-in-cheek and tenuously cricket-related. Paul lives in Wellington, somewhere between the Basin Reserve and Karori Park, and his favourite shot is the front-foot pull. @beigebrigade

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