October 1, 2001

New Zealand Almanack strikes gold again

The 2001 New Zealand Cricket Almanack

The 2001 New Zealand Cricket Almanack. Edited by Francis Payne and Ian Smith. Published by Hodder Moa Beckett. Reviewed by Lynn McConnell.

As if celebrating one of the most successful cricket summers on New Zealand's record, the bible of the game, the Cricket Almanack, has an achievement of its own to commemorate.

The venerable institution, which is in its 54th year of publication, has nudged over the 500 pages mark for the first time.

With the ICC KnockOut triumph, and the CricInfo Women's World Cup success to celebrate, the Almanack has left no stone unturned. The women's success has resulted in an overdue database of Test and ODI career records for them being included in the Almanack.

It is, as always, an outstanding receptacle of cricket fact and, by virtue of relatively quick publishing techniques, is right up to date in time for the start of the summer, although it must be admitted that certain off-the-field distractions in the United States allowed that to be the case.

Had New Zealand been in Pakistan like it was supposed to be it would have been touch and go.

Not surprisingly, Mark Richardson and Craig McMillan, are named the players of the year, while it is a little unusual to see that three players who have already made their international debuts, Daryl Tuffey, Kyle Mills and James Franklin are the promising players of the year.

While many of Richardson's batting achievements have already been chronicled in all manner of the media, the authors have still managed to produce one gem, the fact that he joins a select list of players who have compiled 2000 runs in other than an English season.

The list contains: Mohinder Armanath - 2234 runs (1982/83), John R Reid - 2188 (1961/62), Sunil Gavaskar - 2121 (1978/79), Bobby Simpson - 2063 (1964/65), Mark Richardson - 2030 (2000/01).

Sadly, the Almanack must also record the obituaries that marked the loss of some of the game's identities and there can have been few years where such a list as: Bert Sutcliffe, Gordon Burgess, Ken Deas, Joe Ongley and cricketing rugby identities Charlie Saxton and Ron Hemi, have all died in the same publishing year.

While the deeds of Sutcliffe have always been an obvious feature of the records section of the Almanack, the statistical section of the Almanack highlights that even more.

One of the beauties of any new edition of the Almanack is its offering of milestones that lie await in the coming season.

Some of those to keep an eye out for this summer are:

Nathan Astle to confirm his place as New Zealand's greatest one-day batsman. He needs 44 runs to head off Martin Crowe's 4704 career runs, and should quickly pass 5000 ODI runs this summer.

Chris Cairns needs 12 more wickets to go past Ewen Chatfield's 142 to become the third most successful New Zealand bowler in ODIs.

Anything like a half decent domestic one-day season should see Northern Districts' Mark Parlane scored the 496 runs he needs to become the most successful domestic one-day batsman and pass Roger Twose's 2769 runs.

Adam Parore needs to play in only eight Test matches over the summer, to head off Crowe as the third most capped New Zealander.

Astle has the chance to become the seventh New Zealander to score 3000 Test runs. He needs another 424 runs to achieve that feat.

Stephen Fleming needs even less, 404 to pass 4000 runs, a mark achieved by Crowe (5444) and John Wright (5334) while another nine catches would give 100 in Tests. He is already New Zealand's most successful fielder.

And his season with Middlesex has boosted his first-class career tally of runs to 8517. But it may be some time before he heads off the next person in front of him, Cairns, who has 8903 runs with more to come and who sits in 25th place on the all-time New Zealand list.

From a team perspective it is interesting to note the number of alterations to partnership records achieved by New Zealand in ODIs during the year. Against Pakistan there were four, Sri Lanka two, Zimbabwe five and South Africa two while there have already been two against India in the Coca-Cola Cup tournament in Sri Lanka this year.

Is this the best sign yet that more consistency in batting is just around the corner for Fleming's side?

One thing is for certain, given the quality of the opposition this summer, the evidence should be hard to refute, one year out from the World Cup.