2000 New Zealand Cricket Almanack, in association with SKY Television. Edited by Francis Payne and Ian Smith. Published by Hodder Moa Beckett. Price $39.95.
Consistency is what every sportsman aims for, but it remains for New Zealand's cricketers to achieve the consistency of the editors of New Zealand's Cricket Almanack.
Francis Payne and Ian Smith have again combined to produce an outstanding record of cricket in New Zealand.
Their millennium issue has just gone on sale and it defies even the most pinpricking of assessors to find fault with it at all.
No one will quibble with their choices of players of the year. Chris Cairns and Daniel Vettori were logical recipients of the honour. The choices of Tama Canning, Bruce Martin and Jacob Oram as promising players are entirely reasonable.
For all the statistical information that is always available in updated fashion in the Almanack, the Happenings section remains possibly the greatest treasure trove in the publication.
Recent injury to left-arm spinner Vettori has highlighted the cost to New Zealand's cricket.
Operating in his quiet and unassuming way, Vettori proved the most economical of New Zealand's bowlers in One-Day Internationals last summer. While Alex Tait and Paul Wiseman were rated ahead of him, they played only three matches each.
In his 16 matches Vettori conceded 4.29 runs per over, while Chris Harris conceded 4.42 and Cairns 4.86.
It was a big year for Vettori in many ways. But backed by some of those delightful statistical nuances the editors delight in, it was even more remarkable.
Until his injury prevented him starting the third Test against Australia, Vettori had appeared in an unbroken run of 30 Tests. That was equal to the number of career Tests played by his predecessors as left-arm spinners, Stephen Boock and Hedley Howarth.
That is a graphic example of the workload the 21-year-old has borne since his debut.
His haul of 12-149 in the first Test against Australia was the best by a New Zealand spinner and when he picked up Damien Martyn in the second innings he achieved his goal of being the youngest spinner to take 100 Test wickets.
His 7-87 equalled the previous best innings performance by a spinner, achieved by Boock in Hyderabad in 1984/85.
Another statistic to put Vettori's career in perspective was that by season's he had played more Tests than first-class matches in his career. He has played only eight matches for Northern Districts, two of them before he was selected for New Zealand.
Cairns' deeds that elevated him to the status of the best all-rounder in the world are accorded similar treatment. It is a measure of his development that his receipt of the Winsor and Redpath Cups in the same season was the first time since 1954/55 when John Reid achieved the feat that it had happened to one player in the same season.
Other gems include:
- Mark Bailey is 97 runs away from scoring most runs in his Shell Cup career without scoring a century. Mark Greatbatch holds the record with 1922 runs.
- Want to win the Shell Trophy? Get an opening partnership going. Northern Districts averaged 42.30 runs per innings from its openers last summer in their Shell Trophy winning season. In all but one innings James Marshall and Michael Parlane opened.
- Will New Zealand take longer to win a One-Day International tournament than it did to win a Test match? It was 45 matches before New Zealand won a Test, after 26 years of trying. So far it has played 28 One-Day International tournaments in 25 years without winning one.
- Andrew Penn, formerly of Central Districts but now of Wellington, will be hoping a change of scenery produces a change in economy. He is the most expensive bowler (with more than 100 overs bowled) to have played Shell Cup cricket. His runs per over is 5.05.
- Remember that 276-run opening stand by West Indians Sherwin Campbell and Adrian Griffith in Hamilton last year? It was the first time a team lost a Test, anywhere in the world, after a double century opening partnership.
- Mathew Sinclair's 214 at the Basin Reserve was the first time any player had scored a double century in his first Test against the West Indies. Only Hanif Mohammad with 337 had scored more, and his was in the second innings.
- Sinclair's score highlighted what a tough job it is to open your Test career at No 3. The previous best New Zealand score on debut at No 3 was 66 by Ross Morgan, against Pakistan, in the 1964/65 season.
There are many, many more statistical delights scattered throughout what has become an essential companion to any New Zealand cricket watcher's collection.