Apr 152014
 

Published: 5:40PM Tuesday April 15, 2014 Source: ONE Sport

Mark Craig of Otago Volts (Source: Photosport)

Mark Craig of Otago Volts - Source: Photosport

Jeetan Patel rules himself out of Windies tour Otago spinner Craig bolts into Black Caps squad video '92 memories still burn strong for Chris Harris

No one is more shocked at Otago off-spinner Mark Craig's inclusion in the Black Caps Test squad than the man himself.

The uncapped 27-year-old was today named in the 16-strong squad to tour the West Indies later next month, with another spinner, Jeetan Patel, pulling out of the tour to focus on county cricket in England.

"I probably can't say a couple of the words I said, on TV," Craig told ONE Sport of his own reaction to his Test selection.

"But dad asked who that was on the phone and I said, 'aww that was Bruce and I'm going to the West Indies'."

"I think he nearly fell out of his chair, and mum, she welled up a little bit. But, it was awesome."

Craig's selection follows a patch of strong one-day form, his 22 first class wickets ranking him among the best spinners this season.

"He's a true off-spinner, I guess one of the old traditional ones, beats guys in the air, he spins the ball hard," explained Black Caps coach Mike Hesson.

"He's a capable batsman. He was probably initially 12-months away in terms of involving him in New Zealand A - but it could be the making of him."

Patel's unavailability has thrust the spotlight on Craig, who's international selection is made even more staggering, after serious illness almost curtailed his career.

"Basically I had what's called chronic fatigue syndrome," Craig explained.

"And I had to come back to Auckland for 10 or 11 months, where I went through various different methods of treatment and finally got it sorted and back down to Dunedin I went."

In fact, Craig was out of all cricket for almost two years, making his comeback to the the highest level even more remarkable.

Meanwhile, the selectors have also issued a call-up for one-day wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi, while opener Peter Fulton also earns a reprieve, although his opening spot is no longer guaranteed.

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Apr 142014
 
Otago spinner Craig bolts into Black Caps squad

Published: 11:50AM Tuesday April 15, 2014 Source: ONE News

Otago off-spinner Mark Craig has bolted into the Black Caps Test squad for the tour to the West Indies starting later next month.

The little known 27-year-old comes into the squad for Jeetan Patel after the former Test spinner pulled out to continue his county career in England with Warwickshire.

Craig’s first class stats – 43 wickets at 42.88 – are hardly compelling but the need for an off-spinner in the Caribbean has been well documented.

Indeed a potential West Indies batting lineup featuring four left-handers – Chris Gayle, Darren Bravo, Kieran Powell and Shivnarine Chanderpaul – appears to have helped Craig’s cause and counted against Canterbury leg-spinner Astle.

“Mark has had a strong Plunket Shield taking 22 wickets and his right-arm off-spinners will be valuable against their left-handed heavy top order batting line-up,” coach Mike Hesson said.

“He’s been in our sights for some time and was also chosen for our winter training squad.”

The other new cap in the 16-strong Test squad is wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi who comes in as back-up for BJ Watling, with Tom Latham included purely as a specialist batsman.

Ronchi has been part of the limited overs teams but making his debut in the Test squad, has been named as the back-up keeper.

“Luke also provides us with middle order batting cover as he’s a good player of spin bowling,” Hesson said.

Hesson confirmed that Daniel Vettori was not available for the tour saying he felt his bowling loads were not yet up to the intensity of Test cricket.

Jesse Ryder and Doug Bracewell were not considered for either squad as they are yet to satisfy the selectors that they have their off-field issues under control.

Meanwhile, the NZA side will play nine one-day matches against English county sides with two three-day matches to conclude the tour.

Five of the players – Watling, Latham, Hamish Ruthrford, Ish Sodhi and Craig – are also part of the Test squad.

Black Caps Test squad: Brendon McCullum (c), Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Mark Craig, Peter Fulton, Tom Latham, James Neesham , Luke Ronchi, Hamish Rutherford, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson.

New Zealand A squad for tour to England: BJ Watling, Hamish Bennett, Dean Brownlie, Colin de Grandhomme, Anton Devcich (returns after one-day matches), Grant Elliott, Matt Henry, Scott Kuggeleijn. Tom Latham, Adam Milne, Daryl Mitchell, Colin Munro , Hamish Rutherford , Ish Sodhi.

Added to the NZA squad for the two three-day matches: Todd Astle, Michael Bracewell, Mark Craig

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Apr 142014
 
Spinner Craig gets shock Black Caps call-up

Otago offspinner Mark Craig has received a shock callup to the New Zealand test squad to tour West Indies after Jeetan Patel was a late withdrawal last night.

Craig and Wellington gloveman Luke Ronchi are the two uncapped test players named in the 15-man squad for three tests in the Caribbean in June.

Patel, currently playing for English county Warwickshire, was originally picked for his first international in 16 months but made himself unavailable for personal reasons.

He told selector Bruce Edgar he wanted to commit to a full season at Warwickshire, for whom he was player of the year in 2013, and also be close to his wife and baby daughter who are with him in the UK. Daniel Vettori (back) remains unavailable as his recent bowling loads are not up to the intensity of test cricket.

Auckland-born Craig, 27, took 22 wickets at an average of 39.72 in the Plunket Shield. He was the best-performed offspinner and the selectors wanted someone who turns the ball away from the West Indies’ left-handers.

With Ish Sodhi already there, this would have counted against Canterbury legspinner Todd Astle who was the best spinner in the Plunket Shield with 37 wickets at 30.48.

Coach Mike Hesson said Craig provided a nice balance with legspinner Sodhi, with pitches at Kingston, Port-of-Spain and Georgetown expected to turn and favour the home spinners.

”Mark has had a strong Plunket Shield taking 22 wickets and his right-arm off-spinners will be valuable against their left-handed heavy top order batting line-up. He’s been in our sights for some time and was also chosen for our winter training squad.”

Openers Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford retained their positions and appear to be in a three-way scrap with Tom Latham for two spots at the top of the order.

Ronchi was named as backup gloveman with Latham included purely as a specialist batsman.

”Luke also provides us with middle order batting cover as he’s a good player of spin bowling,” Hesson said.

Jesse Ryder and Doug Bracewell were not considered as they are yet to satisfy the selectors that they have their off-field issues under control.

Meanwhile, test gloveman BJ Watling will captain a New Zealand A side for first-class and one-day matches in England in August. Hesson said the matches would be a good opportunity to look more closely at a number of other players in the build-up to Cricket World Cup 2015.

NEW ZEALAND TEST SQUAD FOR WEST INDIES:

Brendon McCullum (c) – Otago Volts
Corey Anderson – Northern Knights
Trent Boult – Northern Knights
Mark Craig – Otago Volts
Peter Fulton – Canterbury Wizards
Tom Latham – Canterbury Wizards
James Neesham – Otago Volts
Luke Ronchi – Wellington Firebirds
Hamish Rutherford – Otago Volts
Ish Sodhi – Northern Knights
Tim Southee – Northern Knights
Ross Taylor – Central Stags
Neil Wagner – Otago Volts
BJ Watling – Northern Knights
Kane Williamson – Northern Knights 

NEW ZEALAND A SQUAD FOR TOUR TO ENGLAND:

BJ Watling (c) – Northern Knights
Hamish Bennett – Canterbury Wizards
Dean Brownlie – Canterbury Wizards
Colin de Grandhomme – Auckland Aces
Anton Devcich – Northern Knights (returns after one-day matches)
Grant Elliott – Wellington Firebirds
Matt Henry – Canterbury Wizards
Scott Kuggeleijn – Northern Knights
Tom Latham – Canterbury Wizards
Adam Milne – Central Stags
Daryl Mitchell – Northern Knights
Colin Munro – Auckland Aces (returns after one-day matches)
Hamish Rutherford – Otago Volts
Ish Sodhi – Northern Knights (returns after one-day matches)

Added to the NZA squad for the two three-day matches:

Todd Astle – Canterbury Wizards
Michael Bracewell – Otago Volts
Mark Craig – Otago Volts

– © Fairfax NZ News

Apr 142014
 
Mark Craig, Luke Ronchi included in Black Caps Test squad

Otago off-spinner Mark Craig and Wellington wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi are in line for Test debuts after being named in the Black Caps squad to tour the West Indies next month.

Coach Mike Hesson says Daniel Vettori was not ready for the intensity of bowling in Test cricket, while Jeetan Patel wasn’t considered for personal reasons.

He says Craig will offer a good balance with leg-spinner Ish Sodhi.  

“Mark has had a strong Plunket Shield, taking 22 wickets, and his right-arm off-spinners will be valuable against their left-handed heavy top order batting line-up. He’s been in our sights for some time and was also chosen for our winter training squad.”

Ronchi will provide wicket-keeping and middle-order batting cover for regular keeper BJ Watling.

“While we gained a convincing 2-0 Test series victory against the West Indies in December, they’ll be a totally different proposition in their conditions and they’ll have the added motivation to perform well in the first match, which will be Chris Gayle’s 100th Test.”

Jesse Ryder and Doug Bracewell weren’t considered as they are yet to satisfy the selectors that they have their off-field issues under control.

Black Caps: Brendon McCullum, Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Mark Craig, Peter Fulton, Tom Latham, James Neesham, Luke Ronchi, Tim Southee, Hamish Rutherford, Ross Taylor, BJ Watling, Ish Sodhi, Kane Williamson, Neil Wagner.

3 News

Apr 122014
 
Black Caps have best Cup chance since 1992

Fairfax Media talks to the coach who oversaw New Zealand’s 1992 World Cup campaign and asks if the current Black Caps can achieve what all others have failed to do.

Our current Black Caps team has the best chance of winning a world cup since 1992 – if players can mentally steel themselves and deal with the pressure – so says the coach of the only side to come close.

A New Zealand cricket team has never made a final of a Cricket World Cup and always struggles at the sharp end of a tournament.

The World T20 tournament just gone saw the Black Caps fail to make it out of pool play after losing to South Africa and Sri Lanka.

At the last one-day world cup, hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, New Zealand made it to the semifinals, where they were beaten by Sri Lanka. In 2007, they made it the semifinals, to be beaten by, you guessed it, Sri Lanka. In 2003 they failed to progress past the “super sixes ” (as it was then). You get the picture.

So back to 1992, when we actually had a chance, but instead Pakistan and England went through to the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground with Pakistan winning.

Warren Lees, who coached the highly fancied 1992 side, said players, and management, succumbed to mental pressure.

“We let the occasion, the opportunity, the once-in-a-lifetime thoughts get to us.” Lees said the team let the loss of batsman Martin Crowe, who did not play because of a torn hamstring, stun them and they could not recover.

“When it came to the semifinal we looked to [Crowe] because he had been a very special player and then of course he got injured. But because we had put him on such a pedestal we were a bit stunned, we were possums in the headlights.” Lees said he thought the current Black Caps team had got past relying on one player and should enjoy a “huge advantage” playing at home.

If the Black Caps play well they should get to play their later stage games at home. The world cup quarterfinal venues will be determined after pool play.

If the Black Caps qualify they will play their quarterfinal at Wellington. Australia will play theirs at Adelaide. Other quarterfinals will be assigned to venues based on the travel times and rest days of the teams involved.

Semifinals work the same. Australia and New Zealand will play at home if they qualify. However, should they face each other (which can’t happen in the quarters because they’re in the same group) the home advantage goes to the side who finishes higher in pool play.

Lees, who was interim coach of the White Ferns this summer, said the public would be the biggest asset to the Black Caps. His players rode a wave of public optimism.

“Wherever we went, if we went into a dairy, walking down the street, we could feel the whole country was behind us,” he said.

“New Zealanders are very quick to get behind winning teams, they are also very quick to turn on losing teams, so the current guys will have a huge advantage if they start well.

“This team, they are as close as they can get to being the right team to win the tournament.”

– © Fairfax NZ News

Apr 082014
 
Jeetan Patel backed for Black Caps recall

Published: 7:42AM Wednesday April 09, 2014 Source: Fairfax

He’s said it before and he’ll say it again: Wellington skipper James Franklin is adamant Jeetan Patel should be the second spinner in the New Zealand Test squad for the West Indies.

Selectors Mike Hesson and Bruce Edgar meet on Friday to pick two squads of 15; the Black Caps for three Tests in the Caribbean in June and NZA for one-day and first-class matches in England.

Coach Hesson said last week they would definitely choose two specialist spinners for the squad as they expect slow, turning pitches in Kingston, Port-of-Spain and Georgetown.

Legspinner Ish Sodhi is a certainty and Daniel Vettori (back) extremely unlikely, leaving the other tweaker as a genuine head-scratcher.

Not so in Franklin’s eyes.

“I’m biased but I think he [Patel] is still one of the best spinners in the country and he shows how good a spinner he is by one of the big counties in England wanting him back year after year. He goes over there [to Warwickshire] and produces the goods,” he said.

“His form, particularly in the last couple of weeks, has been awesome in the one-day stuff. His figures have been outstanding. I’d have him in my team, but I don’t pick it.”

Patel had a modest first-class season, taking 18 wickets at 47, but was a key man in Wellington’s one-day triumph, taking 10 wickets at 25 with an economy rate of 3.8.

The 33-year-old returned to Warwickshire this week, for whom he was voted player of the year in 2013 after taking 52 wickets at 30 and scoring 438 runs at 31. His county team-mate Ian Bell recently labelled Patel the best spinner in England. The previous year Patel snared 51 wickets at 23 as the Bears won the first division title.

Patel played the last of his 19 tests against South Africa in January 2013 and appeared to have his card marked by Hesson, notably for his batting when he backed away against the quicks.

Still, his wicket-taking exploits on turning English pitches give him a tick for the Caribbean where Sunil Narine and Shane Shillingford will provide a huge threat to New Zealand’s batsmen.

The fact West Indies’ like Test lineup contains left-handers Chris Gayle, Kieran Powell, Darren Bravo and Shivnarine Chanderpaul also helps an offspinner’s cause.

On Plunket Shield numbers, Canterbury legspinner Todd Astle is the form horse. He took 37 wickets at 30 as the Wizards won the title, second to Wellington’s Mark Gillespie (42) on the wicket-taking charts, and bats well. But whether two legspinners is prudent against a lineup of left-handers is another question.

Left-armer Bruce Martin is contracted to NZ Cricket but was dropped in Bangladesh last October, and struggled with injury in Plunket Shield taking 23 wickets at 54. Legspinner Tarun Nethula (15 wickets at 57) continues to battle while young Otago offie Mark Craig is highly rated from age-grade cricket and took 22 shield wickets at 40.

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Apr 012014
 
Corey Anderson's IPL fortune at stake

Published: 10:22AM Tuesday April 01, 2014 Source: Fairfax

Corey Anderson could potentially lose half of his $866,000 Indian Premier League auction price after injuring his finger in yesterday’s loss to Sri Lanka.

New Zealand coach Mike Hesson estimated Anderson would be out for between four and six weeks.

“Yeah it’s dislocated and he’s got a number of stitches in it so it’s likely four to six weeks – that’s what I’ve heard initially,” Hesson said.

Anderson dislocated and cut the little finger on his right hand while trying to catch Sri Lanka’s Sachithra Senanayake.

He immediately went to hospital, where the finger was put back in place and the wound stitched. He did not bat.

It was shocking timing for Anderson given the IPL was due to start on April 16.

The best the star all-rounder could wish for was an early May appearance for the Mumbai Indians, by which time he would’ve missed five rounds of the 14-round competition.

Eighty per cent of his salary was subject to availability and the other 20 per cent was at risk around selection in the playing XI.

Put simply, if Anderson returned in round six he had the potential to play for 65 per cent of his salary ($562,900) but that required coach John Wright to select him in the XI for the final nine rounds.

If he was available for the final nine rounds, but was not selected, he would still pocket $450,320.

Ross Taylor suffered a similar fate to Anderson two years ago when he had his arm broken by Morne Morkel on the eve of the IPL.

Anderson will be further assessed on the team’s return to New Zealand tomorrow.

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Mar 312014
 
Black Caps guilty of playing 'silly cricket'

Published: 1:20PM Tuesday April 01, 2014 Source: ONE Sport

Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum was at a loss to explain his sides embarrassing batting collapse in their Twenty20 Cricket World Cup defeat to Sri Lanka in Bangladesh overnight.

New Zealand were bowled out for its lowest T20 total of just 60 runs in 15.3 overs after Sri Lanka was all out for 119 in 19.2 overs.

McCullum was still trying to comprehend the Black Caps’ batting failure when he fronted the media post-match but admitted his side played “silly cricket”.

“How do you only get out for 60? Yeah, I’m trying to work that one out as well, especially when one guy gets 40-odd,” a dejected McCullum told media post-match.

“The two spinners Herath and Senanayake took, what, eight wickets between them, or something like that. There was a couple of run-outs which were pretty silly cricket as well.

“I thought they bowled really well but we didn’t bat well.”

In a horror batting spell, Kane Williamson (42) was the only New Zealand batsman to reach double figures, while fellow opener Martin Guptill made five, before McCullum, Ross Taylor, and Jimmy Neesham all claimed ducks, while the tail end could muster only 11 runs between them.

McCullum blamed poor decision making and a failure to stick to their batting plan for their record defeat.

“We played across the line and some balls were skidding on also some of us tried to be too aggressive against ball turning away.

“T20’s a game where you’ve got to be convinced in your method and sometimes we go down playing to that method but you still have to commit to it, and I don’t think we really committed to our method at all today.”

McCullum was happy with how his side was performing at the midway stage of the match and despite some missed catches felt the attitude in the field was positive, but acknowledged missed opportunities had hurt their efforts in the tournament.

“We could have been better with the catches and things but it’s the best attitude that I’ve seen in the field from us this tournament,” he said.

“But I said at the start of the tournament that you had to start well, and we coughed up a game against South Africa that we should have won, and now tonight at halftime we should have won that game as well and we let that opportunity slip.

“Hence we’ll be on the plane tomorrow.”

The Black Caps now look ahead to a three-Test series and two T20 games against the West Indies late next month.

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