Apr 202014
 
Will Smith very much alive and scoring

Hampshire 231 for 5 (Smith 70) vs Derbyshire
Scorecard

Will Smith portrait, 2014

Will Smith showed the qualities that made Hampshire snap him up © Getty Images
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‘Will Smith is dead’ is one of the great hoaxes of the Internet. He has been misreported to have died in surgery in the United States and in a fall in New Zealand. There is barely a Twitter hoaxer alive who does not wake up one morning and think “Today, I will tell the world that Will Smith is dead.” There are even hoaxes that there have been hoaxes. Such are the trappings of fame.

Will Smith, the Hampshire version, shares a name with the American actor if not a bank balance. As he possesses a quieter intelligence, that is not likely to change. But if he was not reported dead at the end of last season, he was certainly presumed to be ailing. Durham had won the Championship but Smith, a former captain just the wrong side of 30, was judged surplus to requirements at the end of the season.

When Hampshire gave him a two-year contract, only a few days elapsed before he was asked if he wanted to be captain again. He said he did not, although all it will take is a crisis for him to be reconsidered.

He wanted to make his mark as a batsman, to improve his status late in his career, and his judicious 70 on a breezy and largely chilly Easter Day at Derby represented a solid start. It was not the sort of statement to attract an Internet hoaxer, in fact it will not always have held the attention of the Derbyshire faithful as they stared at the slate-grey skies for hope of light relief, and a hat-trick from nowhere, or Wes Durston, but it was the sort of innings to gain dressing room respect.

According to the Second Division table, which is still not as much embryonic as a gleam in the eye, this was top vs bottom: Hampshire lie top on accounts of having played two matches and winning one of them thanks in part to a hundred by Michael Carberry against Gloucestershire; Derbyshire are bottom, outdone by Alastair Cook at Chelmsford after routing Essex for a two-figure score in the first innings.

But in reality this is an important early-season joust between two likely promotion contenders, making it the sort of match on which to munch a sausage bap and contemplate the meaning of life, an appropriate Easter pursuit.

Derbyshire bowled wastefully in the morning, although that impression is also heightened by Carberry, who is an excellent leaver. He played well for 45 before leaving a little grumpily when Tony Palladino, in his first over against the breeze, had him lbw. “That’ll tarnish your England chances,” came a cry from the outer. It is best not to pause on an lbw at Derby: it deserves to be recognised as the ground where five-second bursts of spleen are always possible.

Adams’ inconsequential affair ended when he edged Mark Turner, the loosest of Derbyshire’s attack, to the keeper, before the afternoon gave way to an earnest battle between Smith and the Derbyshire seamers, a colourless landscape lit up by floodlights for much of the day. It was the sort of contest where you dreaded Iain O’Brien, the former New Zealand bowler, who was commentating for the BBC, inviting you to offer technical analysis from a press box square of the wicket and someway distant from the action.

In the Derbyshire club bookshop, a mid-afternoon refuge, there was an air of excitement at the sudden arrival of as many as 42 second-hand copies of The Harold Rhodes Affair – Rhodes’ own story of one of the great throwing storms in cricket history.

Rhodes, who has never entirely forgiven the events of half a century ago, was eventually judged to have had a hyper-extending arm but his England career was ruined. He would doubtless be judged innocent these days after extensive technological analysis judged his action to be within the 15-degree limit.

Quite why so many copies have suddenly become available was not made clear. Maybe Rhodes has cleared out his garage, always the sort of thing you attempt around Easter, unless you come to Derby, grab an extra layer of clothing out of the boot at lunchtime, and set your face into the wind to watch Will Smith prove that his heart if still beating.

Apr 152014
 
Anderson needs NZC clearance to make IPL debut

Published: 7:18AM Wednesday April 16, 2014 Source: Fairfax

Corey Anderson will require clearance from New Zealand Cricket’s medical staff before making his Indian Premier League debut.

The $866,000 allrounder is preparing with his Mumbai Indians team in Abu Dhabi, ahead of tomorrow’s tournament opener but won’t play until NZC is satisfied he’s over the dislocated little finger suffered at the World Twenty20 on April 1.

”They [Mumbai] have got to assess him on a daily basis but it’s more a four-week injury when it could have been an eight-week injury. They’re in communication with our medical team and when he shows he’s fully fit he will be selected,” New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said.

Hesson will be keeping a close eye on the subcontinent in the next six weeks as his West Indies Test squad members Anderson, Brendon McCullum (Chennai), Ross Taylor, Jimmy Neesham (both Delhi) and Tim Southee (Rajasthan) turn out in the IPL which begins in Abu Dhabi and Dubai before returning to India in May after the country’s general elections.

New Zealand’s IPL players will be late arrivals in the Caribbean and are allowed to remain in India till their team is eliminated.

The IPL round robin finishes on May 26 and the final is on June 2, with the first test against the West Indies starting in Kingston, Jamaica on June 9.

”They will be available for our last warmup match [a three-dayer from June 3-5]. They’ll be playing a lot of spin over there [in India], whether it be in the nets, they’ll be well prepared. It actually flows quite nicely into the tour,” Hesson said.

The sixth New Zealander, Canterbury paceman Matt Henry, joins McCullum at the Stephen Fleming-coached Chennai but is still recovering from a side strain that sidelined him since his impressive ODI debut against India on January 31.

Bookmakers have the New Zealand coached sides; Chennai, Mumbai (John Wright) and Bangalore (Daniel Vettori) as the three most favoured.

Mumbai are defending champions, after beating Chennai in last year’s final. Fleming admitted there were ”a lot of distractions” as his team assembled.

The franchise has been on shaky ground ever since one of its officials, Gurunath Meiyappan, who is also the son-in-law of BCCI president N Srinivasan – the vice-chairman and managing director of India Cements, the company that owns Super Kings – was arrested on charges of cheating, forgery and fraud two days before the IPL 2013 final, amid the spot-fixing crisis.

Copyright © 2014, Television New Zealand Limited. Breaking and Daily News, Sport & Weather | TV ONE, TV2 | Ondemand

Apr 142014
 
'92 memories still burn strong for Chris Harris

When Chris Harris sees his old, now-iconic 1992 Cricket World Cup shirt, he relives the tournament with a minute-long video is his mind.

It starts great with the side’s 37-run upset win in the tournament opener against Australia.

It carries on building its excitement levels with further wins, each one raising the drama.

Victories against Sri Lanka, South Africa and Zimbabwe flick by.Wins over the West Indies, India then England bring back the feeling of sitting on top of the nine-team table before a quick dart over a round-robin loss to Pakistan.

That’s quickly glossed over in ”Harry’s” mind-movie because it’s the next game against Pakistan which takes his focus, like a James Bond film villain.

”That game” as he calls the semi-final loss to a star-studded Pakistan side which would go on and win the tournament.

”Then you get to that game, and it’s a bit of a sad ending to the movie.”

All that from a shirt.

It was Harris’ first of four World Cups and is easily the one he’s asked most often about.

”I think there’s a resurgence of those shirts too,” he said.

”I’ve started seeing them all over the place and not just here, I was in Germany recently and saw one.”

Harris played 250 one-day games for New Zealand and jokes he wore every type of shirt made ”except the beige”, from terrible teal through a range of bizarre blues to the black they wear today.

The grey 1992 number with the multi-coloured shoulder stripes to represent the nine competing countries, instantly takes Harris, now 44, back 22 years to the first World Cup played in coloured clothing.

”I remember the whole atmosphere, of the opening match and the entire tournament, up until our last day,” he said.

”What few people remember is we’d just been beaten 3-0 by England in the buildup. We hadn’t had much success before the tournament and no-one had any reason to think that was going to change.

”Then we beat Australia in the first match and went on that run. And the whole country got in behind us, it was pretty special.”

Harris remembers the opening match with alarming accuracy.

The scores players made, who caught who, and the run-outs, though one of them was easy as it was his and cemented New Zealand’s opening match victory.

He ran David Boon out for 100 with a direct hit from the outfield.

”I remember throwing the ball and while it was still miles away, Gavin Larsen pulled his hands out of the way. I was like, ‘what are you doing, we can run him out here and win the game’. And then it hit. The crowd just went silent for what felt like a couple of seconds then just erupted.

”I don’t think they were celebrating the runout, more the fact we were going to win the game, that’s what people were reacting to.”

Harris is wrong; they were reacting to his side on, direct hit run out. It was spectacular. New Zealand went on to win the seven matches in a row before being bundled out by Pakistan in ”that game”, an Eden Park semifinal.

”In the form we were in, we probably should have gone on to win that tournament,” he said.

Harris made the quarterfinals in 1996 when, despite him scoring a career high 130, New Zealand were unable to tip over Australia.

He was part of the 1999 campaign in England knocked out in the semifinals, again by Pakistan and went to the 2003 tournament in South Africa where New Zealand would have made the semifinals, but for refusing to play in Kenya.

”They’re all a bit special to me to be honest. A World Cup is a really special thing to be a part of. But it’s hard to go past the 1992 experience, that’s for sure.”

Copyright © 2014, Television New Zealand Limited. Breaking and Daily News, Sport & Weather | TV ONE, TV2 | Ondemand

Apr 142014
 
Jeetan Patel rules himself out of Windies tour

Wellington offspinner Jeetan Patel sensationally withdrew from the New Zealand Test squad to tour West Indies last night as he was poised to end a 16-month absence from international cricket.

Patel was contacted by national selector Bruce Edgar in England, where he is beginning another county stint with Warwickshire, to tell him the good news he’d been picked in the 15-man squad for three Tests in June.

But Patel made himself unavailable, saying he wanted to focus on a full season with Warwickshire, for whom he was player of the year in 2013, and be with his wife and baby daughter who are based with him in the UK.

He stressed he hadn’t retired from international cricket.

It left Edgar and coach Mike Hesson a tough decision to pick a second spinner to partner Ish Sodhi in what is expected to be spin-friendly conditions in the Caribbean in June. Canterbury legspinner Todd Astle appeared next cab off the rank but nothing had been finalised last night.

Other likely features of the squad to be named in Christchurch today include a reprieve for openers Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford who are expected to be pitted in a three-way scrap with Tom Latham, and a possible callup for Wellington gloveman Luke Ronchi as backup wicketkeeper/batsman.

Spin was a strong focus for the selectors, with a mandatory two specialist spinners and batsmen best equipped to counter the dual threat of mystery offspinners Sunil Narine and Shane Shillingford.

Patel’s 19-Test career (52 wickets at an average of 48) looked to be floundering after his last series in South Africa in January 2013.

But the 33-year-old’s county form for Warwickshire on turning pitches was compelling (51 wickets at 23 in 2012, 52 wickets at 30 last year), and he was excellent in recent weeks for Wellington’s title-winning one-day side before returning to England.

A potential West Indies batting lineup featuring four left-handers – Chris Gayle, Darren Bravo, Kieran Powell and Shivnarine Chanderpaul – appeared to help Patel’s cause and count against Astle.

He was second on the Plunket Shield charts with 37 wickets at 30, and offers more with the bat, but two legspinners is a risk.

Left-armer Bruce Martin is contracted to NZC but hasn’t bounced back from being dropped in Bangladesh last October, and no other spinners demanded selection.

Plunket Shield run machine Latham appears a certainty for one opening slot in the first test at Kingston on June 8, with Rutherford and Fulton contesting the other berth in two warmup games in Kingston.

Both can count themselves fortunate after lean home summers, with Rutherford probably having his nose in front.

Ronchi, who is uncapped at Test level, provides genuine wicketkeeping backup to BJ Watling and middle order batting cover.

Hesson said last week promising paceman Matt Henry (side strain) wouldn’t be considered, and it seems there aren’t enough spots to fit in a final paceman, with Mark Gillespie and Hamish Bennett both on the cusp.

Allrounders Corey Anderson and Jimmy Neesham give Hesson options and if they play two spinners, it seems likely that Tim Southee and Trent Boult will be the two quicks with Neil Wagner missing the 11.

Spin has dominated in the West Indies’ first-class competition in recent weeks.

Hesson will also name a New Zealand A squad today for first-class and one-day matches in England.

Likely Test squad: Brendon McCullum (c), Tom Latham, Peter Fulton, Hamish Rutherford, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson, BJ Watling, Luke Ronchi, Jimmy Neesham, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Todd Astle, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult.

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