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.

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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.

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

Apr 142014
 
Harris’ shirt evokes memories
Chris Harris’s shirt collection

STACEY SQUIRES

FOUR WORLD CUPS: Chris Harris’s shirt collection dates from 1992, which he is wearing, to from left: 1996, 1999 and 2003.

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 semifinal 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.”

– © Fairfax NZ News

Comments

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 112014
 
Cricket privatisation seen as good in principle

The Canterbury Cricket Association welcomes a move to third-party investment, suggesting it will benefit all aspects of the domestic game, including the grass-roots level.

They do not, however, have a deep-pocketed money man waiting in the wings to buy into the association.

They did when the idea was first mooted more than three seasons ago, but the anonymous Christchurch businessman with links overseas has now lost interest.

The introduction of third-party investment into domestic cricket is one of 17 of recommendations by a working party made to New Zealand Cricket.

The working party was designed to come up with ways to breath life into the slowly dying domestic game.

It makes no money, barely rates a flicker on the public-interest levels and is not producing international-ready cricketers.

And while third-party investment is only one of 17 recommendations, it has already been agreed upon by the six major associations (MAs), the New Zealand Cricket Players’ Association (NZCPA) and New Zealand Cricket.

The rules need to be established and that is being done at the moment, though the goal is for MAs wanting to sell off part of their business being able to do so by the start of next summer.

A common fear is that wealthy investors will come in, take over the associations’ Twenty20 sides – the most likely part to make money – and forget the rest.

Canterbury Cricket chief executive Lee Germon, who was part of the working party, said that “definitely” would not be the case. A number of potential conflicts had been identified and Germon said rules would be established to ensure the safety of cricket at all levels.

He also suggested partial privatisation could help grassroots cricket.

Germon said if the right people were involved, people with strong business contacts and the ability to bring in more money and turn the association into more of a money-making venture, that money would help all levels of cricket.

The MAs will only be allowed to sell up to 49 per cent of their business and the investors and the amount paid need to be approved by New Zealand Cricket.

“So currently we get to spend 100 per cent of our profits,” Germon said. “But 51 per cent of a good profit could well be a lot better than 100 per cent of not very much.”

The interested party Canterbury Cricket had previously lined up is understood to have had 11 investors ready to front up with $25,000 each.

And that sort of multiple-investor setup could be more attractive than one person or business stumping up a big chunk of money.

But money was not the main goal behind the privatisation, he said.

Both Germon and NZCPA boss Heath Mills said the improvement of the domestic game across all three formats was the crucial factor.

“We’ve been pretty keen on the structure of the domestic game being reviewed for quite a while now,” Mills said.

“Principally, that stems from the fact domestic cricket is currently viewed as a development programme for the Black Caps, so all the decisions regarding it play second fiddle to the international game.”

Mills said by tweaking the structure, and possibly putting it under a different entity, it would be able to grow much better as a product.

That, too, if it were done correctly, could help player development .

“The better our domestic competition is, the better the players coming out of it will be,” he said.

“We’re really excited by the fact that New Zealand Cricket is reviewing the structure because we’ve been operating under the same governance structure for 100 years.”

Mills said privatisation made sense and the current model was abnormal.

“Around the world, 90 per cent of professional sport is privately owned and run, and is pretty successful.

“New Zealand Cricket wouldn’t be doing their job if they didn’t offer this as an option.”

With the current model not working, there is also a “what have we got to lose?” attitude from parties keen on the move.

Germon said Canterbury was keen to test the waters with third-party investment, and had been for some time.

Until the rules were all in place, however, they would not be hunting potential investors.

Former Canterbury and New Zealand player Chris Harris was pleased to hear the CCA was open to change, and he supported anything that helped the domestic game.

Harris who, with 251 matches for Canterbury across all three formats, is the association’s most capped player, said the move “made perfect sense”.

“Domestic cricket hasn’t had the support for a while now, and anything that can be done to change that is a good thing. I’m glad they’re being pro-active, but I also think it’s good only 49 per cent can be sold.”

– © Fairfax NZ News

Apr 112014
 
Comment - What India Must Do Before 2015 World Cup
Irfan Pathan appeals for a wicket

Could Irfan Pathan play a key role for India at the 2015 World Cup?

© REUTERS / Action Images

I never thought India would reach even the knockout stages of the recently concluded ICC World T20. After the disappointing tour of South Africa and New Zealand, team India even failed to make the final of Asia Cup which of course reduced my expectations further.

But this time I was pleasantly surprised by Team India, making it to the final without being beaten once is a huge achievement. Even though they lost the final, even they and real fans like me will agree that they have exceeded expectations.

As T20 fever is over now let’s switch our focus to the 2015 World Cup. What do you think of India’s chances of defending the title or what are the areas of concern they have?

The answer is quite straightforward: Team India is struggling in ODIs and there are lots of problems to think about.

The series against New Zealand was a wake-up call for the team about what to expect during the 2015 World Cup. During that five-match One-Day International series the openers failed to provide a decent start as they crossed the 50-run mark only once (64 runs in the third ODI).

The middle order looked vulnerable as both Ajinkya Rahane and Suresh Raina were completely out of sorts. Raina was eventually dropped for the last two ODIs due to poor performances and was replaced by Ambati Rayudu who looked okay with scores of 37 and 20.

Stuart Binny played only one match in which he bowled only one over for eight runs and didn’t have a chance to bat. The selection of Binny for that tour was an indication that team was looking for an all-rounder who can bowl medium fast and can bat down the order; it was a smart choice keeping conditions into consideration.

Yet, with only one match, Binny could not prove anything and so we will never know how good or bad Binny would have been for Team India in those conditions.

Speaking of bowling, India conceded in excess of 270 runs in every match. The spin combination of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja didn’t looked threatening at all as the pitches were not conducive for spinners which India should take of note of.

India’s pacers (Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Varun Aaron and Ishant Sharma) were too expensive especially Shami, Aaron and Sharma who never conceded less than six runs per over in a match throughout the series.

These statistics are alarming and definitely a matter of concern.

There was a feelling that only one match could have changed the course of the series but that match never came.  

So what should the team management do now? A whole lot of changes is not ideal but there are definitely some spots up for grabs. In my view this Indian side needs a batsman with solid defence who can cope with bounce and swing and a fast bowling all-rounder.

What do you think of India’s chances of defending the title or what are the areas of concern they have?

The answer is quite straightforward: Team India is struggling in ODIs and there are lots of problems to think about.

The series against New Zealand was a wake-up call for the team about what to expect during the 2015 World Cup.

The two names which pop into my mind straightaway are Cheteshwar Pujara and Irfan Pathan. Pujara, who has played only two ODIs for India is a must for the World Cup as he will bring much-needed stability to the side. He has the capability to hold up one end while the others can play their game around him.

The Indian batting line-up is full of strokemakers and even if Pujara takes some time to settle down, India can very well cover for it at the end. This coming IPL is going to be very important for him and good performances there will catch the eyes of the selectors.

Irfan Pathan on the other hand has enough experience of playing international cricket in Australia and New Zealand, so the only thing India needs is a fit and in-form Pathan (I hope I am not demanding too much or being overly-optimistic here).

Pathan, like many Indian fast bowlers, lost his way in the middle of his career and constant injuries never helped him. Nevertheless, there is no doubt about his ability and India need his services badly.

He can come on at first change to control the flow of runs and take crucial wickets during the middle overs. With the bat he can provide India with crucial balance and will give MS Dhoni an option to play an extra bowler (spinner or fast bowler).

Having said that, he has been out of the side for quite some time and he needs to perform well in this year’s IPL. Hopefully he can learn some tricks of the trade from his Sunrisers bowling partner Dale Steyn, coach Tom Moody and bowling coach Waqar Younis.

India will play only five more ODIs (against England in England) before they start their defence of the World Cup and there is not much time left for India to experiment which means players have less time to prove themselves.

That makes the IPL even more important for players like Pujara and Pathan; hope both of them grab their chances with both hands.

Before I conclude, one more player I would like to see in the 2015 World Cup is Gautam Gambhir. I will never forget the innings he played in the 2011 World Cup final against Sri Lanka or the innings against Pakistan in the ICC World Twenty20 2007 final.

He is definitely a big match player and I just hope that he plays well in this IPL and confirms his ticket for Australia and New Zealand.

© Cricket World 2014

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Apr 102014
 
Wizards' Shanan Stewart retires from cricket

After 244 matches for Canterbury – the second most by any cricketer – Shanan Stewart has retired.

The 31-year-old announced his plans to his team-mates recently and is stepping away from the Canterbury team he first represented in 2001 as a teenager.

He scored 57 that day, in a first-class match against Northern Districts in Gisborne – in the same match Chris Martin scored his highest first-class score of 25.

Stewart went on to pass that 57 plenty of times, scoring 48 half-centuries times in all for Canterbury and 11 hundreds.

His current team-mates, chiefly Canterbury captain and Stewart’s mate Peter Fulton, organised a farewell of sorts at last night’s Canterbury Cricket Awards.

While form meant Stewart was getting fewer opportunities to represent Canterbury, a young family, business opportunities and building his own house with the family company all helped him make the decision, Stewart said.

“It was still a very tough call,” he said. “I’ve made some really good mates in this sport and it was a pretty tough decision to retire.

“But I’ve got a young family now and other things on my plate and, really, at the end of the day I probably wasn’t having as much success as I wanted.”

His 244 games across all three formats – 96 first-class, 108 one-day and 40 Twenty20 – for Canterbury is second only to Chris Harris who played 251 (84, 154 and 13).

Stewart won’t be lost to cricket – he hopes to continue playing for Canterbury Country and is coaching at his old school, St Bede’s College.

“I’m lucky because I’m young enough that I can keep playing a bit and who knows, if I score lots of runs, we’ll just see what happens.

“But the kids and my family are the main thing for me.”

Stewart played four one-day internationals in 2010, scored seven first-class centuries including 227no against Central Districts in New Plymouth and 88no in a Twenty20 match for New Zealand A.

But true to his red-and-black through and through nature and his team-first mentality, his highlight is not an individual one.

“Winning the four-day championship after the earthquake [2010-2011 season] when we were all down and out a bit, that was special,” he said.

“The way Fults and Bobby [assistant coach Bob Carter] pulled us through, that was brilliant and winning that title really was the highlight for me. I owe a lot to Bobby, he was the coach who really seemed to get the most out of me.”

In terms of his New Zealand games, Stewart laments not scoring more runs and showing what he was capable of.

He was one of a number of players used at that time in New Zealand Cricket’s revolving door policy, though he received his call-up on form and through weight of runs.

“Obviously I would have loved more success with New Zealand but I have no regrets.”

Fulton, who has played alongside Stewart throughout their careers, said it was Stewart’s humble nature and desire to want to play and to win for Canterbury that stood out most.

Along with Andrew Ellis, Fulton and Stewart are the last remaining links back to the super-strong Canterbury team of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“He’s a bit of an old-school cricketer,” Fulton said.

“He played the game hard, always gave 100 per cent and he had fun.

“That’s probably why he decided to finish, if he wasn’t enjoying it as much. We’ll miss him, though, he was a good team-mate and a good bloke to have around.”

– © 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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