Friday, May 31, 2013

Day five at Headingley and tour review

As you know, rain failed to deny England on the final day.
England take the series with a 2-0 whitewash, and New Zealand will be wondering where it all went so wrong after scrapping so valiantly in the three Test home series in March.
Credit must go to Alistair Cook and his team, particularly the bowling of Anderson and Broad at Lord’s and Finn and Swann at Headingley. They played to the conditions on both occasions and dominated our batsmen. For the upcoming Ashes series, England, however, may have found their own batting to be as problematic as New Zealand’s outside of Cook, Trott, Root and Bairstow.
It’s hard to hide the disappointment as a New Zealand cricketer or cricket fan after making some real strides since South Africa.
Unlike the South African tour, we fronted up to England with our strongest current team minus Daniel Vettori.
But that’s international cricket. Fortunes change like the weather.

A mystery for me these past post-Test days has been the name, Hiddleston. He’s in the 1937 poem I posted during the Headingley Test.
I hadn’t come across the name before but it’s John Hiddleston. He was a popular and solid bat for Wellington at first class level and once scored a double hundred. He was a North Island and New Zealand rep batsman (before official Test status) after the First World War and during the 1920s.

When I started writing this diary, I told friends I would stop at the end of the first class tour fixtures.
I also mentioned at the outset the fine team of ’49ers led by Walter Hadlee. After their humiliation in the 1946 Basin Test v Australia, Hadlee, Merv Wallace and Co. set about building a team and were determined to put New Zealand cricket back on the map during the 1949 England tour. They succeeded.
For these very reasons, I can’t write off Brendon McCullum and Mike Hesson just yet, nor do I wish to suggest whole scale personnel changes. The team of 2013 has some fine talent still to work with and develop further. We may begin to see this during the ODI series and the Champions Trophy and over the next few years.
Ken Rutherford, another mentioned in the course of this brief tour diary along with Brian Close (who did appear at Headingly with John R Reid), said in his 1995 autobiography that he similarly believed in nurturing all the talent that’s there by showing selection faith in players. Stephen Fleming took a while to get going in the Test arena but was among our most talented batsmen since Martin Crowe’s retirement.
After the 1992 World Cup success, cricket suffered a slump until the late 1990s. There was a rise for a while with Fleming as captain of a good crop of players: Chris Cairns, Dion Nash, Daniel Vettori, Roger Twose, Shane Bond, Nathan Astle, Adam Parore, Craig McMillan, Mark Richardson, Chris Harris etc. England will never forget Astle’s sensational ‘master blaster’ innings of 222. Who’d have predicted Astle’s emergence in the centenary season of 1994?
Rutherford confidently stated during a period of cricket’s declining popularity in 1995 that : ‘…within a decade I believe New Zealand will be among the top four or five nations in the cricket world.’ New Zealand cricket rose again. It may happen too with McCullum’s team. Ken’s son Hamish may well be among our future stars.
The upcoming ODI series, Champions Trophy and Twenty 20 games don’t interest me so much as Test cricket but I will watch them.
This, however, will be my last post on the current England tour.

Perhaps it is fitting to end with an ode to Brendon’s team in review:


To McCullum’s Thirteen*

Thirteen players from New Zealand
Flew off to tour Old England.
Their fortunes have suffered,
But let’s not leave them coffered.

Yes, in review, let me inscribe
Their names with Ferns of the past.
I’ll be this team’s loyal scribe.
Even tho’ cricket’s at half-mast.

*          *          *          *

Fulton, made the runs at home
He didn’t add to his tome;
Still he can rest on laurels
For now, when he arrives home.

Ruds, no not Ken, it’s Hamish now
He secured his spot to end any row.
May he bat on with his willow blade
And make good his run-plough.

Kane did not quite cane the Poms,
But still shows dormant class
As yet untapped. He might surpass
Some records yet, I let him pass.

Rosco again proved his mettle.
He played the best knocks
For that I offer humble tribute.
Rosco with wood guitar clearly rocks.

Guppy has a way to go yet
To be in the bracket of “world class”.
He has the style, can come good yet.
Runs are the key but for me “no pass”.

Brownlie, no Maurice, on this tour.
Mighty was he, but Dean derailed.
Can he lift his play, not become dour;
His bat speed, I lament, failed.

Brendon’s the skipper, as such
He needs to do much more
Than he did this tour and much
Admiration depends on his score.

Watling had the gloves at Lord’s.
He impressed in warm-up matches
But in cricket’s home of Lords
Injury meant he played in snatches.

Southee’s really come good, a hero
At Lord’s, a 10-wicket haul,
His batting’s now handy, no zero
To his name, he’s the heart and the soul.

Boult arrived on the world stage,
5 wickets at Headingly; his name
was made on this tour. With the cage
around the batting, he was not tame.

Doug a cricketer with distinctive tats,
Nice to see him back and playing well.
I won’t bore you with feeble stats.
His name he didn’t disgrace: Bracewell.

Martin was competent without flair;
His batting was missed on this tour;
It’d be hard to see a place and compare
To Vettori if his spin turns sour.

Wagner is still coming on strong.
With his passion, others could learn.
He makes strides and toils on,
While batsmen crash and burn.

*          *          *          *

There you have it, lots of work to do.
McCullum’s building a team and intends
To deliver. And we may yet have a team
To be proud of. Can they tighten the ends?

Poem © Mark Pirie 2013

*Tom Latham and Mark Gillespie also toured but didn’t play in the tests.

Article © Mark Pirie 2013

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