The Matthew Hayden show

Prior to the penultimate game of the Super Eight’s, Matthew Hayden was just three runs behind the tournament’s highest run scorer in Jacques Kallis. He was favoured to move into pole position but has surged to it with yet another century of muscle and class. Is he playing better than his golden year of 2001? While most teams are struggling in the first ten overs (the average being 36 runs for 1.4 wickets) Hayden hasn’t set a foot wrong. Gilchrist seems to be rather quiet but is himself averaging 37 with the bat in the World Cup.

The pre-match news is Shane Bond is out crook and Jacob Oram having earlier been ruled out. Mark Gillespie and Michael Mason play in their place. Shane Watson makes a welcome return for Australia forcing Brad Hodge out. Shane Bond was the real danger man for Australia, a bowler who seems to have the wood over the Aussies. New Zealand will surely miss him.

Australia have moved into a more than healthy 215-2 after 32 overs and look to post a really big one. In light of recent adventures New Zealand might fancy their chances in getting them.

Check out the scorecard here and leave your comments below.

What would you give up to play for your country in the World Cup?

Jacob Oram would give up his finger to play.

Jacob Oram is willing to cut off his injured ring finger if it is going to prevent him from playing in the World Cup. Oram will try specially designed splints and pain-killers to ease the pain, but if the problem won’t go away he will consider an amputation.

“If it means cutting the finger off, if that’s the worse-case scenario, if that’s the last resort, I’ll do that, there’s no way I’m missing this,” he told NZPA. Oram suffered the break during the first Chappell-Hadlee Trophy match and he will not test it until the New Zealand squad’s first practice session in Barbados on Saturday.

Good on him, I think. And if he plays, he gives New Zealand the extra depth they need to make a serious tilt at the Cup.

A black (cap) day for Australian cricket

The scoreboard tells the story.
It must be twenty years since I’ve seen such a poor performance by an Australian side; they were second best for the entire game. This was a woeful display, lacking in any of the traditional Australian virtues of discipline, enterprise and initative.

There’s no doubt that New Zealand played very well, and they would have won against better sides then this. Shane Bond was an absolute menace, and the wicket was difficult for the batsmen. New Zealand’s openers had a lot of play and miss in the first half of their innings. But once they were settled, Fleming and Vincent had no trouble picking off the runs.

There was one particular standout moment of the day, which was Bond’s caught and bowled off Cameron White. One of the best catches I’ve ever seen.

The only thing that went wrong for New Zealand was Jacob Oram, who broke his finger while catching Mitchell Johnson in the deep.

Australia look gone to me. The injury list is bad, the confidence is shot, and there is not much time to turn things around.

A nice night out at Adelaide Oval

So I wandered along to the Adelaide Oval yesterday after all, and took up my seat in the Chappell Stands with New Zealand struggling at 3 for 60 after about 20 overs. England were right on top, and as I’d found myself next to a rather chatty fellow, we discussed the match, and also the possibility that we’d be going home early. As it was, we DID end up going home early, but that was because New Zealand had won the game.

How did they escape? Well, Jacob Oram batted well. England made it easy though for him, because he came out to bat and was facing the fire and brimstone of Paul Collingwood. My own view that Flintoff should have brought Anderson back into the attack eventually filtered through to the England captain four overs after I had said it, by which time Oram had settled in.

He’s a big lad, is Oram. After a spell from the game, his footwork was understandably rusty but once he found his range, he was able to power the New Zealand innings onwards. He found an ally in Brendon McCullum, who looked totally out of form, but was still able to contribute by running like a whippet.

A late flurry by Franklin took New Zealand to 210. I wandered off for chips, a hot-dog, and a chocolate ice-cream, all the ingredients needed for a balanced diet. I think the Black Caps might have had something a little more healthy because they came out on all cylinders.

Franklin took the first over from the Cathederal End because of the considerable breeze coming from the south. He took three wickets in his opening spell, though he was helped by a withering blast from the River End by Shane Bond.

Bond bowls with the pace of a Brett Lee and the accuracy of.. well he’s not quite in the McGrath mould, but he’s certainly pretty accurate. He pinned down the English upper order, and Mal Loye was in no mood to try his sweep shot this time around.

Franklin and Bond bowled the first fourteen overs, before being relieved. It was the introduction of Daniel Vettori that proved England’s undoing. He bowled a lovely spell; with the breeze to bowl into, he obtained drift and flight, and England’s batsmen did not have the footwork to cope with him. What particularly struck me was the way that England’s batsmen were stuck in two minds about whether or not to come forward, or to play back. Quite often they were caught in no-man’s land.

This certainly didn’t help England’s scoring rate. Ed Joyce was the only batsman to get past twenty. New Zealand fielded much better then they did in Sydney with Gillespie’s catch the highlight. Bond came back to finish the game, taking his 100th wicket in just his 55th match, and New Zealand’s large contingent of fans in the outer celebrated in style.

Speaking as a spectator, it was a nice evening out. I rather enjoy going to these ‘neutral’ games because since my team is not playing, I’m not that emotionally invested in the outcome, and therefore I can enjoy the cricket as it happens. But I have to say it- England were indeed woeful.

England vs New Zealand, and I’m not going

The New Zealanders are bringing back Jacob Oram and Kyle Mills. But Shane Bond isn’t yet fit. With the greatest respect to Oram and Mills, I’m not shelling out money to watch them.

Anyway, chat away yonder, my merry readers. An England victory here would be a great leap forward towards them making the finals.

UPDATE – Oh, Bond’s been included. New Zealand are batting first, so I might wander along after all.

South Africa v New Zealand, Centurion, 2nd day

I had little enthusiasm for this game today. Waking up at 7am on Easter Sunday is hard enough. But as it turned out, it was a bloody excellent day’s cricket – if only to see the boks struggle! I do love seeing them in strife, and I really don’t know why, but partly due to my New Zealand ancestry I guess. Jacob Oram hit a magnificent century – on his comeback Test, too. More thoughts over at Cricinfo.

Justin Langer’s hundred verus New Zealand

An excellent hundred, albeit against a New Zealand team in decline. Their “attack” doesn’t stand up to much, especially against one of the best batting lineups in the last 20 years.

Langer recorded his 20th Test Century – a very special achievment, joining The Elite; Ponting, Inzy, Richards, Boon, Boycott, Tendulkar, Gavaskar….Lara, of course. To name but a few.

[These snippets via Cricinfo]

On the heat
I feel pretty good and we’re in a pretty good position. I started cramping – I tend to do that at Adelaide – after lunch and that probably affected my concentration. But that went away and I felt pretty good.

On the century
I don’t think it’s one of my best. Besides the first couple of overs and a couple with the second new ball, it was a gritty innings. But my balance was really good because footwork is one area of my game that I’ve had to improve over the last 12 to 18 months.

On it being his 20th hundred
Statistics are a really funny thing in cricket. When you are playing the game they mean a lot. I spoke to Tugga [Steve Waugh] a couple of months ago and he said that in retirement statistics mean nothing. While I’m playing and getting paid to score runs it means I hopefully get a game next week.

On the pitch
It’s a very good wicket and is actually getting more carry than I’ve seen before. I’m not sure it’s going to get up and down. We’re going to have to give ourselves plenty of time to get 20 New Zealand wickets.

On Hayden’s caught-and-bowled
It was a big banging double noise so he must have thought that he’d thumped it into the ground. He was probably hoping it was a bump ball because he was starting to hit it pretty well. I thought it was out.

On using the third umpire for a catch
I’m not saying it was obvious, but it looked to me that it was it probably out. The umpires did the right thing. If the technology is there they might as well use it.

On New Zealand’s performance
They fought hard all day. Jacob Oram is an outstanding cricketer to bowl that economically on that track. Chris Martin runs in hard all day and hasn’t had that much luck, but definitely has the spirit.

On their mood in the field
They were a bit quiet, but I’m not sure how they play. They had a tough week last week, it was 38 degrees or so, they lost the toss on a good wicket. They did an admirable job.

On his run-burst in the first two overs
I keep telling Haydos that he’s the blocker and I am the aggressor. I can’t believe he’s playing one-day cricket and I’m not. [The rooms laughs loudly] He knows how I feel about this.

Australia v New Zealand

Well, the kiwis started well, didn’t they? Thanks to Oram’s hundred. But sadly, for most of world cricket followers, Australia fought back and bit the arse of NZ quite badly.

Clarke

They seem to have uncovered another young batsman who looks as if he’s been playing Test Cricket for a couple of decades, Michael Clarke. He looks bloody good.

Jacob Oram’s hundred v Australia

Any hundred is an achievment in this game. Any hundred against Australia is a seriously good achievment. Oram did just that, but it was a better hundred than it looks on paper. New Zealand were in some strife when he came in, so on top of his making a hundred, he made it under some big pressure. Gutsy innings and great to watch. As soon as he’d made it, next ball he carved into Kasprowicz with a huge six over long on, a 4 through exta-cover and 2 more in another over. Fantastic entertainment