31 January 2011

Three VCs from the New Zealand Wars

Lt Arthur Pickard's VC
The Victoria Cross, the British Empire and Commonwealth's most distinguished award for military valour and heroism, has been awarded over 1300 times since its inception in 1856.  New Zealanders, if they are aware of individual recipients, are probably most familiar with the doubly impressive award of the VC and bar, where the recipient earned not one but two VCs in the course of their gallantry.  This has been awarded only three times in history of the VC, and a New Zealander is one of the three.  The Cantabrian soldier Charles Upham (1908-94) won his first VC during the battle for Crete in May 1941, and his second in Egypt in July 1942 during the 1st Battle of El Alamein.  More recently, attention has been focused on SAS Corporal Bill Apiata, who was awarded the VC for his heroism rescuing a wounded colleague in Afghanistan in 2004.

But there have also been several VCs awarded for military heroism on New Zealand soil.  During the New Zealand Wars, which started as early as 1845 and reached their peak in the first half of the 1860s, the British Army was engaged in combat with Maori across the North Island, and found strong Maori resistance and huge logistical challenges of fighting in an inhospitable, inaccessible environment.  In this setting, key displays of gallantry led to the award of the VC in just about the farthest possible corner of the world.

On a recent visit to the Imperial War Museum in London I explored the top floor for the first time.  This is the home of the Lord Ashcroft Gallery, which is the world's largest collection of VCs.  The gallery, which opened in November 2010, holds 210 VC medals collected by Ashcroft and from the IWM's own collections; the next largest collections are the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, which holds 65, and the National Army Museum in Chelsea, which holds 33.  (Ashcroft, a major Tory donor and controversial tax exile, also has a New Zealand connection - he stepped in to offer a large reward for the return of VC stolen from the National Army Museum in Waiouru in 2007).

Among the multitude of mini-histories of the brave VC recipients I noted several from the New Zealand Wars.  The main quoted text for each is from the Ashcroft Gallery:

Lt Arthur Pickard VC (Royal Artillery, Rangiriri, 20 November 1863)

During an attack on a Maori fort at Rangiriri, Lieutenant Pickard went to help a surgeon tend a wounded soldier.  Later, other wounded men needed help, and no-one else would go.  Pickard repeatedly moved back and forwards under heavy fire, bringing them water.

Arthur Frederick Pickard (1841-80), who received his VC along with his colleague Assistant Surgeon William Temple, later achieved the rank of Colonel, and was awarded the Order of the Bath, the Order of St Stanislaus from Russia and the Austrian Order of Leopold.  Pickard's VC and other medals were owned by a Taranaki private museum exhibitor from 1985, and were sold at auction to Ashcroft's trust in Wellington in August 2002.  The original award ceremony was recorded in a brief mention in the Otago Daily Times of 19 November 1864, reporting a London dispatch dated 25 September.

Sir John McNeill

Lt Col John McNeill VC (107th Regiment, Ohaupo, 30 March 1864)

During the New Zealand Wars, Lieutenant Colonel McNeill was ambushed by 50 Maori.  The private soldier with him fell from his horse as they tried to escape.  McNeill caught the horse and returned to help the man re-mount.  Under fierce attack, they rode for their lives.  

John Carstairs McNeill (1831-1904) was later knighted and achieved the rank of Major General before becoming an equerry to Queen Victoria in his retirement years.  The Daily Southern Cross of 24 October 1864 records the gazetting of McNeill's VC award in London, noting that 'The Queen has been graciously pleased to signify her intention to confer the decoration of the Victoria Cross on the undermentioned officer, whose claim to the same has been submitted for Her Majesty's approval, for his valiant conduct in New Zealand, as recorded against his name'.
McNeill's war medals

Capt Frederick Smith VC (43rd Regiment, Tauranga, 21 June 1864)

At Tauranga, Captain Smith led an attack on a Maori position.  He was hit twice, but carried on, ignoring the bullets.  He was the first to jump down into the rifle pits, where he fought hand-to-hand with the Maoris.  His fierce fighting spurred his men on to victory.

Frederick Augustus Smith (1826-77), an Irishman who also served in the Army during the Crimean War, performed his act of heroism on the final day of the Tauranga Campaign, which sought to cut off aid to Kingite forces in the Waikato.  In the Battle of Ta Ranga, a British patrol discovered a force of about 500 Maori in the early stages of building a new pa.  After obtaining reinforcements, and seeking some meagre revenge after the humiliation of the Battle of Gate Pa on 29 April, the British rushed the incomplete Te Ranga pa and defeated the Maori defenders.  The British inflicted over 100 casualties in the action that earned Smith his VC.

24 January 2011

Blithe as a bird

Bluey is ready for his close-up
I've now settled in and organised my new life in Wimbledon, having moved into a new flat at the start of the year.  It's been great having a place of my own, even though the boiler broke down after only a fortnight and I had to endure four days with no heating or hot water.  The apartment has the added bonus of a Sky TV connection which will last for a few more days, so I've been able to watch the cricket from New Zealand in HD, which has been a real treat - I've not seen much cricket since moving to London in 2007. 

Despite having the place to myself, it's not a totally solitary existence.  The couple I'm subletting from will be away in Australia for about six months and have left their budgie in my care.  This is quite a responsibility for someone who knows next to nothing about avians.  I've not even seen Hitchcock's The Birds, which, given the subject matter, is perhaps for the best.  

Bluey the budgie is actually a peach-faced lovebird, and I'm getting used to the mechanics of taking care of him.  He spends most of the day in his cage of course, gnawing on seeds and squeaking at his reflection in his little mirror.  As I'm at home most of the time I also try to let him out to fly around the apartment, during which time he flits between the various windows and 'chats' to other birds outside.  He also gazes lovingly at his own reflection in the large upstairs mirror, or perhaps he's just admiring the handsomeness of that fine-looking yellow fellow who's standing opposite.  

My sister, a professional vet, has provided some useful advice for novice budgie carers, but I'm still puzzled by the suggestion that his cage should be covered from dusk onwards to allow him to sleep.  Presumably the advice was written in New Zealand rather than England, where today the sun will set at 4.33pm.  It's an inexact science.  I tend to put his cover on around late evening, or if someone is using bad words on the telly that might damage his impressionable little gnat-sized brain.

He does not exhibit a complex personality, and there's not much in the way of two-way communication going on in the relationship.  I'm not sure when he's hungry, so I just presume that it's most of the time.  This has worked out so far, and on reflection it would probably suffice with most humans too.    

16 January 2011

We hope you will enjoy the show

Simon Sweetman wrote an interesting blog a few days ago about the state of the modern music industry.  He argued that the key to success for contemporary performers is to focus not on music sales through major labels, but instead on selling the live experience offered by great concert performances:
We remember the artists we saw live - and we talk about the ones we want to see. This is the true measure [of success]. This is what keeps us coming back - the thrill of a decent act. And it's a level playing field too, when you think about it. I can go and see AC/DC rock a stadium with Hells Bells or Lil' Band O' Gold thrill a pub with their superb repertoire - a cover of Lazy Lester's Sugar Coated Love one minute, some Bobby Charles the next. Lil' Band O' Gold didn't need the giant bell to swing from, but they weren't playing in a stadium. AC/DC paid dues on the pub circuit and became one of the elite. Both acts know how to serve their audience - it doesn't begin and end with the album.
Stop thinking about the album as the starting point - it's not. Learn your instruments, learn to write songs, learn to handle criticism, learn to play with the same enthusiasm to 20 people as you do when there are 200 or if you are lucky 2000 - or 20,000.
The relationship between great live performances and musical stardom has traditionally been based on a solid footing of financial rewards from sales of recorded music.  But the rapid decline in music sales revenue due to the rise of internet file sharing and consumers' declining willingness to pay premium prices for music may well kill off the traditional music distribution networks.  This is not necessarily a wholly bad thing.  Instead, Sweetman argues that the potency of quality live performances will sustain the best acts - the ones who build a strong bond with their audiences and deliver great and memorable entertainment in their stage acts.

Gordon Campbell recently wrote an interesting piece on the state of music retailers in Wellington, but the story isn't constrained to just one city - the decline of music retail profits in physical premises with all the associated overheads has been documented for several years.  In the article, retailers appear resigned to adopting survival strategies to minimise the impact of a shrinking market: one, Real Groovy, is focusing on its second-hand sales and hopes to sublet some of its space, while another, Slow Boat, is fortunate to survive on a lower cost structure due to a canny business decision in the mid-90s to buy the building in which it operates.  The article highlights the struggle faced by music retailers, sometimes with decades of experience in the market, who are having to come to terms with the new retail orthodoxy: 
The self-defining musical question among baby boomers may have changed from ‘What was the first single you bought’ to ‘What was the last single you bought”….as if that phase was now over for good. Yet like Alice, people are going through the mirror and finding themselves in a world where people are buying individual tracks online – not albums so much – and so, the singles cycle has begun again. And will expand, as the industry tries to figure out how to leverage as much money online as it used to do from conventional retail outlets.
This begs the question: as the traditional model of music retail fades away, how will people hear about new acts?  Certainly, the mainly youthful fans who form the largest section of the music listening market are still going to rely on word of mouth and the newer opportunities presented by online recommendations and music blogging.  But these fans are also increasingly unwilling to part with their currency to purchase intellectual property, and instead rely on file-sharing methods to build enormous collections of music without forking over a penny to its owners.  If bands are to make a living they are, as Sweetman observes, going to have to learn how to use recorded music as a drawcard to advertise their live performances.  Ticket sales will have to form a much stronger part of their revenue streams.  Whether this will be sufficient to support bands in the absence of plentiful sales of recorded music is a moot point.  From the New Zealand perspective, perhaps the situation isn't as perilous as might be expected; after all, few New Zealand artists can make a living on album sales anyway.

But the live music industry, which is dominated by the promoters who speculate which acts to invest in to draw a crowd, faces a growing problem.  Certainly, there will always be a market for the student and indie bands that grow up with the support of student radio - the mainstream pop success of Goldenhorse in New Zealand, don't forget, was preceded by the tireless support of student radio programmers.  But the major event concerts sprinkled throughout the calendar, in which overseas artists are flown to New Zealand to perform, are based on a finite resource.  

In a fragmented, declining music market, the age of monster bands with almost universal appeal is dying out.  Indeed, it's lasted much longer than initial predictions, which held it to be a universal truth that once the big rock gods of the 60s and 70s - your Rolling Stones, your Bowies, your Eagles - stopped touring when they entered old age, there would be nothing to replace them.  How wrong that supposition turned out to be.  For one thing, the graduates of rock's golden age just didn't stop touring: the Rolling Stones (Mick, aged 67; Keef, 67; Charlie, 69; Ronnie, 63) are still out there performing big concert tours and making loads of money.  In addition, a fresh burst of mainstream rock acts came along in the late 70s through to the 80s in a last gasp for the traditional megagroup - U2, REM, and to a lesser extent bands like Aerosmith and AC/DC.  But now those acts are getting long in the tooth, and there are few contenders with a decent chance of achieving lasting fame and success to replace them.  Indeed, it was recently reported that the rock age has passed, in the UK at least: only three out of the top 100 singles of 2010 was by a rock act, and one of those was the 1981 track Don't Stop Believin', popularised by teen TV behemoth Glee.  Hardly a ringing endorsement for the future of rock gigs.

In recent years the opportunities for New Zealand music to get airplay has improved from the very poor situation in the 80s and 90s.  The eventual radio support for perennial acts like Dave Dobbyn and the coterie of Finn-related projects is welcome, but it should be remembered that these too are acts with decades-old roots.  TV exposure doesn't help much to generate long-term careers either, with the niche music channels generally focusing on flash-in-the-pan popstars.

Does the answer lie in student bands snowballing their way to greatness?  In 2007 I attended an indie showcase bill at the Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with friends who live nearby.  It's a hard-working college radio audience venue, a capacity of a few hundred, with cheap tickets and low ceilings.  I'd never heard of the top band on the billing, an Arizona group called The Format.  They turned out to be great performers, but the interesting aspect of the show from my perspective was that the audience, a young crowd presumably consisting largely of UNC students, seemed to know all the words of the songs the band played.  This may have been through radio airplay, multiple listens on Myspace or Youtube, internet file-sharing or a combination of all of these factors, but the fact remains that a band without major label backing and from a town 1800 miles away was able to perform in front of a crowd that knew all the words to its material.  This is at least an indication of the power of word of mouth in the internet age, even if it's not a great indicator of success for The Format - sadly, the band called 'a hiatus' in 2008. 

The answer may not lie in the conventional wisdom of the music industry.  Witness the fickle fortune bestowed by the now traditional January BBC announcements of bands to watch in the coming year.  Or indeed many if not most of the new crazes espoused by the NME; arts writer Fiona Sturges wrote recently that it was all rather more miss than hit:
When it comes to fabricated hype, the worst perpetrator over the years has been the NME, a magazine so keen to be seen at the vanguard of the latest scene, and on first-name terms with the hot new artists, that it has killed many a career stone dead. For evidence one need only look at the fates of Birdland, The Unbelievable Truth, Ultrasound, Menswear, S*M*A*S*H, Gay Dad, Terris and The Datsuns – all bands that were breathlessly declared pop's new messiahs by the NME but whose music failed to connect with the record-buying public, prompting them to sink swiftly into oblivion.
But, Sturges argues, perhaps there is some scope for optimism, because despite the failures of the mainstream media to recognise new talent, the music scene still throws up interesting and appealing new artists:

Whatever the industry predicts for the coming year, there are always the less anticipated and invariably more interesting bands that manage to break into the public consciousness, propelled not through hype but through the more organic process of building interest through word of mouth, low-key releases and the live circuit. Last year both Midlake and Mumford & Sons took off on a large scale with only modest industry and media backing while, the year before, few predicted the commercial potential of lo-fi American indie acts such as Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver.
I hope she's right.  The late Hunter S Thompson once observed, 'the music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs.  There's also a negative side'.  It would be a sad world indeed if the 21st century grows to maturity without a healthy music business to lend an air of talent, glamour and decadence to proceedings.

13 January 2011

An old Wandle snuff mill

The Wandle at Morden Hall Park

Several months ago I paid a visit to the autumnal glories of Morden Hall Park, which is situated 2.5km and a speedy six minute tram ride southeast of Wimbledon (Phipps Bridge tram stop).  Aside from the pretty grounds, the main feature of the park is the collection of buildings that sit bestride the Wandle River, which formed a key part of the local economy for generations.  The sturdily-built river races at the centre of the park once held a pair of mill wheels, and whereas many Wandle mills were traditionally devoted to grinding corn, these mills performed their duties to produce a much more rarefied commodity: snuff.

The habit of taking snuff, ground-up tobacco leaves which are inhaled rather than smoked, was first observed by Europeans on Columbus' second voyage to the Caribbean in the mid-1490s.  Following the gift in 1561 of some snuff to Catherine de' Medici by Jean Nicot, the French ambassador in Lisbon (and the man after whom nicotine is named), the snuff-taking began to take hold as a pastime of the wealthy and the aristocracy.  By the 18th century it was a symbol of class distinction.  The upper classes took snuff, which was more expensive due to the production process and the addition of perfumes and colouring; the poor smoked plain tobacco.  According to Jordan Goodman's 1993 book Tobacco in history: the cultures of dependence, the rituals surrounding snuff taking became a key signs of its acceptance into the heart of high society:

Snuff taking differed from tobacco smoking in many ways.  In the first place, the taking of snuff became highly ritualised.  For those who prepared their own snuff, a practice that became increasingly fashionable during the eighteenth century, the principal devices were the snuff box and the rasp.  The former had its origins in the tobacco box of the seventeenth century but, unlike its predecessor, it contained only the tobacco product and therefore could be quite small.  Snuff-box making became an art in the eighteenth century and the range of design, material and size was bewildering.  Not only was every known metal used but so were natural materials such as ivory and shell as well as the increasingly popular fine porcelain [...]  Giving a snuff box as a present became a present became a sign of exalted gift-giving: Marie Antoinette had fifty-two gold snuff boxes in her wedding basket.  While this may seem extravagant, it should be remembered that in the eighteenth century the snuff box was the equivalent of jewellery and not only did the snuff box change with artistic fashion but anyone who was anyone needed to have a variety of these boxes.  As Louis Sebastian Mercier noted in his description of Paris in the second half of the eighteenth century: 'One has boxes for each season.  That for winter is heavy; that for summer light.  It's by this characteristic feature that one recognises a man of taste.  One is excused for not having a library or a cabinet of natural history when one has 300 boxes...'
But despite its fervent and affluent supporters, there were plenty of scare stories circulating against snuff use, in part inspired by medical concerns.  One such complaint is recorded in a letter dated 6 March 1809 from a Mr James Hill, quoted in Wilfred Henry Prentis' self-published 1970 book, The Snuff-Mill Story:

                                James Hill, 137 St Martin's Lane
Dear Mr Urban,
[...] I know a lady who took the cancer in her nose and died, that had been in the habit of taking snuff.  The doctor that attended her insisted that there were particles of glass in the snuff she had used visible to the naked eye, and that these, having been strongly pulled up, had lodged in the cartilages and bones of the nose, and caused the disorder.  On analysing it, he found that rotten wood, pieces of old coffins etc., ground down and mixed with powdered glass, red and white betony, and other cheap cephalicks constituted the chief ingredients in the snuff she had bought and used, etc. etc. 
One loyal writer responded to similar criticism in an edition of the New Monthly Magazine published in London in 1821, in which he waxed lyrical on the joys of snuff:

[The snuff critic] may denounce our noses as "dust holes" if he will - but what precious dust!  - what an aider of thought! - what solamen curarum* - what a helpmate of existence ... what a soother of irritability, as Sir Joshua found it.  Let this anti-nasal disclaimer just step into Messrs Fribourg and Pontets, and he'll soon see, in the formidable array of of robust and well-battalioned jars, what an unequal contest he has undertaken to wage against one of the most popular usages of his country: - jars containing every modification of sternulatory materials, collected from every quarter of the globe, and sanctioned, many of them, in emblazoned characters, by the highest names in Europe, from Hardham's No.37, for rough sneezers, down to the delicate and costly Maccabau, whose essence is so subtle and pervading that, like Desdemona's charms, it makes the "senses ache" with exuberance of delight.
[* Latin: the comfort of cares] 

Morden Hall Park snuff mills
The Morden Hall snuff mill operated from the mid-18th century at the peak of the snuff-taking craze, until 1922 when the habit was fast disappearing.  According to Judith Goodman's book Merton & Morden (Chichester, 1995), 'from 1760 the Polhill family leased the snuff mill from the Garths.  They were followed by Taddy & Co. in 1845, and then by Alexander Hatfeild in 1854'.  For most of the period the area was a semi-rural settlement on the far outskirts of London.  It was possible to 'go up to London' for the day by coach or on horseback, but Morden itself was not part of the great metropolis.  

Gilliat Edward Hatfeild (1864-1941), the last owner, closed the snuff mill once and for all in 1922.  The mill workers had gone on strike to support their colleagues in the rest of the cigarette industry, but Hatfeild was having none of it.  Perhaps he saw the dwindling demand for snuff and seized the opportunity to exit the industry.  He went on residing in Morden Cottage next to the mill-race.

Morden Hall
Morden Hall itself, the adjacent manor house, was owned by the Garth family for four centuries from the time of the Dissolution during Henry VIII's reign until it was sold to tobacco merchant Gilliat Hatfeild (1827-1906, the father of G.E. Hatfeild, above) in 1872.  During and after the First World War the Hall became better known for its contribution to the medical wellbeing of Londoners.  Again according to Goodman:

[I]n the First World War Gilliat Edward Hatfeild’s Morden Hall became at his wish a military hospital.  There were 68 beds, and, as the men regained strength, they had the freedom of Hatfeild’s park.  After the war Morden Hall became an annex to the London Hospital, receiving women and children as patients.  The hospital closed in 1941, with the death of Mr Hatfeild.

Visitors to the park today will note that one of the mill wheels remains in place on the mill-race sans paddles, and nearby several old mill stones are scattered as a testimony to an industry that employed generations of Morden locals and fed a habit that in its heyday was the talk of high society.   

Old mill stone

Morden Hall Park mill-wheel

01 January 2011

New Zealand cricket in 2010

Williamson & McCullum batting in the 2nd test at Hyderabad
Following on from my statistical summary of the New Zealand cricket year in 2009, this is my brief run-down of the performance of the national side in 2010.  It may well turn out to be a briefer affair than last year's - after all, it's hardly been a vintage cricketing year for New Zealand supporters.  But there have been a few bright spots here and there to savour nonetheless.

Overall performance


Just as in 2009, New Zealand only won one test this year - at Hamilton in February, when they beat Bangladesh by 121 runs.  That was the first test of the year, but the following month there were two home trouncings by Australia in Wellington and Hamilton (losses by 10 wickets and 176 runs respectively).  Then test fans had to wait until November for the three test series in India, in which the test team performed surprisingly well to draw the first two tests in Ahmedabad and Hyderabad, only to succumb to the inevitable Indian backlash in the third test, which resulted in an Indian victory by a massive innings and 198 runs.  By the end of the year New Zealand had sunk back to eighth place in the world test rankings, ahead of only lowly Bangladesh.

New Zealand's ODI performances in 2010 were far below average, with only six wins from 22 matches played.  As expected, Bangladesh was dispatched 3-0 in New Zealand, and then the Australians were held to a 3-2 victory in a strongly contested five match home series.  The only highlight of the August triangular series in Sri Lanka against that country and India was the opening match in which New Zealand scored 288 and then rolled India in a surprise 200 run victory.  After that normal service was resumed and New Zealand struggled on the sub-continental pitches.  This only worsened in October when New Zealand played five ODIs in Bangladesh, and was defeated by the home side in all four of the completed matches (one was lost to rain).  Then New Zealand extended its losing streak even further by losing five more games in a row on tour in India.  The side's ranking has slipped from fourth at the end of 2009 to a miserable seventh.  All this with the World Cup just around the corner in 2011!

In T20 internationals New Zealand performed reasonably well, winning seven matches out of 13.  Victories against Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Pakistan in the ICC World T20 tournament in the West Indies in April and May weren't enough to progress to the finals.  There followed two speculative and rather peculiar T20s against Sri Lanka in Florida in an attempt to tap into the American market, and 2010 was closed out by three more against Pakistan at home, with New Zealand winning the first two and Pakistan taking the third.

Batting achievements

The clear stand-out in test batting was Brendon McCullum, who ditched the test wicket-keeper gloves in favour of a higher place in the batting order, including a peculiar but so far successful shift into the opening slot in India.  His 758 runs came at an average of 75.8 and included a splendid top score of 225 opening against India, along with two other centuries.  Martin Guptill and Jesse Ryder also returned strong averages, with Guptill scoring 452 runs at an excellent average of 50.2, and Ryder accumulating 274 runs at 54.8 in the three tests he played.  Ross Taylor also performed well, if not meeting his high potential, in scoring 433 runs at 39.4.  The arrival of young Kane Williamson (3 tests, 212 runs at 42.4) to the team also holds the prospect of a stronger batting lineup in the coming years.  There were eight test centuries in 2010, three of which were by McCullum, including the afore-mentioned top score of 225.  Guptill, Taylor, Williamson, Ryder and Tim McIntosh scored the remaining tons.  The best partnership of the year was McCullum and Guptill's 339 against Bangladesh in Hamilton in February.

Tellingly, no batsman managed to appear in all 22 ODIs in 2010.  Taylor came closest with 20 appearances, and he topped the batting tables, scoring 676 runs at 37.6.  Runner-up Scott Styris returned to the team for 14 matches and performed solidly with 474 runs at 39.5.  Aside from these performances, most other New Zealand batsmen fared poorly, with Guptill and Brendon McCullum failing to live up to their test form.  The only other bright spot was Kane Williamson, whose 108 against Bangladesh in Dhaka in the 4th ODI was the year's only ODI century by a New Zealand batsman.  There were only two century partnerships in 2010: Jacob Oram and Neil Broom's 123 against Bangladesh in Napier in February, and Styris and Taylor's 190 against India in Dambulla in August.

Brendon McCullum scored the most T20 runs in 2010, with 287 runs at 41.0, although this is significantly down on his 2009 total of 417.  His barnstorming 116 not out from 56 balls against Australia in Christchurch was the year's high score, and set up a massive target of 214 that the tourists later tied.  The top partnership of the year was Guptill and James Franklin's 91 against Pakistan in Hamilton in December.

Bowling achievements

This was hardly a stellar year for New Zealand bowling performances.  In test matches captain Daniel Vettori was once more the stand-out achiever, taking 26 wickets at a rather high average of 38.4.  Chris Martin and Tim Southee took 14 wickets each, but while Southee's average of 38.9 was a bit high, Martin's average of 52.2 was troubling.  His fired-up decimation of India's second innings in the first test at Ahmedabad may have saved his spot for another New Zealand summer, but there are a handful of younger bowlers keen to take the 36-year-old's place.  Still, it's not often that a bowler can claim to have single-handedly reduced India to 15/5 at home, is it?

Vettori topped the ODI wicket-taking list too, with 21 wickets at 25.7.  But he was almost matched by two others, with promising newcomer Andy McKay and the experienced Kyle Mills each taking 19 wickets at an average of around 26.5.  A sad note is the presence of Shane Bond on the list, with nine wickets at 21.0 from only five matches - if only he could've played for New Zealand for longer.  There were no five-wicket bags in 2010, so Bond's 26/4 against Australia in Wellington - his last ODI appearance - was the year's best haul.

The off-spinner Nathan McCullum topped the T20 list, taking 17 wickets, with Southee's 11 and Styris' 10 wickets rounding out the top three.  Southee's 18/5 destroyed Pakistan's innings in the Auckland T20, while Styris' wickets came at an average of only 8.0.

The year ahead

The remainder of the 2010/11 summer sees New Zealand preparing for the World Cup by hosting Pakistan for a two test 'series' followed by six ODIs in which new coach John Wright can test his plans for the subcontinent.  New Zealand's first World Cup match is on 20 February against Kenya in Chennai, and is followed by group matches against Australia, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Canada and Sri Lanka.

After the World Cup New Zealand will have to rustle up some opponents to play, because the Future Test Programme has no opponents listed home or away until a November two-test tour of Australia!  This sparse schedule is compounded by the fact that the first scheduled touring team for the New Zealand 2011/12 summer is Zimbabwe, so there's a possibility that there may be another gap in the schedule due to the ongoing sporting boycott of the Harare regime.  Here's hoping that the ICC remembers that New Zealand needs some opponents in 2011, otherwise it could be very thin pickings for New Zealand cricket fans.  I said as much last year, so it seems New Zealand always has to scramble for whatever it can get these days.  What are the odds on yet another Bangladesh or Pakistan tour?