30 March 2011

New Zealand at the 2011 Cricket World Cup

Following New Zealand's exit from the World Cup at the semi-final stage at the hands of Sri Lanka, here's a run-down on the performances of all the players who took to the field during the tournament in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It's a mixed bag, as befits a team that played eight matches, won five and lost three. Certainly Ross Taylor, Martin Guptill and Tim Southee have plenty to be proud of, and it was pleasing to see Jacob Oram making up for his dodgy batting with some quality performances with the ball. The clear New Zealand highlights for this World Cup will be Ross Taylor's super century in Pallekele that demolished the Pakistan bowling attack, and the tremendous bowling and fielding effort that brought about the South African collapse in Dhaka, thereby earning New Zealand a semi-final rematch with Sri Lanka. That was to be the end of the New Zealand campaign, but it was further than many New Zealand fans expected was possible.

Taylor batting against Pakistan © Reuters 
Ross Taylor
(8 matches, 324 runs at 64.8, hs 131*)

A strong batting performance for New Zealand's next ODI captain. Ross Taylor had only one failure in his World Cup, when he was dismissed for 7 against Australia in Nagpur. His stand-out innings was the match-winning 131 not out against Pakistan in Pallekele, in which he peppered the crowd with eight fours and seven sixes. Against the weaker Canadian bowling attack in Mumbai he plundered 74 off only 44 balls. He also captained the side in the two matches Daniel Vettori missed.

Tim Southee 
(8 matches; 18 wkts, av 17.3, 4.31 rpo)

The New Zealand bowling success story of the World Cup, 22-year-old Tim Southee has apparently responded well to intensive physical training in Christchurch and the advice offered by the new bowling coach, the legendary South African champion Allan Donald. His 18 wickets place him second on the tournament leaderboard after the first semi-final, and the scalps have come at an excellent average without the by-product of an expensive run rate. His best performance in an innings was only three wickets, but tellingly he managed this feat no less than five times, against Kenya, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, and in both matches against Sri Lanka. So far in 2011 Southee has 25 wickets at an average of 21.1, which is scorching form in anyone's book. After several years of hot-and-cold inconsistency, New Zealand cricket fans would love Southee to keep doing whatever it is he's doing!

Martin Guptill
(8 matches, 262 runs at 43.7, hs 86*) 

A solid achievement in the opening slot for Martin Guptill, who earned a man of the match award for his 86 not out against Zimbabwe in Ahmedabad, which helped to deliver a 10 wicket win. He also contributed a valuable 57 in the win over Pakistan. Two failures against Australia (10) and South Africa (1) dented his figures, and he will be disappointed to have missed out on a second ODI century in the Zimbabwe match.

Brendon McCullum
(8 matches, 256 runs at 42.7, hs 101; 8 catches, 1 stumping)

McCullum's figures are good overall, but are skewed by his 76 not out against Zimbabwe and 101 against Canada. Against test-playing bowling attacks he only managed 53 runs at a pitiful average of 10.6, showing that he needs to brush up his technique if he's to maintain his reputation as a fearsome ODI opener.

Scott Styris 
(8 matches, 142 runs at 23.7, hs 57; 4 wkts, av 31.8, 4.43 rpo)

With his considerable experience and reputation for being New Zealand's best player of spin bowling, much was expected of Scott Styris in his last World Cup campaign. Until his final turn at bat he had failed to make a mark, with a duck against Australia, 6 against Sri Lanka, and a string of other scores that failed to amount to a major contribution. However, his gritty 57 off 77 in the semi-final against Sri Lanka in Colombo was vital and showed some of the steel of his best performances. Although he was only used as a part-timer (an average of three and a half overs per game) his bowling was somewhat better, with his two wickets finishing off the Pakistan innings in Pallekele and sealing victory.  

Nathan McCullum 
(8 matches, 100 runs at 16.7, hs 52; 8 wkts, av 30.1, 4.82 rpo)

In opening the bowling against South Africa with Vettori, Nathan McCullum added his name to the history books by being part of only the fourth occasion in which two spinners opened the bowling attack in an ODI. His best bowling performance came in that match, where his figures were 10-1-24-3, including the prize wicket of opener Hashim Amla, caught at first slip off the keeper's boot. A lower-order impact player with the bat, Nathan McCullum scored a much-needed 52 off 76 against Australia, top scoring in New Zealand's struggle to reach 206. He failed to make a major impression in his other turns at bat, but could generally be relied on to add a few at a run a ball.

Jesse Ryder
(7 matches, 184 runs at 36.8, hs 83; 1 wkt, av 81.0, 5.71 rpo)

Ryder only had five opportunities to bat in this World Cup, and his best innings by far was the patient 83 off 121 balls against South Africa in Dhaka, which was instrumental in building a defensible total. Too many of his other innings failed to build on promising starts, and doubtless he will be disappointed in his return from this tournament. He took the final wicket in Canada's innings at Mumbai, but was expensive in the other matches in which he bowled.

Daniel Vettori 
(6 matches, 53 runs at 26.5, hs 44; 3 wkts, av 51.7, 3.60 rpo)

The captain didn't have the greatest World Cup. Despite high expectations of success in the subcontinent, and the prospect of this being his last ODI series as captain, and possibly his last ODIs full stop, Vettori didn't manage to penetrate the defences of his opponents. It looks like they were content to play him out, given that he only gave up 3.60 runs an over, but a haul of only three wickets from six matches must have been highly disappointing for such a talented spinner. As for the batting, his high score of 44 came in the lower order fight-back against Australia, and helped salvage some sort of total. But in this World Cup Vettori batted so low in the order that he had little opportunity to show his class as a batsman who can find gaps in the field to rotate the strike and also conjure up sneaky boundaries. The strategy to send Nathan McCullum in before him should be reconsidered if he is to continue playing ODIs.

Jacob Oram 
(6 matches, 59 runs at 19.7, hs 25; 12 wkts, av 18.4, 4.43 rpo)

Oram ripped through Kenya with the ball, taking three wickets in 17 balls in Chennai, and he also dined out against Canada in Mumbai with another three. But his man of the match performance against South Africa (9-1-39-4) won plaudits for the canniness of his bowling. He was also hard to get away in the semi-final, giving up only 29 runs from his eight overs. As for his batting, TV commentators never fail to trot out the line about Jacob Oram being a dangerous hitter, but realistically his batting best is long past him. His last bout of good form with the bat in ODIs was in 2008, and in the last two years his only batting successes have come against Bangladesh. If you discount innings against that nation, leaving only higher-ranked opponents, over that period Oram has returned only 172 runs at 17.2. He's now sent into bat at 8, in the hope that he'll contribute quick runs at the end of the innings, but during this World Cup his main contribution has been with the ball.

James Franklin 
(6 matches, 52 runs at 17.3, hs 31*; 0 wkts for 79 runs, 5.64 rpo)

A World Cup to forget for James Franklin, despite plenty of chances. In his six matches he was only asked to bowl a mere 14 overs, and these yielded plenty of runs and no wickets. Perhaps his captain looked at his career stats: in 19 matches in Asia, Franklin has only five wickets at an average of 88. Franklin has been in and out of the New Zealand side for ten years, and more recently has been talked up as a possible replacement for Jacob Oram as a geniune allrounder, sent in to bat at number 6 in his most recent test match. His only innings of note in this World Cup was a brutal 31 not out off only 8 balls (two fours, three sixes) against Canada in Mumbai.

Hamish Bennett 
(4 matches; 6 wkts, av 22.0, 5.46 rpo)

A Canterbury 24-year-old who has only been playing internationals for five months, Hamish Bennett suffered an injury and had to return to New Zealand, to be replaced by Daryl Tuffey. In his four matches he impressed with his pace and wicket-taking ability, monstering the Kenyans (5-0-16-4) and snaring both Australian openers despite being hammered for 63 off only seven overs. It is to be hoped that Bennett can continue his good form and recover in time for the next New Zealand tour.

Kane Williamson 
(4 matches, 99 runs at 49.5, hs 38*)

A highly promising 20-year-old who has just been signed to John Bracewell's Gloucestershire team for the English county season, Williamson came to the World Cup with only 11 matches under his belt. His four innings comprised three moderate scores that came at a quick clip, including two not outs that helped his average.

Kyle Mills 
(3 matches; 6 wkts, av 12.3, 3.58 rpo)

Previously the top-ranked ODI bowler in the world, Kyle Mills has been a consistent wicket-taking ODI bowler for New Zealand since 2001. He took six wickets for next-to-nothing in this World Cup, but four of those were against Canadian and Zimbabwean minnows. In the match against Pakistan he was a bit expensive, going for 43 off eight overs, but took the important top-order wickets of opener Ahmed Shahzad for ten and Younis Khan for a duck. Like Bennett, he was injured and replaced, with the overlooked Andy McKay jetting in to take his place for the semi-final. 

Jamie How 
(2 matches, 26 runs at 13.0, hs 22)

How was only given two chances in this tournament. Against Australia he was sent in at number 7 and managed an ungainly 22 off 47, while against Pakistan he was sent in at first drop and could only scrape together a paltry 4 off 29. At this rate he'll be back to the New Zealand A team.

Andy McKay
(1 match; 1 wkt, av 37.0, 3.76 rpo)

Out of the New Zealand team since his last appearance against India in December, McKay stepped up with a quality bowling performance in the semi-final against Sri Lanka, bowling one ball short of 10 overs for a miserly 37 runs plus the exciting wicket of danger man Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lankan captain. At 30 years of age perhaps McKay will adopt the Chris Martin role in the New Zealand attack, although he will need to work on his batting; perhaps an eyepatch would help.

Luke Woodcock
(1 match; 1 wkt, av 24.0, 4.50 rpo)

In a rare New Zealand ODI outing involving three spinners, Luke Woodcock offered tight bowling and wrapped up the South African innings when he had Morne Morkel caught by Jamie How at long off. It was his first international wicket and only his third ODI.
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