Trouble in Middle Earth

One of the bonuses about not having to go back to work until next week (apologies to all those that already have) is that I get to watch some day-time Test cricket. This has brought the New Zealand cricket team back into my consciousness. Watching them tamely subside to an admittedly pretty awesome Saffer side has piqued my interest. After all, England are due to play this lot in back-to-back series shortly. Now I will have to defer to our New Zealand readership for the on-the-ground reality, but sitting here many many thousands of miles from Middle Earth (yes, that’s what New Zealand actually want us to call them), it appears that all is not well. Let’s look at the facts, shall we? If you’re sitting comfortably, then we’ll begin:

None of that makes pretty reading. Now, admittedly, New Zealand has never been a cricketing powerhouse but, even so, the regression is easy enough to see. Quite simply, there is a lack of quality across the board. Brendan McCullum, perhaps the one player in the current side you might think of as being anywhere near world class, averages only 35.63 with the bat and now rarely keeps wicket. Daniel Vettori, whose level of play has at times reached impressive heights, is 33 and currently struggling with injuries. Chris Martin continues to plug away efficiently enough but is no youngster either. Of the youngsters, Kane Williamson has potential (as a Gloucestershire fan, I have followed him with interest) but needs time. Same with Doug Bracewell and Dean Brownlie. What they would give to have players of the talent of Hadlee, Astle, Crowe or Cairns back again.

This is all fairly depressing, because we here in England don’t really think of NZ in the same breath as Bangladesh or Zimbabwe (hence excluding them from the stats). But, as with the West Indies, they’re not exactly making a push. Both sides remain capable in the one day arena, where they are more than capable of holding their own. At the moment, however, New Zealand once again becoming a proper cricketing force at Test level seems mere fantasy…

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  1. The Over: England v New Zealand: First Test, Days 2, 3 and 4 | Two Grumpy England Cricket Fans

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