The Light Roller: New Zealand’s excellence should give England heart

Diary of a cricket obsessive

McCullum’s captaincy should be a model for Cook

If Alastair Cook wanted to pick a brain or two in the run-up to England's test series against India, he could do worse than get on the phone to Brendan McCullum.

New Zealand wrapped up victory against West Indies yesterday to complete a second series win against the same opposition in seven months. The result in Bridgetown yesterday was made possible by a brilliant batting performance by Kane Williamson, a good all-round bowling effort but most of all by excellent captaincy. Having lost a sizable portion of the game to bad weather McCullum declared overnight, leaving West Indies a tempting chase of 308 on the last day. They fell short by 54 and with 18 overs remaining.  Even on the last day of a five-day match, McCullum's declaration was bold - and decisive.

But the recent successes of McCullum's captaincy - the series wins against the Windies sandwiched an even more impressive series victory against India - have been hard fought.  His first outing as skipper was against a strong South Africa and in two tests New Zealand were completely outclassed.  He had the better of draws against England in New Zealand before more heavy defeats in the return series last year.  Since then, McCullum has overseen ten tests and only one loss – and as many wins as New Zealand had managed in the previous three and half years.  His self-belief in an imaginative approach to captaincy has played a major part that turnaround.

 

Cheats don’t always prosper

In the context of New Zealand’s recent excellence, it is a sad coincidence that Lou Vincent has today released a statement admitting his involvement in match-fixing.  It is right of course that he should be banned for his activities but tragic yet again that the sport should be mired by talk of cheating – especially at a time when recent test matches have shown the utter beauty of the game.

Lou Vincent in action for Auckland in 2012 Lou Vincent in action for Auckland in 2012  

I was at Lord’s on the morning that the News of the World revealed the spot-fixing by Pakistan’s trio of cheats in 2010.  At first there was a sense of disbelief about the claims, then shock and ultimately anger that we were sitting there, watching a game which had – at least in some respects – been thrown.  But the overwhelming sense was of feeling utterly sick that cricket could so easily and so smoothly be the subject of such duplicity.

Vincent probably won’t be the last, despite the best efforts of the global authorities.  The one thing that would help above all would be a reduction in the amount of cricket being played.  But that’s a forlorn hope when there is so much legitimate money to be made, let alone the illegitimate.

 

If Sri Lanka’s attack was ‘county standard’, what is India’s?

With England looking to bounce back from defeat by Sri Lanka, it may have been comforting to see India's travails against Leicestershire at the weekend.

While the batting of Dhawan, Pujara and co looked to be in decent working order - albeit against a moderate attack - the Indian bowling was decidedly unimpressive. In a game featuring over 30 players the use of ten bowlers by the tourists is less remarkable than it might initially have seemed.  But to take only three wickets between them is a poor effort, whichever way you look at it.

During India's test series against New Zealand in February, only Ishant Sharma could reasonably be said to have excelled with the ball, taking fifteen wickets over the two matches.  But he and all of India’s other frontline seamers went at over 3.5 runs per over, which is indicative of a worrying lack of consistency.  Mind you, Sri Lanka’s attack was said to be no better than ‘county standard’ before they bettered England’s efforts at Headingly so there is no point counting chickens: not least for fear of ducks.

 

Pre-season predictions are still in the balance

With half a dozen games left to go in the Championship, the Light Roller's pre-season predictions are looking a tad mixed. Yorkshire still look a good shout for the title, despite losing several stars to the England cause. It could have been worse of course: Bairstow, Bresnan, Lees and Brooks have all been on the England radar but have yet to be called into the ranks.

As for division two, tipping Essex appears to have been a triumph of hope over experience. The club has been beset by injuries at times but a number of key players simply haven't performed to their full ability.  Sitting slap-bang in the middle of the table, chances of promotion are looking slim if not completely distant.

Glamorgan, my dark horse for the season, have a good blend of youth and experience. Mark Wallace seems a thoughtful captain. And occasionally they have looked excellent. But two wins from ten means they are thirty points off the pace in fourth.   

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering