Tag Archives: ross taylor

Ross Taylor and the zombie ants

Zombie ants will find a leaf about a foot off the ground, on the north side of a plant, attach themselves to the underside and will be eaten away by a fungus that is posthumously controlling them and eating their non-vital soft tissue. The ants have no say in what happens next, they are dead soldiers for their fungi overlords.

Batsmen generally don’t have this problem. Most batsmen are living creatures with free will. Sure every player has his own external and internal pressures. Perhaps the coach has told them to put a price on their wicket. Maybe they are worried about their place in the team. Bad form could always be an issue.

Then there is a pitch and the conditions. A grey sky or green pitch will play on the mind of any batsman. A grey sky can make the most cocksure batsman shut up shop.

Then there is the sideways movement. A little or a lot, it matters. It was not, as early cricket scientists tried to prove, an optical illusion. The cricket ball can dance in a way that can trip anyone up.

You can never discount bowlers in this equation (if you’ve been watching the IPL, they are the players who deliver the balls to the maximum hitters). Good bowling can stop a scoreboard; it can bring uncertainty to any situation. Backed by decent field strategies, runs become mythical whispers.

At Lord’s all of these things added up to stop every single batsman who walked out. Except one.

While the opposition and his team-mates held still like zombie ants on a leaf. Ross Taylor batted. He batted like his last few months haven’t involved a public demotion, his friend almost being killed, and a poor run of form in Test and IPL cricket. He batted like he, and few players, can. Like the opposition and conditions didn’t apply to him. In one knock in trying conditions he outscored his IPL season at a better strike rate.

Taylor is an interesting batsman. You feel had he not made it to Test level, he could play every ball on the legside and die a happy man. But despite his obvious talent (he has the 8th best average of any Kiwi Test batsman), he has worked very hard to make himself into a destructive force on the international stage. Yet, he’s not. Not consistently. Not like he could be.

Coupling talent with dedication should be a surefire hit. But Taylor struggles away from home. He isn’t as consistent as she should be. He can be ineffectual for long periods.

Then you see him today. Jimmy Anderson was crushing New Zealand, two quick wickets had spooked the team that had fought like champs to keep England’s total low.

Taylor walked in to a situation that looked dire from the outside. Taylor hit almost as many fours as England did on the entire first day. Taylor scored his fifty at better than a run a ball. Taylor batted like this despite the ball moving around enough to make his team-mates and the opposition find the underside of a leaf to stick themselves to.

A Taylor innings on full flow is a sight to see. It’s like KP, but humble. Bowlers are just there to deliver to him. He owns the crease. He hits the ball in a special way that most people can’t do, the way that almost instantly makes the bowler less sure of himself. And he just keeps batting faster and hitting harder until it doesn’t matter where the fielders are. Like he owns the ground and everyone in it. It doesn’t happen often, but when he does it, it’s clear that he’s not just a batsman. He’s something special.

You could see it building at Lord’s. The flash through point. The slog sweep. The fifty when everyone else saw a 30 as Everest.

Then, with greatness and an often-replayed highlights package within his grasp, he got a ball that kept a bit low. Not a shooter, but just a ball that hadn’t reached the heights it should have. Instead of one of those innings that Taylor plays that makes zealots out of heretics, it was just a cameo.

In the full story of Taylor’s career, it felt about right, with everything that has gone with him recently, it felt way short. Taylor is 29, and the next four years should be his best. At the least his average should jump over 45, and he should be demanding that he ends up as one of the greatest New Zealand players of all time.

Today was just a taster, all he really did is show us that he was not a Zombie ant, but he can do much more than that.

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taylored

As a team the New Zealand test side could try the patience of a Buddhist Nun, but they do have some classy individuals.

Last test Prince Brendon batted so well he decided he is too good for wicket keeping.

Dan Vettori now does so many things better than his team mates that he even shaves them before games.

And there is Ross Taylor, who is so full of talent he can usually only swing his arms to the legside.

For some reason, even with this talent, his test record is pretty ordinary.

Yesterday Taylor put in one of those innings yesterday that means you overlook his batting average and just start licking the sticky bits of his body.

There was luck there, Shane Watson must have a dude-crush on him, and more than a few shots that on another day would have found gully.

Instead he played one of the most entertaining lone gun innings in New Zealand history.

It was an innings that couldn’t be taught, and to be fair, probably shouldn’t be.

I saw the first half of the innings and he seemed to batting so furiously at times that the batsmen at the other end were going out because they were batting in his dust cloud.

At least that would have given them an excuse for batting so shit.

For the second half I went to bed, and I did that sick shit that some of us do when we have chosen to go to bed; I stayed up reading the scores on my mobile device.

It was hard to believe that Ross Taylor’s score could move upwards that quick, I thought the cricinfo worker might have been mainlining speed, so I got up, and it was Taylor who was.

138 off 104 when the rest of the team had only 98 runs.

That is special.

Like waking up from a drunk one night stand and realizing that even hungover and drooling from all orifices, the person next to you is still extremely shaggable.  And their morning breath smells good.

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Kiwi bowlers should go on strike

Great bath!! on TwitpicSince getting a kiwi test bowler to write some of my book for me it has come to my attention how hard working they are as a species.

Mr O’Brien put in about three drafts of his chapter, which is probably more than I had for the book in total.

He was a busy writer, offering alterations, trying to get it the best he could, really putting in the full 100% percent and taking it one word at a time.

But I didn’t make him write the whole book.

That would have been rude.

He did his part, got it right, and then I let him rest.

That seems to be the problem with New Zealand’s top order, they let their bowlers shoot out Pakistan for under 300, and then a couple of hours later make the bowlers try and save the day.

Their opening batsmen don’t seem to be able to survive an over.

The rest of their batsmen seem to hope Ross Taylor will do the job.

Then Prince Brendon and Dictator Dan have to make as many runs as they can with tired bowlers.

Not fair.

Generally with New Zealand if you want to know what total they will make, you take their total at 4 wickets down, and triple it.

And it isn’t like their tail is like England’s (IE: better than their top order), their tail has the worst batsmen in world cricket (Martin), test cricket’s greatest blogger but shit batsman (IOB), and Daryl Tuffey.

Not a lot of fire power there.

In the old days they might have even declared at 8 wickets down.

These guys bowl, bat and blog, while their batsmen don’t even fucken bat.

Not good enough.

I suggest that all the Kiwi bowlers decide to not bat from here on in until their top order starts making runs. A simple, “fuck you guys, we’re tired”, will suffice. They’ll get the message after a while.

Obviously Dictator Dan doesn’t have to; we know he would go mental if one of his many jobs were taken away. He probably edits IOB’s blog at night as well.

But the rest of them just together and declare the innings shut at 7 wickets down. Force the batsmen to take the handle out of their asses and really try and use it.

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Myths & Facts from India’s jaunt to New Zealand

Sportsfreak takes a look through the series.

So the Indians will be boarding their jumbo about now, and for the final piece of excitement will be undergoing a take-off into a Wellington gale. Their fans will be cleaning their whiteboards in preparation for more normal use, and the rest of us look back on our brief time in the same playground as the big boys.

Obviously, there was going to be a lot of hype surrounding this tour; after all the test batting line-up boasted something like 107 test centuries before the series started, and constantly added to that over the last 3 weeks.

And we got to see first hand the likes of Tendulkar and Dravid for the last time, and Dhoni and Ishant for the first time, and were able to notice the difference in attitude and swagger between the two.

So we look at some of the theories that were floated before and during the series and see if they are fact or some hybrid of Indian Myth and Lord of the Rings special effects.

Tests in NZ in April do not work
Myth actually.

People will point to the fact that the April test ended with rain, but that only kicked in with 3 hours left in the match; that’s not bad for New Zealand. April, comparatively, is reasonably reliable.

And the tests were certainly less affected than the ODIs in February/ March.

Light was clearly an issue after the daylight saving change, but that was more of a management issue.

Dhoni is an attacking captain
Well some of his bowling changes are inspirational, and no more so than bringing Tendulkar on during the last day at the Basin.

But that declaration in the same test can always be held up as the perfect example that he can be as cautious as a shell-shocked Ponting.

He lets Harbhajan talk him into defensive field placings too.

Ryder is too fat for test cricket
Ha ha. Myth. A big fat myth too Adam.

He does have a weakness against top quality spin early on, but he’ll sort that out soon.

Yuvraj is rubbish outside of the Sub-continent
Absolute fact.

He was miserable here, apart from a couple of meagre cameos with the pressure off.

And remember this was on placid pitches against an ordinary attack.

Ishant Sharma is the Real Deal and the Final Product
Not yet he’s not. Despite what last year promised.

He had one good spell in Hamilton, and then roughed up Vettori at the Basin.

But in between times he looked more sulky than anything else. He perfected the act of hiding in the outfield in Napier when things got tricky, and he certainly didn’t seem to take to the Wellington wind.

Totally outplayed by the underrated Zaheer all series.

McCullum isn’t the batsman he was a year ago
Myth.

That was probably his most consistent series as a test batsman. A shocking dismissal in the first innings in Hamilton was followed by composed knocks afterwards. His maturity in batting with O’Brien in the second innings of that match was class, and he held his head well in Napier.

At the Basin he got stuck with O’Brien again, and was sawn off in the second innings. Will probably be tried at #6 in the near future, which is about the only spot in the order where he has not been used yet.

Superb keeping too.

Taylor needs time to adjust from ODIs to tests.
Fact. Fact. Fact. Contrast the push across the line on the first morning in Hamilton with the 2nd innings resistance at the Basin.

Imagine what he could do in a 5 test series.

Harbhajan is a wind-up artist
True. And a very good one at that.

He didn’t get under the skin of the New Zealanders like he did with the Australians last year, but he sure wound the commentators up.

Note how he does well in the questionable umpiring decision stakes too. Not a coincidence.

Sehwag plays all forms of the game in exactly the same way
Myth. He bats for longer in T20s and ODIs.

Vettori is not the test bowler he used to be
Fact. And a pretty old fact at that.

If you want proof, get a video of him bowling on the 4th morning in the Basin, and then watch Tendulkar bowl 24 hours later.

It’s toe-curling stuff, and it’s even worse to hear certain radio commentators air the myth that he is a world-class spinner.

The World will miss Tendulkar
Fact.

Sad but true.

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Jesse provides solid base (sorry)

3 for 23.

A batsman who wasn’t good enough to be in the same post code as the ball, but was given out anyway.

A classy looking batsman who never make any runs doing his thing.

And a ginger bloke playing what can only be described as a “get it away from me” fend off his face.

It wasn’t pretty.

The commentators kept saying it was a flat deck.

Even after each wicket.

Then Jesse came out, and he has a way of making all wickets look flat, I apologise for that pun.

But he does.

And while Ross Taylor was flailing around like ice addict at a racist police officer.

Jesse was just class.

He puts away bad balls, he looks cool doing it, he should be on t shirts.

Jesse, and Ross, got a bit of help with a keeper without match practice, Dravid’s continued wideness and slowness at slip, and Yuvraj looking cool and catching nothing, New Zealand is now well and truly in this game.

There is also no doubt that India look lost without Dhoni.

Taylor did spend some time looking great at the crease, then he got to 99 and had a Michael Slater/ Greg Blewett/KP/Sachin type brain fuck.

How He didn’t go out, or run Jesse out in the 3 or 4 overs it took is beyond me.

India’s day can be traced through two moments, Yuvraj coming on and getting smashed, yet, still almost getting Taylor, and Munaf Patel’s primal scream as Jesse guided one through the near vacant slips cordon.

But the common denominator with New Zealand looking good and India looking bad is our boy Jesse.

He can even make God look bad.

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one out of six aint bad

There is only one batsman in the New Zealand top six who is not test level.

And he top scored yesterday.

How has a lot of talent, usually a good temperament, and a defensive technique you could build a hospital on.

Ryder has a great eye, uncomplicated footwork, an dthe potential to be a top test batsman/drunkard.

Taylor is their best batsman talent wise, and could be a future superstar if he plays straight.

Peter Fulton is no superstar, but there is no reason he couldn’t set himself up in the Paul Collingwood or Michael Hussey mode, cutting out all the risks, and average at least 40 at test level.

And little Daniel Flynn with all that toughness, and not a lot of shots can be a bastard to get out.

The one who isn’t good enough is Redmund, but on the flat pitch, he made the most out of what he had.

He defended when he had to, he attacked when he could, and eventually he just went beyond his skill level.

So what about the others?

How chased a wide one, Ryder had a loss of concentration, and Fulton never looked like his mind was right.

Flynn and Taylor were worked over by clever bowlers.

There is a top 6 there, but you need 500 in the first innings a Radelaide, unless you are England, and unless something magical happens, they are going to come up short.

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The problem with Prince Brendan

I love McCullum.

Not in a metrosexual “I wanna have his tattoos” kinda way.

Or in an “I wonder what his semen tastes like” kinda way.

But as a batsman, an entertainer and an artist, I love him.

I think I said

Watching him is like watching two people have sex in a car crash, there are so many ways it can go wrong, but somehow everyone walks away fine, and you can’t believe what you’ve seen.

But the problem with my McCullum love, is that when he goes out, I seem to lose all interest in New Zealand.

As a cricket team, a country, an Island and as a people.

They just fade away.

It’s like when there is a group of friends in a bar. At the time you are nice to all of them, but you only have your eye on one. Once that one gets sick of your piss and vinegar seduction style and tells you to trot off, you don’t move onto the next friend, you find a new group of friends to hit on, or go home and look up porn.

Or if you get lucky, you take that one home and forget about the friends, but secretly wish one of the friends would have come back so you could see what kind of partnership they would put on.

When McCullum is up and about, you could watch him bat with anyone, even Aaron Redmund, but once he is gone even Ross Taylor doesn’t get you excited.

And it’s a hard act to make Ross Taylor platonic.

When I still wrote off McCullum as an accumulator of 30 odds, Taylor was my favourite kiwi.

Now he fades into beige at the mere mention of McCullum.

I was also a big fan of the perfect boyfriend Jacob Oram.

I liked his lusty big hits, and even ignored his delicate bowling.

Now though, all I see in him is a dude who can’t play short pitch bowling and who falls apart like a piece of origami that’s been pissed on.

So with all that in mind, I am going to watch Battle Royale, as only Battle Royale can give me the sort of violent art that Prince Brendan robbed me of by nicking a wide.

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Foreplay, no middle order and a good Broad

Ross Taylor managed to make 154 off 176 deliveries on this pitch.

Strauss followed on from Taylor’s innings by facing 36 less balls, and making 94 less runs.

Shocking.

MP Vaughn faced 7 less balls than Strauss and made half the runs.

Appallingly horribly frustratingly completely shithouse.

England faced 7 less overs than NZ, for a mere 180 less runs.

The entire English top order, fumbles Ambrose included, should be forced to watch their innings for 3 days on end.

I will get the match sticks.

Then, and only then, will they know the pain.

If England lose this test, and you would assume it’s on the cards, they have their top order to blame.

Stuart Broad out batted his whole top order, with intent, if not statistically.

He did this weird thing called batting.

Not prodding.

Not defending.

Not bunting.

But batting.

Making runs, changing the strike, attacking, and generally batting like the English top order do in their wet dreams.

England can blame the pitch, they can blame global warming, they can blame Richard Kelly’s Southland tales, but it comes down to endeavour.

New Zealand has it.

England has yet to find it.

I have heaps more to write, but I’d rather watch Taylor bat.

No I have more to say.

KP, out to the softest prod this side of Matthew hoggard.

Bell, just wafted outside like he was on the take.

Collingwood, was clearly trying to go out his hole time at the crease.

And Ambrose, managed to get an edge to a ball that a half step forward was a half volley.

Ok that’s it.

I can’t write about this any more, it’s getting me angry.

And I’m not English.

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The history book on the shelf is always repeating itself

So.

2006, Sri Lanka come to England and are deeply unfancied. They hang on for a draw in the first Test, with randoms such as Kulasekara contributing to one of the best rearguards I can remember. They go on to draw the test series, and then proceed to spank England so comprehensively in the one-dayers that some players never properly recovered (Alex “Doosra” Loudon, I’m looking in your direction).

2007, India come to England. They hang on for a draw in the first Test, with MS Dhoni of all people digging in at the close, go on to win the Test series, and take England to the wire in the one-dayers.

2008, the Kiwis. The English weather plus England’s limpness contribute to a draw in the first test. The second test, the Kiwis put on 381 in their first innings.

Surely not again?

This series may actually turn out to be very interesting, people. Things of note that have happened today:
  • Ross Taylor scored a rather gorgeous 154 not out. The dude gives pretty good interview too, I thought.
  • England were Not Very Good in the field, to the extent that when Ian Bell took the last catch he threw the ball into the ground in disgust, I like to think at himself.
  • Sidebottom can feel rather hard done by (again – and just when he thought he might get better support, with Matt Prior having been dropped). The lowlight was probably Stuart Broad fumbling a catch by not being far out enough at the boundary, and somehow (despite having several grasps of it) spooning it over for a six.
  • Ryan was then sent in as nightwatchman, and provided further evidence for the “Nightwatchman Is So Last Season” theory by lasting seven balls.
  • According to Athers, Jacob “Perfect Boyfriend” Oram is the most economical bowler in world cricket at the moment.
  • A large inflatable jelly bean drifted onto the pitch and Jeetan Patel made a complete hash of collecting it.
  • In case you were marvelling at Jeetan Patel being on the field of play at all, and have also happened to have missed all cricket news for the last 24 hours – he is substitute fielder for poor little Daniel Flynn who took an absolute ripper straight in the mouth from James Anderson yesterday, losing blood, teeth and dignity and having to retire hurt. He was unable to bat again today. No, I didn’t realise the English bowlers were so potent either.

At close of play on day two The England were on 152 – 4, and Kevin Pietersen is lucky not to have been out already after what looked like a pretty stone-cold lbw shout from Thinking Woman’s Crumpet Daniel Vettori. I’ll be doing my best to watch tomorrow, around other activities, so stay tuned.

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how i sees em

Some of you may notice I see cricket differently.

You guys see a leg spinner, I see an absurdist.

You see a test nation, I see an ex lover.

You see Shaun Pollock play cricket, I pretend he never played.

You see Jacques Kallis, I see a dud root.

So when I look at international batsmen this is what I see.

Michael Clarke – a teenage boy who is eagerly trying to please his mates hot mum. The more Cleavage she gives, the more excited he gets.

Sanath Jayasuriya – slices the ball like some Genghis Khan wannabe.

Virender Sehwag – bats like a dude who will fu©k anything. Doesn’t matter if he hits or misses, just likes to get laid a lot.

Adam Gilchrist – swings the bat like a junkie swatting away imaginary monkeys.

Kumar Sangakarra – has the presence of Lee Marvin whilst holding a bat, and almost as funny as Lee whilst using the gloves.

Matty Hayden – bats like a 14 year old kid beating the sh1t out of a 10 year old kid.

Graeme Smith – tries to bat like a 14 year old kid beating the sh1t out of a 10 year old kid.

Kevin Pietersen – is a lot like Robbie Williams, wishes he could make it big in America, must learn to be content with the fact he gets laid a lot regardless of America.

Michael Hussey – is a robot sent from the future to destroy us.

Jacques Kallis – has the rare ability to suck the fun out of cricket to such a degree, you wonder how hard it would be to use a sniper rifle.

Shahid Afridi – bats like an ice addict who has just gunned down two cops and knows they’re gonna find him soon.

Runako Morton – is something of a Howard Hughes batsman.

Sachin Tendulkar – bats like a kid with a bat 4 times too heavy, 3 times too long, and yet has found a way to use it.

Shivnarine Chandrepaul – stands at the crease like a kid from Chernobyl, bats like a kid from Harvard Law school.

Stephen Fleming – always seems to have a good book in the change room.

Michael Vaughn – Used to be a batsmen.

Ian Bell – is a carpenter with all the tools, and very little knowledge of when and where to use them.

Ross Taylor – is like a really hot chick, who knows she is really hot, and therefore not that hot.

Chris Gayle – a drunken Canadian woodchopper.

Mohammad Ashraful – is William Shatner in Star Trek, flashes of brilliance, but it will be a long time before he gets to Boston Legal.

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