Tag Archives: sportsfreak

The Curious Case of Aaron Redmond

Sportsfreak takes us deep inside the world of a kiwi superstar.

Townsville to Sydney. The red dust. Then to Hong Kong, probably somewhere after that, and then to Johannesburg. And next week he’s in India for the Champions League.

A strange couple of weeks for Aaron Redmond, but then his whole career has been pretty different.

It’s in the blood. Father Rodney famously scored a century and fifty on debut, only to never play another test. To make matters worse, he was dropped in favour of John Parker, masquerading as an opener too.

No wonder he soon shipped himself off to Perth, and this was where Aaron grew up.

But, out of the blue, at the end of 1999 NZ Cricket gave him a contract and brought him back to play for Canterbury and the Southern Conference team (remember them?) as a free scoring middle-order batsman and, more importantly, a leg-spinner. This was before he had even played a first class game.

New Zealand had a bit of a fixation with acquiring a leg-spinner at the time; his arrival came in between the Brooke Walker and Greg Loveridge eras.

He fitted into Christchurch well, and used to entertain new boys in his Lancaster Park Woolston club side by sneaking up behind them and placing a part of his body on their shoulder. If there’s one part of the country where that is perfectly acceptable behaviour.

Problem was that he wasn’t getting any runs and had lost confidence with his bowling. The first class games were drying up so he decided to move south to Otago. And while he was about it he thought he’d try his luck as an opener, and give up the risky shots while he was about it. After all, it had worked for Mark Richardson.

It took a while, but he finally got some consistency to his game, with an opener’s temperament to match. And it was probably more on the back of this temperament, and Bell’s loss of form, that got him picked for the 2008 tour of England. After all, a 1st class batting average of around 30 does not normally do the trick.

He scored runs at will in the county games, but struggled in the tests. And the struggles were slow ones too. 54 runs in 6 innings, off 180 balls.

He did get 79 in Bangladesh, but it was off 237 balls and , really, it was Bangladesh. He had lost confidence in where to score runs at this level and were it not for the fact that Jamie How was going no better at the other end would probably have been dropped for Australia.

He was roughed up and the rumour mill, and Martin Crowe, was that Adelaide had to be his last test. So the other Redmond took over; the Redmond that took the attack to the bowlers, the Redmond that hit Hauritz for 16 off his first over, and he was NZ’s top scorer in the match.

It was too late though; he was dropped for the West Indian visit that followed, his successor scored a century, and is seemed that his test career was over. And a test career with a bowling average of 20; something that Vettori could only dream of.

So Redmond went back to provincial cricket. He had obviously enjoyed himself in Adelaide so totally redefined the way he batted, except that he was still an opener.

Accordingly, most of his success was in T20 cricket. He was the biggest contributor to Otago’s dominance in that competition. They were clearly the best team and he was clearly their best batsman as they earned their meal ticket to the Champions League windfall. Warren McSkimming and Matthew Harvie have a lot to thank him for.

So a job well done then; off to England to play some pub cricket. While down the road New Zealand were playing in the T20 World Cup, and Jesse Ryder was getting rushed to hospital.

Why not send a text to Vettori? “I am in England and available if needed”.

A couple of days he was in Nottingham and scoring 63 off 30 balls for New Zealand. Brilliant.

He was still on the outer for the next few months, and was last week in Townsville preparing for the Champions League. Then Ryder got injured, presumably a text message was sent, and the Round the World challenge commenced.

He didn’t quite make it for the England game, but given the lack of success of the Gareth Hopkins as a Specialist Batsman experiment he has to get a run in the semi-final this weekend.

So another change of role, and in so doing loses his unique status of the only player to have a short version and long version cap without the one in the middle.

Watch this space, because none of it will be predictable. Apart from the Air Miles.

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Get out of Jail

Sportsfreak gives us a minnow feel on the Ashes.

Oh yes.

A test that had it all. It was played on neutral ground, KP found really funny ways to get out, Hauritz took 6 times as many wickets as the much vaunted England spin twins did combined, some gamesmanship, Punter getting moralistic, and at the end a Boys’ Own Annual finish.

Nothing as neat and ordered and 21st century as a result with a clear winner. No, this was a top drawer draw.

And then when Ponting threw the ball to North it seemed a little bit like he had just given up.

But lets face it; Australia owned around 80% of this test. The 2 week boot camp in Worcester had paid off. While the English batsmen threw away all those good starts on the opening day in some strange mix of elegant kamikaze, Australia rolled up their sleeves and clamped themselves to the pitch.

And no more so than their captain. This was a snarling, middle digit century, and it laid the platform for the journeymen who followed. It is one thing spending a day trying to get rid of Katich and Ponting, but spending the day after the next one failing to remove North and Haddin is rubbing a lot salt into a large wound.

And Stuart Broad will have a lot to think about while playing county cricket this weekend.

Bowl at the stumps Stuart.

And then after 2 ½ days of Australian dripping water torture the mental disintegration of the England top-order and Billy Doctrove began, and it all seemed to be set up for the killer blow on Day 5.

They did it by bowling straight, which was a total reversal of England’s tactics.

This tactic wasn’t deciphered by KP though. He just thought he was back in the nets again.

And then when Hauritz bought a couple of top order wickets it looked as if we were in for a quick death.

But that didn’t factor in Lord Collingwood. This was a situation made for him. No need to be aesthetically pleasing; in fact ugliness is an asset in such a situation. He even managed to coerce Freddie into batting with a brain for a while.

They honoured him for a peripheral role in one test last time around. You shudder to think what glories await him now. Keys to some Ginga Nirvana perhaps.

Then Swann the batsman, who appears to be far more interesting than Swann the bowler, started showing that batting on a dead pitch against an attack without Warne and McGrath wasn’t actually that hard, the game changed.

So what did Australia do? They changed tactics.

They started bowling like England. Wide of off-stump, in the Corridor of Impotency.

And even when they got through to Anderson and Monty they bowled like that, and 2 of the worst batsmen to ever play test cricket didn’t look in that much trouble.

Australia huffed and puffed but couldn’t blow a house of twigs down and, somehow, things are still all square.

And so a test at Cardiff ends up with the side from the Southern Hemisphere dominating proceedings, but being too clueless to win the match at the death.

Sound familiar?

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The results of the worldt20 thingy tipping competition

Somehow I came third, I can’t believe it, and neither can sportsfreak.

Teams/Players Points
Chinese Cut 16
Well Pitched 13
Cricket With Balls 12
Sportsfreak 10
Crucket 7
Naly D 7
Noizy 7
Mallet 5
The Old Batsman 3
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Sportfreak’s world t20 thingy tipping competition

The leaderboard is up, and somehow, no one can understand how, I have ended up in second place.

Get over there and take a look.


Sportsfreak says: T20 is not the end of the world

Brought to you by the freaks of sport.

T20 is not everyone’s ideal form of cricket. We know that .

But it is here, and like our ancestors had to cope when they discovered the world was in fact round, cricket fans need to adapt.

But it is not an easy road. Talkback radio, and even comments on this site , have been littered with all sorts of fundamentalist religious nonsense about the world coming to an end.

It is not, and this World Cup is actually pretty good.

Lets debunk the fundamentalist theories

No-one Cares
The players care. The reason they care might not be a noble one, but they care all right.

And Ponting cared when his bowlers kept getting carted.

And the Dutch certainly cared when they stole the show on the first night. You don’t storm the ground like that unless you care.

How silly having a 7 over a side match
No-one wants a match shortened by rain, but this is England and there is only so much you can control.

But the theory that tossing a coin would be a fairer way of resolving the match shows how perspective is a luxury in this debate, and fits into the same category of logic as saying that rain is caused by Messers Duckworth and Lewis.

But if you want a real farce try starting a test match after 65% of the available time has been lost to rain. For the mathematically challenged, that’s around lunch on the 4th day.

The results are a lottery
No they’re not. In every game to date the better side has won. Missing 3 run-outs in the final over is not a lottery, it’s just bad play with the pressure on.

The shortened nature of the games means that teams are more likely to find themselves in a position where you need run-outs in the last over, but it is hard to see the negative in that.

Even allowing for that, there have been fewer upsets to date than at your average FIFA World Cup; surely the benchmark for what a World Cup should look like. There were no “lottery” calls when Cameroon and Senegal beat defending champions on opening day of those events.

And what’s wrong with a World Cup starting on a Friday and Australia eliminated on the Monday anyway?

It’s a stupid format
An ICC run tournament with a stupid format? Where’s the news in that?

It’s not actually the format that is wrong; it’s fast paced, sides are dropping out dialy, and to win it teams will need to play 7 games over a 2 week period. Nothing much wrong with that.

The only wart is the pre-ordained seeding in making up the Super 8 pools meaning that the game between New Zealand and South Africa, for example, is meaningless.

But to have been able to watch all of the world’s best players (except for Symonds) in action over a 3 day period has been unique.

It’s rigged in favour of the batsmen
Now we’re onto something, but this applies for test cricket as well .

The one thing that seems to be an anomaly in T20 cricket is the fielding restrictions. No, not the number of fieldsmen inside the circle rule, that is there for a good reason.

What needs to change, however, is the restriction of only 5 fieldsmen on the leg side. When you watch Taylor or KP squaring up to play in their skewed take on “The V”, it all seems so unfair.

This restriction was applied to test cricket after Bodyline, and in an age before helmets. Somehow, it has been retained in other games, even with the change to the leg-side wide rule.

So that is the one rule that should change; pack a cordon on the slog-sweep boundary and watch them go for it.

That would make it even better.

We await the cheque in the mail from the ICC

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World t20 tipping comp

Everyone’s favourite sportsfreaks are running a twenty20 tipping comp.

These are the questions.

<!—->1. <!—-> Tournament winner.
<!—->2. <!—-> Runners-up.
<!—->3. <!—-> A semi-final exit for NZ? (Yes / Will go further / Won’t get that far)
<!—->4. <!—-> Highest scorer
<!—->5. <!—-> Most wickets
<!—->6. <!—-> Who will be the highest scoring wicket keeper?
<!—->7. <!—-> Who will take more wickets – Vettori, Harbhajan or an Australian spinner?
<!—->8. <!—-> Who will be the most expensive bowler?
<!—->9. <!—-> Who will hit the fastest 50?
<!—->10. <!—-> How many matches will be washed out? (to the nearest 3)

And my answers.

Australia, not because I think they are the best team, just because India look tired, and South Africa should choke
Pakistan, they make such pretty bridesmaids.
Of course, we will feel cheated if it doesn’t happen.
AB DeVilliers, he has god on his side, do you?
Mitchell Johnson, just to scare the poms.
MS Dhoni, if you can call him a wicket keeper.
That’s a trick question because Australia, don’t have a spinner. Bhajji.
Boyd Rankin, and he is a chucker.
Graham Napier, sorry, bad joke. Tilikaratne Dilshan.
3, it’s pretty dry here this year.

There are many others in the comp, so get over here and see what the bloggers think.


Sportsfreak talks roads

Straight from the sportsfreak vault.

So the 2nd test has petered out to a draw. A test that promised so much for 3 ½ days was over as India decided to shut up and bat out time.

They could do this due to the fact that the pitch became increasingly easy to bat on. Totally predictable in fact.

No turn. No pace. No carry. Balls going through at exactly the same height; over after over after soporific over.

Vettori was right when he said the test could have gone on for another 5 days. Once the pitch got to the 3rd day it was over as a contest between bat and ball.

There was the diversion of the contest between the Indian batsmen and their complacency. But once that battle was decided after Dravid walked out late on Saturday and put a stop to the bravado nonsense, the match lost its interest.

We have already stated the case for a bit of life in the pitches for these games. Admittedly that might have been one extreme, but is still preferable to the extreme we suffered here.

There is a middle ground though. Lets get nostalgic for a bit. Pitches that have movement on day 1, flatten out for days 2 and 3 while keeping decent pace, and then start doing funny things on the last 2 days. Some balls jumping from a length, others keeping low. Some balls turning sharply, others not.

An even contest between bat and ball, and something really interesting at the end called luck influencing the match. No-one ever said cricket was a sport that was meant to be fair and predictable, or did we just miss that bit?

But now the agri-scientists, the turf surgeons, the dirt meddlers, and the water table mathematicians have got to the sport, and induced predictability. And put a dagger into test cricket in the process.

This practice is not confined to New Zealand. Recent series in Pakistan and the West Indies have been fun for those collecting batting statistics, but pretty dull for everyone else.

And it’s not confined to test cricket in New Zealand at the moment. There are 1st class matches currently underway with scores of 550 and 662/5 declared. And some people try to tell us that is good for the game. How can it be, when the only bowlers who get rewarded are the ones who happen to induce a bit of complacency and a false shot? You never see pitches like that at the MCG or SCG.

As if the game isn’t becoming slanted unfairly in batsmen’s favour as it is. Increased armoury, anti-bouncer rules and fancy space-age power-bats have meant that batting records have been falling all over the world in recent years.

And now this. The limited over factor is in place here; the widely accepted doctrine that a high-scoring ODI is a good ODI has set the mindset of the groundsmen in favour of producing these roads.

The theory for ODIs is flawed anyway; for traditional cricket it’s a disaster.

It is always good sport to throw some blame at TV’s control of the game. You do wonder if they put a bit of pressure in ensuring a 5 day test. But they’ll need to be careful of killing the golden goose.

Jeremy Coney is blaming the BCCI for insisting on pitches that will not embarrass rich men. You never tire of blaming the BCCI for anything, but this practice is too widespread for that.

No-one wins out of this. Bring back the unpredictability, kick back at the scientists and the chemists.

And bring back the fun.

Finally, the euphemism of The pitch was too good is inaccurate, and clearly dreamed up by a batsman. Any commentator who uses it is merely exposing themselves as biased.

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Oram the Saviour??

Stolen illegally from sportsfreak.

There has been much talk over the last few days, including from Daniel Vettori that the answer to New Zealand’s batting woes is Jacob Oram.

We crunch the numbers and just can’t see it.

How we remember that century at the Gabba. In 2004. We remember that century in South Africa, and we even remember the most recent test saving knock at Lords. But that was in the middle of May last year, and we just can not find anything since to indicate that Oram is the answer.

When you take off those rose coloured glasses you can’t help get the feeling that this would be the ultimate case of a player being picked on reputation rather than facts.

We like Oram, and we agreed he has that Perfect Boyfriend aspect to him. But over the last year he hasn’t really been the perfect boyfriend ; he’s been more of an absentee lover.

Not that NZ is overly endowed with batsmen with more than a couple of test centuries under their belt, but lets look at Oram’s batting record since that century at Lords in May last year, and see if it sets him up for test cricket against Ishant, Harbijan and co.

Facts, not emotion and fond memories.

Test Matches
As strange as it may seem, Oram has actually played test cricket in the last 10 months.

v England, 2nd test
38 and 7

v England, 3rd test
7 and 50*

v Bangladesh, 1st test
0 and 8*

The 8* took 35 balls and involved a dropped dolly and a missed run-out.

So that’s a grand total of 110 runs at 27.5 against not necessarily the world’s best attacks.

ODI Matches
v. England; matches 4 and 5
38 and 52.

Good effort. He missed the first 3 matches through injury in case that needed any clarification.

v. Bangladesh; all 3 matches
That’s right. All 3 matches; against Bangladesh.

57, 75* and 3.

v. West Indies; matches 1, 2 and 3

Missed the last 2 matches.

v. India; All 5 matches
Who’s watching Jake?

0, 7 and 1.

The 7 (off 11) was in the 2nd highest scoring ODI ever.

So over that period that’s a total of 258 runs.

T20 Matches
2 v West Indies and 2 v India
13, 9, 29*, 0

That’s 51 runs in the format of the game some cynics suggest may well be his current focus.

Domestic 1st Class Cricket
Yup, he’s even played some of that. This week in fact, on the same pitch that Canterbury racked up 493.

One innings; 11 runs.

So, since the middle of May last year in all forms of the game Oram has amassed a total of 430 runs.

And although it is a bit misleading to incorporate the various forms of the game, that’s at an average of around 27.

What other player in world cricket would get rushed back into a side with so few runs under the belt? A player who hasn’t scored a 50 in any form of the game since 11th October last year.

Where his highest score in 10 innings since then has been 29*.

When on song, he has been a classy No. 6 batsman. But he’s needed time in the middle to get into that song. And since May of 2008 he just had not had that time in the middle, and to suggest he could come back now and somehow turn his own fortunes around, not to mention New Zealand’s would be like suggesting he won’t break again some time over the next few months.

Sportsfreak. Where we deliver statistics, not hyperbole.

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To fix or not to fix?

New Zealand has seen the destructive power of India with the bat, and they are scared.

Green and Low? Sportsfreak talks about the sort of wickets the kiwis are brought up on.

Much debate over the last few days as to whether New Zealand should pull the 2002 card out from under the bottom of the pack, and produce pitches that are going to favour the home side, or at very least make it a lottery.

Today, we put forwards the case for doctoring.

The kind of doctoring

We are not talking about a traditional WACA or Sabina Park green-top here.

Someone might die, and that is hardly playing into the hands of a seam attack with an average pace of around 130kph.

What we are talking about is the kind of pitch offered up for the 1992 World Cup.

Plenty of weird and wonderful random sideways movement, minimal bounce, and even less pace. Just like we got at Eden Park on Saturday.

Will flat tracks work?

No they won’t.

India showed during the ODI series that this New Zealand attack poses no threats on batting friendly pitches.

It wasn’t just Sehwag either. All of them, including the 4 who played in domestic cricket (making about 8 of them) showed that these TV-friendly new age NZ pitches with their lack of sideways movement and perfect bounce are just like a favourite IPL pitch.

Vettori offers his subtleties to add some variation, but the rest of the “attack” picked for Hamilton need help badly.

Mind Games

Most of the Indian top order were here last time. As soon as a ball jags a bit those demons and memories will start coming back. Seaming tracks are at their most dangerous when you’re scared of them.

Brent Arnel

Why pick him if you’re not going to water the pitch?

Short tests are fun

Lets face it, the 2002 Indian series was memorable. Too much test cricket these days is played on batting friendly roads that provides a tedious mismatch between bat and ball.

The recent West Indies v England series had a couple of tense finishes, but in between that there was a lot of tedium of Strauss and Chanderpaul nudging their way to hig scores.

But England getting bowled out for 51 was fun. Really fun.

Ishant Sharma

Adam’s Apple’s hype is based around 2 things. The counterbalance of throat and mullet, and the serious working over of the then world’s best batsman at Perth last year.

That Perth pitch was one of the great ones. Fast, bouncy, and pretty true. But Sharma was able to extract every bit of venom out of it, and use his class and height to utilise a very good pitch.

Why would we want to let him do that again?

Keep it low and slow and he’s taken out of the match.

We might also get to see some more of last Saturday’s theatrics.

Daniel Flynn

Flynn is gutsy and has a pretty good technique. But we have seen that when it gets up from a length he tends to eat it.

Put him in on a slow seamer and he’s got the technique when rocking onto the front foot to know when to leave, and when to play.

He is better placed to handle this than most out there.

Jacob Oram

It is hard to know what might one day motivate Oram to play test cricket again. But the sight of the ball doing strange things when bowled gently might be the one thing that could do it.

Iain O’Brien’s Blog

We’re sick of all those Indian schoolkids gloating over there.

Because we can

Call it regaining some sovereignty.

Next: A much shorter analysis of why we shouldn’t.

Visit Sportsfreak; they pull out of less tests than Jacob Oram.

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Dan gets his man

When the Angry Mark Gillespie played against the Windies, it was clearly against the will of Daniel Vettori.

Sportsfreak were all over it at the time.

Not that it mattered, Gillespie did himself no favours by taking no wickets for a lot of runs on a bed of feathers.

Vettori wanted Chris Martin.

On figures Martin has never excited many, but it wouldn’t take more than a casual glance to see that Martin is a better test match bowler than Gillespie.

Chris Martin is sort of like the bargain basement Freddie Flintoff, he bowls a lot of tough testing spells, but rarely seems to get the wickets.

When he was dropped it was surprising, although not so hard to justify on figures alone.

Now he is back, and if the scuttelebutt and so forth is to be trusted, the selectors didn’t want him, but Daniel did.

It’s hard to know why the selectors wouldn’t have wanted Martin, he bowls long testing spells, few bad balls, and is a class performer.

Against a batting line up as potent as India, Martin could be the perfect man, and if the selectors don’t see that, their jobs should be questioned.

The more interesting thing could be what happens if Martin struggles.

Captain’s like to have a say in their bowling attacks, and that is fair, but what happens to them when they make a public play for one man, sacrificing another man’s career, and their guy fails?

They should be whipped.


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