Toss: Australia won the toss and chose to field first.
Venue: Dubai International Stadium, Dubai, UAE
Umpires: Marais Erasmus & Richard Kettleborough
What Actually Happened – Pakistan Vs Australia
Winner:Australia won by 8 wickets
Scores: New Zealand172/4 Australia 173/2
Player of the Match:Mitchell Marsh 77* (50)
Josh Hazlewood (4-0-16-3), Adam Zampa (4-0-26-1)
Trent Boult (4-0-18-2)
Kane Williamson 85 (48)
Mitchell Marsh 77* (50), David Warner 53 (38)
Player of the Tournament: David Warner
Moments of The Day: Williamson Plays World Cup Final Knock of the Ages; Marsh-Warner Combination One Step Better
New Zealand had two strong performers—Kane Williamson with the bat and Trent Boult with the ball.
NZ began brightly with Daryl Mitchell’s positive approach against Maxwell, however things quietened down after his wicket. Test match bowling lengths by Hazlewood & Cummins strangled the experienced duo of Guptill & Williamson.
From 27-1 in 3.1 overs, NZ could only get to 32/1 by the end of the Powerplay, 40 by the end of 8 overs, and 57 at the end of the 10th. At the halfway stage, Williamson 18 (19) & Guptill 27 (33). Then came Starc’s over. Dropped by Hazlewood, & 4-4-4 including a waist height no-ball. 19-run over, NZ back in the game, and Williamson would hit 67 runs in his last 29 balls. Shots & sixes all around the ground. One of the best World Cup innings you will ever see.
The bowling figures of the Kiwi bowlers were sub-par. The economies were—11.21, 13.33, 15.00, 7.66, & 7.50. Sodhi & Neesham went for 55 runs in their 4 together. Only one bowler gave New Zealand hope, Trent Boult. 4-0-18-2. 4.50 economy. Boult’s wicket of Warner almost sparked New Zealand alive, and the tough dropped catch off his own bowling in his final over was the final hope.
Australia’s victorious campaigns had three consistent cogs—Hazlewood, Zampa, & Warner—around which the matchwinners Stoinis, Maxwell, and Wade rotated. Today, the consistent 3 came to the party once again.
When Kane Willamson was going haywire, Hazelwood, Zampa, & Cummins combined for figures of 12-0-69-4. The other three went for about a 100 runs in 8 overs. After Starc’s 22-run 16th over, NZ were in pole position with 136/2 in 16 overs. Good death bowling and slower deliveries ensured NZ only get 36 from the late 4 with wickets in hand.
The moment where the game turned was after Finch’s dismissal. Australia 15/1 in 2.3 overs. What does Mitch Marsh do first ball in a pressure final? Hits it for six! He did not look back after that. Australia did not look back after that. 92 (59) partnership between Warner & Marsh and a 66* (39) partnership between Marsh & Maxwell ensured World Cup victory. Finally, a classic reverse hit from Maxwell against Southee to seal the deal.
Nobody hates you anymore, Mitch Marsh 😊👏
Shane Watson Tribute
It was only fitting that Shane Watson, player of the 2012 T20 World Cup, and Australia’s first T20I star was present in the commentary box.
He was the first Australian IPL star who made it big in the international arena and represented Australia for all the six World Cups until 2016. Although he did not win a T20 World Cup, it was only fitting that Watson was there for the moment that Maxwell hit the winning runs.
What a refreshing commentary debut he has had on the World Cup stage as well. Loved his analysis and you could see that this man loves every aspect of the game of cricket.
Celebrations of the Day – Feat Marcus Stoinis
The best part of the ending of a World Cup is the celebration. Here are some of the few videos that have come out on social media. Lovely stuff, watch out for Stoinis.
Broken Cricket Dream of the Day: New Zealand Ends Up Second Best…Again
Broken Dream #1 – End of an Era?
Mitchell Starc was the player of the 2015 ODI World Cup. Martin Guptill hit a memorable 237 and was one of the centers of NZ’s inspirational campaign in 2015.
In this World Cup, although Starc chipped in with a couple of wickets in most of the games & Guptill starred with a 93 in the UAE heat, today was a match losing performance by both oif these legendary players.
Guptill’s 27 (35) at a SR of 80.00 drained the energy out of the Kiwi batting and Starc’s 4-0-60-0 almost took the game away from Australia. Starc is approaching 32, and as a fast bowler, might focus on elongating his Test career, while Guptill is 35. It might be time for him to focus on ODI cricket and make way at the top in T20Is for someone like Tim Seifert.
Broken Dream #2 – Have New Zealand Underachieved?
The New Zealand cricket team has always been characterized as a “collective unit,” a team that “punches above their weight.” From 1975-2011, this was probably true.
6 ODI World Cup Semi Finals (1975, 1979, 1992, 1999, 2007, 2011)
3 ICC Champions/Knockouts Trophy Semi Finals (Semifinalists in 2006, Runners up in 2009, Winner in 2000)
1 T20 World Cup Semi Finals (2007)
Since the 2015 ODI World Cup, New Zealand has been one of the teams to beat. Their recent records stand as follows:
2 ODI World Cup Finals (2015, 2019 – barely lost)
2 T20 World Cup Semi Finals (Semifinalists in 2016, Runners Up in 2021)
1 World Test Championship Winners (2021)
New Zealand are the WTC champions, but the fact they did not lift any of the last 4 limited overs trophy means they have underachieved, not overachieved.
Toss: New Zealand won the toss and chose to field first.
Venue: Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Umpires: Kumar Dharmasena & Marais Erasmus
What Actually Happened – New Zealand Vs England
Winner:New Zealand won by 5 wickets
Scores: England 166/4New Zealand167/5
Player of the Match:Daryl Mitchell 72* (47)
Tim Southee (4-0-24-1)
Liam Livingstone (4-0-22-2)
Moeen Ali 51* (37)
Daryl Mitchell 72* (47)
Moments of The Day: Neesham Has His Day as England Shocked
Moeen Ali & Dawid Malan, two batters of completely distinct styles of play with #3 as their preferred positions worked together to recover England after a slow start. From 53/2 in 8.1 overs, they took it to a solid 116 in the next 7 overs. Great ball striking from both, especially Moeen at the end to shift the momentum England’s way.
We have talked a lot about Devon Conway on this channel since his NZ debut, but he had not lit the tournament a light. Today was his day. When he came in, Chris Woakes had taken the two stars out—Guptill & Williamson. Although Conway was not the man of the moment, his strikes flipped the narrative on which Neesham and Mitchell could capitalize. Took them from 13/2 in 2.4 overs to 95/3 in 13.4.
Daryl Mitchell was not supposed to be New Zealand’s premier all rounder, but was picked over the dangerous Colin de Grandhomme. Mitchell was not supposed to be NZ’s opener. That should have been a toss up between Munro & Seifert. He was not supposed to be hitting the shot that would help NZ meet Australia in the final. Grant Elliot did that already in 2015. However, he did all three with the presence of his parents in the crowd. Dream moment.
Never lose hope even if you are struggling at the beginning. He struggled to get into the NZ side for years due to their all rounder depth. Today he could not hit anything and was going at a snail’s pace 28* (28). Neesham came, Neesham conquered, Mitchell started, stayed, and finished. 44 runs in the last 19 deliveries including a 6,6,4 to end the game with an over to spare.
Drama of the Day
A New Zealand-England knockout game was bound to have drama. The wounds (or happiness) runs deep from that day in July of 2019.
Bairstow, Livingstone, & The Catch – 2 years ago, Trent Boult, one of modern Cricket’s best boundary riders, stepped onto the boundary while completing a relay catch with Guptill. Stokes 6, Neesham bowling, NZ’s hopes crumble. Today it was Neesham batting. Similar ball, Neesham swings it to a similar part of the ground, and Bairstow-Livingstone complete a relay catch. Except Bairstow had touched the rope. History repeats itself, doesn’t it mate?
Bairstow, Livingstone, & The Non-Catch – The VERY NEXT ball, Neesham hits it again and mistakes it. The catch is their for the taking….and Livingstone freezes. He did not go for the catch, Neesham survived, and eventually New Zealand wins.
Jimmy Neesham did not make the 2015 CWC in NZ because Corey Anderson & Grant Elliot were selected. He contemplated early retirement in the years he was not picked. He came back, almost got NZ across the line with a Super Over Six in 2019, but was heartbroken. I am glad he is finally back – 2 sixes in the 17th over then another one an over later. Needing 57 in 4 overs, Neesham changed it to . The game changer of this semi finals.
He is not done though. He did not celebrate when the team won nor did he leave when the team left. Just reflecting on his mayhem and froze for a while.
Broken Cricket Dream of the Day: Devon Conway’s Broken Hand
Conway was playing so well. However when he got out on 46, stumped to part-timer Liam Livingstone he was disappointed in himself. He reacted by hitting the bat.
Now it is known he broke his hand due to that. Ruled out of the T20 World Cup Final and the India series that follows right after.
Toss: Afghanistan won the toss and chose to field first.
Venue: Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Umpires: Kumar Dharmasena & Langton Rusere
What Actually Happened
Winner: New Zealand won by 8 wickets
Scores: Afghanistan 124/8 New Zealand125/2
Player of the Match:Trent Boult 3/17
Trent Boult (4-0-17-3)
Rashid Khan (4-0-27-1)
Najibullah Zadran 73 (48)
Kane Williamson 40* (42)
Moments of The Day: Fielders, Bowlers, Williamson-Conway Brush Aside Afghanistan
Fast bowlers all chipped in to break Afghanistan’s hopes. Impressive Milne nicked out Shahzad, Boult got Zazai, and Southee dismissed Gurbaz. Afghanistan 19/3 in 5.1 overs and never recovered.
Najibullah Zadran was the lone star for Afghanistan. Scoring his best T20I score of 73 out of Afghanistan’s 125 shows you the impact he had. Such a clean striker of he ball. He now averages 33.29 at a SR of 141.28 in T20Is.
Afghanistan missed a trick by waiting to bring Rashid Khan till after the Powerplay, but he delivered. Runs dried up with NZ at 63/2 in 11 overs, still needing 62 in the remaining 9. With Williamson steady, Devon Conway finally played an innings of note. Reverse sweeps and sweeps eased the pressure as NZ won with 11 balls to spare.
Honorable Mention: Daryl Mitchell’s flying save
Broken Cricket Dream of the Day: Afghanistan, India Crash Out
Broken Dream #1 is the obvious one – Afghanistan was expected to defeat one of the three big guns – Pakistan, India, or NZ.
Till Afghanistan reached Asif Ali, everything was well & good. 130 run victory against Scotland, brushing aside Namibia, NRR touching the roof. Post Asif Ali’s assault, Afghanistan’s body language dropped, Asghar Afghan retired midway, & Afghanistan did not give a fight to India or NZ. Semi-finals in friendly conditions was within reach, and they let it slip.
Broken Dream #2 – Indian fans tuned into this match for an Afghanistan upset. Not only did Afghanistan lose, they took out India with them. A dead rubber scheduled for tomorrow.
It was Glenn Phillips (SR 185.71) & Jimmy Neesham (152.17) with a 76* (36) partnership that made sure NZ finished strongly.
Tim Southee is not the first bowler you think of for T20s. However, he manages to take wickets somehow (only one of few bowlers with 100+ Tests, ODI, & T20I wickets). A 4-0-15-2 set the tone with a slow powerplay and Namibia could not recover the finishing margin.
Broken Cricket Dream of the Day: Namibia Lose the Plot Again
Just like their last game Pakistan Vs Namibia, Namibia had strangled their opposition for most of the innings. At the end of the 16th, NZ were going at a snail’s pace with only 96/4 runs on the board. Last 4 overs yielded 67 runs.
In comparison, Namibia were 92/4 at the end of the 16th. They only added 19 runs in the last 4. The finishing between the teams was the difference.
Toss: Scotland won the toss and chose to field first.
Venue: Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai, UAE
Umpires: Marais Erasmus & Ahsan Raza
What Actually Happened
Winner: New Zealand won by 16 runs
Scores: New Zealand172/5Scotland 156/6
Player of the Match:Martin Guptill 93 (56)
Safyaan Sharif (4-0-28-2), Mark Watt (4-0-13-1)
Trent Boult (4-0-29-2)
Martin Guptill 93 (56)
Michael Leask 42* (20)
Moments of The Day: Martin Guptill The Difference Between The Two Sides
Sharif’s over put Scotland in the front. First was an LBW to dismiss Mitchell. Then was a brilliant captaincy ploy that you will not see in the highlights. Scotland placed a fielder over short third man. First ball, Williamson hit the ball right to the fielder with his release shot – dab to third man. Four dots later, Sharif bowled down the leg side, and Williamson edged it to the keeper.
Martin Guptill finally played the innings we were waiting for. At the end of the 10th over, NZ were tied down by Mark Watt & Chris Greaves at 70/3. Phillips was struggling at 6 (12). After the break, Leask was introduced and Phillips broke lose. 102 runs came in the last 10. Scotland was right in the battle till the end. Munsey especially was looking good with his two sixes before getting out on a full toss. Every batter scored crucial runs and Michael Leask’s 42* (20) got Scotland very close to the target.
New Zealand escaped, barely.
Broken Cricket Dream of the Day: The Heat
In the afternoon game, the UAE heat was evident and affected several players. Guptill, who had batted most of the first innings, was physically strained and holed out for 93. He did not field for a few overs either.
Keeper Commentary of the Day: Cross
Matthew Cross has been pretty vocal behind the stumps in this tournament, but he took it to the next level when Glenn Phillips was batting. With India & NZ competing for that elusive 2nd qualifying spot, Cross remarked to Chris Greaves, “Come on Greavo, whole of India is behind you.” Here is the video.
Toss: Pakistan won the toss and chose to field first.
Venue: Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah, UAE
Umpires: Michael Gough & Richard Kettleborough
What Actually Happened
Winner: Pakistan won by 5 wickets
Scores: New Zealand 134/8 – Pakistan 135/5
Player of the Match: Haris Rauf 4/22
Haris Rauf 4/22
Ish Sodhi 2/28
Daryl Mitchell 27 (20), Devon Conway 27 (24)
Mohammad Rizwan 33 (34), Asif Ali 27* (12), Shoaib Malik 26* (20)
Moments of The Day: Unlikely Heroes Initiate Another Pakistan Win
Haris Rauf had a dream day with his best figures in T20I cricket. 4-0-22-4 Wow! What makes him so dangerous? The change of pace. He can bowl 140+ or 115- in a space of 2 deliveries. From 3/90 in 13 overs, NZ could only muster 44 runs with 5 wickets in the last 42 balls.
Asif Ali & Shoaib Malik were NOT selected in the original squad. Asif Ali had not yet fulfilled his potential in international cricket as a big hitter. After Wasim departed, Pakistan were reeling at 87-5 in 14.5 overs. 48 runs needed in 31 balls. Then a calm Shoaib Malik, with 4 decades of experience, with a concussed Asif Ali, took Pakistan home in style.
27* (12) with 3 huge sixes from Asif Ali and 26* (20) with 2 fours and 1 iconic straight six by Shoaib Malik.
Match won with 8 balls to spare. Absolutely brilliant.
After two long years of Test cricket & coronavirus interruption, the World Test Championship Final is finally here.
Rising Kiwis are slightly better prepared against world beaters India with a series against England. India has been in England for a few weeks due to quarantine but have only played an internal practice match.
Two of the best teams on show, finally some context for Test cricket, BJ Watling’s retirement, but will rain spoil it all?
The idea of the World Test Championship is not a new one.
World Test Championship was supposed to become a reality in 2009, 2013, & 2017, but each of those iterations were cancelled in favor of much more lucrative, ICC ODI Champions Trophy.
Imagine an Indian team comprising of Sehwag, Sachin, Dravid, VVS Laxman, MS Dhoni, Zaheer Khan competing against McCullum’s 2015 team or even better, the golden South African era of Jacques Kallis, Graeme Smith, AB De Villiers, & Dale Steyn earlier in the decade.
Anyway, World Test Championship finally came into existence in 2019 and began with the England-Australia Ashes series. 58 matches later, India and New Zealand are deservedly in the finals, carrying bench strengths of envy.
India began by routing West Indies in the Caribbean, before securing points at home against lackluster South Africa & Bangladesh teams.
Then came the tours Down Under. While Kiwis routed India in swing bowling conditions, India delivered a masterclass of ages in Australia. After 36/9 in Adelaide, Rahane’s century resurrected India in Melbourne. Then, the Pujara-Pant-Vihari-Ashwin show ensured India survived the 3rd Test, and the youngsters Shardul-Sundar-Pant-Siraj broke the Gabba fort to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Finally, the England home series was a completely one-sided event even after Joe Root’s classic gave England a headstart at Chennai. Ashwin’s all-round magic at home & Axar Patel’s memorable debut ensured India ease past England.
World Test Championship Final Preview – India’s Road To Glory
*Signifies away series
New Zealand’s road to glory was much more formulaic.
The Kiwis started with away tours of Sri Lanka & Australia. While they put on a good show in New Zealand, winning one match, they were hammered in Australia (barring Neil Wagner’s intense series).
At home, it was same old. Swinging conditions. Boult, Southee, and debutant of the year, Kyle Jamieson, wrecked havoc against India and West Indies. Only Pakistan provided any semblance of resistance with Fawad Alam’s classic fourth innings ton going in vain with four overs left in the Test match.
World Test Championship Final Preview – New Zealand’s Road To Glory
World Test Championship Final Preview – The Teams
Watch out for Ajinkya Rahane. He has a tendency to perform when it matters the most although his lack of consistency is frustrating. Rahane’s leadership & century in Melbourne was the catalyst for India in the memorable Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Since then, his form has gone hiding. England will bring back nice personal memories, and he is probably India’s best batter in swinging conditions. It is high time he shows up.
There were rumors that Mohammad Siraj would play in place of one of Mohammad Shami or Ishant Sharma, but that did not happen. India’s bowling has variety with Bumrah’s accuracy, Ishant’s seam, and Shami’s reverse swing. Looking forward to watch Ishant, who is in his 4th and most rewarding phase of his career. His 7-74 at Lord’s in the last tour was especially spectacular.
Tributes have started flowing in for BJ Watling in his retirement match. This one is my favorite, especially his mom’s statement. Watling has been a symbol of this rising team’s resilience and stability. Always solid behind the stumps, he will go down as Kiwis’s greatest keeper, but what I will miss the most is his rearguard action. NZ’s middle order rarely collapsed, but when it did, Watling was at the rescue. The question is, does he have one fighting innings left in him?
This is a very understated team, but do you know who is the New Zealand in the New Zealand team?Tom Latham & Henry Nicholls. When the Conways, Williamsons, or Taylors make huge scores around them, you can guarantee that Latham-Nicholls will provide ample solid support. Expect one of them to rise to the occasion in the finals.
Watch Out For
Sharma-Shubman Vs Pace brigade of Boult-Southee-Jamieson: This might as well set the tone for this match. A Mumbai Indians mini-match between Boult & Rohit Sharma.
Latham-Conway-Nicholls Vs R Ashwin: Ashwin has been India’s most successful bowler in this WTC cycle and has performed across all conditions (with both bat and ball). Conway is in the form of his life and the Kiwis have 2 other left-hand batters in the Top 5. Expect to see a lot of Ashwin.
The slip catching.England’s dropped catches were on show in the last series and they have been one of the worst slip catching sides in the past two years. So I am glad Ind-NZ are playing this week. Both teams have legendary fast bowlers, so the ball will go to the slips more than usual. Rest assured, the catches will be taken. Rahane, Taylor, Rohit, Kohli, Latham should do the job.
India has revealed its XI ahead of time. Shardul Thakur, Washington Sundar, Mohammad Siraj, Hanuma Vihari, Axar Patel, Mayank Agarwal all played crucial roles in the lead up to the WTC Finals, but unfortunately did not make the final XI. This is also the first time that Jadeja-Ashwin-Sharma-Shami-Bumrah will play together. What a mouth-watering lineup.
Squad: Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha (WK), Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Siraj
New Zealand’s lineup selects itself, but the crucial question is the #7-8 spot. Matt Henry, Neil Wagner, & Ajaz Patel performed admirably in the England series and Colin de Grandhomme has been out for a while, so will they go for a four-fast bowler strategy? Ajaz Patel should have done enough in the England series for a spin option in this Southampton pitch.
Tom Latham, Devon Conway, 3. Kane Williamson*, 4. Ross Taylor, 5. Henry Nicholls, 6. BJ Watling (WK), 7. Colin de Grandhomme/Kyle Jamieson/Matt Henry, 8. Tim Southee, 9. Neil Wagner, 10. Trent Boult, 11. Ajaz Patel
Squad: Will Young, Tom Blundell (WK)
Mitchell Santner, Daryl Mitchell, Doug Bracewell, Jacob Duffy, and Rachin Ravindra failed to make the final cut.
I honestly cannot see a way past the weather. Both teams have excellent bowling options, so unless both teams suffer collapses twice, a result would be very hard to attain.
Would love if we get a full game, but for now, going with a Draw.
Verdict: Draw 0-0
If the game does happen, what am I excited for the most? Neil Wagner’s intensity, Colin de Grandhomme’s hairdo, Williamson-Kohli-Southee’s continuing journey from U-19 World Cup, Pujara-Pant combination, Ross Taylor’s wisdom, an emotional sunset to Watling’s wonderful career, and in general, just a hard-fought sporting final.
World Test Championship Final Preview – Prediction
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World Test Championship Records
Are there are records that can be broken in the World Test Championship Final?
It is really interesting that even though NZ made it to the finals, there is nobody in the top 15 run-scorer. Combination of several players standing up and the fact that NZ did not play as many games. Kane Williamson is at 16th with 817 runs and Tom Latham is 25th with 680 runs.
India, on the other hand, have 5 batters in the Top 15:
Rahane – 1095 (5th)
Rohit Sharma – 1030 (6th)
Kohli – 877 (11th)
Agarwal – 857 (12th)
Pujara – 818 (15th)
Ashwin is on #3 with 67 wickets and Southee is New Zealand’s best at #5 with 51 wickets.
Kyle Jamieson – 36 (12th)
Ishant Sharma – 36 (13th)
Mohammad Shami – 36 (14th)
Jasprit Bumrah – 34 (16th)
Trent Boult – 34 (18th)
Neil Wagner – 32 (20th)
Fielding and Dismissals
Both teams are pretty close on this list with BJ Watling – 43 dismissals (4th) and Rishabh Pant – 40 (5th).
In terms of catches, Rahane – 22 catches (4th) and Ross Taylor – 18 (5th) are at the top with Rohit Sharma – 16 (6th) and Virat Kohli – 16 (7th) close behind. New Zealand’s next best is Tom Latham – 14 (12th).
New Zealand Vs England 2021 Test Series Preview—an understated rivalry.
“Bowled ’em! Got him 3rd ball.”
“England have won the world cup by the barest of margins. By the barest of all margins.”
Scars from Starc’s dismissal of Brendon McCullum in the 2015 World Cup Final & Martin Guptill’s run-out in that Super Over still run deep. The Black Caps have lost the last two ODI World Cup finals, a Champions Trophy final (2009), and four semi-finals (2 T20I, 2 ODI) all within the last fifteen years.
Although South Africa are known as the perennial chokers, and India are the new holders of the tag after an underachieving decade, New Zealand are not that far behind. They have one more shot with a final at Lord’s with the World Test Championship against India. The real question is, are Kiwis prepared for glory?
Before we get ahead of ourselves, New Zealand have important couple of test matches against England as prep.
I do not know about you, but I am very excited about this series. Since the abandonment of the IPL, there has been barely any international cricket.
This is not part of the World Test Championship (WTC) or the Future Tours Programme (FTC). This series has no-context on paper, but numerous interesting little stories running in the background nevertheless.
New Zealand – Conway’s Debut & Watling’s Retirement Talk of the Town
Devon Conway has to have one of the greatest cricketing stories in recent memory. Not able to get into the secondary club teams in South Africa 5 years ago, he is now about to get a Test debut at Lord’s. Sold everything in South Africa, churned a mountain runs in New Zealand’s first class system, and has been rewarded accordingly. The result?
14 T20Is, 4-50s, best of 99*, 59.12 average, 151.11 SR
3 ODIs, 1-100, 1-50, best of 126, 75.00 average, 88.23 SR
Tough luck for Tom Blundell (2-100s & 2-50s in just 16 innings) & Will Young (couple of county tons coming into the series)
BJ Watling, one of the greatest wicketkeepers of recent times & definitely for New Zealand, has decided to hang up his boots. Brilliant behind the stumps, and known for his ‘rescue acts.’ A daddy hundred or two from tough situations in the next three Tests will go a long way.
New Zealand has a wealth of allrounders. Daryl Mitchell’s last outing in international cricket has been a positive one – 100* (ODI) & 102* (Tests). Expect him to slot in the XI even though Colin de Grandhomme is back in the squad (with a great hairdo as well I shall add) & Mitchell Santner is always a valuable asset.
Although New Zealand now have a well balanced squad and great depth, the big guns will still need to fire—Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Tom Latham, captain Kane Williamson, & veteran Ross Taylor.
England – What do England have to Gain from this Series?
With Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, the Currans, Chris Woakes, & Jofra Archer (elbow surgery) out due to IPL quarantine, the entire lower-middle order will be missing in action. This will provide the England management to test their depth. Debuts for keeper James Bracey & fast bowler Ollie Robinson on the cards, with the likes of Olly Stone, Craig Overton, and comeback kid, Haseeb Hameed, on the sidelines.
Jimmy Anderson is poised to play his 161st Test match, joint-highest for England along with Sir Alastair Cook. Eight wickets away from a monumental 1000 first class wickets, 5 wickets away from Anil Kumble‘s 619, and 94 wickets to Shane Warne, it might well be a season of records for Anderson.
Joe Root has had a stellar Test year with 794 runs & 3 tons, including a couple of daddy hundreds in Sri Lanka & India. Can he back it up with a home season of the ages?
Burns-Sibley-Crawley against New Zealand’s swing bowlers—The opening combination was under a bit of fire in Asia, but it will not get any easier against Southee-Henry-Jamieson-de Grandhomme-Mitchell-Wagner.
Partial crowds (around 25%) are back at Lord’s. Good news for cricket fans, and hope things remain safe for time to come.
Verdict: New Zealand win 1-0
Player of the Series/MVP
James Bracey (WK)
Daryl Mitchell/ Colin de Grandhomme
New Zealand Vs England 2021 Test Series Predictions
Kiwis have an upper hand, but do not count England out. Both teams are filled with great fast bowling talent, but New Zealand’s all-round & batting has the edge.
I am going with New Zealand 1-0. A closely fought first game, with New Zealand narrowly winning & holding England to at least a draw in the second match.
What about you? Let us know in the comments below!
Today I want to reflect upon the career of one of my all-time favorite players, Ross Taylor. We will discuss it all—the achievements, the struggles, my favorite memories, and ultimately what we can learn from him.
But you ask, why am I talking about Ross Taylor all of a sudden?
Well for once, he has been in the news recently.
Last month, he suffered from a calf strain, which cast a slight doubt on his place for the Test series against England and the much awaited World Test Championship final.
In the last year, Taylor has already been dropped from the T20I side for the likes of Devon Conway & Glenn Phillips.
New Zealand cricket is now a powerhouse. Across the three formats, their record is spectacular:
Semi-finalists: 2007 & 2011 ODI World Cup; 2007 & 2016 T20 World Cups
Runners-Up:2009 Champions Trophy; 2015 & 2019 ODI World Cup finals
Finalists:Inaugural World Test Championship Final
This is surely New Zealand’s greatest cricketing generation, and great teams are built upon the contributions of exceptional individuals.
Post the Martin Crowe era, New Zealand’s performances were inconsistent until the Stephen Fleming generation. With a side consisting of Fleming, Daniel Vettori, Nathan Astle, Craig McMillan, Jacob Oram, Scott Styris, and the feisty Brendon McCullum, the Black Caps began to generate consistent performances.
Fast forward fifteen years, New Zealand have transformed from a team that ‘perennially punches-above-their-weight’ to serious ‘contenders.’
The Brendon McCullum-Kane Williamson generation has unearthed heroes like ODI double centurion Martin Guptill, superman Grant Elliot, American-bound Corey Anderson, steadiness of Tom Latham & Henry Nicholls, the all-round power of Colin de Grandhomme, Jimmy Neesham, Kyle Jamieson, & the Mitchells (Daryll and Santner), spin-guile of Ish Sodhi, and the depth with incoming youngsters like Conway-Phillips-Will Young-Tim Seifert-Tom Blundell.
From the land of dibbly-dobblies to the genuine pace regime consisting of Southee-Boult-Henry-Jamieson-Wagner-Ferguson-Milne, the transformation is complete.
One man was a constant that connected the Fleming and Williamson generations. From the promising youngster in 2006 to the calm senior in 2021, across 4 ODI World Cups, he has seen it all. The name is Luteru Ross Poutoa Lote Taylor, the second cricketer of Samoan descent to play for New Zealand.
When things are all said and done, Taylor will go down as the best #4 ODI batsman of all time.
Ross Taylor at #4
To put this in perspective, at #4, Taylor has the (1) most runs, (2) most centuries, (3) most 50+ scores, (4) second highest individual score after Vivian Richards’ 189*, and (5) second highest average after AB De Villiers of course (with at least 100 ODIs).
His international career as a whole is not that bad either.
Ross Taylor’s career stats
Taylor’s career can be broken down into three phases—(1) swashbuckling slog-sweeper, (2) responsible middle order batsman, (3) and absolute world dominator.
His averages between 2017-2020: 60.50, 91.28, 55.47, 99.00. 6 hundreds, 19 fifties. Brilliant.
Ross Taylor Records In a Nutshell
1st cricketer to play 100+ matches in each international format.
3rd most catches combined (340) behind only Mahela Jayawardene & Ricky Ponting
Most capped player (440) for New Zealand across formats
Highest run scorer, most hundreds, and most fifties for New Zealand in ODIs
Highest run scorer in Tests, second most hundreds after Kane Williamson
3 double centuries in Tests
3 consecutive ODI centuries – 112* Vs India, 102 Vs India, 105* Vs Pakistan (2014)
6 consecutive ODI fifties – 181*, 80, 86*, 54, 90, 137 (2018-19) Vs England, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
My first memory of Ross Taylor was in that magnificent 2006-07 series vs Australia, one of the best ODI series of that era. The Kiwis whitewashed Australia 3-0 scoring 340 & 350 respectively in successful chases. These were the days where chasing 270 was considered a difficult task.
Next came IPL 2009. I was already a fan of the 2009 RCB team – stalwarts Rahul Dravid & Anil Kumble, Robin Uthappa, and youngsters Manish Pandey & Virat Kohli. Finisher Ross Taylor just took RCB to the next level, one of their key players taking Royal Challengers Bangalore to their first final.
At the halfway stage, the required rate hovered around 11. What came next was pure genius. With 52 needed off 24, Taylor unleashed five slog-sweeping sixes against the likes of fast bowlers Ishant Sharma and Ajit Agarkar. RCB won by 4 balls to spare. He would play a couple of more cameos in 2009, including a player of the match performance in the Champions League.
In the next few seasons, Taylor would play steady knocks for Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils, but his T20 form never reached the heights of that 2009 season again.
One of Taylor’s sweetest moments came on his 27th birthday in the 2011 Cricket World Cup at Pallekele, when Kamran Akmal’s dropped catches and an array of full tosses literally gifted him a memorable birthday present.
He would make the most of this opportunity. After slowly rebuilding to 69* (108), what followed was carnage. He ended up scoring 131* (124) with 7 sixes. Carving away off-side yorkers, slogging leg-sided deliveries into the stand, and thrashing Shoaib Akhtar, Abdul Razzaq, and Shahid Afridi, this was Taylor at his best. In the last six overs, NZ scored 114 and gave Pakistan their only loss of the group stage.
Taylor was going through a lean patch in 2014-2015. Although he had a few 30s and 40s, questions were being asked on his place in the Test squad. On a flat track in Perth (when does that ever happen?), Taylor made the most of his opportunities, scoring a brilliant 290 & 36* with a 265-run partnership with Kane Williamson. That would be the end of Mitchell Johnson’s career.
Ross Taylor saved his best (thus far) against England at Dunedin in 2018. Chasing 336, New Zealand were reduced to 2-2 in 3 overs. Then he mastered a chase….on one leg.
When Taylor was 107, he ran for a two and dove to reach the crease in time. In the process, he injured himself. New Zealand still needed 116 from 13 overs. Since he could not run twos, for the last ten overs it was all stand-and-deliver stuff. The fact that he stayed in and remained unbeaten just blows my mind.
With healthy support from Williamson, de Grandhomme, and Henry Nicholls as well as a 187-run partnership with Tom Latham, NZ’s third highest successful run chase (after that 2006-07 Australia series) was complete. Following tradition, it was a day before his 34th birthday.
Here are some of the commentary clips from Taylor’s innings. Just dominated all across the park.
“Pull over long leg… Swung over long on… Flicked… Slaps it to point boundary…Swats it powerfully…Beats deep square… Carts it over deep mid-wicket… Over backward point… Beats third man… Conventional sweep… Through extra cover! Out of the ground.“
Definitely a candidate for the best ODI innings in a chase of all-time. Epic.
My favorite Taylor innings by far.
India Vs New Zealand 2019
One criticism of this New Zealand generation is not being able to lift the elusive trophy after seven ICC knockouts opportunities in the last 15 years.
Taylor himself had not played a match defining innings in a high-profile game apart from a few steady 40s here and there (I believed in the 2015 World Cup Final when Elliot-Taylor had ‘rescued’ NZ to 150 in 35 overs. In came James Faulkner for the final powerplay, dismissed Taylor off the first ball, and took the game away. Dreams crushed.)
In the 2019 Cricket World Cup semi-final, he finally came to the party. 74 (90) might not seem too much, but in the context of a slow pitch & disciplined bowling attacks, this was a precious little innings, keeping NZ’s middle order together.
Unfortunate that his innings ended with a direct hit from Ravindra Jadeja, but by then, NZ had pushed to a competitive total.
With the exception of McCullum-Guptill, New Zealand have often rotated through their openers resulting in frequent top-order collapses and slow starts. This brings in Taylor and Williamson in the game to do what they do best—read the situation, soak in the pressure, nudge it for singles and doubles, dab down to third man, flick it off the hip.
Next thing you know, the innings is halfway done, wickets are in hand, and the acceleration has begun. Standard Williamson-Taylor template.
The thing is they seem to do it over and over….and over…again. Astonishing consistency.
At the peak of his batting form, Ross Taylor was handed captaincy after an interview process, narrowly edging out Brendon McCullum. His two year tenure ended unceremoniously. Post a disastrous 2012 T20 World Cup and a tour of Sri Lanka, Taylor was sacked unceremoniously as captain from all three formats, without proper communication, especially from coach Mike Hesson. Putting this aside, he fought through and scored 142 & 74 against Sri Lanka.
He took a break from the game and skipped the subsequent tour of South Africa. New Zealand folded for 45 against Steyn-Philander-Morne Morkel and lost the first test by an innings and 27 runs. This match would be the catalyst for McCullum to compete in an ultra aggressive approach that catapulted them to the 2015 World Cup final. Taylor was selected back into the side as the trio put their differences aside.
The 290 at the WACA is special, but you know what is more special? Scoring that many runs against the pace of Josh Hazlewood & the Mitchells—Johnson, Starc, Marsh without a functioning eye.
He had to have a surgery in 2016 to remove the pterygium in his eye. This probably gave him that extra bit of timing that sparked the second wind in his career and elongated his career.
Apart from being a Black Cap legend and a critical thinker of the game, Martin Crowe was a mentor to the current crop of players in the New Zealand side, especially Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor. Crowe lost a tough battle with cancer in 2016, which impacted them both tremendously. After Taylor went past Crowe’s all-time Test record and closed in on his 100th test, Taylor could not hold his tears back in a press conference.
In his own words, Crowe was “New Zealand’s best ever Test batsman, best ever cricketing brain, a genius, and someone that inspired thousands of Kiwis and thousands of people overseas as well.”
End of his T20 career?
Ross Taylor was dropped from the T20I squad last year due to scintillating performances from Devon Conway and Glenn Phillips. He needs to re-invent his T20 game if he has any chance of resurrecting his T20I career. Since the upcoming T20 World Cup allows a squad of 23, I think he might just find a place.
What We Can Learn From Ross Taylor & the New Zealand team?
New Zealand Cricket Team: Camaraderie & Team Spirit Galore
Why are the Kiwis everybody’s second favorite team? Is it just because of the 2019 World Cup Final and the obsession with captain Kane Williamson’s smile? Umm…maybe.
Or is it because of the talent among the group? Possibly. Maybe it is due to the aggressive approach installed by McCullum’s captaincy? Maybe, maybe not.
Above all, I believe it is the due to the camaraderie between the players in the New Zealand team. Although Kane Williamson is the star of the team, he acts just like a core member and nothing more. Tim Southee is happy to relinquish his place for in-form Matt Henry and instead take diving catches as a substitute fielder. BJ Watling is going out but has given his complete support to Tom Blundell, the next in line.
This is exactly what this New Zealand team is all about. Actually, this is what sport is about. Give it your all, play aggressively on the field, respect the opposition, live & die for each member of your team.
This quote below encapsulates the dynamic within the Black Caps unit.
Ross Taylor’s Legacy: Stable, Steady, Responsible
One of the most popular cricketing social media question is, “Is Ross Taylor the most underrated batsman of our era?” First of all, I am not a huge fan of these pointless clichés like ‘underrated,’ overrated,’ ‘unluckiest,’ etc., etc.
Anyway, in my books, Taylor will go down as one of the all-time greats of our game. To do what Taylor has done for how long he has done it is truly remarkable. It turns out that slow and steady actually does win you the race.
Will Ross Taylor be remembered as talented as Sir Vivian Richards or the recently retired with confirmation, AB De Villiers? Was he as technically adept as Williamson and the Fab 5? Did he have the exquisite timing of Hashim Amla or the free-flowing nature of Mohammad Yousuf?
It all depends on your point of view, but one thing is for certain—Taylor is the glue that kept New Zealand together for so many years.
What can you learn from his life and apply to yours?
Dependability – In case of a crisis, you could always depend on Ross Taylor. It might not pay off every time, but he had the uncanny ability of turning gloomy situations into positive ones. Not only as a batsman, his role as a trusted slip fielder as well.
Be dependable. Regardless of what is going around on you, internally or externally, try to weather the storm. Once you overcome the obstacle, lend out a hand and help someone else out in need.
Balance – Once Taylor rescued NZ from precarious situation, he knew when to accelerate and who to turn the strike to.
Be self-aware. Known your limitations and balance your life accordingly. Too much of anything is harmful. Learn how to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Responsibility – Taylor curbed his natural gameplay and transformed from a slogger to an accumulator to suit his side’s needs. In order to accommodate the firepower at the top & the lower order, somebody needed to take the responsibility and be that insurance policy.
Be responsible. Sometimes giving up your own personal comfort for others around you is the way to go. Follow your dreams, but also combine it with a slight dose of practicality.
There is probably no better match than Ross Taylor & the New Zealand cricket team, or shall I say they are tailor-made for each other (bad joke, sorry 😅). His responsible character gelled perfectly into the team spirit.
What will I remember the most? The tongue celebration, his bent stance, hard bottom-hand grip, the slog sweeps, and the numerous partnerships, and the calm demeanor.
I will leave you with a smiling picture of Ross Taylor. Because why not.
When things are all said and done, Kane Williamson will probably be regarded as the greatest New Zealand batsman of all time. Yet, for New Zealand cricket to get to this point, players like Martin Crowe, Ross Taylor, Stephen Fleming, Daniel Vettori, and Brendon McCullum, have played their parts.
How Good is the New Zealand Cricket Team?
Ranked #1 in ODIs, #2 in Tests, and #3 in T20Is according to the latest ICC rankings (2021), the New Zealand cricket team is definitely one of the best going around. The fact that they have qualified for 8 different semi-finals or finals in the last 15 years across the formats makes this generation of New Zealand team one of their bests ever.
Is Ross Taylor an Underrated Cricketer?
Ross Taylor is one of the unsung heroes of New Zealand cricket, but he will go down as one of the all-time greats of our game. To do what Taylor has done for how long he has done it is truly remarkable. It turns out that slow and steady does actually win you the race.
What makes Ross Taylor such a special cricketer?
Taylor’s ability to read the situation makes him such a special cricketer. Knows exactly when to attack and when to soak in the pressure.
What was Taylor’s highest score in one day cricket?
Taylor’s highest score is 181* in a run-chase in Dunedin (2018) against England. Second highest score in a successful run chase.
What is Ross Taylor’s Birthday?
Ross Taylor was born on March 8th, 1984 (8/27/1984).
Why does Ross Taylor stick his tongue out when he scores a century?
Taylor’s unique celebration can be credited to his daughter, Mackenzie. It is a tradition that started during his ODI hundred against Australia in 2007 and “made her happy.” He continues his famous tongue-poking celebration to this day and even passed on the tradition to his son, Jonty.
Tribute to Other Cricket Legends
Thank you all for reading! Really appreciate it.
If you like these stories about cricket legends, check these some of my earlier featured articles below:
Rahul Dravid: What Rahul Dravid Taught Me?
MS Dhoni & SK Raina: Retirement: An End of an Era
Shakib-Rahim-Iqbal-Mortaza-Mahmudullah:Why Shakib And Co Are the True Fab 5 of this Era?
Lasith Malinga: The Slinga, Slayer, and Superstar
Ellyse Perry: What Can Ellyse Perry Not do?
Dean Jones: A Celebration of Life
AB De Villiers & Faf Du Plessis: Can Faf Fulfill the Broken Dream of ABD?
Umar Gul: The Magician With the Yorker
Sam Curran: Why the World Needs Same Curran: Calm, Charismatic, Courageous
Joe Denly & Joe Biden: The Importance of Being Joe
Nicholas Pooran: A Story of Pain, Hope, & Inspiration: The Next Big Thing of West Indies & World Cricket
Moments of The Day: Buttler & Samson Make It Rajasthan’s Day
Here are my moments of today:
It is game 7, and Sanju Samson is still delivering good scores?Sanju Samson & consistency, well that is a good change. Since becoming the captain of the RR side, his batting seems more mature & calculated, taking more responsibility on himself. Following his epic 119, he followed it with low scores of 4, 1, & 21. However, he has come back with steady 42*, 42, & 48 (33) today. Does Samson have an upper hand against an out-of-form Suryakumar Yadav for a World T20 spot?
Jos Buttler had a David Warner-esque tournament before this game. A score of 49, 41, and 40 in the other 4 innings for a total of 130 runs in 6 matches. He started scratchy today and but accelerated after the halfway stage. Batting till the 19th over, he scored all around the ground in the flat Delhi pitch. His dancing shots at the end of the innings were truly special, taking RR from 111 in 13 overs to 220 by the 20th. In Buttler’s own words, “I can finally stop Alastair Cook telling me, ‘I’ve got one more T20 hundred than you.’ ”
The issue with that call is that Nabi was only given one over. It was at the backend of the innings when Buttler was only in a six-hitting mode and ended up conceding 21 runs.
At the beginning of the match, Abdul Samad was slotted to open. When the time came, Manish Pandey walked in (although he did well), and Shankar-Jadhav batted at 4-5. With Nabi at 6 (quickfire 17 off 6) and Samad at 7, they were never going to chase 220. Should have been sent earlier. There are too many voices in the SRH dugout.
Kane Williamson himself had an uncharacteristically off-day with a 21-ball 20.
Rashid Khan’s batting form is a concern. 3 ducks and a 17 in four outings now.
Warner was a total team-man throughout the game, supporting the team from the boundary right through the game. IPL legend.
IPL 2021 Points Table, Orange Cap, & Purple Cap Leaders
No need to go elsewhere for the Points Table, Orange Cap, & Purple Cap. We will keep updating it in every article!
Shikhar Dhawan – 380 runs (PBKS, 8 matches)
Harshal Patel – 17 wickets (RCB, 7 matches)
Net Run Rate
1. Delhi Capitals
2. Chennai Super Kings
3. Royal Challengers Bangalore
4. Mumbai Indians
5. Rajasthan Royals
6. Punjab Kings
7. Kolkata Knight Riders
8. Sunrisers Hyderabad
IPL 2021 Points Table
Also, if you have not yet read our IPL Previews, here is a list of all of them! Check them out and share ahead: