This is going to be a different sort of article — No World T20 match reviews, not dissecting India’s disaster or praising Namibia’s story, no analysis or stats either, and surprisingly, not even any predictions. Just pure reflection with a hint of philosophy.
91 years after Don Bradman hit his first out of 12 Test double centuries, I finally have my first double as a writer. How did I get here? Why did I start this journey? What have I learned?
To give this article a twist, the theme of this article will rally around the lyrics of some pieces of music. I would highly encourage you to click on the song and give them a listen as well.
“It means no worries for the rest of your days. It’s our problem-free philosophy…
Situation: Finally starting this blog and website after England Vs West Indies 1st Test as cricket resumed post-COVID
What Is My Story?
I have been watching cricket for my whole existence, ever since the 2003 Cricket World Cup. My close ones tell me that I used to memorize the line ups of all the teams, from Australia to Zimbabwe, dragged my plastic bat around the house, and tried to copy actions of bowlers like Brett Lee, Harbhajan Singh, and Anil Kumble and the strokes of batters like Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Sanath Jayasuriya, Rahul Dravid, and Mohammad Yousuf.
Not much has changed 18 years later. From Afghanistan to Papua New Guinea, I still memorize players’ names, follow most cricket, play cricket casually with my brother and friends, and try to copy mystery spinners like Ajantha Mendis and Theekshana (since Rashid Khan is too hard to emulate). Moreover, I now go into in-depth analysis before the game, after game, read articles on Cricinfo, watch CricBuzz Live, crunch up the numbers, and more.
You can say that I am obsessed with cricket. Not much has changed all these years…except that I talk a lot more now.
I was told I should start writing about cricket but for years, I never took that action. However, after Jason Holder & a hobbling Campbell secured a victory after Jermaine Blackwood’s counterattack, I was filled with emotion. In that moment, I realized what we had all missed during the sports break. A few minutes later, I began my journey as a cricket writer.
Life Lesson #1
From that moment, I changed my working philosophy—If you have any idea, take the action. Do not just play scenarios in your head or think what others would think of you or how you would be judged. Take your destiny in your own hands, channel your inner Timon & Pumba, and live a problem-free life just as you want.
Situation: Cricket writing fulfilled a life long dream
What Was My Underlying Motivation?
Once this website opened, the natural question was what it going to be called? What was my motivation? Here is the story.
I dreamed of becoming a cricketer, as did billions of people around the globe. Staying till the end, winning matches for your team are moments I would visualize and imagine.
I finally got my opportunity and began playing school level cricket way back in third and fourth grades. A few months later, our school finally was invited for a knockout tournament. I was guaranteed a place in the second match. In the first match, we lost a last over thriller, and our team was knocked out. We moved, and little did I know that it would be my last game of cricket or sports.
Broken Cricket Dreams.
Guess what? There are numerous other fans with similar stories. And that is why we created this platform. You can share your own pain and share your joy from cricket. Here, dreams come true. Little did I imagine that people would appreciate my content, I would get a chance to interact with some of my favorite players, journalists, writers, and love the game even more from the outside.
Life Lesson #2
Always expect the unexpected. Life may not go to plan, but whatever comes your way might be a blessing in disguise as writing was for me. Don’t have regrets, smile, enjoy your journey, celebrate the struggle, dream big, follow your passion, appreciate the small things in life, and things will be good.
“You may say I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one…:
Situation: Cricket Twitter
Sharing Is Caring
Living in a non-cricket playing nation, it was difficult to find people to talk to with whom I could share this passion for cricket. Before I started this website, I used to talk in-depth about each and every cricket match with my family and a couple of close friends. Since I had no other outlets, I used to chew their brains off.
What I have realized since the inception of this website 15 months ago is that even though I am a dreamer and live in my own cricket bubble….I am not the only cricket fan on Earth. In fact there are more like me. There are fans of the game who go to even more of an extent for the love of the game. Fans with a greater sense of loss or broken dreams.
The other, more darker aspect of Twitter and social media in general is the divisiveness. When things are going well, social media is usually a nice happy place. However, fan wars, cancel culture, trolling, tagging cricket players themselves, abusing their families take away from the game.
Life Lesson #3
Loving one country does not mean detesting the opposition. You can have too different views without contradicting each other. Spread Love. Sharing is Caring, Shouting is Not. Man has created boundaries. Cricket can unite the broken world. This is where the final line of John Lennon’s song comes in.
I hope someday you will join us, and the world will live as one”
“When there was doubt, I ate it up and spit it out.
I faced it all, and I stood tall,
And I did it my way.”
Situation: Trying to be me
Thinking Outside The Box
One of my main goals when starting this project was to do things differently from a normal cricket or news site. There are several better platforms for that.
I have tried to make content unique by embedding my personality via life lessons, philosophy, and cultural references or by experimenting with different styles and formats (A Shakespearean play, The Comedy of Overs,for example). Everything has not worked. I have struggled, doubted myself, overworked, but in the end, I learned, improved, changed things, and progressed further.
Life Lesson #4
There are millions of ways to manifest your love for something. I choose to portray my love of cricket via writing. Yours might be different. There is no one right or wrong answer. You can express your love or admiration for anything in numerous ways. Just whatever you do, give it your all and do it YOUR way. Be honest. Be yourself.
Life is a game. You win some, you lose some. Sportsmanship make your life easier. You become a better human being when not bogged down by failures. Learn from failures, work hard, and rise again. Any setbacks just make you stronger.
Situation: Thank You to everyone out there reading this
Okay, this is not really a goodbye. I just love this piece of music. This is just the beginning of my writing journey, but I wanted I want to end this article with a Thank You. Thank you for all my readers and all the followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as well. I love the engagement and learning from y’all. Friendly banter, memes, stories, art make my day. Hoping for many more years of conversation ahead!
Life Lesson #5
Be grateful. For everything and everyone. Hug your family. Keep in touch with your friends. Make that call you have been waiting for. Reach out if there are any mental health struggles. Appreciate one another. This pandemic has taught us some harsh lessons. Cherish every moment. To be human is to be grateful.
If you are one of my new followers, I will leave you with some of my best writing and featured articles.
I. My Favorite Cricket Heroes and What We Can Learn From Them?
My cricket writing journey began with a tribute to Rahul Dravid. Since then, I have written about some of my other favorite players—Dale Steyn, Ellyse Perry, Ross Taylor, Faf Du Plessis & AB De Villiers, Umar Gul, Nicholas Pooran, Dinesh Karthik, Lasith Malinga, Joe Denly, Sam Curran, Dean Jones, the Bangladesh Fab Five, and the duo of Suresh Raina & MS Dhoni.
Just swipe the photos for more articles in each category.
II. World XIs With Twists
Have you ever tried to compile an XI of South African born players playing for other countries? Or wondered what the most beautiful stadiums in the world are? Here is some of my lists—Players who retired too early, most underrated cricketers, unluckiest XI, commentators XI, most stylish, etc.
III. How Can We Improve Test Cricket and the World Test Championship?
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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COPYRIGHT @Nitesh Mathur, aka Nit-X, 06/18/2021; Email at email@example.com
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).
England Vs New Zealand 2021 Test Series Review – Short but good nevertheless.
Devon Conway & Will Young eased into Test cricket, New Zealand tried their options for the World Test Championship Final, and England lost some options as they gear up for the India series & the must awaited Ashes later this season.
Tim Southee – 7 wickets (1 match only) (best innings – 6/43, best match – 7/80, 11.42 average)
England Vs New Zealand 2021 Series Stats
England’s batting continues to go down hill after the 1st test against India. They have now lost 4 and drawn 1 in the past five Tests (2 at home, 4 away). All the hopes and dreams after away series wins in South Africa and Sri Lanka are crashing down quickly.
The Batting: England’s Batting Averages Just Not Good Enough
One of the highlights of Kimber’s analysis was Rory Burns has been a stable cog in this English lineup despite the poor numbers. He scored a brilliant ton and almost carried the bat in this series, which increased his Test average to 33.23 with 3 hundreds and 9 fifties. Not the best stats after 25 Tests, but the Sibley-Rory partnership has done a decent job in the past couple of years. Well, not quite Strauss-Cook, but the standards have been so low recently that a Burns century should be rightly celebrated.
Zak Crawley’s scores in this series—2 & 2, 0 & 17. Not good enough for a #3 batter at home. I hope England persist with him but he needs to meet them halfway, nothing of note since that 267.
Ollie Pope looks like Ian Bell, bats like Ian Bell, but I hope he starts converting like Ian Bell. Beautiful 20s and 30s can only get you so far—think James Vince (22 & 20*, 19 & 23 this series).
The batting averages of England’s main batters are far from impressive. Joe Root’s overall average is great, but has been struggling at home for quite a while now.
Rory Burns (33.23), Dom Sibley (30.78), Zak Crawley (29.33), Joe Root (48.68), Ollie Pope (31.50), Jos Buttler (34.53), Ben Stokes (37.04).
Commentator Nasser Hussain did not mince any words in the post-series analysis, urging their batters to get back to basics and avoid funny techniques. The current England batters have the mindset that:
“Everyone else that has played the game in the history of the game. Viv Richards you were wrong. Everyone is wrong, we are right.”
The senior fast bowlers were the only positives of the series. Mark Wood impressed…with the bat. He was among the wickets and consistently bowled his heart out as usual but his 41 & 29 in the 2nd Test showed England that the pitch does not contain any demons.
The old Stuart Broad showed up. In the 2nd Test, it seems that one of those spells was just around the corner. One of the bright lights in the series. Definitely got a couple more years left in him.
Jimmy Anderson was not as sharp this series, with just 3 wickets and averaging 68.66. Surpassed Alastair Cook as the most capped Test player for England-162 Tests. Take a bow.
The Debutants Star
In every series review, I highlight a couple of standout performers of the series. Guess what? In EVERY New Zealand series over the last year, Devon Conway has made the series headlines. T20I debut? Conquered. ODI debut? Check. Test debut at Lord’s? Double century and almost carries the bat. What else is there to say? 76.50 Test average, 75.00 ODI average, 59.12 T20I average. 1-200, 1-100, 4-50s in just 18 innings. Brilliant.
Will Young is continuing his good touch. Scored his maiden T20I fifty against Bangladesh recently and was picked in the 2nd Test after Williamson’s injury on the basis of a couple of centuries in County Cricket. Missed his century by 18 runs, but has finally found his feet in international cricket. He his here to stay.
Matt Henry, Ajaz Patel, and Neil Wagner all impressed with whatever chances they got.
Henry picked 3/78 & 3/36 to bag the player of the match in the 2nd Test
Ajaz Patel’s control and guile were impressive with figures of 2/34 & 2/25.
Neil Wagner bowled line and length more than his usual bouncers. Not unplayable but impactful for sure. Should edge Kyle Jamieson/Matt Henry for the WTC Final spot.
Senior Pros Provide Solid Support
Tim Southee is gearing up to the WTC Final with a superb series. After having re-invented himself in T20Is this year, he has found his swing, line, & length again.
Ross Taylor, one of New Zealand’s greatest, justified that tagline with a 80 in the 2nd Test. The beauty of that innings was he was nowhere close to his best. Stuart Broad was beating his edge right and left, but he survived and capitalized later on. In contrast, England’s batting collapsed to 76-7 and none of the batters had the will to fight it out like Taylor did.
Unfortunately for BJ Watling, he suffered a minor back injury on the eve of the 2nd Test and missed out. Hope he is ready for his swansong in the World Test Championship final.
In addition to Rory Burns’ 81 in the 2nd Test, the only criticism for New Zealand I could find would be the lack of conversion for three batters (Conway 80, Young 82, Taylor 80).
Devon Conway & Will Young
Mark Wood, the batsman
Matt Henry & Ajaz Patel
Broken Cricket Dream
Ollie Robinson, Zak Crawley
England Vs New Zealand 2021 Series Awards
Where Do They Go From Here?
New Zealand will be in the World Test Championship Final starting tomorrow.
Apart from the various leagues in the next few months which will keep the New Zealand players busy, the next international fixture is scheduled between 29th January-8th February 2022 for 3 ODIs & a T20I.
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
India Vs South Africa Women 2021 Series Preview—finally some progress in women’s cricket in India.
Earlier, we explored why Nobody Cares About Women’s Cricket. The Indian men have played a 60 day IPL, had a complete tour of Australia, and is now hosting England for a full series. On the other hand, Indian women have played half-a-week long T20 Challenge. That is it. No training either until recently. This will be India’s first assignment since the World T20 Final on March 8th, 2020.
Meanwhile South Africa women are coming on back of a 3-0 ODI & 2-1 T20I victory against Pakistan at home. Here is a preview of the 5 ODI & 3 T20I match tour between India and South Africa. Here is what you should expect, the big surprises in team selection, the squads, and our series prediction.
When and Where?
Here are the dates and the venue for the India Vs South Africa Women series.
Mithali Raj, the highest run scorer in Women’s ODI cricket, is just 85 runs shy of 10,000 international runs across formats (6888 ODI, 2364 T20I, 663 Tests). After 487 days away from national duty, she will back trying to take India to the ODI World Cup next year. At 38, this might be Raj’s final hurrah.
On the other end of the spectrum, watch out for the explosive 17-year-old Shafali Verma in the T20Is. She already has 19 international caps and strikes it at 146.24.
A lot will depend on the India’s experienced middle order. Harmanpreet Kaur, Deepti Sharma, and Sushma Verma (comeback) will need to make sure India bats 50 overs in case of a collapse.
South Africa: Enviable Top-Order With Lee, Wolfvaardt, and Luus
If the top order of Lizelle Lee, Laura Wolfvaardt, and Sune Luus play to their potential, this South African team will be very hard to beat. Luus also has the extra responsibility of the stand-in captain in the absence of injured Dan van Niekerk.
Lookout for Trisha Chetty. A veteran of 114 ODIs, the wicketkeeper-batsman is integral to the core of this South African side.
Tazmin Brits is the in-form T20I batsman for South Africa. With scores of 52* & 66, she was the Player of the T20I series against Pakistan.
India: Shikha Pandey’s Omission The Talking Point
In the build up to this series, the omission of India’s pace spearhead, Shikha Pandey, has taken the public by surprise. India’s most successful pace bowler of recent times and 2nd highest wicket taker in India’s last assignment (T20 World Cup) this is a huge call.
In Shikha’s absence, the pace responsibility will lie with the veteran Jhulan Goswami, Mansi Joshi, and Arundhati Reddy (T20I only)
I am most excited to watch India’s spin trio—Poonam Yadav, the T20 World Cup star,, Radha Yadav, and Rajeshwari Gayakwad. The youngster, Harleen Deol, impressed in the T20 Challenge with the Trailblazers and might get more opportunities to showcase her talent on the international stage.
South Africa: Ample Fast Bowling Resources, but Spin the Concern
The allrounder, Marizanne Kapp, is the glue that holds South Africa’s together. In the Player of the Match performance in the 2nd ODI against Pakistan, she scored an unbeaten 68 along with 3-44 as the opening pace bowler. Brilliant.
Shabnam Ismail is one of the best fast bowlers on women’s cricket circuit at the moment. South Africa’s highest wicket taker in both ODIs and T20Is, she will be key to South Africa’s success.
Without regular captain and off-spinner van Niekerk, South Africa’s spin bowling department is the concern.
Along with Mandhana, Raj, & Kaur, Veda Krishnamurthy caught the public’s eye in the 2017 ODI World Cup as India’s finisher. Yet, an ODI average of 25.9 & T20I average of 18.61 was not justifiable. Hopefully this is just a short term loss of form, and she we come roaring back soon.
Harmanpreet Kaur insisted that Pandey was ‘rested, not dropped‘ in order to experiment with the rest of the squad for upcoming tournaments. I do not buy this statement given a 18-member squad was picked regardless and that India has not played any international cricket for over a year.
South Africa: Masabata Klaas
South Africa are carrying a settled squad, with the exception of Klass. She suffered a last-minute injury in the Pakistan series and has not been picked for this series.
Verdict: 3-2 South Africa (ODIs) & 2-1 India (T20Is)
South Africa’s top order and fast bowlers should give them the edge in the ODIs. Expect competitive games with scores around 225-250.
I am going with India 2-1 for the T20I series. The swashbuckling top order of Jemimah, Shafali, and Mandhana may be too much to handle for South Africa. India should look to bat first, put up a decent score, and let the spin trio handle the rest.
Let us know your thoughts on India Vs South Africa Women, and the eventual scorelines.
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My Starting XIs
These are my starting XIs (assuming everyone is available in terms of COVID and injuries).
Pakistan cricket has rejuvenated in the last couple of years.
Post 2015, Pakistan has invested in youngsters and focused on bringing cricket back home. With the likes of Babar Azam and Shaheen Shah Afridi, this Pakistan T20I team is a force to reckon with in the near future.
Can they triumph against New Zealand in their own backyard?
Read till the end to check out our predictions. Let us know who you think will win in the COMMENTS below!
When and Where?
Here are the dates and the venue for the Pakistan Vs New Zealand T20I series.
Azam’s injury paves the way for youngsters like the next-big-thing Haider Ali, Abdullah Shafique, and Khusdil Shah to showcase their talent.
New Zealand: Explosive But Inexperienced
Williamson is on paternity leave but is expected to come back by the 2nd T20I. Another key selection is that Ross Taylor has been dropped. You heard it right—dropped, not rested.
Glenn Phillips and Devon Conway cemented their places with marvelous performances against the West Indies. Another young talent from Hong Kong, Mark Chapman, has got a few chances but now needs to follow suit and deliver.
Expect Guptill-Seifert to provide New Zealand with explosive starts and Neesham to finish it off in style.
Pakistan: Pakistan Cricket and the Flurry of Bowling Options
Shaheen Shah Afridi is the complete package – can bowl up front and at the death. Need 4 wickets in 4 balls? Can do that as well. One of the bests in this format right now.
Wahab Riaz is the experienced man in this line up. Has been in and out of the side in the last few years. With Haris Rauf’s rapid rise and Naseem/Musa waiting, Riaz would want to nail his T20I World Cup spot.
Stand-in captain Shadab Khan & Imad Wasim will occupy key spinning-allrounder roles. Much rest on their shoulders for the balance of the XI.
New Zealand: Rotation Policy Central to New Zealand’s Depth
Southee-Boult-Jamieson should return for the last 2 T20Is as the first choice bowling line-up.
The first T20I gives the likes of Doug Bracewell, Kuggeleijn, Tickner, and possible debutant Duffy a chance to seal the reserve seamer spot.
Santner will captain in the absence of Williamson. In short New Zealand grounds and flat pitches, Santner needs to keep economy rate low otherwise another Pollard-like carnage is on the cards.
Key Matchups To Watch Out For
Haris Rauf Vs NZ’s middle order:As Rauf has shown in the Big Bash, he is a quite a skiddy customer and a smart, thinking cricketer. The Kiwis ought to be wary.
Battle of the Keepers: Both Seifert and Rizwan are safe behind the wickets and have had a decent past year. The winner of this mini-battle will have an impact on the series.
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The Broken Dream
Pakistan: Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Amir
Shoaib Malik, the first Asian to 10000 T20 runs, has already won the National T20 Cup and the Lanka Premier League finals. Yet, with veterans Hafeez and Iftikhar Ahmed, is it curtains on a two-decade long career?
Mohammad Amir’s recent international retirement/break statement has shaken the social media world. The journey of a promising young kid whose rise took the world by surprise, followed by a spot-fixing exile, a remarkable comeback, and finally dropped from the side—end of the dream for Amir?
What are your thoughts on his sudden retirement? COMMENT BELOW!
New Zealand: Ross Taylor
Devon Conway’s consistent performances has cast Ross Taylor aside, the only person to play 100+ games across formats. Always a decent performer, Taylor never lived up to his RCB 2009 heights in T20Is. Can he make it to the next World Cup?
Verdict: 2-1 Pakistan
This young Pakistan cricket team is definitely favorites to reach the top 4 at the 2021 T20I World Cup in India. Without Babar Azam, the team will not be at its maximum potential, but neither is New Zealand without Williamson and with its fast bowling-rotation policy.
Both teams have fluid, explosive line ups with multiple bowling options. In this series, I am most excited for the youngsters on show!
Expect Haider Aliand Glenn Phillips to provide some entertainment.
Let us know your thoughts on Pakistan cricket, New Zealand cricket, and the eventual scoreline. COMMENT BELOW AND LET US KNOW!
My Starting XI:
These are my starting XI for the first Test (assuming everyone is available in terms of COVID and injuries).
Abdullah Shafique, Haider Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan (WK), Khusdil Shah, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan*, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi, Wahab Riaz
New Zealand (1st):
Martin Guptill, Tim Seifert (WK), Glenn Phillips, Devon Conway, Mark Chapman, Mitchell Santner*, James Neesham, Ish Sodhi, Jacob Duffy, Blair Tickner, Doug Bracewell