Strange Days


For three hours yesterday New Zealand piled on the runs and lost no wickets, our number eight batsmen scored a century which, if not handsome (his never are) then certainly had its own undeniable magnetism. At the other end our stocky (if I’m being charitable) number five composed an innings so far outside what we had presumed him capable of that the transformation would merit some kind of cricketing Oscar, were such an odd ceremony to exist.

If the above facts all those that were presented to you, and you asked to extrapolate what kind of a day it had been, you’d have to suggest it was New Zealand’s… Except that knowing it was our numbers five and eight that made hay while the Hamilton sun shone would rightly set off alarm bells. Because outside of the three hours described above we managed to lose ten wickets in the most desperate and petrified manner imaginable. It as if New Zealand’s wildest dreams and India’s were both allowed to run riot for the day, and cleaved evenly in two.

Unfortunately, when we awake, Virender Sehwag’s standing over the bed carrying a machete.

In the scheme of things, Vettori’s knock was perhaps his finest moment yet as captain, and Ryder’s innings a massive step forward in maturity and composure for a guy you weren’t sure was going to require those two nouns very frequently. Unfortunately their brilliance, which is rightly being praised to the moon, has to be overshadowed by the meekest of capitulations from the other six batsmen in the side. If just a couple had made scores in 20s or 30s we could have ended the day at 300/8 rather than with India poised to pounce, there might be hope for us yet. But can you see Mills or Martin running through this side?

My vain hope that India might prove to have only one gear after the Eden Park game (which Short Of A Length rightly called out in their latest Blog War installment) was extremely premature, and I’ll cop to the fact that in my excitement I’d forgotten that players like Laxman and Dravid were joining the test team. Say what you want about the latter, but you don’t get a nickname like The Wall from slashing at everything you see. Plus our test bowling line up looks, if anything, more limp than its ODI equivalent. Are Mills, O’Brien and Martin going to take 20 wickets against this side? Or any wickets at all? Lovely guys, no doubt, but the kind of questions they’ll be asking of their opponents won’t be particularly searching. More ‘got 20c for the bus?’ to Ishant, Zaheer and Munaf’s ‘how exactly would you resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict amicably for all parties?’

I have a bad feeling about today.

– Duncan

UPDATE: Franklin’s gone and run out Sehwag, thus justifying his selection a thousand times over. I’d forgotten about runouts, the way you get wickets when your bowlers have no teeth. Still in a hole, but at least they won’t overtake our score in the first session.

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