Stop making fun of Tim Southee!
There’s still the cheerleaders, big cash contracts and Bollywood celebrities. There’s still the fireworks, baying crowds and pumping stadium speakers. There’s also been a bit of cricket in the Indian Premier League.
The competition is nearing the end of its regular season and the playoffs await next week. You couldn’t be blamed for not knowing this.
The Black Caps are the top ranked T20 side in the world. Eleven have featured in the IPL so far, with mixed results.
We assess who could be in line for a little more of that sweet Indian corporation cash next year.
Ideas for new Kane Williamson nicknames: Hurrikane, Obi-Wan Kaneobi, Kane and able, ummm … Mr Enterkaning? Anything to spice up the career of the man who is so consistent it’s almost boring. Batting third for Sunrisers Hyderabad, he’s hit 89, 21, 54*, 40, 24 - at least in his most recent innings he scored a paltry 4. He’s only played six games but he’s seventh on the list of top run scorers with 232. He’s averaging 46.40 at a cracking rate of 162.23 (better than David Warner).
In March, an opinion piece by Matt Richens on RNZ named Williamson New Zealand’s best ever cricketer. But all this talk, like the man himself when you shove a microphone in his face, is a bit … well, boring.
COLIN DE GRANDHOMME
In his first over against South Africa in the Black Caps’ T20 match at Eden Park in February, Colin de Grandhomme bowled one of the worst bouncers I’ve ever seen. The ball flew over Faf du Plessis and a leaping Luke Ronchi, who was about as far away from catching it as he is from a Test recall, and was luckily scooped up by third man. When he returned to the boundary, my friends and I gave him a bit of stick, which he duly ignored. His very next ball he got Faf out leg-before with a pretty crap high full toss on middle and leg.
Disciplined, workmanlike and strangely effective - after getting a late call-up, the 30-year-old has become a regular fixture for one the IPL’s better teams, the Kolkata Knight Riders. He had a rough start but recently hit decent knocks of 36 and 31 and is averaging 32 in his last four games. He’s been solid with the ball, too, going for a respectable 8.5 an over. His stunning 3/4 in ten deliveries was one of the spells of the tournament, and helped his team skittle Bangalore for 49.
The Indian teams love a top foreign allrounder, but for some, a player of Corey Anderson’s quality will do. Like de Grandhomme, Anderson has played most of the middling Delhi Daredevils’ games and has proven quite handy. His 41* off 24 balls against Hyderabad 10 days ago helped his team chase down 185 and should have seen him named man of the match. Two weeks before that, he struck 39 off 22 against Kings XI Punjab in another winning effort.
He isn’t chucking it as well. Anderson has taken four wickets and is going for more than 10 per over. He has taken one of the catches of the tournament, though. Excuse the crappy lounge music.
B-Mac started his ninth IPL campaign in red hot form, smashing 258 runs at an average of 43 in six games to top the run scoring charts. Since mid-April he’s gone 6, 3, 6, 49, 1 and his average has dropped to 29. His strike rate is still 147.00. A hamstring strain means he won’t play another match for the Gujarat Lions this season. In a tweet last week he bemoaned playing frequently and the long travel of the tournament.
His biggest scores came in losing efforts and his side will miss the playoffs. Still, he remains within the top 10 six-hitters with 18 - surely there’s nothing more important?
The “million dollar man” they called him. Unfortunately, Trenty, Trenty Boult has not lived up to such lofty expectations. To be fair, he was never going to earn every penny of his five crore rupees ($1.04m) auction price because it was a pro-rata deal, but his poor form won’t have helped. The fast bowler has played just four games for Kolkata and taken two wickets at 78.00. He’s also dropped three catches in the field. Too full and wide might be the problem.
In his second match, he went for 28 off his final 11 balls in a mini-collapse against the Mumbai Indians. He was a little better most recently against Hyderabad, taking 1/33 in four overs and avoided being bludgeoned over the boundary.
The big hitter with the gingy beard doesn’t seem very popular in India. Martin Guptill was ignored like a moldy couch at last year’s auction, and despite smacking some big scores for the Black Caps over the summer, sold for just over $100,000 this year. The suits must know something we don’t - Guppy has hit 132 runs in six games.
His standout knock was an unbeaten 50 against Delhi a couple of weeks ago that featured nine boundaries. Unfortunately, his team, Kings XI Punjab, was only chasing 67, so he did well to get that much.
Last night he found a bit of form again. He chipped in 36 off 18 balls to help his team to 230 and victory over the league’s best, Mumbai. He also took a stunning one-hander in the field. His team’s still got a chance of making the playoffs. Guptill’s average is now up to 26.40.
Mitchell McClenaghan may as well move to India. Last year, the Black Caps pinup was perhaps the bargain buy of the IPL, taking 17 wickets at just over eight an over. This year, he’s second best with 18 for the table-topping Mumbai Indians and has renewed his deadly partnership with the excellently-named Jasprit Bumrah. His economy rate is a little up at 9.22, in part due to a 28-run over pasting by Glenn Maxwell.
He’s only failed to take a wicket twice in 13 games and has two three-wicket bags. He’s also managed to dismiss Virat Kohli (twice), David Warner, and his mate Corey Anderson.
After injury kept him sidelined this past summer, New Zealand coach Mike Hesson has been talking up his chances for a starting place in the Champions Trophy team heading to England in June. He told the NZ Herald, McClenaghan is “probably our best death bowler”.
The right-arm quick was in bed when he found out he’d been taken as one of the last buys of this year’s auction. His two appearances for Rising Pune Supergiant have been markedly different: 0/44 and an absolutely stunning 2/7 in four overs a couple of weeks ago against Bangalore.
A couple of cameos haven’t gone well for the 25-year-old. He took a crucial wicket against Kolkata in his first game for Kings XI Punjab, but went for 31 runs in three overs. Last night was a bit of a nightmare - 40 runs in two overs. Eesh.
Just a couple of appearances for the fast bowler and a wicket worth 57 runs. He hasn’t played for Mumbai since April 14 due to the form of McClenaghan and Bumrah. His Indian still needs some work and he’s been made fun of for needing the toilet.
The 25-year-old has already returned to New Zealand to prepare for the Champions Trophy. In his four appearances for Royal Challengers Bangalore, the fast bowler’s most impressive display came in his first match when he took two wickets for 27 runs in four overs.
The IPL wraps up in ten days. Mitchell McClenaghan, Colin de Grandhomme and Lockie Ferguson currently stand the best chance of playing in the final in Hyderabad. McClenaghan is also an outside bet to finish with the tournament’s most wickets.
Then it’s off to England. There’s no easy group in the Champions Trophy and the Black Caps will probably have to beat either England or Australia to make the semi-finals. The squad has been named: Neil Broom is back, Jeetan Patel unsurprisingly edges out Ish Sodhi and Tom Latham is an option behind the stumps.
After that, the annual list of 21 players given contracts will be named and Mike Hesson’s side could face a long wait until the West Indies visit before Christmas. With the International Cricket Council set to announce major changes to the international game next month, including the introduction of a Test league, the Black Caps will be hoping for more certainty.