Unsung Hero Triumphs As South Africa Hear the Fat Lady Sing

fireworks NZ

Paging Dr Heimlich … no that’s incredibly harsh. South Africa didn’t really choke. Although their fielding let them down a little at the end, the Kiwis deserved to win. Nobody handed victory to them on a plate.

Grant Elliott, an unsung hero for so long, was the star of the show. He guided New Zealand home with a perfectly paced innings of the highest quality. He didn’t panic when the Proteas put together a string of dot balls; he simply waited for the right ball to hit. Even better, he was there at the death. As an Englishman, I can’t remember the last time one of our guys did that.

New Zealand aren’t quite plucky underdogs anymore – they have more talent that they’ve had for a long time (or ever?) – but their victory today still emphasised the value of having a settled team, where everyone knows their role, a clear strategy, and a coaching staff that maximises the talent at their disposal.

It comes down to the players at the end of the day, but Mike Hesson the Kiwi’s coach has done an excellent job. His coaching team have given the New Zealand players the best possible chance of succeeding.

The Black Caps also have the whole nation behind them. As the fireworks exploded above the Auckland sky, neutrals saw a nation united behind a team that really connects with its public.

This is what makes successful cricket teams. And this is what England have lost so shamefully and disastrously.

James Morgan



  • But but but… everyone is happy in the dressing room and the press are all happy and like the team too! (It’s only those outside cricket that disagree).
    To top it all, our captain comes from the right school and family as well!

  • I’d swop a hundred Cooks for half a McCullum. Well done NZ, and hard luck to SA. That was proper ODI cricket.

  • Fantastic game. Credit to SA, the rain probably hurt them more than us.

    7th time lucky, finally a final!

    I’m afraid Brendon McCullum is from South Dunedin though – from a cricket family, but not the right sort by ECB standards ;)

  • A damp squib went off over Lords as our sainted leader achieved the feat of (almost) doubling his first innings score! 5 off 30! He will be feted in the Shires I’m sure?

    • Total humiliation for Cook at the hands of Sidebottom and Brooks.

      Compton, Carberry and Lyth all clearly better openers for England right now. (Still not sure about Lees. Trott remains an unknown quantity as an opener.)

      Also a duck for Jonny Bairstow, and less-than-sensational bowling from Rashid…

  • C’mon the Black Caps, hope they win a closely contested final. Have been excellent throughout and surely now they should be a set up we should look to see what we could learn from and then apply where relevant to our lot.

    The way they’ve played in this tournament is the way I wish we played & McCullum ludicrous batting & the left arm pace of Boult aside, there isn’t a huge gulf in talent between personnel – surely it’s within England’s grasp to play a bit like that?

    We won’t of course we’ll continue to patronise them and overlook them from everything to press coverage to ongoing sheduling lunacy.

    However, congrats to all Kiwi players and fans and commiserations to the Saffers, again.

    • Quality of spin bowling and fielding are two massive areas of difference between England and New Zealand.

      In response to James’s point about NZ showing the benefits of a settled team this wasn’t really the case in the run-up to the tournament. Boult only became first choice just before the WC when NZ made the crucial decision to go with their best bowler rather than their one-day specialists (McClenaghan or Mills). Vettori was also a relatively late call-up with Nathan McCullum having been selected previously. Tey’ve tried numerous diiferent opening combos we well (although they did stick with Guptill through a lean patch).

      NZ have also mixed young players like Milne and Henry with players well into their 30s like Elliott and Vettori. The idea that England should play no older players and have separate test and odi squads (as proposed by a certain UK journalist) is the opposite of what NZ have done.

      • Boult is still an experienced bowler with plenty of cricket under his belt. It’s not like he’s been bowling badly or plucked from thin air. NZ decided on their best combination and stuck with it. No last minute changes that unsettled the whole side on the eve of big games. And of course, the captain is very settled in his role ;-).

        I suppose there’s bound to be the odd change in the warm up games and months beforehand as they searched for the best blend. I didnt mean to imply that these specific XI players were written in stone a year out; there has to be some room for fluctuations in form. They were also quite settled tactically.

    • You’re having a laugh… Who in the England ODI side of 2015 WC would get into this NZ side??

      Hales – not a chance
      Ali – not a chance
      Bell – not a chance
      root – not a chance
      buttler – what’s he done that Ronchi hasn’t recently??
      Broad— Coward and slow now, Boult is ten times the bowler
      Anderson – is he better than Southee?
      Finn — hahahahahahhahahahaha oh good joke.. NZ have Milne and Henry.. both rapid

      No one is even close to McCullum

      I think it’s safe to say NZ are better in every department

  • Absolutely correct – and the chances of England getting Jason Gillespie to rekindle the spirit between English cricket and the population are diminishing with the news that he is to take the helm of his native South Australia. At the moment, it’s only their T20 Big Bash side that he’s taking over, but he will no doubt be seriously considered for the Redbacks role as well.

    It was interesting that the Adelaide Advertiser said there was a chance that Gillespie WOULD be offered the England role should Peter Moores fall on his sword. Is that likely to happen? Can you imagine the incumbent coach giving up his role (and his ego) for the sake of the national team and the country?

    That’ll be a NO then!

  • The likes of McCullum and other star performers would not be welcome into the England side. We put much more important issues at the heart of our system.

    Right type of school, right type of family, is the captain sponsor friendly? Is he a decent nice man? is he good dinner companion? Does he swear alligence to the MCC? Does he stand to attention, and not look out of the window when Sir Flower of potty garden enters the room? Can you read a spread sheet? Are you a qualified surveyor who can measure ground dimensions and analyse data?

    These are the really important issues that the sages of the English cricket media/establishment are concerned with. Thanks so much Mr Selvey and Mr Hughes, Mr Downton you have done England proud.

    • That was meant to be me.

      And in other news, our great hero is out for 5. Never mind the might of the WI are just waiting to be put to the sword.

    • I know it’s been stated here before but … for however long it remains more acceptable to get out hanging one’s bat outside off than caught on the boundary (possibly in pursuit if a century) – that’s how long England will be unable to compete against the best, for anything more than the odd brief period.

      Can’t think of any teams, in cricket or beyond, that have dominated their sport with a conservative, attritional style.

      • That’s troubled me for a while. Bowler pitches wide of off stump and gets criticised by commentators as it’s an easy one to smack to the boundary. When it’s England and Sky commentators, it’s a ball that should be left alone. Different game?

    • NZ haven’t got everything right and it isn’t so long ago they were having the debacle of removing Ross Taylor as captain. The Taylor issue was similar to Cook in some ways in that NZ made their best batsman captain despite his personality not really suiting the role. There were two crucial differences with England:
      1) They accepted the error, acted quickly and got it over and done with rather than letting the issue fester.
      2) They had an outstanding alternative captain available in McCullum.
      3) Although Taylor was hurt and some in their camp are never going to be best buddies there was never any question that Taylor was going to be permanently left out.

      Also, some people have tried to draw a comparison between NZ leaving out Jesse Ryder and Pietersen. What Ryder has been accused of (and it’s very sad because he has a ton of talent) is way beyond anything Pietersen has done. There was absolutely no comparison.

      • A good point to make . The whole episode of making Taylor captain ahead of mccullum was ridiculous at the time . NZ cricket has had it’s problems at time.

        • Yes but to be fair Simon hit the nail on the head when he said they acted decisively a long time before the world cup. McCullum has been captain for two years, right? Was certainly captain when NZ toured here in May 2013.

          • Simon was sort of right in saying that they were decisive in fixing their stuff up over the captaincy, but its was a mistake that should never have been made in the first place. McCullum was the V-C to Vettori and Taylor was leap frogged ahead of him. Then if you can remember they tried to take the ODI captaincy off Taylor and give it to McCullum, Taylor responded by resigning as test captain and from the team as well. What a mess it all was. In the end McCullum and Taylor learnt to get along and it all worked out, but it was a bit of stuff on the part of the administrators

      • YOu mean not everyone in the team has to get on?? I’m sure the ECB say everyone must be mates, get on like a house on fire???? I can’t believe NZ are not listening to Downton, Clarke, Whittikar, Flower and Moores.. how can you doubt that talented bunch!!

        • Can you imagine just how good NZ would be if they were lucky enough to have Downton, Clarke, Whitaker, Flower and Moores admining them, and Cookie as Captain! :)

    • Well unless you are Cook of course. It appears that Cook can say whatever he likes about his team, his management and still the usual suspects say Cook is right man for job. Hypocrisy all round then? One rule for Cook and another for everyone else. Cook, it seems, doesn’t have to swear allegiance to anyone but just demands that everyone around him must swear undying loyalty to hm! What about the alleged demand by Cook that if KP is in team he will resign his captaincy? Not sure that this is true or just rumour, but I can see it being part of Cook’s demands. After all he believes in his own publicity from the usual suspects, who have managed to turn Cook into a Prima Donna! Cook will dump them all if it means he can curry favour with Graves. He has shown himself to be childish and immature. Not the sort of person to be leading England Cricket team.

  • Blackcaps have been ever improving over the last couple of years and now clearly have a number of standout players in not only this tournament, but across all forms of the game. Richly deserved. I thought they would go far and now for one real shot at glory.

  • So pleased for New Zealand. Cracking game and so close. The idea that our team has to meet the NZ team soon is not a prospect to which I look forward. Doesn’t bode well for England. http://www.standard.co.uk/sport/cricket/ecb-fear-england-captain-alastair-cook-will-quit-if-kevin-pietersen-returns-10129888.html
    The article in the is a good one but suggests that should KP return to the team Cook will resign captaincy. Not sure where he gets his information from, but given Cook’s rant last week really has caused feathers to be ruffled. Of course Cook’s crushing words about Morgan won’t help the situation.

    Blimey. It’s looking pretty awful for England this summer. Where’s the sofa we all need to hide behind. Better book me place!!!

      • An article in the guardian (I think) says Cook wasn’t impressed with how his words last week were interpreted. Erm, how else could they be interpreted? Seemed pretty clear what he was saying to me. The guy is incredible. So sensitive to criticism, even when merited.

        • Cook is not a natural speaker and puts his foot in it more often that not. Maybe he just expressed himself very badly. Like Graves said, he would be better served by concentrating on his cricket. He needs to get over himself or he will go no further. :-(

          • Spot on Jenny. I wonder why those in charge thought it was a good idea to appoint a captain who is poor with the media, doesn’t have a way with words, and often puts his foot in it? Bizarre.

            I think we all know the real reason.

        • Trouble is that all the usual suspects have been telling the world and his wife that there is only one person who can be Captain and building him up as some kind of Messiah of Cricket. He is completely out of touch with himself. So Cook can dish it out but cannot accept that it might come back the other way. Maybe I am selective with my memory but I do not remember Vaughan acting in this way. Doesn’t Cook see that if he carries on like this he won’t be in the team at all, let alone be Captain? Is he so full of himself that he thinks he is immune from being given his P45? The arrogance and hypocrisy from this man make me eyes twitch in disbelief. Cook needs to get on with batting well rather than kicking members of his team.

          • ALL this mouthing off and recent scores against yorks mean cook hasnt been using his time off well, cook the test batsman still has lot to offer if he does a bit of self analysis and let go of captaincy! Someone close to him have to give him a healthy dose of reality!

    • Annie, what you would be suggesting would be a double bonus in disguise – A man in the mould of Botham, Gower and Flintoff and can get “Bums on Seats” as it were and St Alistair flouncing off hand-in-hand with (hopefully) merchant banker Downton (inadvertent rhyming slang here) into the sunset!.

      Unlikely, but there’s hoping.

      And well done the Black Caps for a thrilling and well-deserved Final placing!

    • suggests that should KP return to the team Cook will resign captaincy

      Unkind souls might think win/win ….

  • ……….. and as all the excitement of New Zealand’s win and march to the World Cup Final we see a small, diminutive figure, dark of hair and square of jaw meandering about looking all forlorn, head down Alastair by name and cretin by nature, has successfully lead the MCC to their second defeat in a few days . it just can’t get any better …………

  • Sorry NZ to hijack your moment to grumble about England but that’s what we do.


    Anyone else just a little bit dismayed by this? Graves might – only might – be correct about the WI test team. But I think he’s done Phil Simmon’s pre-match team wind-up for him. I appreciate Graves isn’t in post for another month but why is he knocking the oppo before we’re even on the plane? Dangerous words. Is he setting up Cook for a fall? Don’t think so. Of Cook: “We have to make sure we protect him, look after him properly and let him concentrate on playing cricket”. He loves the precious little lamb as well, then.

    Those enquiries he’s threatening for a potential future event should have been under way already. We are C.R.A.P. and everyone on Earth with two brain cells rubbing together knows it. Why in the name of all that is decent and pure can’t these massively enumerated tools see it? How has no-one lost their job? They keep on peddling the touchy-feely BS about Cook when it’s plain to see he’s been a busted flush for yonks? Why do we have to keep on repeating ourselves?

    Anyway, well done NZ and – yes – SA. Great game. Looking forward to the highlights, coz it was awesome on the radio. Moving on, Graves on NZ: “I’d like to win the New Zealand series”. Heck, we’d like that to. It won’t happen. We will be lucky to get nil. They are at least equal in all departments, better in most. What’s more important, they’ve all got their heads right.

    Graves on the Ashes: “That is going to be a massive, tough series and it ain’t going to be easy”. Not quite correct, Colin – it’s going to be carnage, utter carnage. As I have suggested on the other cricket blog… at the Third Test on the Saturday, wear your best funeral outfit and not the usual fancy dress. If the weather holds we may well be saying goodbye to the Ashes that day.

    Made myself unhappy now. Gonna go eat some hummus, or summat.

    • got to say I agree with Graves. WI are a very very very poor side. Any test nation worth their salt would see this tour as a chance to win 3-0, win by a massive margine (say 200+ runs and maybe even by an innings every game) and for their bowlers to skittle the WI and their batsmen to avg 50+ with ease.

      Anything else and I’d say we have players who are living of reputation, past glories and basically aren’t good enough

  • We have to make sure we protect him, look after him properly and let him ‘concentrate on playing cricket’

    I believe that means he is going to loose captaincy sooner or later

    • I don’t subscribe to the popular view that Cook’s batting will automatically recover if he gives up the captaincy. His problems are technical not mental Imho.

      • cook has always had the problem the ‘full off side’ prob even when he was scoring tons of runs, so the only reason i can think is his mental approach to game causing the issue.

        • Nobody really targeted this area to the same extent as they have recently though. Word has now got out about Cook, and every attack is following the same blueprint. Cook is a very resilient character with great powers of concentration, so I really think his issues stem from technique not the pressure of captaincy. If he was getting out to stupid shots that aren’t typical of him, then I’d agree it’s mental burnout etc, but the repetitive nature of his dismissals suggests otherwise imho.

          The other thing to remember is that Cook has never really thrived against top class fast bowling. I looked into this in detail in my cult of Cook article, and only 3 of his 25(ish) test tons have come against attacks that included world class pacemen. One of these was at the Oval against Mohammad Amir in which he looked absolutely terrible and rode his luck to a huge extent. The only time he’s looked really comfortable was in Durban (2009?) in which he played superbly. However, the South African’s bowled a little short and certainly didn’t follow the Ryan Harris model that developed later.

          Just my inkling.

          • The other ton was in Perth I think, against McGrath, Warne etc in his very first Ashes series. This was his only real score in the series. He averaged less than 25 I recall and was generally sent packing.

            • when you put it like that ya he hasnt scored against the proven best in business, but what we know is captaincy certainly hasnt helped him/team in the least bit that he might as well give it a shot without it,hasnt gone great so far against yorks though.

          • Cook has a definite technical weakness which will be fully exploited this year, especially by the left-handers like Boult and Starc who swing the ball away from him. He doesnt drive on the off very well so these bowlers will pitch it up to him until he gets and edge. But most batsmen have some weakness that eventually gets found out at test level. Its actually quite amazing that the SA/Australian/Indian/NZ coaches and analysts took so long to discover Cook’s. But the best batsmen learn to adapt and survive when their weaknesses are discovered. Guys like Gooch worked on not getting trapped on the crease to inswinging yorkers and Steve Waugh gave up the hook shot for a bit. Graham Thorpe worked hard to learn how to effectively play Shane Warne’s swin whereas guys like Robin Smith and SA’s Cullinan were less successful. In Cook’s case he has to learn how to play the pitch up ball, on the off, that leaves him a bit. Either he does, survives and prospers or is finished as a test player.

          • That was indeed an acute analysis.
            But I am still getting the sense (which might or might not be confirmed by his next few innings) that Cook’s mental resilience has reached (temporarily or not) its limit.

            Whatever you think of him, and however much we might feel he has brought it on himself, it cannot be easy to deal with the increasing public opprobrium, particularly after he has spent so much of his career being lionised.

            Difficult not to let that affect your batting.

      • I agree with the others – his problems are as much confidence as technique now.

        The British public is rather unforgiving to sportspeople who fall from grace (though as we’ve seen with Pietersen, that can change), and currently Cook is coming in for some pretty harsh treatment.
        The comments under this Telegraph article on the MCC game are both devastating, and in places rather amusing:

      • You may well be right James. However I don’t think captaincy is helping him much. If it is just a case of technical problems then who has been giving him all these “technical” problems in the past two years? Who is responsible for not turning this around in the past 2 years? Even with a rest Cook still can’t buy a run. So management is failing yet again? Hmm

  • sorry for double post
    ‘If we draw 1-1, it’s acceptable, but if we end up losing it, again it would be very disappointing’

    but its clear that graves is setting benchmarks to achieve to stay in job for those involved and sort of feels he knows that these wont be possible

  • With the Windies the way they are right now, we SHOULD whitewash them 3-0.

    They have Chanders and Roach, but then we have Root and Anderson. Their pace attack is genuinely fast, unlike ours, but not as consistent.

    If Cook doesn’t get big runs in this series, I don’t think even Downton and Whitaker can keep him on. #crashandburn

  • Lyth
    Bell (c?)/Vince/Taylor
    Root (c?)
    Buttler (wk)
    Broad (c?)
    Anderson (c?)

    • On second thoughts, I’d add Trott to the squad as a back-up opener or no. 3, Panesar and Riley as back-up spinners and Willey (lfm) as a back-up seamer.

  • If Cook’s problems are technical now, they are going to become mental the longer he scores big fat zeroes. I don’t wish bad on him at all. Just can’t bear to see him in an England top any more.

    Swann is his latest cheerleader? I wouldn’t be trusting The Quitter. Who is he trying to impress/get a coin from by taking this position? Sorry to be so angry and blunt. But I’m now trusting nothing I read or hear from my favourite sport. Very sad.

    • I’m no wiser than anyone on this but I find it hard to understand why so few people are prepared to accept that due to his wonky elbow Swan could no longer bowl effectively.

      It seemed to me, by the way he was being spanked around, that he was no more than a liability to the team. More than one player has never been the same since surgery and this was his second op.
      I’m inclined to believe him.

  • Hi Jenny. I’m just following my instincts. I’m not calling him a fibber, and I’m not trying to influence anyone else’s opinion. But it’s all fantastic when you’re piddling on the Oval, and it’s Twitter this and that, and you’re doing the sprinkler. I imagine the elbow feels better than usual. When David Warner’s knocking you into next Christmas the elbow’s gonna be a bit more sore than usual. OK, understood. My grumble is with his departure – exit stage left, and in double time. He essentially jettisoned his team mates. That’s my gut feeling and I may well be wrong. He was a great spinner, but he jumped ship when things got a bit tasty. If he had doubts about his elbow he should have stayed at home whilst it was still nil-nil. For me, his ego took another player’s place. I don’t like that.

    All the best, MM.

    • Thanks for the spirited reply. He left in double quick time because Flower told him he could not stay another day. He was left stranded in Oz with his family. KP helped him out and got him a billet at athe Palm in Dubai to soften the repatriation process. Whenever he slags off KP I remember that.

      • Then I must stand/sit/type corrected, and I should apologise to Mr Swann for my assertion. But seriously, why didn’t anyone [apart from KP] stand up to Flower? If Team England was and is so toxic, why aren’t the players kicking out? If only to make things better for those who come after them. Cheers to you, jennyah46

        • why in life do very few ever actually stand up for what is right against the ‘bosses’?? because people fear for their jobs

          England cricketers is a gravy train.. who would risk losing that?? Only the mentally strong or those who can’t help but speak up. as we have seen though, what tends to happen is those people are sacked (or forced to resign eventually) and then people start to go ‘oh yeah, maybe he was right’

  • Evening guys and gals! Had interesting tweet session with the Analyst, Mr Simon Hughes. Interesting.

    I tweeted the article by Collomosso which I thought was a fair piece indeed. I must have rattled his cage somewhat – well you know what I am like. I thought I was being very polite. Still good on him for coming back and not blocking me as some are won’t to do. He did engage.

    Of course he ranted about how can KP come back into the team after slagging off MD, Coach & half the team. I said that isn’t that what Cook did last week and what Ravi and Gatting are doing in cricinfo piece (George Dobell). No answer to that one.

    Then Simon asked how can playing in Division 2 prepare a player to meet Johnson? So I said: Doesn’t Cook play in second division? He said: what is your point? Moi: No that is the point you made not me!

    XA: What does not playing for months and playing against Yorkshire do to prepare you and scoring 3 & 5.

    He has now gone very quiet. Probably off to read cricinfo.

    Still top prize for engaging I say. Unlike some of the usual suspects.


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