Blackcaps for Boxing Day

While the cricket World Cup is about to start, no doubt the administrators at Cricket Australia HQ are already contemplating their fixtures for the 2015/16 season. A big decision potentially needs to be made.

Next Summer sees New Zealand touring for three Tests in November/December and the West Indies here for three Tests in December/January according to the ICC Future Tour Programme. The Kiwis have agreed to play Australia in the inaugural Day/Night Test match, likely to be at Adelaide or Hobart.

The order of these series’ needs to be changed.  Frankly, the West Indies don’t deserve the prime Boxing Day and New Year’s Tests. Their best batsman will be 41 years old, their captain is a virtually unkown bowling all-rounder (can you name him??) and Chris Gayle is always only a 50% chance to turn up in between Twenty20 and social appearances. And what would the ramifications be if the players went on strike and went home without playing, like they did in India last year?

The Windies aren’t worth the risk. Make the move now and schedule them earlier. Make the Kiwis the main act. They could well be returning to Australia as reigning World Cup champions. The Day/Night Test could still be played. As the opening Test of the series. Surely in Adelaide, the South Australians would no doubt pack out the Adelaide Oval for the historic occasion. Followed by the MCG and SCG Tests. The Windies would still play in Brisbane, Perth and Hobart.

The Blackcaps have arguably their best team since the mid 1980’s. While the team superbly captained by Stephen Fleming in 2001/02 took it right up to Australia in the drawn series here, and  the Ross Taylor-led team won the second and final Test at Hobart in 2011 to draw the series one-all, this looks the best set New Zealand team to challenge Australia since the Hadlee/Crowe era. Their batting stars in Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum and Kane Williamson match up well against our Warner, Clarke and Smith. Young opener Tom Latham shows plenty of promise. Their young all-rounders Corey Anderson and Jimmy Neesham have both impressed at Test level. Watling has probably been the best performed wicket—keeper/batsman in Test cricket for the past 12 months. Mark Craig is a reliable, orthodox off-spinner who has had some outstanding performances at Test level. Very much like Nathan Lyon. And with Boult, Southee, Bracewell, Wagner and Milne, there is more depth in Kiwi fast bowling ranks than at most stages of their history.

This will be a marquee series that should be played at the marquee time. The decline of the West Indies is universally lamented and sadly there seems no light at the end of the tunnel. The Kiwis last played a Test at the MCG in 1987/88, when Mike Whitney famously blocked out an over from Richard Hadlee to draw the Test. They deserve the chance, particularly with the team they are putting out now, to play on Boxing Day at the ‘G once again. The only stumbling block may come in the form of a South Africa-like decision to keep Boxing Day for themselves to play at home. And given the recent resurgence in Test match crowds in the land of the long white cloud, especially in the Xmas holiday period, New Zealand may be reluctant to play in Australia at this time.

Let’s hope it happens. Both countries have everything to gain from a more higher profile Trans-Tasman series.

About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic. Twitter: @crackers134

Comments

  1. Crisp, tip top writing Luke. And I 1000% agree with you. The kiwis are fermenting into an impressive unit. What an exciting prospect they’d be on boxing day. Kills me that we’ll never see them or the boks in melbourne again for a Test again. Reckon we need to do something about it.

  2. Agree totally, Luke.
    I, for one, would look forward to an Aus v NZ Boxing Day.
    The lack of trans-Tasman cricket in recent years has been disappointing,
    and this would go some way toward to redressing that.

  3. Richard Hadlee always found another gear at the MCG when the familiar ‘one word, two syllable’ chant went up from Bay 13.

    We knew the Kiwi players almost as well as our own back in the 80s. It would be great to have that sort of rivalry again. Ripper idea.

  4. Mick Jeffrey says

    I thought the Windies skipper had a full book of rides at Morphettville on Boxing Day. Jason Holder (nickname Stubby) is a leading jockey in Adelaide as well as being Windies captain…..OK, maybe taking license here…….

  5. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    1987/88? That is a long time between drinks for the Kiwis. Fair call Luke,
    It saddens me that the Windies have fallen so badly in Test Cricket. Hope they can be competitive again soon as they have so much to offer the game through their history and culture. Cheers

  6. The last time the Kiwis played a Boxing Day test at the G was that enthralling encounter of 87-88, Tony Dodemaides debut and Mike Whitney’s recall.. What other Boxing Day tests did we play at the MCG? 1980-81, a draw on a poor pitch, the 73-74 encounter, i can’t recall if it was a Boxing Day start.

    Sadly the Windies are, and have been for nigh on 20 years, arabble. You start to wonder if they can maintain test status. Has a sporting team ever had a fall like this, from almost two decades of world domination, to two decades of being cellar dwellers, and stlil capable of falling further.

    In light of the fortunes of these two sides I say “Blackcaps for Boxing Day!”

    Glen!

  7. Mickey Randall says

    Good points Luke. Give it to NZ.

    I remember being saddened by the 5-0 spanking we gave the Windies on their last full tour to Australia in 2001. It was a mighty tumble and they’re still down there. Hard to see how they can get back up.

  8. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Totally agree Luke , but common sense re cricket administration cmon , Luke you are better than that !

  9. Steve Fahey says

    Great call Luke, the Kiwis have been red-hot for the past 12 months and deserve the big stage. I think you have also nailed the potential stumbling block. Let’s hope that it can be overcome, it should be a highly competitive series

  10. Luke

    Couldn’t agree more, this way we’ll likely get a full 5 days and big crowds against quality opposition.

    Kiwis with so many home games in this World Cup the definite smokey

    sean

  11. World Cup openers today. Can’t believe how excited I am as I don’t even like the 50 over stuff. Just goes to show what a difference meaningful tournaments make. And imagine if we could do this for Tests somehow? Wow, that would really be a shot in the arm for real cricket.

  12. Luke Reynolds says

    Thanks everyone for the comments. Would love to be seeing NZ at the ‘G but not holding my breath.

    Well played Mick, Jason Holder as West Indies skipper would stump most at a trivia night.

    Great start by the Kiwis in the World Cup this morning. T-Bone, the hype around the World Cup has been great. Been promoted very well. I’m pleasantly surprised today’s game between Australia and England at the ‘G has sold out.

  13. Great work Luke. Logically argued.
    By the by, I notice your man Ronchi is back in the mix!

  14. John Butler says

    What you propose make perfect sense in cricket terms Luke.

    This means it probably doesn’t stand a chance with the bean counters.

    Australian cricket has a long tradition of ignoring our Antipodean brothers. It couldn’t be that we’d resent their success, could it?

  15. Luke Reynolds says

    Thanks Damian, Ronchi has become a star for NZ in ODI’s the last 12 months. An innings of 170 against Sri Lanka a few weeks back was brutal, and wonderful to watch.

    John, it does makes sense. So no chance of happening. We do have a long, consistent history of ignoring the Kiwis when it comes to cricket. I’m happy to see them doing so well.

  16. Luke Reynolds says

    If we can’t get New Zealand, maybe Ireland for Boxing Day?

  17. Brad Carr says

    Luke, your comments are appropriate again today, with the Kiwis headed for the MCG for the WC final… And I noticed the mainstream media picked up on the same theme about a week or 2 after you had written it here (that’s the Almanac for you – thought leadership, the others follow…).

    The only reason for not having the Kiwis on Boxing Day would be the point you acknowledged about their own home season, but when the media ran the story, NZ Cricket seemed very keen to play Boxing Day at the MCG.

    A thought: do we have to host the same team for both Boxing Day and New Years? Couldn’t we have NZ come for a December series (say, Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne) and then they can be at home for the whole of January so they can host someone during their school holidays (which is only fair)… and then we could host the Windies in a January series (Sydney, Hobart, Adelaide – taking in New Year in Syd and Aust Day in Adel)

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