Temporary place to blog while I get the old one up and running...
Tuesday, 3 February 2009
New Zealand vs Australia - Perth - 1st ODI
Well, well, well... This will probably be the toughest blog I've had to write. Don't want to get carried away, but .... wow, that's a great feeling; beating the Australians in their own back yard. We arrived here to a newspaper headline, "Even This Useless Mob Think They Can Beat Us." Well, actually, yes we did think we could win, and mate, we did.
That is as good a feeling I have ever experienced in cricket. The elation in the changing room after Dan hit the last ball of the match through the field for the winning run was pure, an amazing feeling. That's the most 'man love' I have ever seen in a changing room. It was just one match in a series of five, but after a game that roller-coasted until the last ball, our loss to the PM's XI and in the heat and conditions that we played in, we were one very happy bunch of boys!
I was nervous, and excited, heading into this match. My last ODI, my first one, didn't go so good; six overs, 1 for 59 in two three-over spells. Not good enough, hence it was my one and only match before yesterday. We lost the toss and bowled first, we probably would have batter first too had Dan [Vettori] kept up his run with the tosses. It was hot, and humid. This was going to be hard work which was part of the reason we were keen to bat first so that we could bowl in the cooler conditions. I passed Shaun Tait as we were walking heading off from warm-ups, just after the toss, he was pretty pleased he didn't have to bowl first up in the heat, and I couldn't blame him. Our 'Dirtys' and management crew did a great job around the boundaries and onto the field with the drinks. The boundary riders got drinks handed to them from the other side of the rope and the inner-circle fielders got drinks run out to them at great pace so to not slow down the play by the 'Dirtys'. These small efforts often go unnoticed but can add so much to the team's performance.
[Kyle] Millsy and Timmy [Southee] started the innings off well with the ball; both had it swinging and gave the openers very little to hit. Warner had looked dangerous since his debut in the Twenty20 v the South Africa; we were certainly weary of his abilities and Shaun Marsh had looked pretty solid. To have them both out within the first nine overs was the best start we could have asked for. Then a piece of brilliance from Neil Broom in the outfield, an amazing throw to run Ponting out was all we could have asked for. And as if lightning doesn't strike twice, Guptill, with an equally great throw, ran Michael Clarke out as he too came back for the second. That's four down, the top four, and we couldn't be happier.
I had started my overs by now and had started pretty well. Two balls stood out in my first spell though, one that went screaming through the covers to the fence and then another that met the fence quickly at midwicket as I dropped too short, with not enough on it, to Clarke after bowling him a good bouncer. A couple of poor follow-up balls, which let the pressure off, frustrated me. Four-over spell to start with. Then I came back for a two-over blast and then finished up with four overs in a row at the end of the innings.
I have been bowling for Wellington in the batting Powerplay and have felt like I've done pretty well, I wanted to bowl in it for NZ too and I got my chance. My three last overs were in the Powerplay. Hussey and Hopes were in and it was time for them to take the attack to us. We had done quite a bit of scouting on both of these guys for this time of the innings so we had our plans pretty well-set. And it worked. I picked them both up in the first Powerplay over much to my, and our, relief. Both these boys are dangerous and by dismissing them pulled back the total that we would be chasing. Huss and Hopes were caught inside the ring, both mid-on and mid-off were up and that was the gamble, it worked. This Powerplay can work both ways, it's, obviously, a chance to score big runs, but for the fielding team it is a genuine opportunity to take wickets with the batsmen getting a touch more expansive.
We bowled pretty well at the death and Millsy picked up his fourth wicket of the innings, another fantastic performance from one of the world's best.
With 182 to win, it was the worst possible start we could have asked for. Baz [McCullum] was unlucky in the second ball of the innings after getting an inside edge into his pad to be given out lbw. Not much you can do about it. Then we lost Fults and Gup with the score on 25. Three for 25 and Australia have got the start they would need to halt us in our chase. It's not too often you see three slips in a one-day match but with Tait bowling fast and with a little bit of shape Australia had the lot in; attack and leave no questions unanswered.
We were a little nervous up in the shed; we knew it wasn't going to be the easiest chase on that deck. A 39-run partnership restored a little bit of composure to the scoreboard. Broomy and Rossco [Taylor] then put on 42 for the next wicket and we're looking good again, then Rossco and Millsy put on the best 62-run partnership I think I've ever seen and got us within 14 of the 182 we needed. It was here that things started to get a bit twitchy in the changing room. Rossco was dismissed with 12 runs left and 15 balls remaining; now it was going to be tight. I headed out the back of the viewing room to get padded up and ready for whatever scenario was going to be set for me.
Eight down, four runs needed, every chance that I was going to have to bat or at least get out there for a ball or two. I was really quite excited about it, actually looking forward to being out there when the winning runs were going to be scored, possibly having the chance to get them. It's a whole world away but I've had the chance for Wellington in similar situations to get out there and finish a game off with success so I was backing myself to be able to do whatever was asked, bat on ball and run as fast as I can!
I wasn't needed, Jeets, coolly scored two of the two balls he faced and Dan hit the last ball through the field for the remaining run to win. Hugs, cheers, high fives, you name it, we were enjoying it. What a feeling!
We stayed in the changing room till rather late on Sunday night, much to the displeasure of the security that had to stay at the ground till we left. Sorry guys, but we were having fun! We had a travel day yesterday, in Melbourne now preparing for the next match on Friday at the 'G'. I can't wait! Got a few friends to catch up with here, should be a good stay, I'm just hoping the temps stay down a bit!