Thursday 17 January 2013

Why I Love "The Boring Middle Overs"

Possibly not the most balanced field in an ODI.
In a couple of days, New Zealand and South Africa will play an ODI in Paarl.  And the press box will be almost empty.  There was close to 60 people in the press box just down the road at Newlands for the test match. Admittedly quite a few of them weren’t actually press, but just people who managed to get a pass in order to get a good seat some free food, and internet access to block up the lines for the people who actually needed it, but there were still a significant number of writers there, hunting out stories about the epic mismatch. In Paarl there is likely to be less than 10 actual journalists.

Part of that is because there is the African Cup of Nations on at the same time, and some of the newspapers and agencies only have so much budget to cover sport.  Paarl is a long way away from Potchefstroom and Kimberly, where the other two matches are.  A number of the writers are going to watch the first match on TV in Johannesburg and then drive to the other two matches. Others are not going to go to any of the matches, watching instead on television.

But as much as budget is a reason, so is the fact that most of them don’t actually like one-day cricket.  Some of them like tests and t20’s, some of them just like tests, and some of them don’t really like cricket at all, they just like how many stories there are in a cricket match.

I hear people saying things like “there’s those horrible overs between over 10 and over 40” and “it’s dreadful, killing the game.” Both of these sentiments make me wonder if they actually like cricket at all.  Because for me the middle overs of an ODI are almost as pure as cricket gets. When I said that to some South African cricket writers over dinner they looked at me as if I was crazy.  One of them actually suggested getting me professional help.  However, let me explain why I love the middle overs.

Part of it probably stems from growing up in New Zealand in the 80’s and 90’s.  The first cricket game I went to by myself was during the Cricket World Cup in 1992, where dibbly-dobbly bowling almost took New Zealand to the title. I also played as a spin bowler who often didn’t spin the ball much, and relied on variations in flight, pace and bounce to get wickets.  However I think my love of ODI cricket, and the middle overs in particular are more than just nostalgia.

Cricket is more than a simple bat and ball game that involves hitting a ball as far as you can.  The subtlety is what makes cricket a better game (in my opinion) than baseball, softball, rounders or any other similar game.  Cricket is, at its core, a game of risk vs reward decision-making. Most batsmen are capable of scoring at close to 2 runs a ball, for a while.  The problem is that when they try that it is very risky.  They tend to get out quite quickly if they aim to go at 2 a ball. So they find ways to reduce that risk. Instead of trying to hit the ball over mid off, they try and place it past him along the ground.  Instead of trying to hit the ball over the covers for 4, they push it down to third man for a single, or leave it alone.

A defensive shot is pure foolishness in baseball, it’s booed and jeered in kilikiti but it has merit in cricket. Even the most attacking players have a balance between attack and defence. But pure defence is only occasionally called for. Different game states call for different mindsets from the batsmen.  But not just the batsmen.  The bowlers and captains also have to make decisions about how attacking/defensively they play.

A out-swing bowler is most likely to get wickets if they bowl half volleys.  The only problem with this is that they are also likely to get hit for four if they do that.  There are times when they are prepared to roll the dice and try, but it’s risky.  So they weigh risk and reward, and tend to only bowl half volleys occasionally (or at least they intend not to bowl them). Likewise a spin bowler is more likely to take wickets with a slow, flighted delivery, that's full enough to bring a batsman forward, but short enough to turn.  However if he bowls that ball too often the batsman is likely to step out of his crease and deposit him over the straight boundary. Accordingly the spin bowler mixes up their flight, pace and line (and sometimes spin direction) to keep the batsman tied down.

A captain has a lot of options when it comes to setting a field, even within the ODI rules about field placement. There are 16 main zones where a batsman scores runs, and 9 fielders.  Accordingly the art to setting a defensive field is often damage limitation. However a good captain and bowler will work together to make sure the easiest runs have an element of danger to them. For example, a captain will set a deep point to an off-spinner, and leave a gap for a batsman to score a single there.  However to do that requires hitting against the spin, and if the ball bounces a little more, or turns a little more, there’s a chance that playing the ball out to that man will result in an edge.

Likewise a popular tactic is for a left arm spinner to come round the wicket and bowl on leg stump, with a field set in close on the off side, and (other than one player) deep on the leg side.  A batsman can score a single off most deliveries without much risk, but to try and score more is a significant risk. And if he misjudges slightly he is at risk of creating a run out, where the man at (normally) shortish mid-wicket can field the ball and throw down the stumps.  That has become a position for some of the best fielders in world cricket.  Previously the likes of Ponting, Rhodes and Harris fielded at backward point, now Guptill, Gibbs and Warner can often be seen in at shortish mid-wicket.

This balance, and battle of wits between batsman and fielders is most on display during the middle overs of an ODI.  There are what Gary Naylor of 99.94 and testmatchsofa brilliantly described as “agreed singles” where both teams are happy with a single off a delivery, and these can be frustrating, but not if you watch what the bowler is trying to do.  A bowler like Andrew Symonds or Chris Harris would often leave mid off back, apparently gifting the batsman an easy single, but then they would back themselves to save any ball hit there.  When watching this period I ask myself what the plan is to try and get a wicket without taking a risk. What is the shot that the captain is letting the batsman have, and what’s the risk for him in that?  These are the questions that make the middle overs enjoyable.

Sure there are less fours, sixes and wickets.  However there is still the battle of wits.  I’m not sure what the attraction is in watching big hit after big hit.  I prefer the balance between the mental and physical battle that only cricket really provides.  And, for me, there’s nowhere better for that than the “boring middle overs.”

Tuesday 15 January 2013

Answers from Port Elizabeth

Before the test I write a piece about the questions New Zealand was going to face in Port Elizabeth.  Here's the questions, and the answers to those questions:

General question 1: How do they recover from the psychological disaster of Newlands? 

Answer: Not very well. The team looked defeated quite quickly.

General question 2: How will the bowlers respond to a slower pitch with very little likely to be on offer?

Answer: Not too badly, but they were still outclassed. There was some swing on offer, and Boult, Bracewell and Munro all made the batsmen work hard at the crease.  Wagner and Patel had some good moments, but neither of them will look back on this test with fondness.

General question 3: Will the batsman do as badly against swing as they did against seam movement?

Answer: Not quite, but almost. BJ Wattling was the stand-out, but only really because he was the only one playing with soft hands.  As a result when he edged the ball it went into the ground, not to a fielder.

 Specific questions:
  • Can Guptill find a way to rotate the strike? 
No - his 48 included 10 fours.
  • Will McCullum bat as responsibly on a pitch that’s slower? 
Yes. He batted well until Petersen turned up both times.
  • Will Williamson, Flynn and/or Franklin find a way to score as well as occupying the crease? 
No. Flynn didn't even occupy the crease.
  • Will Brownlie adapt to a slower pitch, where he can’t use the pace of the ball as easily? 
He wasn't as commanding, but he still batted well in the second innings.
  • Will Wattling recover his form that he has previously shown on slow tracks? 
Yes. He scored 63 in both innings.  Clearly the batsman in the best form in the NZ team.
  • Will Bracewell find a way to get out the better batsmen without getting much assistance from the pitch? 
Yes - this was a real improvement by Bracewell. He bowled as well as I've seen him.
  • If he plays, will Patel find a way to take wickets as well as containing the batsmen? 
No to both.  He took 1 wicket in almost 37 overs  and went at more than 3.5 an over.
  • Will Trent Boult be able to bowl in his first spell as well as he bowled in his third spell at Newlands, and will he be able to dislodge the tail-enders as well as the quality batsmen? 
No. He created some chances that didn't get wickets (a dropped catch, and a catch that should have been referred) but he looked a lot more threatening in his 3rd spell than in his first again.
  • If Neil Wagner plays, does he have the weapons to dislodge quality batsmen who are not frightened by his pace?
He did manage to find the edge of Graeme Smith's bat a number of times, but he just wasn't consistent enough to really build pressure.  He is a capable bowler, but hasn't really shown it at test level yet.

Overall the New Zealanders failed to answer the questions that this test asked of them, and as a result were soundly beaten.

A New Structure for International First Class Cricket?

An empty stadium - what this aims to avoid
The mauling of New Zealand by South Africa led to some people questioning why these teams should even be playing each other. "Surely New Zealand are just so bad that they should be in a second division" was the cry.

I personally don't think that this has merit. This series was particularly one sided. But it wasn't much different to Australia vs India last year. Or New Zealand vs Zimbabwe, the first two matches of Australia vs Sri Lanka, etc.

It also was less than twelve months ago that the same teams played out a 1-0 series over 3 matches. New Zealand were a worse team, without Southee, Ryder, Taylor and Vettori, and South Africa were better, on the back of a tour to Australia, and in familiar conditions.

The nature of test cricket, however, is that when teams are mismatched across the park, that the game can blow out quickly. Accordingly it is sensible to want teams to only play other teams of a similar ability.

It also seems ridiculous that the Kenyan team of the early 2000's never got to play a test, and yet the Zimbabwe team (who were vastly inferior) did. The path into test cricket is a political one, not a cricketing one, and that seems wrong.

However, there is a history to test cricket that is worth preserving. Records, like Don Bradman's 99.94 or Barnes' 49 wickets in a series, are part of the folklore of cricket, and while Barnes' record was against a particularly poor South African side, it is still more meaningful than if Ili Tugaga was to take 51 wickets in a 6 match series between Samoa and New Caledonia.

I've been thinking about this for a while, and I think have a possible solution that preserves the integrity of test matches, while allowing a path through for lower teams.

Firstly the top 16 teams in the world should broken up into divisions of 4 teams. However these should not be exclusive divisions. Test cricket should also be run on a 4 yearly basis. The first 3 years being the league phase and then the 4th year the championship year.

Teams in the top division would play a 5 match home and away series against each other every 3 years. This means one home series and one away series against a top opposition every year. They would also play 4 cross-over series against a second division team. These should be 3 match series, played either at home or away.

Teams in the second division would play a 4 match home and away series against each other every 3 years, as well as the 3 match cross over series against the top teams and also 2 match cross over series against the next tier of teams. These would all be considered test matches.

The third division teams would only have their matches against second division teams count as test matches. They would also play a 3 first class match series, home and away, against teams in their division, and also a 2 match first class series against teams from division 4.

Division 4 teams would play home and away series of first class matches against each other, the cross-over matches against division 3 teams and then also play matches against teams in their continental region.

This means that the major series (Ashes, Frank Worrell, D'Olivera etc) would still happen, but they would be every 4 years if there is a large difference between the team's playing abilities or twice every 4 years if the teams are both in the same division.

Here are some possible schedules for England, India and Afghanistan based on the current rankings on Idle Summers, (who I feel does a better job of test rankings than anyone else).

Year 1

England would tour South Africa for the D'Olivera Trophy (5 matches) and Sri Lanka (3 matches), and receive a visit from Australia for the Ashes (5 matches). They would end up playing 13 matches that year.

India would tour West Indies (4 matches) and Bangladesh (2 matches), and host New Zealand (4 matches) and South Africa (3 matches). A total of 13 matches in the year.

Afghanistan would tour Ireland (3 fc matches) and UAE (2 fc matches) and receive visits from New Zealand (2 tests) Bangladesh (2 tests) and Scotland (3 fc matches). They would play 4 tests and 8 first class matches.

Year 2

England would tour Pakistan and Australia (5 matches each) and host India and the West Indies for 3 matches each. They would play 16 matches that year

India would have a busy year, touring England (3 tests) and Sri Lanka (4 tests) and hosting West Indies (4 tests), Australia (3 tests) and Zimbabwe (2 tests). 16 matches in the year.

Afghanistan would tour West Indies for two tests, Bangladesh for 3 first class matches and Namibia for 2 first class matches. They would host Zimbabwe for 3 first class matches. 2 tests and 8 first class matches in the year.

Year 3

England would host Pakistan and South Africa for 5 tests each, and travel to New Zealand for 3 tests.

India would tour New Zealand (4 tests), Pakistan (3 tests) and Afghanistan (2 tests), and host Sri Lanka for 4 tests and Ireland for two. They would play a total of 15 tests in the year.

Afghanistan would host Ireland for 3 first class matches, Kenya for 2 first class matches and India for 2 tests. They would tour Zimbabwe (3 fc matches) and Sri Lanka (2 tests).

There may have to be games played outside of countries for matches that they are hosting. For example, teams may be unwilling to travel to Pakistan and Afghanistan due to safety concerns, so those matches might be scheduled in the UAE for Pakistan and Bangladesh for Afghanistan (for example). Matches that are unable to take place due to political reasons (ie if Fiji made the grade, NZ currently has a sporting boycott on matches in Fiji, and on Fijian sportsmen who have relatives in the military regime.) either a compromise could be worked out or the teams could split the points.

At the end of the cycle the top team in each division would be promoted, the bottom team relegated. The winner of the inter-continental cup would be promoted to division 4 in place of the team that was at the bottom of that division. The only exception would be that the winner of the world test championship would always be given a spot in the top 4, so if a team from outside there made it in, every other team would move down one position.

The ICC would have to fund teams in division 3, paying a proportion of their costs, and completely fund teams in division 4 for travel and accommodation. Television rights would cover the costs of teams in the top 2 divisions without any assistance.

While this format wouldn't eradicate sides getting destroyed, it might mean that it happens less often, and we would get more high quality cricket between those matches. It would also mean that there would be a level playing field for every team, and every player to succeed.

Monday 14 January 2013

Form is temporary?

Faf du Plessis
“Form is temporary, class is permanent.” It’s a cliché that is fairly frequently repeated. But can we measure form.  But can we measure form, and are some players more prone to big swings in form than others?  In the press conference after day 2, Faf du Plessis said

“It’s nice to average 110. But I understand it’s a good time for me and I need to score as many runs as I can because there’s going to come a time when you don’t score as many runs.  I’m in a little bit of good form and just have to make the most of it.”

It made me wonder if du Plessis was actually a player who had been prone to streaks of form.

To do this I had to find a method that would differentiate between a player being streaky and a player being inconsistent. 
An inconsistent player might have scored: 108, 41, 8, 0, 29*, 37, 6, 114*, 5, 4, 102.   
Whereas for a streaky player that might have read:  6, 0, 37, 108, 41, 102, 29*, 114*, 5, 4, 8.  
One of them has had a hot patch, while the other one has just occasionally scored runs.

In order to test for this I looked at the 15 innings rolling average, and compared it to the cumulative career average.  (both of these terms are explained in the glossary) I found the difference between these two averages at every point in a career where they both existed and then averaged this out.

What this gave me was how far away (either above or below) from the career average a players recent average was. This then gave me a number to describe how streaky a player was.  The difficulty then was knowing how to interpret this number.  Players who tended to get a larger variation in scores would get a higher average difference than a player who was equally streaky, but much more consistent.

As a result I then found what that number was for 1000 random arrangements of the batsman’s innings, and how the average difference compared to those.  This allowed me to accurately look at a player’s streakiness.

I decided to look at first class innings, as du Plessis hasn’t played sufficient tests to be able to tell anything yet.  Also there is a purity to first class results that comes from the similarity of situations that a batsman find themselves in.  In limited overs cricket, there are often times where the requirements of a batsman are significantly different, while in first class cricket it’s rarely a bad idea to just score as many runs as possible, at whatever pace suits the player.

I wanted to have some players to compare him to, so I asked some of the South African journalists in the box who they felt was a streaky player.  The first suggestion was Morne van Wyk. A suggestion of another inconsistent player was Neil McKenzie.  I also wanted to look at a particularly consistent player, so I chose Stephen Fleming. The first thing that I did was to look at their 15 innings averages.  I also looked at 7 innings averages, but they seemed too random to be useful. Here are some graphs of each players 15 innings averages and cumulative averages:

We can see that Faf has had a remarkable run recently, and also why I was suggested to look at Morne Van Wyk. He went on some remarkable streaks of both good form and terrible form.

While McKenzie was obviously inconsistent, there weren't many extended patches of good or poor form.  Instead it looked like he was just an inconsistent batsman.
Fleming was remarkably consistent at the start of his career.  He was described as someone who averaged 40 by regularly scoring 40.  Later on in his career he started getting more big scores, but generally he remained a batsman who was fairly consistent.

We can also look at their consistency by looking at their 15-innings averages in a box and whisker graph.

We can see here that du Plessis has the largest range, by quite a margin, but that Morne van Wyk has a significantly larger interquartile range.  

After applying the randomisation technique, there are a couple of interesting results. The randomised results all came out with a very close approximation to a normal curve, so I’ve used mean and standard deviation to find the probability of a batsman being prone to high swings of form. A player who is always on a streak will have a value of 1, while a player who is completely consistent will have a value of 0.  Here are the 4 batsmen that we have the graphs of.

Stephen Fleming0.135
Neil McKenzie0.136
Morne van Wyk0.984
Faf du Plessis0.783

However, if we remove the start of du Plessis’ good run of form and re do the analysis, it comes out completely differently: 0.212  

In other words du Plessis was a quite consistent player until he started on his incredible run where he has averaged over 99 for the past 17 innings. It might be that he is finally having a hot spell, or it might be that he has actually just got a lot better.  This might actually be part of a new, consistently good career.

It will be interesting to find out. I hope for his sake that any time where he doesn’t score as many runs will be shorter than the times he spends at the top.

The right attitude

Brett Lee bowling against Australia. Photo courtesy Rikx
When Bill Lawry asked Adam Parore prior to the 2001/2 New Zealand tour of Australia if he wanted to be like Ian Healy, he was astounded by the response. Parore replied that while he wanted to do the same role, he felt that he was better than Healy already, and why would he only want to have his results. Lawry, who has a reputation for his love of all Australian cricketers, commented positively about Parore's confidence.

In that same tour Stephen Fleming was asked by a member of the Australian press if he was hoping to try to get close to the Australian team. His reply was that he was aiming for a 3-0 series win.

In the end the series was drawn 0-0 with Australia narrowly avoiding a loss in two matches and New Zealand batting for half an hour with the final two at the wicket in the other match.

Coming into the first match New Zealand were in tatters. They had struggled against some state second XI's and there were serious doubts about the solidity of the top order. Their bowling attack was described as shaky and pop-gun. The first test initially didn't do much to allay those concerns. O'Connor limped out after 17 overs with figures of 0/67, Nash picked up 0/93 and the only bright spark was Cairns, who's 5 wickets cost 146.

Australia posted 486, kept in check largely through the contribution of medium pace part-timers Astle and McMillan. In the next innings New Zealand were quickly reduced to 55/4. But they didn't give in, and despite struggling to avoid the follow on, declared at 287/8. Australia scored some quick runs and left New Zealand a target of 284 in 57 overs.

The game ended with New Zealand only 10 runs short with 4 wickets in hand and Lee and McGrath bowling as wide as they could get away with in order to prevent New Zealand being able to score the runs.

In that series, the lowly ranked and unfancied kiwis went in with an attitude that didn't care about the rankings or reputations, but instead believed in their own ability, despite all the evidence to the contrary. The result was a team that almost beat one of the greatest teams of all time in a great 3 match series.

Unfortunately in this tour, where a lowly ranked and unfancied kiwi side also take on one of the greatest teams of all time, the New Zealand team have said things like "we're ranked 8th for a reason" and "We've just got to make sure we get better and compete for longer in this series." The aim and expectation was to compete, not to win.

Regardless of the lack of quality of a team, and the ability of their opposition, every team should approach every match with an expectation of winning the match, and a plan as to how they are going to do it. That, and only that, is the right attitude to play cricket with.

Saturday 12 January 2013

A Risk Analysis of David Warner's Running Between Wickets

David Warner - photo courtesy of Flickr user Paddynapper
I enjoy watching David Warner bat. I think he approaches the game in the right way: when he's batting, he tries to score runs. He is famous for his big hits, and his unorthodox shots, but I think that an under-rated part of his game is his ability to find runs in the field.

He has a phenomenally high activity rate in test matches. (for a description of activity rate, click here) The rest of the opening batsmen in the world have a collective activity rate of 0.248 over the past 2 years. Warner has an activity rate of 0.381.

This means that he is effectively about 54% better than the average opener at finding runs in the field. This is a massive difference.

However it seems to have come at a cost. In recent matches he has been run out, and has also been involved in a run out for his partner.

It's difficult to quantify the effects of a run out. They are often worth more than a normal wicket, because they come against the normal run of play. I wrote an article about this last July in relation to One Day Internationals.

Warner has run 488 runs, with one run out (to him). The rest of the test openers in the same period have run 8808 runs with 13 run outs, or 677.5 runs per run out. (I only look at run outs for the batsman, rather than their partners, as it avoids double ups. To make the comparison fair I had to do the same with Warner.) On the face of it, it seems that Warner's approach is too risky. However there is another way to look at it.

A batsman gets out eventually, and they have a number of balls to use to score runs between dismissals. A run out is different from other dismissals in that it's not really related to the skill at hitting the ball. As a result a simple batting average isn't the best way to assess it. Instead we need to look at how a batsman uses both the resources that they have, namely their wicket and their deliveries between getting out in some other method.

The average opening innings lasts 68.7 balls, and includes slightly under 16 run runs. Warner only lasts 59.2 balls on average, but includes just over 20 run runs.

If we assume that if Warner had run between wickets like the other openers that he would not have been run out, then we can look at what his average would have been if he had been more careful with his running. Instead of 20.33 runs per innings from running, he would have got 13.24 runs per innings. He would have scored 170 less runs in his career to date. (892 rather than 1062) Also, instead of 24 dismissals, he would have only been out 23 times.

If everything else was the same, except for the running, and we assume that his innings where he was run out was a not out, his average would have dropped from the current 44.50 to 38.78.

While his running may seem risky, it is actually a big part of why he has made such a successful start to his career. As he is taking his running to the next level, his entire game is improving with it.

Friday 11 January 2013

Mini-session Analysis 2nd Test South Africa New Zealand, St George's Park, Port Elizabeth

Here is the final mini-session analysis for the second test between South Africa and New Zealand at St George's Park, Port Elizabeth

A mini-session is (normally) half a session, either between the start of the session and the drinks break or the drinks break and the end of the session. Occasionally a long session will have 3 mini-sessions where it will be broken up with 2 drinks breaks.

1-1aSouth Africa 42/1 off 14Draw
1-1bSouth Africa 57/0 off 13South Africa
1-2aSouth Africa 53/2 off 13New Zealand
1-2bSouth Africa 39/0 off 14South Africa
1-3aSouth Africa 67/1 off 19South Africa
1-3bSouth Africa 67/0 off 17South Africa
2-1aSouth Africa 27/1 off 14New Zealand
2-1bSouth Africa 38/0 off 15South Africa
2-2aSouth Africa 62/0 off 15South Africa
2-2bSouth Africa 53/2 off 14Draw
2-3aSouth Africa 23/1 off 5.5South Africa
New Zealand 19/2 off 12
2-3bNew Zealand 28/4 off 12South Africa
3-1aNew Zealand 15/3 off 12.2South Africa
3-1bNew Zealand 59/1 off 8.2New Zealand
3-1cNew Zealand 3/0 off 4n/a
3-2aNew Zealand 37/0 off 15New Zealand
3-2bNew Zealand 24/2 off 13South Africa
3-3aNew Zealand 58/2 off 19South Africa
3-3bNew Zealand 35/0 off 16New Zealand
4-1aNew Zealand 46/2 off 14.5South Africa
4-1bNew Zealand 8/4 off 4.5South Africa

Last update, click here
South Africa win the match by an innings and 193 runs, and the mini-session count 13 - 5

First drinks, Day 1: The mini-session count is tied up, 0-0

The first session came to life in the 4th over when first Doug Bracewell hit Graeme Smith in the head with a sharp bouncer, and then trapped him in front in what looked like a very good shout for lbw. The New Zealanders didn't review, and while Hawkeye suggested he would have been out, there was a hint of a no ball on the replay. It was another Bracewell bouncer, 6 overs later, that brought about the dismissal, with Alviro Petersen picking out Jeetan Patel on the fine leg boundary with a top edged hook shot. Neither side will be particularly disappointed with the start, although New Zealand will probably be slightly more pleased. - Mykuhl

Lunch, Day 1: South Africa lead the mini-session count 1-0

A good second hour for South Africa. They scored quite quickly, and rode their luck well. Wagner and Boult managed to get some edges, but all either fell short or went wide of the slips. South Africa are now in the lead in this match. - Mykuhl

Middle drinks, Day 1: The mini-session count is tied up, 1-1

A much better hour for New Zealand. Smith was strangled down the leg side off Wagner, after a good battle between the two players. Not long later Kallis bottom edged one from Bracewell to Watling and New Zealand were on top. At the other end, Amla is going like a runaway train, timing the ball with the sort of ease that we've become accustomed to from him. - Mykuhl

Tea, Day 1: South Africa lead the mini-session count 2-1

The key moment in that hour was in the first over after drinks when Hashim Amla was dropped by Kane Williamson off Boult. From that point on, the rest of the hour was all South Africa. The only real bright spots for New Zealand were the way that Patel and Munro managed to contain the batsmen from one end. However, containment is not really what New Zealand need today. - Mykuhl

Final drinks, Day 1: South Africa lead the mini-session count 3-1

Today has so far been like the last two days of the first test. New Zealand have been competitive, but South Africa have just been a bit better. - Mykuhl

Stumps, Day 1: South Africa lead the mini-session count 4-1

Fantastic last hour by South Africa. They not only survived the new ball, but they dominated it. The most threatening bowler in this mini-session was probably Jeetan Patel. Amla brought up his 4th hundred against New Zealand, his 19th overall. At the other end Faf du Plessis continued his Bradmanesque start to his career, at this point his average is 125.67. New Zealand have been out-played today, and will really need to find something tomorrow to get back into this match. - Mykuhl

First drinks, Day 2: South Africa lead the mini-session count 4-2

A fantastic start to the day from New Zealand. They took 1 for 11 off the first 11 overs, and the wicket was a big one too, Hashim Amla. The fielding was really sharp, and every player looked like they were fully focused. It was ironic that the wicket was probably to one of the worst balls Boult has bowled this match, a wide ball down legside that Amla did well to get a touch on. - Mykuhl

Lunch, Day 2: South Africa lead the mini-session count 5-2

That was South Africa's hour, but not by much. New Zealand certainly applied a lot more pressure this morning than they did yesterday. This has been a good couple of hours of test cricket. - Mykuhl

Middle drinks, Day 2: South Africa lead the mini-session count 6-2

All the good work that New Zealand did in the first 11 overs has been completely undone since then. 116 runs for no wicket in 33 overs. The change in fortunes has somewhat coincided with the almost complete absence of Boult and Bracewell, with Bracewell only bowling 3 overs since the 104th and Boult not bowling a single one. Patel has looked short on ideas, and Wagner unable to bowl consistently enough to build pressure. Du Plessis and Elgar have generally looked untroubled. Du Plessis in particular has been very good at taking balls from outside off and hitting a single through the leg side with them. - Mykuhl

Tea, Day 2: South Africa lead the mini-session count 6-2

A couple of wickets from Munro, but really South Africa spent the last 30 minutes building for a declaration. New Zealand managed to delay that declaration by denying Elgar his century. However he is on 91, and so there's a chance that he will be complete it fairly soon after tea if South Africa decide to bat on. - Mykuhl

Final drinks, Day 2: South Africa lead the mini-session count 7-2

A great hour for South Africa. We first had to wait almost 6 overs for Dean Elgar to get his hundred.

Then it was New Zealand's time to bat. While the New Zealand bowlers went past the edge a number of times this morning, the New Zealand batsmen have so far only played and missed two deliveries. The ability to only move the ball a little bit is something that the South African bowlers have mastered.

A noticeable difference between the two teams is the noise their defensive shots make. The South African batsmen's defensive shots were almost inaudible, while there is a distinct crack often even when the New Zealand batsmen are defending. John R. Reid talked about how the biggest lesson he learned from touring South Africa was the need to play with soft hands. It seems like there are some other New Zealand players who also need to learn that lesson. - Mykuhl

Stumps, Day 2: South Africa lead the mini-session count 8-2

Another hour that I didn't really need a formula to decide who had won. South Africa are dominating this match. Colin Munro's debut was looking good when he picked up two wickets. It was soured somewhat by him coming in to bat at number 7 after only 97 minutes. It got worse a ball later when he departed for a golden duck. The only consolation for New Zealand would be that they passed 45. - Mykuhl

First drinks, Day 3: South Africa lead the mini-session count 9-2

After some early resistance from Bracewell and Wattling the slide continued. Jeetan Patel looked better briefly in this match than he did in the last one. However he then backed away and swung, and was bowled. I predicted that New Zealand would be bowed out before lunch. I may have been a bit optimistic. - Myluhl

Change of Innings, Day 3: South Africa lead the mini-session count 9-3

An outstanding final stand from Watling and Boult. Watling looked like he was batting on a different pitch to everyone else. His 63 was more than the rest of the batsmen combined. - Mykuhl

Lunch, Day 3: South Africa lead the mini-session count 9-3

New Zealand survived the tricky little period. Now they will need to survive some tricky long periods. There is as little chance of South Africa losing this as there is of a Shetland pony winning the Melbourne Cup. - Mykuhl

Middle drinks, Day 3: South Africa lead the mini-session count 9-4

In terms of time, this is the longest opening stand for New Zealand in this series. There was a close call for leg-before which was given not out and which South Africa referred upstairs, but the decision was umpire's call and Guptill got a second life. Robin Peterson has had a quick crack, but nothing threatening. With a wearing pitch, though, he might be a handful as the day drags on - Ant

Tea, Day 3: South Africa lead the mini-session count 10-4

Straight after drinks, Peterson managed to get another one to defeat McCullum by not turning. He's now been dismissed by a left-arm spin bowler in 6 of his last 8 innings. The most ominous sight for New Zealand, however was probably a ball 20 minutes before tea from Steyn that kept very low off a good length. It was a ball that pitched in a similar spot and also kept low that did for Kane Williamson. Although it wasn't only the pitch that contributed to that dismissal as Peterson beat him in flight by getting Williamson to play off the back foot when he really should have been coming forward. If the pitch is going to play tricks like that on day 3, it might be unplayable tomorrow. - Mykuhl

Final drinks, Day 3: South Africa lead the mini-session count 11-4

New Zealand held out well there, except for the first over from Kleinveldt where he removed first Guptill then Flynn next ball. Watling showed again the benefit of defending with soft hands, twice edging the ball but it falling well short both times. An interesting feature of that hour was the hesitancy of the New Zealand batsmen to rotate the strike. They were just waiting for the bad balls, then trying to hit them for four. They hit a total of 8 singles in 19 overs, and often off consecutive deliveries, meaning that that the majority of the time each batsman was facing one bowler. - Mykuhl

Stumps, Day 3: South Africa lead the mini-session count 11-5

A good hour for New Zealand, Brownlie and Watling looking reasonably solid. Once the ball got to about 50 overs old the bowling looked less threatening. Steyn still managed to get a couple to bounce, but not many deliveries really troubled the batsmen. South Africa are still well in control, and the question is realistically when they will wrap it up, not if. BJ Wattling was the star of the day for New Zealand, batting almost the whole day and scoring 89 runs. He will need to do similarly tomorrow and the next day for New Zealand to save this match. - Mykuhl

First drinks, Day 4: South Africa lead the mini-session count 12-5

South Africa did exactly what they said they wanted to do in the press conference last night: take one wicket before the new ball, then pick up the last batsman soon after taking the new ball. These sides are playing at completely different levels at present. - Mykuhl

End of Match, Day 4: South Africa win the match by an innings and 193 runs, and the mini-session count 13-5

In the end it was all very quick. The New Zealand bowlers were not equipped to deal with the might of Steyn and Morkel with a new ball in their hands. Steyn was irresistible in this match, as match figures of 8/65 indicate. South Africa won the match convincingly because they bowled and batted significantly better than New Zealand. The only area where there was anything close to equality between the two sides was the fielding. - Mykuhl

CricketGeek Player Profiles: Colin Munro

Colin Munro is a left handed batsman and right-arm medium pace bowler from Auckland. He was born in Durban, South Africa, but moved to New Zealand as a teenager. His brother played youth cricket with Hashim Amla, but it wasn't until he came to New Zealand that Colin started to make a name for himself as a cricketer.

He played 5 matches for the New Zealand under 19 team, and then was picked in the Auckland team as a specialist bowler, batting at number 11. He has a strange delivery stride with his bowling, that causes the ball to skid onto the batsmen somewhat. As a result he has been an effective holding bowler, doing jobs like bowling into the wind, keeping things tight at the other end to a spin bowler, and seeing in the new ball.

Due to his aggressive batting style, and defensive bowling, he was typecast as a limited overs player, and he was worried that he had been pigeon-holed, and wouldn't play any first class cricket. He didn't play a single first class match between November 2010 and February 2012, and was stuck with a record of having played 6 first class matches, with a highest score of 37 and an average of 14.29.

However during this time he did start to score in the t20 and list A matches for Auckland, playing 18 t20 innings at an average of 30, and 18 list A innings at an average of 38.4. As a result the Auckland coach decided to give him another try in the first class team and he did not disappoint.

He hit a hundred in his first match back, and has averaged 77.54 in his 10 matches since his comeback as a batsman, with 4 hundreds and 4 fifties in 14 innings. The highlight of that time was a sensational 269* off 252 balls against Wellington, with an attack featuring 3 international bowlers.

Due to an injury to James Franklin, he's been picked to play in the 2nd test between South Africa and New Zealand at St George's Park in Port Elizabeth. It will be interesting to see if he can translate his domestic form to the international game.

Thursday 10 January 2013

Questions for New Zealand in Port Elizabeth

A view of Port Elizabeth from Summerstrand beach
Heading into the second test the Black Caps need to take a leaf out of Graeme Smith’s book.

In the press conference after the first match, he was asked about the mental toughness of the South African team. He commented that they had come though the hard times, and built up resilience. It was through the hard times that learned how to take advantage of opportunities when they arose.

Their win in Perth was, in some ways, made possible because of the hard times in Brisbane and Adelaide. But it was also possible because the players had built up a large reserve of experience of finding a way to hold on through the hard times.

In the first test New Zealand were put through some tough times but were found wanting. They were asked questions that they had no answers to.

The first question was asked by Vernon Philander, who bowled a sensational spell. Some of the deliveries that the batsmen got from him were almost unplayable. However they were unplayable largely because the batsmen were neither forward nor back and as a result allowed him to bowl to them. This might have been understandable if they had learned to play their cricket in somewhere like India, where playing on a green wicket is foreign, but these players have almost all grown up in New Zealand, where playing on a pre-Christmas wicket is something that most batsmen have to do every year.

The second question was caused by the bounce. When James Franklin managed to hit Alviro Petersen on the hand with one that got up it was clear that this was a particularly bouncy pitch. It was even more evident when Steyn and Morkel were putting the ball up at rib height for the New Zealand tail-enders. Most of the New Zealand batsmen didn’t get the opportunity to answer that question in the first innings, but in the second innings it was asked again, and they were generally found wanting again. While they managed to not get out to too many short balls they struggled to score and generally survived more by good fortune than good management.

The third question was how they would reply to being put under so much pressure from the scoreboard. When Doug Bracewell picked up Graeme Smith in the second over, it looked like they were going to respond well, but after lunch they looked like a defeated team. While that was understandable in one respect, the South Africans still needed to bat on the pitch, and gifting them easy runs through poor fielding and loose bowling was not the correct response. There was sufficient life in the pitch that good bowling and fielding would have caused problems for the South African batsmen.

The fourth question was would they learn from the first innings. The answer to that was somewhat equivocal. The batsmen used the crease well against Philander. Guptill tried to turn the strike over by hitting the ball squarer, playing the right shot to the right ball, but just executing incorrectly. However most of the batsmen struggled to score off the back foot. Wattling, Flynn and Franklin all showed admirable patience, but failed to take advantage of a number of scoring opportunities, and so allowed the bowlers to implement plans.

The second test is at St Georges Park a ground that has traditionally been a lot slower and does a lot less off the seam than Newlands but it also traditionally swings more. So now some new questions await the New Zealand team. How do they recover from the psychological disaster of Newlands? How will the bowlers respond to a slower pitch with very little likely to be on offer? Will the batsman do as badly against swing as they did against seam movement?

There are also more specific questions:

  • Can Guptill find a way to rotate the strike?
  • Will McCullum bat as responsibly on a pitch that’s slower?
  • Will Williamson, Flynn and/or Franklin find a way to score as well as occupying the crease?
  • Will Brownlie adapt to a slower pitch, where he can’t use the pace of the ball as easily?
  • Will Wattling recover his form that he has previously shown on slow tracks?
  • Will Bracewell find a way to get out the better batsmen without getting much assistance from the pitch?
  • If he plays, will Patel find a way to take wickets as well as containing the batsmen?
  • If Bruce Martin plays instead, will he be able to cut out the one bad ball an over that he tends to bowl?
  • Will Trent Boult be able to bowl in his first spell as well as he bowled in his third spell at Newlands, and will he be able to dislodge the tail-enders as well as the quality batsmen?
  • If Chris Martin plays, will he be able to find the length again that has given him so much success against left-handers in the past?
  • If Neil Wagner plays, does he have the weapons to dislodge quality batsmen who are not frightened by his pace?
  • If Mitchell McClenaghan plays can he bowl with pace and accuracy for more than 3 or 4 overs?

The New Zealand team certainly went through tough times in Newlands. They now need to show that they have learned from that, and can answer the new questions that this match will ask. Until the Black Caps get on the pitch it’s hard to know what answers they have, and if those answers are going to be sufficient.

A look at the St George's Park match

The second match between New Zealand and South Africa is at St George's Park in Port Elizabeth. I thought it would be interesting to have a look at some of the statistics at this ground, and see if we can use it to make some predictions about the up-coming match.

The first thing I looked at was the players who had succeeded at this ground recently. No test cricket has been played here in the past 5 years, so I had to look back a bit further. I found the top 15 run scorers at the ground, and then looked at the ground-by-ground averages of those players, to see which grounds they scored similarly well at. The grounds that came out the same were: Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka; Eden Gardens, Kolkata; Chepauk, Chennai; Basin Reserve, Wellington; McLean Park, Napier; Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore; Antigua Recreation Ground, St John's, Antigua; Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, North Sound, Antigua.

Interestingly there were two grounds in New Zealand but none in South Africa

So I then looked at the averages of the New Zealand and South African batsmen at those grounds.

AN Petersen (SA) 231679
HM Amla (SA) 559374.12
BJ Watling (NZ) 321371
RJ Peterson (SA) 16161
GC Smith (SA) 983655.73
JH Kallis (SA) 965543.66
BB McCullum (NZ) 21131941.21

This ground may well be more to New Zealand's liking than Newlands (just as Hobart and P.Sara were in the last 14 months)

Adding to this is that it is a coastal ground, and the match is being played near a new moon, so there may be extra assistance for the swing bowlers in the afternoon (high tide is about 4pm, and is a particularly high tide. (I am aware that some people think that the tidal flow affecting swing bowling is an old wives tale, but my experience is that the ball does swing more at high tide, if there is a significant tidal flow - PE has a similar tidal flow to Hobart, so it is likely to have a similar effect)

Another big factor will be the lack of Philander. While they only played two matches without him in the last two years, his absence was keenly felt, and South Africa lost one match (against Sri Lanka) and should have lost the other (against Australia at Adelaide). He provides such balance to the bowling attack that he will be sorely missed.

Applying the same method to the bowlers as the batsmen gets this table:

RJ Peterson (SA) 1513.6
VD Philander (SA) 1618.33
TA Boult (NZ) 1219.5
MJ Guptill (NZ) 9325
CS Martin (NZ) 228631.13
DAJ Bracewell (NZ) 31031.2
M Morkel (SA) 3833.5
KS Williamson (NZ) 4341.33
DW Steyn (SA) 4943.22

The stand out there is Chris Martin. While he's unlikely to play in this match, his experience on this sort of slow wicket may prove to be vital.

Thursday 3 January 2013

Mini-session Analysis 3rd test, Australia vs Sri Lanka SCG 2012/13

Here is the final mini-session analysis for the third test between Australia and Sri Lanka at SCG, Sydney, Australia

A mini-session is (normally) half a session, either between the start of the session and the drinks break or the drinks break and the end of the session. Occasionally a long session will have 3 mini-sessions where it will be broken up with 2 drinks breaks.

1-1aSri Lanka 42/1 off 13Sri Lanka
1-1bSri Lanka 38/1 off 13draw
1-2aSri Lanka 52/0 off 15Sri Lanka
1-2bSri Lanka 37/2 off 13Australia
1-3aSri Lanka 80/1 off 18Sri Lanka
1-3bSri Lanka 45/5 off 15.4Australia
2-1aAustralia 71/1 off 12Australia
2-1bAustralia 56/0 off 15Australia
2-2aAustralia 67/1 off 14Australia
2-2bAustralia 47/1 off 14Sri Lanka
2-3aAustralia 49/2 off 17Sri Lanka
2-3bAustralia 52/1 off 16Australia
3-1aAustralia 50/2 off 13Australia
3-1bAustralia 40/1 off 6Australia
Sri Lanka 18/0 off 4
3-2aSri Lanka 55/1 off 13Sri Lanka
3-2bSri Lanka 57/0 off 14Sri Lanka
3-3aSri Lanka 47/3 off 16Australia
3-3bSri Lanka 48/3 off 15Australia
4-1aSri Lanka 38/2 off 13Australia
4-1bSri Lanka 10/1 off 6.2Sri Lanka
Australia 13/1 off 5
4-2aAustralia 48/1 off 15Draw
4-2bAustralia 75/3 off 21Draw
4-3aAustralia 5/0 off 1.5N/A

Final update, click here
Australia win the match by 5 wickets and the mini-session count 11 - 8

First drinks, Day 1: Sri Lanka lead the mini-session count 1-0

My new formula says that Sri Lanka needed 43 runs to have won that hour, by I think that given it's a green pitch, Australia have chosen 4 quicks, and then elected to bowl, to have only lost 1 wicket for 42 runs is a great start. It was also an uncharacteristically slow start from Sri Lanka. They are showing some impressive restraint. - Mykuhl

Lunch, Day 1: Sri Lanka lead the mini-session count 1-0

A good even first hour of cricket. Sri Lanka are slightly on top, but not by much. Having Thiramanne in now is probably a good thing, as he's normally an opener, and probably has the right temperament for this pitch. If the rest of the match continues to be as even as the first hour this could be a fantastic test. - Mykuhl

Middle drinks, Day 1: Sri Lanka lead the mini-session count 2-0

That was the first hour that was won unequivocally by a team. Sri Lanka are probably making Clarke regret his decision to bowl first. This is Jayawardene's first 50 outside Sri Lanka since 2009. He went on to score a double century that day. - Mykuhl

Tea, Day 1: Sri Lanka lead the mini-session count 2-1

And now Australia have a good hour. Two wickets and only 37 runs, with 10 of them coming in the first over. This is a crucial partnership for Sri Lanka. If these two can last at least another 10 or 15 overs and put on at least 50 runs, they will be in a good position to unleash Chandimal on some tired bowlers. Any score over 300 is a great score if you're put in. - Mykuhl

Final drinks, Day 1: Sri Lanka lead the mini-session count 3-1

This is a fantastic day's cricket. Sri Lanka look like they are on target for at least 350 now. Thiramanne has really paced his innings well. He was very cautious at first, at one point he had 16 off 59. He now has 90 off 145, so he has scored at a strike rate of 86 since then. Quality stuff from Sri Lanka. - Mykuhl

Stumps, Day 1: Sri Lanka lead the mini-session count 3-2

This was a really good days cricket. It had almost everything, a fierce opening spell with the batsmen being defensive, a counter-attack from the captain, a stunning innings from a recently recalled player, that was cut short by a brilliant catch, a lower order collapse and then a tail-end slog between number 10 and 11. Then it ended with the match roughly even. If anything Sri Lanka are probably slightly ahead, Australia would have probably wanted to bowl them out for less than 250 on this pitch, but they haven't made it to 300, so any advantage is only a slight one. Bring on day 2. - Mykuhl

First drinks, Day 2: The mini-session count is tied up, 3-3

It's interesting how a strength can sometimes be a weakness. David Warner has hit 29 runs off the 29 balls that haven't gone to the boundary. His running between the wickets has been sublime. Except for the way that he ran Ed Cowan out. To be fair to Warner there probably was a second run there, and it was probably the hesitancy that cost Cowan, but the running between the wickets has been the feature of that hour, for good and bad reasons.

It is remarkable how Warner has done this, as all 3 batsmen have had balls that they've edged or been squared up by. The bowling hasn't been as bad as 71 off 12 would indicate. It hasn't been consistent enough, but they have created some false shots. - Mykuhl

Lunch, Day 2: Australia lead the mini-session count 4-3

How many times will the bowlers trouble the batsmen before they manage to take a wicket? And how long before Rangana Herath come on? While the bowlers are asking quite a few questions, the Australian batsmen are scoring off almost every ball that isn't exactly on the mark. David Warner is really in a purple patch, this is his 5th score over 50 this season, in only 9 innings. - Mykuhl

Middle drinks, Day 2: Australia lead the mini-session count 5-3

Herath came on and immediately the tempo of the match changed. Dilshan has done a lot of bowling so far, and has been rewarded with the wicket of Warner. It wasn't exactly a spitting searing off break that took the inside edge and ballooned up off the pad to silly point, more a wide half-volley that Warner smashed to a fielder, but a wicket is a wicket. Australia continue to score at break-neck speed. - Mykuhl

Tea, Day 2: Australia lead the mini-session count 5-4

Once Warner and Hughes were out, the game returned to normal test match pace. Clarke has really tried to hit Herath, while Hussey has been content to defend him. We'll see what the best tactic is, but I think Clarke has the right idea. Herath showed against New Zealand and England that if he is allowed to settle he becomes a real handful.

Australia are in the lead here, but not by much. A good spell could tilt this game very quickly back in Sri Lanka's favour. - Mykuhl

Final drinks, Day 2: The mini-session count is tied up, 5-5

Sri Lanka have managed to pull things back well here. I think Australia need about 370 to be in the lead in this match. They are probably even money to get there. However Herath is starting to look dangerous. - Mykuhl

Stumps, Day 2: Australia lead the mini-session count 6-5

Australia are in the lead, but not by much. I think chasing any more than 200 on the final day and a half will be very tricky. This test is shaping up well. It's just a pity Sri Lanka couldn't hold on for a draw in Hobart. - Mykuhl

First drinks, Day 3: Australia lead the mini-session count 7-5

A very frustrating tail wag by Australia for the Sri Lankans. There isn't much that drops the head like not being able to get the bowlers out. - Mykuhl

Lunch, Day 3: Australia lead the mini-session count 8-5

What a fantastic knock by Matthew Wade. There is a real art to batting with the tail, and Matthew Wade did it very well. Jackson Bird will go off the field feeling good about having guided Wade through to his 100. Australia are in the lead now, Sri Lanka will need to bat very well now to set the right sort of target. - Mykuhl

Middle drinks, Day 3: Australia lead the mini-session count 8-6

When I first saw Karunaratne I though he looked like a player who I was going to get some real pleasure out of watching in the future. Today he looks like he is in the mood. If he keeps batting like this he could swing this match very quickly in Sri Lanka's favour. This game is starting to look like one that we may remember for a long time. A depleted Sri Lankan attack fighting hard and really taking the match to Australia. - Mykuhl

Tea, Day 3: Australia lead the mini-session count 8-7

Sri Lanka are almost back to being level. Not just in terms of runs scored, but also in terms of the position in the match. The one concern that they will have is that the pitch doesn't seem to be breaking up as much as they would have hoped. Sri Lanka will probably need a lead of at least 250. That will be a tricky target for Australia to chase against the trickery of Herath. - Mykuhl

Final drinks, Day 3: Australia lead the mini-session count 9-7

A good hour from Australia. There have been calls for Jayawardene to retire. His last 15 innings have come at an average of 23.5 and he's generally struggled outside of Sri Lanka in recent years (leading into this test he'd averaged less than 18 away from home since 2010). Now is the time for him to send a message that it's not time just yet. He needs a big score. However it won't be easy. The Australians have managed to get the ball reversing, and conditions are not easy. Sri Lanka need this partnership between Matthews and Jayawardene to be a big one. - Mykuhl

Stumps, Day 3: Australia lead the mini-session count 10-7

And in the space of 2 hours the game goes from being very even to being very much Australia's to lose. This partnership now takes on epic importance for Sri Lanka, given that they only have two Chris Marinesque batsmen to come. While the last two put on 21 runs for the final wicket in the first innings, there was probably only 2 balls where either of them looked like they even knew which end of the bat they were supposed to hold.

The Australian bowling has been very effective. Once they got the ball reversing they have asked a lot of questions that the Sri Lankans really didn't have any answers for.

The day ended with a nice touch from Michael Clarke, giving the ball to Michael Hussey to bowl. - Mykuhl

First drinks, Day 4: Australia lead the mini-session count 11-7

At the end of day 4, Dimuth Karunaratne indicated that a lead of 150-175 might be a good enough to be relatively competitive, given that the pitch is taking turn. Unfortunately, after some resistance initially, Herath and then Lakmal, to a shot which is the definition of agricultural, did not appear to feel the same way. Chandimal reached a well deserved 50 with some excellent and intelligent counter attacking with the tail which swelled the lead to a respectable 125. If Sri Lanka are to have any chance of setting Australia a decent target you would have to think that they need to bat at least until lunch. With only 1 wicket left, it's still Australia's game to lose - Damith

Lunch, Day 4: Australia lead the mini-session count 11-8

Sri Lanka got within 30 minutes to lunch with some defiant batting from Pradeep and further excellence from Chandimal. However, with Pradeep playing and missing more often than not, the second ball of the 2nd new ball put paid to the 12 over 41 run 10th wicket stand. With a target of only 140, Sri Lanka opened the bowling with Dilshan but it was the unlikely Lakmal who picked up David Warner for a first ball duck in the second over. Cowan and Hughes then took Australia to lunch with Sri Lanka knowing that it will only take one decent partnership to finish their game. Twitter was a flurry with a 118 run chase of Australia v SA where Australia were bowled out for 111 with Fannie De Villers taking 5. A repeat today against this Sri Lankan attack is highly unlikely - Damith

Middle drinks, Day 4: Australia lead the mini-session count 11-8

The first half of the hour easily belonged to Australia as Hughes and Cowan slowly built the partnership. Sri Lanka were unfathomably still bowling Lakmal, The only reason that makes any sense was to rough up the ball to the spinners. Mahela eventually brought on Herath which immediately made an impact when he troubled the Australians and when Mahela called for Dilshan, the double spin option worked well for Sri Lanka and fetched Hughes' wicket, following a brilliant over from Herath. The umpiring on this tour continued to be poor as something that looked plumb LBW was not given again. And a Mahela Jaywardene was visibly frustrated when he saw the replay following the overturning of the not out decision. Micheal Clarke smashed his first ball off Herath for four and he signaled his intention in not being tied down by the spinners. Cowan looked a bit at sea vs the spin which does not bode well for his Indian tour. Although it was an hour of even fortunes, Australia are only 80 adrift now and closing in on the whitewash. - Damith

Tea, Day 4: Australia lead the mini-session count 11-8

Australia have done enough in that hour to be closing in on the win, but Sri Lanka have not made it easy for them. Dilshan has done a good job for a part timer, but it's hard not to wonder how Randiv would have gone on this pitch. It would take something incredible for Sri Lanka to win from here, but sometimes when a quality spinner bowls to tail-enders incredible things happen. - Mykuhl

End of the match, Day 4: Australia take the mini-session count 11-8

A good win for Australia, but it's hard not to wonder what would have been if there was 50 more runs required. Australia deservedly win the series 3-0, but Sri Lanka can hold their heads high for the way they have dealt with such a horrendous injury toll and have continued to improve and fight. An extra couple of hours batting in Hobart and then an extra 50 runs here and the series could have been 1-1, but the essence of a good team is one that takes their opportunities. Australia are now a very good team, and they have clearly progressed from the South African tour. - Mykuhl

Mini-session Analysis 1st Test, South Africa vs New Zealand, Capetown 2012/13

Here is the final mini-session analysis for the first test between South Africa and New Zealand at Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa

A mini-session is (normally) half a session, either between the start of the session and the drinks break or the drinks break and the end of the session. Occasionally a long session will have 3 mini-sessions where it will be broken up with 2 drinks breaks.

1-1aNew Zealand 28/6 off 10.5South Africa
1-1bNew Zealand 17/4 off 8.3South Africa
South Africa 3/1 off 2
1-2aSouth Africa 74/0 off 14South Africa
1-2bSouth Africa 42/1 off 13draw
1-3aSouth Africa 79/0 off 18South Africa
1-3bSouth Africa 54/1 off 17draw
2-1aSouth Africa 44/2 off 14New Zealand
2-1bSouth Africa 39/1 off 13draw
2-2aSouth Africa 12/2 off 4.5South Africa
New Zealand 17/1 off 9.3
2-2bNew Zealand 16/1 off 9.3South Africa
2-3aNew Zealand 96/1 off 16New Zealand
2-3bNew Zealand 40/1 off 17draw
3-1aNew Zealand 32/0 off 15New Zealand
3-1bNew Zealand 31/1 off 15South Africa
3-2aNew Zealand 20/2 off 13South Africa
3-2bNew Zealand 22/3 off 7.1South Africa

Latest update, click here
South Africa win the match by an innings and 27 and the mini-session count 9 - 3

First drinks, Day 1: South Africa lead the mini-session count 1-0

Vernon Philander is a one man wrecking machine on a pitch like this. Some of those deliveries moved so sharply that the batsman had no chance, but others moved just enough that the batsman didn't play and miss. New Zealand will be pleased that they have made it past 26.

Lunch, Day 1: South Africa lead the mini-session count 2-0

This time it was Dale Steyn's turn. The ball he got Bracewell with really deserved the wicket of a better batsman. There has been some bad shots, but mostly some very good bowling.

Middle drinks, Day 1: South Africa lead the mini-session count 3-0

One of the problems with inswing bowlers is that they can be expensive if they stray in their line. New Zealand have shown that quite clearly. They were always going to miss Tim Southee, but this should have been a good pitch for Bracewell. Instead South Africa have totally dominated this mini-session, just like the other two.

Tea, Day 1: South Africa lead the mini-session count 3-0

Finally New Zealand managed to hold their own in an hour. James Franklin is coming off a longer run up, and is looking almost like the bowler he was when he first broke into international cricket. Amla played a peach of an innings. Sometimes a player looks like he is batting on a different pitch to everyone else. That was Sangakkara in the Boxing Day test and it was Hashim Amla today. He really is a phenomenal player.

Final drinks, Day 1: South Africa lead the mini-session count 4-0

Another dominant hour by South Africa. It is hard to remember any day in a test match that has been as one sided as this. Perhaps the third day of the New Zealand-Zimbabwe match in Napier last year. Either way there is a big difference between the two teams on today's evidence. The only bright spot for New Zealand has been the bowling of James Franklin. While Franklin is not looking like a world beater, he is bowling much better than he has in a test for a long time.

Stumps, Day 1: South Africa lead the mini-session count 4-0

Alviro Petersen brought up a well deserved hundred. A fine knock on a difficult pitch. This should go down as one of his best ones in his career. That was probably the best hour of cricket of the test. Good bowling, batting and fielding, finally. For the majority of the rest of the day there was only one side playing good cricket.

First drinks, Day 2: South Africa lead the mini-session count 4-1

New Zealand finally won an hour. They probably need to win about 5 more in a row to get even close to being level. How South Africa handle the new ball will be the point of interest in the next hour. If Boult can find some swing with the dispersing cloud cover then New Zealand could wrap up the tail quite quickly.

Lunch, Day 2: South Africa lead the mini-session count 4-1

An even hour, but it could have been New Zealand's. They decided to not refer a lbw decision, which turned out to be plumb. AB de Villiers has looked fantastic with the bat, and Trent Boult has started to find some movement. An interesting decision from McCullum was to bring on Jeetan Patel with a fairly new ball. He managed to create some pressure, almost picking up a wicket in his first over. It may have just been a pre-break change to try and disrupt the batsmen's concentration, so it will be interesting to see if McCullum persists with it.

Middle drinks, Day 2: South Africa lead the mini-session count 5-1

It seems like a very good declaration from Smith. There is still some life in the pitch, and clouds overhead. Some of the balls are really doing crazy things, particularly when Philander is bowling. I actually think Kallis is going to be the most dangerous bowler today, if he gets the ball.

Tea, Day 2: South Africa lead the mini-session count 6-1

This was an absorbing hour of play. Test match cricket at it's best for the purists. It was a battle of wills and wits. The South African bowlers were bowling in good areas, and the New Zealand batsmen were making an effort to not play anything they didn't need to.

The decisive moment of the hour was Kallis getting Williamson to play away from his body with some clever bowling. He first bowled a ball to encourage Williamson into playing a shot. A short ball just outside off stump. Williamson played it through the covers for 2. Next ball Kallis bowled one a little wider and a little quicker, and Williamson fell for the trap. He's a good young player, and he learns well, but he was out-foxed by the veteran there.

New Zealand are putting up a good fight, but South Africa are marching assuredly towards victory.

Final drinks, Day 2: South Africa lead the mini-session count 6-2

A fantastic partnership between McCullum and Brownlie well and truly gave this hour to New Zealand. They put on 89 off 81 balls in a fantastic counter-attack. Brownlie's innings is reminiscent of the way he played in Brisbane a year ago. He probably doesn't really want to get a reputation as being good when the team is getting thrashed.

Stumps, Day 2: South Africa lead the mini-session count 6-2

What a great day of cricket. Unfortunately it was totally ruined by yesterday's mismatch. New Zealand will be hoping to wake up to clear skies tomorrow. The game is really just about how South Africa win it, and how well the New Zealanders recover. At the moment they are sending a signal that the next test is going to be worth watching.

First drinks, Day 3: South Africa lead the mini-session count 6-3

New Zealand made it through an hour without losing a wicket. However there is a point where game is really just going through the motions until the new ball arrives. Kallis might still be a handful in this last hour if they give him the ball.

Lunch, Day 3: South Africa lead the mini-session count 7-3

That would have been New Zealand's hour, until Brownlie hit the new ball down Robin Peterson's throat. It was a terrific innings from Brownlie, who came out and really counter attacked yesterday afternoon, before consolidating in the evening. He brought up his maiden ton with a 6, and actually went from 92 to 104 with 2 sixes in 5 balls. This match is still South Africa's (it would require something incredible for there to be any result other than a South African win) but New Zealand have competed well in days 2 and 3.

Middle drinks, Day 3: South Africa lead the mini-session count 8-3

South Africa are starting to turn the screws. Philander has found the seam of the ball, and is starting to nip it around. It sounds very simple, bowl the ball at a reasonable pace, put it in the right area on the pitch and hit the seam, but nobody other than Philander does it so consistently.

End of match, Day 3: South Africa take the mini-session count 9-3

A brave effort from New Zealand, but they were never going to be able to make up for the first day. The final act of the match probably summed up New Zealand's test, with Chris Martin being run out needlessly. It appears that he can't even bat from the non-strikers end.

There are some positives to take from the match for New Zealand, but not many. Brownlie, McCullum and Watling were the stand out players with the bat, and Boult and Martin with the ball.

The man of the match was Vernon Philander, and he really sewed it up in the first hour. He could have gone to sleep under the stands for the rest of the match, and he probably would have still deserved it. Steyn continued his love of playing against New Zealand, picking up his 50th wicket against the one opponent.

New Zealand are normally better in the second match of a series. They will need to be a lot better in Port Elizabeth to avoid humiliation again.