This is a busy time of the year for days with names. Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, and that public holiday on January 2nd that doesn’t have a name.
There is a case to name December 29 Blundell Day. During that miserable test in Melbourne last year he scored 121, more than half New Zealand’s runs, in his first test as an opener. In doing so he became the first New Zealand batsman to score a century at the very large MCG.
That innings was on 29 December 2019. On 29 December 29, 2020 he scored 64 before charging down the wicket to Mohammad Abbas in an effort to lift the scoring rate.
Time will tell whether Neil Wagner will be available to play in the Christchurch test, and good luck to the person who gets to tell him he can’t play.
But at the very least you would think someone will be added to the squad as cover.
Finding a like-for-like replacement for Wagner is clearly impossible so it will be interesting to see the selectors’ thinking.
Playing Mitchell as a fourth seamer would be one option, but seems a crushingly defensive one. And with the ICC Test Championship final still a possibility New Zealand needs to win in Christchurch rather than defend a series lead.
This selection panel rates incumbency and conservatism, which would be one thing in Matt Henry’s favour.
Doug Bracewell had a very good start to the Plunket Shield and he is also a familiar face.
Ed Nuttal is the next best left-arm bowler in the country, and is also in form.
Jacob Duffy showed he can make the step up, and offers experience which would mean a debut shouldn’t pose too many issues.
Scott Kuggeleijn uses the bouncer as a consistent weapon which might plug a hole should they decide to go down that controversial route.
Cricket grounds in New Zealand have their quirks and traditions. The Basin Reserve has its sirens, McLean park has its curious sunstrike issues, Seddon Park has memories of Chris Kuggelijn giving away free tickets, and Hagley Oval has named its light towers after the First Four Ships without a hint of irony.
Bay Oval now has more than some salt silos to be known for.
You can circumnavigate the ground via a path that goes around the top of the eastern bank, and halfway up the larger bank. Today children held races around the ground.
The highlights of these were shown on the big screen, the crowd got fully involved, and the theme to Chariots of Fire played over the loudspeakers. Really good stuff.
From the master.
100th wkt in 29th test
200th wkt in 56th test
300th wkt in 76th test#NZvPAK
— Francis Payne (@FPayne100) December 29, 2020
100th test wicket: Veerasammy Permaul (West Indies)
200th test wicket: Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh)
300th test wicket: Haris Sohail (Pakistan)
Southee and Boult’s career Strike Rates are higher than those of Anderson and Broad.
More than ever it seems unfathomable that he was dropped for a test earlier this year.