Wednesday, March 27, 2013

3rd and Final Test NZ vs Eng - 22nd to 26th March,2013

Before this match, the NZ captain Brendon McCullum publicly talked about winning this test for a historic series win for New Zealand. More importantly, he specifically said that NZ didn't play to draw the test matches. And when time came, he did just the opposite. He did everything to play for a draw, rather than a win, and in the process he snatched a draw from the jaws of an historic series victory for his country. Another clear evidence that extraneous considerations, unknown to the common public, ruled the international cricket and cricketers, and country's or team's honour were no issues even remotely.

Put into bat by Eng, resuming from 250/1, NZ were all out for 443 on the 2nd day, the day ending with Eng at 50/2. An hour into the third day, by the first drinks break, Eng were 72/5. 101 runs sixth wicket partnership followed before Eng were all out for 204, trailing by 239 runs still. If you are looking for a win and not for a draw, what would you do. You would force the follow-on. You may not do so only if you feel pretty sure of adding some quick fire 150-200 runs and then having sufficient time and resources to bundle out the opposite team under added pressure.

Playing for a historic win, McCullum didn't enforce the follow-on, and batting second time NZ themselves came under pressure at 8/3. However they recovered and recovered well. But lo! McCullum doesn't declare till lead is 480, and that too he is forced to in a way since no batsman was padded up when NZ lost their 6th wicket, so the commentators tell me. That is just absurd from a captain who uttered before the match as mentioned above. Still no one in NZ would have had any complaints when the 4th day ended with Eng at 90/4, NZ being hot favourites to win the test with odds at 1.28.

With partnerships and wickets falling alternately, the odds kept on fluctuating on the final day, but during such time when Indian/Asian illegal market would mostly have been closed (being night/early morning there). The 7th wicket partnership between Bell and Prior was taking the match away from NZ when Bell's wicket at the stroke of tea swung the match again NZ way, or so it seemed. 

The 8th wicket partnership between Prior and Broad had almost ensured a draw with odds for draw being as low as 1.04, when 2 quick wickets fell dramatically in the 4th over before close. Broad went first and Anderson followed him playing a similar shot to get out. It would be interesting for one to see Anderson playing the shot. Clearly he angled the bat on purpose to get caught out in the slips. Some time before this drama, the Asian market would have come into being. And punters who must have placed huge bets backing  draw at low odds as that had appeared a certainty, must have found themselves trapped now. The fixers must have made a killing with high margins and frantic betting by punters during those last 3 overs, as explained in the book 'Inside The Boundary Line.' 

One more small thing. Monty Panesar, no. 11 English batsman, is to face the last over. Why is it not even tried to york him with an in-swinger/out-swinger, the way Md Irfan bowled Ingram out the other day. Sorry. Forgot, such questions could be asked only when cricket was being played, not when it was being staged.  

So in the final analysis McCullum looks like a big ass. But who bothers, that is New Zealand, and he would still be playing for NZ and captaining it. Such a thing would hardly be scripted for India in India.

But there is a method to this seeming madness by McCullum of not enforcing the follow-on. Had follow-on been enforced, it would have been an easy affair for the punters, at least for some time before fixers could again render it complicated. And that would have had a huge bearing on the odds, as must have not suited the fixers.

Some of above may be said to be only theories. Right, even though same could be quite logical. But the facts, not enforcing follow-on and absurd delay in declaration by NZ captain, some shots played, and balls bowled, are the real things, no theories - needing an explanation. 

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