Last night I watched two kiwi teams low on confidence, lacking the necessary skill and just generally not very good. This is never fun and it's actually kinda strange as all our kiwi athletes or teams have enjoyed good times recently, for the Wellington Phoenix and New Zealand Under 19 cricket team though last night bordered on embarrassing.
The Phoenix went down 3-1 to Central Coast Mariners and I'll be exploring their struggles in greater depth in tomorrow's weekly Wellington Phoenix extravaganza named Ernie! so I won't go into any great depth here. There are some stats that stuck out though as just another sign of a very frustrating/depressing A-League season...
21 total shots (Nix) vs 9
63.2% posssession (Nix) vs 36.8%
13 corners (Nix) vs 3
502 total passes (Nix) vs 299
33 total crosses (Nix) vs 10
And here we are after another loss, wondering how the Nix can seemingly control a game of football and lack any sort of potency or chemistry at the same time.
The Mariners are still last on the table on 12 points with the Nix still on 16 points and perhaps the most worrying aspect of this loss was that even the Mariners had more depth and all round class than the Phoenix. This was the case last week against Melbourne City, but City are near the top of the ladder and have the assistance of their Manchester City pals so that combined with the injuries/suspensions of the Nix was digestible. Watching a Phoenix team that resembled a team of battlers get touched up by the Mariners though wasn't good.
Sure, the Nix are still struggling with injury/suspension but how they got to this point where they are struggling to put a team on the park that can match their opponent is beyond me. There are positives, this shit storm is giving younger players like Joel Stevens, Mitch McGarry and Dylan Fox an opportunity and they are the future of this club, every cloud's gotta have a silver lining right?
Equally as depressing as the Phoenix's woes was another loss for our Under 19 cricketers who after being beaten by Nepal were dismantled by India. This leaves them pondering a meaningless encounter with Ireland as Nepal and India have already qualified for the quarter-finals.
The bowling performance wasn't too bad, restricting India to 258 in 50 overs with Zak Gibson taking 3/50 off his 10 overs, but the way the kiwis crumbled with the bat and looked completely at sea was embarrassing. This is a team that includes Glenn Phillips, Josh Clarkson and Josh Finnie batting No.2-4 and they have all tasted domestic cricket which helped them score 3 runs between them.
The kiwis were all out for 138 in the 32nd over, their World Cup effectively over and I'm left pondering how a team that has plenty of talent in it has failed to make the quarter-finals. The World Cup's going down in Bangladesh but the kiwis have had plenty of time in and around Bangladesh to get acquainted to conditions; are our young cricketers simply not as good enough?
Keep in mind the recent dramas regarding Anthony Hudson's comments or beliefs about our young footballers and the footballing culture in Aotearoa. Not making the quarter-finals of a World Cup doesn't exactly smell like a glowing endorsement of our young cricketers.
I'll finish with some positivity though as the Central Districts Stags won the Ford Trophy final against Canterbury with a mighty effort at Pukekura Park. CD smoked Canterbury for 405 off 50 overs with George Worker hitting 159, Ben Smith 40, Jesse Ryder 60, Will Young 51 and Tom Bruce 71, all of these innings came at better than a run-a-ball with Bruce whacking 71 off 40.
Andrew Ellis hit 101 and Todd Astle 65 in reply, but the Stags simpled tied Canterbury down and they never really looked like losing once Astle and Ellis' partnership was broken.
I'm super-duper happy for the Stags and I'll explore this in greater depth in tomorrow's Ford Trophy final review, the Stags are a young team led by a young captain (Young, hehe) but with the experience of a certain Jesse Ryder guiding them.
As I've said, I support Jesse Ryder and his non-BLACKCAP activities so most of all I'm happy for Jesse.