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Friday, March 19, 2010

The story of Sinclair's career


In cricket, to judge the worth of any player, usually averages are looked at. It isn't a bad measure of how a player has done as it gives an indicator regarding the player's ability. Any player should also be given a decent run in the side as if a player is dropped on the basis of him failing in a couple of games, it won't do his confidence any good.

If I look at Sinclair's career, it can be said that he has been shabbily treated by the selectors as he has rarely ever been given a decent run in the side. Sinclair made his debut against the Caribbean team in 2000 and straightaway made an great impact by getting a double hundred. The bowling attack that he faced may not have been a world class attack as Walsh wasn't at his peak and Ambrose didn't play in that series yet, getting a double hundred in his first test match itself is an  stupendous achievement.

He failed to get going against the formidable Aussies in 2000. The Aussies at that time had a great team and it wasn't much of surprise that he couldn't do well as Aussies have destroyed the confidence of many young players. His weakness against spin was exploited very well by the OZ team. So, the pressure was on Skippy when the Black Caps toured South Africa at the end of that year, but he responded magnificently by doing well against the formidable Saffers on some bouncy tracks. Most other NZ batsmen struggled, but Skippy got a 150 at Port Elizabeth and showed his class. He scored more than half the team's runs in that knock against the likes of Donald, Ntini, Pollock and co. and that isn't some pop gun attack for sure!

After succeeding in South Africa, some experts tipped a bright future for Skippy, but they had not taken into consideration that NZ's management always seem to believe in revolving door policy, as players have rarely been given a decent run in the side. It got worse under Bracewell's regime with few of the senior players like Fleming, Astle and Macmillan retiring from international cricket as they didn't like the way Bracewell ran the side. Anyway, coming back to our man Sinclair, he got dropped after failing in a few onedayers against Lanka in 2000/01. Yes, onedayers are different from tests, but any player would lose confidence if he is dropped after a few games. He was atleast picked for the test series against Pakistan and again there was pressure on Sinclair as he didn't do well in the first test against Pakistan, though one has to remember that he made a 150 against the Saffers in the previous test series he had played. He made a great comeback in the second test against Pakistan as he scored a double hundred. Yes, the pitch was flat, but to get a double hundred with the selectors ready to wield the axe isn't an bad achievement. He was also able to play his tormentor Saqlian with ease.

The double hundred helped him to get back into the one-day set-up for the tri-series in Sarjah. In that tournament, he got couple of hundreds and showed that he can be successful even in the onedayers, but trouble was brewing underneath for Skippy as after not doing well in a test series in Australia, he was again dropped for the away tours of Pakistan and the Caribbean. He made yet another come back in the Champions trophy in Lanka in 02 and did ok, but yet again wasn't picked for the test series against India. To be frank, any player wouldn't liked to have played  in that series against India as most of the tracks in that series were very difficult for the batsmen. Unfortunately for Skippy, he was selected for the one-day series against India and the pitches again had too much sideways movement on offer. Any batsman who would have averaged 20 in that series may have been satisfied. To his credit, Skippy played a couple of decent knocks which again showed that against the quicker bowlers he had a good technique and averaged about 25 in that series and that can be considered as good enough. Now, don't ask about strike rates in that series as it was mainly about survival! The reward for battling it out in that series was being made to sit on the bench for the 03 world cup. A few players like Vincent and Macmillan were struggling for runs in that tournament yet, Sinclair got only one chance to play in that tournament and in that game he didn't bat. NZ could have atleast tried him in a few matches.

If Sinclair had thought he may still get a decent run in the side he was completely wrong as in came Bracewell and the situation got worse with senior players like Cairns, Astle and Fleming not being happy with his coaching methods. As far as Skippy was concerned, the situation as expected got worse for him as he was dropped after one poor series in Lanka, only to comeback again in 04 against the Saffers for the last test. In the crucial last test with NZ leading the series 1-0, he played a vital knock of 74 against the likes of Pollock and Ntini. The Black Caps lost the test, but Sinclair did show that he can still be considered for selection, but as expected wasn't picked to tour England in 04. He came back to play Bangladesh and did well against a weak team, but believe it or not Skippy got dropped after he had a bad second test against Australia. For the umpteenth time, it was about one bad series or it can be better said as one bad test that made Bracewell to wield the axe once again on Skippy. It wasn't any better in the onedayers, as he had made 224 runs in 5 matches in 04/05 which isn't bad by any standards, but Bracewell and co. dropped him from the one-day side as he had one bad one-day series against Australia in 04/05. The story of Bracewell and Sinclair though won't end so quickly as he again got selected to play against the Lankans in 06/07 and he did struggle against Murali, but couple of bad matches was enough for Bracewell to drop him once more!

If a few thought Sinclair won't be seen again they were completely mistaken as for the umpteenth time he was selected for the one-day series against the Saffers in 07/08. For a player not known for his ability to rotate the strike, he did a wonderful job as he averaged 105 and had a strike rate of over 100 in that series! He also played in the middle order in that series, though he is mainly a top order batsman. Bracewell wasn't going to make life any easier for him though, as he got dropped after having couple of bad games in Australia. Hmm! a batsman averages 105 and gets dropped after having couple of bad games in Australia?

The revolving door policy continued as he was recalled to play against England in 08. Skippy looked fed up and seemed to have lost confidence in his ability. To be honest, if I was in his postilion, I would be fed up as well. He seemed to be a nervous wreck in that series and played some atrocious shots with Sidebottom being the main beneficiary. It didn't surprise me that he was dropped once more by Bracewell and co. after that series, but funnily enough, he played one more onedayer during that time, but with their management one can't expect much as he got dropped after one bad game!

I see that he has been selected for the series against Australia, but should he have accepted the offer of playing for the Black Caps as he may likely get dropped very soon? If he plays in the second test can he succeed? It won't be easy for him as the past would be haunting him.

Sinclair could have been a fine player for the Black Caps especially, against the quicker bowlers, but looking at his career, it can be said that Skippy has been shabbily treated by the selectors.

8 comments:

Gordon in Portsmouth said...

It is odd that NZ have not given Sinclair a decent run in the side. My observations of him over the years are that his temperament looks a bit suspect but this would be understandable for a player uncertain of his place in the side. Certainly I think its very bad selection policy to constantly have a player coming in and out of the team.

Perhaps Sinclair's Aus roots and the fact he has particularly bottled the challenge in matches versus Aus that has been held against him by sections of the Kiwi cricketing establishment.

PS: I think this current series vs Aus only has 2 test matches rather than 3 as suggested in the penultimate paragraph.

Anonymous said...

It is odd that NZ have not given Sinclair a decent run in the side. My observations of him over the years are that his temperament looks a bit suspect but this would be understandable for a player uncertain of his place in the side. Certainly I think its very bad selection policy to constantly have a player coming in and out of the team.

Perhaps Sinclair's Aus roots and the fact he has particularly bottled the challenge in matches versus Aus that has been held against him by sections of the Kiwi cricketing establishment.

PS: I think this current series vs Aus only has 2 test matches rather than 3 as suggested in the penultimate paragraph.

man_in_beige said...

Excellent article as always GB!

When Sinclair first got selected there was a lot of excitement in NZ as he had a reputation of a player who could score big - and his 3 150+ test scores go some way to justifying that belief.

Not sure what made him Scapegoat #1 for Bracewell and co and hope that if he gets a chance this series that he gets more than a handful of tests. I suspect that when Ryder and Elliott are fit again Sinclair will drift away again until the next injury crisis.

greyblazer said...

Yeah it is couple of tests as I forgot that NZ don't usually play three tests lol.

greyblazer said...

Gordon,

Thanks for the comment but it isn't just Sinclair as most of NZ players have been harshly treated under Bracewell but Sinclair seems to have been treated worse than others.

greyblazer said...

MIB,

Maybe Sinclair didn't listen to whatever Bracewell said or maybe as Gordon said Aussie roots and him not doing well against Aus is held against him. I just don't get this logic behind recalling a player so many times and dropping him after a few games

Either pick him and give the particular player a decent run in the side or don't pick him.

man_in_beige said...

I can't believe there can be any truth behind the Aussie roots theory. Kiwis and Aussies may talk a good rivalry but there is no real substance to it and the thought of someone being held back professionally because they happened to be born in Australia is something that almost all NZers would find completely abhorent.

greyblazer said...

I think it was Bracewell to be blamed as many players have complained about him, maybe he lacked patience and wanted everyone to perform all the time.