Clearly age is not wearying cricket allrounder Colin de Grandhomme who scored New Zealand’s second fastest test century from 71 balls during his country’s innings and 67 runs win against West Indies at Wellington’s Basin Reserve on Monday.
Not that he’s an old man at 31. But in the year since making his spectacular test debut against Pakistan in Christchurch when his fast-medium pacers captured 6 wickets for 44 runs, he’s becoming the middle order allrounder we hoped injury prone Corey Anderson and Jimmy Neesham would be.
On the strength of his latest performance, he deserves to move up one place to Mitchell Santer’s No 6 spot in the batting order.
Sadly, severe back injuries have blunted left-armer Anderson’s prowess as a champion allrounder. However the Zimbabwe-born de Grandhomme has both the ability and temperament to do the job in his absence.
His latest 105 included 11 fours and three sixes and brought his test average to a respectable 34.55, which is remarkably similar to his 35.66 average for ODIs and 35.91 from all first class matches.
Before this latest Basin Reserve test Brendan McCullum owned the three fastest test centuries scored by a New Zealander with his 54-ball stunner against Australia in Christchurch last year still topping the world table.
There is an appealing nonchalance about de Grandhomme as he goes about his business acquiring runs with effortless ease. Timing rather than slogging is the key to his game and his 18 test wickets at an average of 25.66 suggests intelligence rates higher than sheer pace.
He joins Mitchell McClenaghan and Colin Munro as one of three Howick Pakuranga players who have done New Zealand proud in the wake of clubmate Kyle Mills’ retirement from international cricket after a long, distinguished career.
While the fiery McClenaghan has declined his New Zealand contract to pursue big bucks playing T20 abroad, Munro’s star continues to rise in the shorter version of the game as the selectors seek another power hitter to fill McCullum’s shoes and partner Martin Guptill.
With wicketkeeper Tom Blundell making a mature unbeaten 107 on debut against the West Indies and Ross Taylor falling seven runs short of his 17th test century, New Zealand’s formidable 520 declared was always going to provide the West Indies a tough chase, particularly after Neil Wagner’s 7 for 39 wrecked their first innings for 134.
It took Wagner a long time to cement a test spot before his courage, stamina and accurate bouncers reaped their just desserts.
While the West Indies’ much improved 319 second innings indicated they will offer sterner opposition in the next test, the Black Caps remain a force on home soil with fierce competition for places in all forms of the game.
Meanwhile, having watched Australia beat England 6-0 in the Brisbane World Cup rugby league final, Tongans will strongly believe that with a little bit of luck they could have been world champions.
A brave effort, too ,from a talented Kiwis women’s team in finishing runner-up to Australia in a hard-hitting women’s final in which the Jillaroos’ superior discipline and fitness gave them a slight winning edge.
With the Black Ferns being named World Rugby Team of the Year and Portia Woodman Women’s Player of the Year, it’s good to see our sportswomen get the recognition they deserve.
- Ivan Agnew is an award-winning sports writer and author