Dumb Decoys

The decoy bus system for all touring teams at theWorld Cup is great in theory as a security measure. A convoy of cars and motorcycles full of police and army officers surround a couple of buses and they depart the ground, sirens whirring, to head straight back to the hotel. It is quite a circus. Any terrorists lying in wait would not have been too confused by the two buses when the Black Caps left the training venue on Wednesday. One had its curtains closed and the other was full of wide eyed New Zealanders staring out the windows without even a hint of tinted glass. Go figure.


Poor Jamie How. He's a battler, no doubt about that, and seems a great team man but sometimes you just can't get a decent break. A local bowler trundled in at the practice nets on Wednesday and, with the aid of some fairly fleshy grass, got one to jag away. How was committed to the shot and edged it behind - inducing a whoop of joy and a Brett Lee fist pump from the young bloke in his follow through. How then looked up to see he'd piqued someone else's attention, having just arrived at his net: John Wright.


Which macca in Dhaka?

Nathan McCullum is normally fine addressing the media; he knows it is part of the job and gets on with it. He was left a bit exasperated repeating himself about bowling spin and playing spin in front of the Bangladeshi contingent before the South Africa match. It didn't help afterwards when one journalist who had been asking some questions came up and asked if he was Nathan or Brendon?

Probably knows who he is now after the heroics against South Africa.

Days of the Raj

The members' pavilion at Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai, is a throwback to the days of the Raj and colonialism with its baize outdoor tables for cards, dark wood wall panelling, decorative marble floors and framed photos of a bygone era covering the walls. A series of caricatures also shows times have changed. There is one of a gaunt former England captain Mike Gatting looking in need of a few curries and even New Zealand's Martin Crowe with a curly mop of hair.

Human puddles

Fitness trainer Bryan Stronach has firmly buried the days of cricketers rocking up for play without conditioning. On Tuesday the team struck a tough hour-long fitness session on one of the hottest March days in Mumbai memory.

Stronach had the players complete a series of shuttle runs in six pairs (4 x 400m, 3 x 300m, 2 x 200m and 1 x 100m) with the winners having to do fewer laps of the field at the end. LukeWoodcock (who is a fit bloke) was a human puddle by the end. It is fair to say the media corps found something interesting in a faraway horizon when he signalled to the media corps in a running motion that they might like to participate.


Interesting egg-sperience

Travelling in Dhaka is an experience to be treasured, albeit with few views other than the back ends of buses (see photo). It took more than 90 minutes to travel the 20km to the Black Caps' training ground on the outskirts of town. A race against any halfdecent runner would have been no contest.

However, there is always some light relief and a sense of respect for what you see on the way. One minute a chap sidles alongside carrying hundreds of bananas in a wicker basket on his head; the next there is a bloke riding a three-wheeled cycle rickshaw carrying what looked like Dhaka's entire egg supply to the market (see photo). Such skills leave you in awe amid that sort of traffic.

One stuff-up and you've got one almighty omelette to deal with.

Good Week: Jacob Oram

Perhaps the most pilloried of all the pilloried players in the Black caps, Oram has had to withstand jibes about his fitness, being injury-prone and his desire. He has maintained a dignified attitude all through this and his four wickets against South Africa yesterday were a key component in the Black Caps' shock win. He took the key scalp of South African captain Graeme Smith among his four wickets and his catch to dismiss world-class all-rounder Jacues Kallis effectively sealed the game.

Bad Week: Ricky Ponting

Having endured a galling week when everyone seemed to be insisting that he'd retire and/or be replaced as captain if Australia lost against India in the quarter-final (they did),

Ponting showed his class with a defiant century; 104 off 118 balls. After struggling during this tournament he played a clever, classy knock with only seven fours and a six. Australia are now out of the tournament but, whatever happens to Ponting, it wasn't down to him or his captaincy.

Which doesn't mean to say that he will keep the job.