Kiwis rue their lost opportunities

I had to await today’s highlights of yesterday’s Australia vs New Zealand fixture due to the fact that I did a ‘spur of the moment’ trek into the Australian interior. Drought-breaking rains have flooded the mid-north of South Australia, and that looked more exciting to me then another hum-drum one-dayer between Australia and New Zealand. In any event, I could listen to it on the radio.

An unusual green strip in the SCG pitch gave fast bowlers the edge, and Australia’s pace attack made short work of the New Zealand top order, before Craig McMillan launched a brave revival, after he demonstrated that he’s no more likely to walk then Michael Hussey. Umpires Simon Taufell and Asad Rauf will hope this game is forgotten as quickly as possible because they both had bad games. New Zealand ended up with 218.

And they reduced Australia to 3 for 17 before Michael Clarke stabilised things. He was edgy early and gave a easy chance, only to be dropped. Michael Hussey should have been run out early as well, but survived to see Australia home.

But this was a game New Zealand should have won. They gave Australia vital chances, and this is something they cannot afford to do. There are some talented players in the New Zealand team, and they are skillfully led, but the gap between the New Zealand team and domestic first class cricket is very large. You might think this is unavoidable, but according to one young lady who knows more about domestic New Zealand cricket then I do, the main problem in New Zealand is attitude.

Obviously I am not against having a good time but this sort of larrikin behaviour is standard for a touring cricket team during the domestic NZ competition. They don’t take the whole thing seriously. The players think because they have scored a hundred in some piss arse domestic competition that they are now good enough to play international cricket.

This lack of professionalism filters through to the Black Caps as there literally is no pressure on players in the current squad to perform as there is no one to replace them. Players such as Astle, McMillan and Marshall have been cruising in Black Cap mode for years now. A guy like Matthew Sinclair should be a world class batsman, he’s not. And where the hell is Lou Vincent?

The situation is the reverse in Australia. Guys sit in State competitions for years and score thousands of runs and are still not good enough to break into the Australian side who game after game produces consistent form. Australian players have their share of off field incidents, Shane Warne and Andrew Symonds being the main offenders. The difference between Australian cricketers and New Zealand cricketers is that they seem to perform better on the field than they do off it.

(Read Kate’s entire essay for an eye-opening look at New Zealand cricket)

There really is no reason why New Zealand can not punch weight with Australia. Cricket’s not just about talent, it is about attitude. India has a population of over a billion, and by all measures they should be the country with a kick-arse cricket team, not Australia. But India isn’t serious about playing WINNING cricket.

New Zealand is semi-serious. They only need to look at how their rugby side dominates, and bring the same attitude to their cricket.

So, semi-serious England play semi-serious New Zealand in Adelaide tomorrow. I’m semi-seriously considering wandering along to have a look. I haven’t made up my mind yet though. If Bond plays, I will probably go.


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