Friday, May 4, 2007

New Zealand at the World Cup

It is hard to know whether to feel good or bad about the NZ performance at the Cup. On the one hand they made the semi's and performed very well up until the last few games destroying England, the West Indies and South Africa.

On the other hand they flattered to decieve, losing decisively to Sri Lanka, Australia and Sri Lanka again in the semi. In the end, when the pressure came on, they did not rise up.

Over all I am deeply disappointed. In none of these important games did they compete. The losses to Sri Lanka were particularly disappointing because it was the same bogies that came home to destroy them; Murali, Malinga, Jayasuriya, Sangikara. Surely after playing Sri Lanka repeatedly for the last 3 years we could have done better. Then Fleming's over-confidence which served only to motivate Jayawardena etc! He has egg all over his face in my view.

Then there were the disappointing performances of Bond, Vetorri, Fleming, MacMillan, McCullem, Oram and co in the games that mattered. I still cannot erase the images of the batting capitulation in the semi final! It was not as if the dismissals were due to pressure; they were poor shots which demonstrated a tremendous lack of confidence or ability to function under pressure.

Styris was magnificent as was Bond in the earlier part of the tournament. I felt sorry for the young Ross Taylor whose injury caused him to lose form.

One wonders how much the loss of Vincent affected the team; it disrupted what had become a solution to the problem of the top order. His loss alone may have changed the balance of the tournament and team.

So all in all I am disappointed.

So what should happen? I do not think anyone has to be sacked immediately. Fleming has stood down. The players will be selected on form as they should be.

What about Bracewell? I am not sure he has the kind of character that lends itself best to an effective international cricket coach. He clearly has fallen out with players including Cairns and Astle. He is too strong a personality for me. I prefer the cricket coach to be a background guide and leader; giving strategy, selection, motivation, confidence, encouragement and managing the team well. The captain is the leader in the cricket and Fleming has not been the same under his management. Bracewell reminds me too much of John Mitchell when he was AB coach; too many wierd selections. He too struggled with some of the older more experienced players like Anton Oliver and Andrew Merhtons.

For me I would like to see John Wright get a crack. He has coached in the most difficult nation in the world and came up trumps. I think he would complement the likes of Fleming, Vetorri, Oram, McMillan and Styris who will give leadership. Otherwise, bring back Steve Rixon!

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