Just as the sporting population of this fine country of ours was feeling all warm and fuzzy over the splendid efforts of our Commonwealth games athletes, along comes a sporting team determined to take the sheen off. A team so well practised in the dark arts of poor performance, that to expect them to contribute a high standard of cricket day in, day out would be as attainable as submerging themselves in a vat of molten lava and living to tell the tale.
Who am I eluding too, you may well ask? Well, I’ll tell you . . .yep, the Black Caps, of course. Yes, those titans of world cricket, those sultans of cricketing excellence, and those modern day wonders of that tough as nails mentality that wins matches so readily.
Just when they have produced a solid series performance and you think it is safe to assume that there is some light appearing at the end of the tunnel, they then travel to their next destination and proceed to supply a run of bumbling efforts such as their recent clashes with those heavyweights of world cricket, Bangladesh. That tunnel once again becomes a dim dark hell hole leaving you wishing that you could venture off to fifty thousand feet and jump out of an aeroplane without a parachute, all the while having your googlies frozen off as you freefall and calculate how long it will take you to plummet to a rather snappy oblivion.
Okay, admittedly, Bangladesh are a side on the improve. And it was played in Bangladesh on slow turning tracks that suited the locals. But this was Bangladesh, for heaven’s sake. Not only did they lose 4-0, but, did they even look remotely capable of winning a match? Not on your Nellie.
Perhaps this is a cunning ploy on the part of captain, coach, selector Daniel Vettori to lure their opposition in the upcoming World Cup into a false sense of security. If so, one would suggest that he’s onto a winner with this well thought out strategy. What better way to achieve this than giving a mighty fine impersonation of a team that can’t bat, bowl and catch. And after watching the New Zealander’s over the last week, what team could not fall for this dastardly scheme. To expect any opposition to take this lot seriously is simply asking the impossible. So, a World Cup win is a given, then.
The sad thing about the state of the national team is that they clearly possess some very talented individual’s in the form of Vettori, Brendon McCullum, Jessie Ryder and Ross Taylor. Then they have youngster Kane Williamson to add to the mix. All the cricketing experts have said they he is a superstar in the making. The best technique of any batsman in the country, they say. Clearly for good reason, too, as even a cricketing layman can see the kid has talent. Yet here he is, thrown into a team delving deeply into the realms of mediocrity, struggling for runs. Let us hope that such a superb cricketing talent does not fall by the wayside.
Which could well happen if New Zealand cricket does not eliminate the cancerous parts before they become maligment. However, knowing there is a problem and actually finding viable solutions to solve those issues are two totally different things altogether.
Twenty/twenty cricket is not helping their situation. With the ever increasing popularity of the newer version of the game, power has shifted somewhat in the players favour. With the money that can now be earned for six weeks work in the Indian league, players can now threaten to forgo signing with New Zealand cricket and go on the open market as a freelancer.
That added bargaining tool has already seen player power pull enough strings to have Andy Moles removed as coach. They wanted a better technical coach, was their reasoning. Fair enough, except, that since Mark Greatbatch has been appointed as Moles successor, nothing has changed. In fact, one could argue that they have lost ground under Greatbatch’s watch.
Having said that, blame cannot be solely aimed at Greatbatch. He has not been in the job all that long and Vettori has to take his share of responsibility for the current crisis within the team. It was he who wanted complete control over his and the team’s destiny. Trouble with being the recipient of large doses of power is that when the results do not occur in a favourable light, the spotlight of dissatisfaction soon turns its bright glare on you.
So, the pressure must surely be weighing on Vettori’s mind. How could it not? Maybe it is time for him to relinquish some of his added roles and concentrate his efforts on leading his team, instead of worrying about what power he has within New Zealand cricket. And if he won’t take a step backwards for the good of the Black Caps, then, the time has come for Justin Vaughan and New Zealand cricket to stand up to Vettori and the player power within the side and regain control. Even if that means stepping on some large but fragile egos.And even if that means some players decide to pass on representing their country. Yes, it may mean a weaker Black Caps unit, but then, they can’t sink much lower than what they have recently.
So, let’s see how much this current mob really desire playing for New Zealand.