Woolly thinking, as much as poor cricket, characterised New Zealand's 13-run loss to Pakistan in their final group D match at the Twenty20 World Cup.
By their own admission, the Black Caps were average with the bat, ball and in the field.
But the most troubling aspect of the defeat, from an outsider's viewpoint, was some of the decision-making.
From replacing an opening batsman with a raw fast bowler, to pushing Kane Williamson up to the top of the order and hiding captain Ross Taylor behind some bowling all-rounders, there wasn't a lot that made obvious sense.
New coach Mike Hesson has been credited with bringing a greater degree of analysis and planning to the group. It certainly sounds like there are plenty of meetings anyway.
So how, for instance, did they decide that Daniel Vettori and Jacob Oram should go out to bat ahead of Taylor?
“When we lost those two wickets [at 53 and 54], it was the first ball of the seventh over, so we wanted to have a left-hander [Vettori] in there at that stage," Hesson explained yesterday.
“And then when Dan got out in the 14th [over], we needed quite a significant run rate, so we sent Jake in to have a quick lick and see if he could get some momentum."
Neither Oram nor Vettori batted with great distinction and it was only when Taylor struck 26 from 11 deliveries, having finally come in at No 6, that New Zealand looked to have a chance of chasing down Pakistan's score of 177-6.
Great thought had gone into where everyone was best utilised but, in this instance, it didn't come off.
“I'm sure I probably won't be batting that low again in the rest of the tournament," was how Taylor summed up the situation.
In terms of planning, there was another thing that Taylor said after the match that was peculiar. New Zealand got off to an ordinary start, specifically because Taylor dropped Mohammad Hafeez three balls in. Standing at slip, Taylor looked like he did not see the ball until very late.
“I was thinking of who I was going to bowl at the other end, so I need to switch off. I said to Baz [wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum] beforehand: should I go with Dan [Vettori] or Timmy [Southee] and then I looked up and dropped the catch," Taylor said.
Remember, only two balls had been bowled before the Kyle Mills one that Hafeez nicked. So how good are these strategy meetings if no-one even knows who's going to bowl the second over of the match?
Hesson responded by saying it was important for a captain to quickly assess the conditions and think on his feet. But that there are also several “A-plans" with which to start the bowling innings.
Which still leaves us none the wiser as to whether the team knows who is going to bowl the first over from either end.
Perhaps having that sorted would be a good way to begin proceedings against Sri Lanka in their opening Super Eights match on Thursday.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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