Black Caps veteran Daniel Vettori says run outs must stop before Cricket World Cup
It's Daniel Vettori's 36th birthday today. The newly minted record-holder for most test and one-day international appearances for New Zealand has plenty of reasons to smile, but one thing still makes him cranky.
It might be the former skipper in him, or his role as coach of Indian Premier League side Bangalore bubbling to the surface.
We're talking needless run outs of key batsmen. It could even top that mortal sin of the dropped catch.
Vettori's jaw hardened when the topic was mentioned after Sunday's series-clinching 120-run win over Sri Lanka in Dunedin. It's the one thing causing angst in an otherwise firing batting unit, particularly that mix-up between Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor.
"A top-six batsman should never get run out. I think it's a waste of dismissal just for the sake of one run. If those guys can stay there as long as possible they will make up that single at some stage," Vettori said.
"There's certainly no joy at the amount of run outs and it's not something we want to continue. It really has to stop because it could cost us an important game."
As Taylor pointed out, it's not a strictly New Zealand issue as three in each team were run out in game six.
But there was clearly a problem when four Black Caps were run out in Hamilton on January 15, before Sunday's howler with both batsmen set and a total close to Friday's 350 beckoning.
Taylor and Williamson both exist in this intense bubble of concentration at the crease, which helps them bat long, but a bit of peripheral vision and communication is required. They each regularly experience running jitters, even if their strokeplay can be sublime.
On Sunday, Williamson put his head down and was always haring back for two, and Taylor was always jogging for an easy single. When they realised they weren't on the same page, it was chaos.
Williamson was gone for 97; Taylor was crestfallen but at least dug in and made amends with 96 of his own to push the total past 300.
As for a quick fix, it's a tricky one. No amount of training on an empty park can replicate the pressure and buzz of an actual game.
"It is, and it isn't [easy to remedy]. There's different times throughout a game, pressure situations where the running becomes a little bit more difficult," Vettori said.
"But when we're in a good position and playing as well as Ross and Kane were, then it's not the thing that needs to be done at that stage."
It may come down to batting coach Craig McMillan's tongue-in-cheek suggestion after Hamilton to put the offending batsmen in a room, switch out the lights and let them sort it out.
Thankfully for the Black Caps, that's their most pressing issue ahead of Thursday's dead rubber at Westpac Stadium.
There could be worse and more numerous problems to have, less than three weeks from their World Cup opener. The big watch is the progress of Adam Milne (side strain) who was back bowling on Sunday, and was tentatively targeted to return on Thursday.
After back-to-back wins of 100-plus runs, New Zealand clearly have the measure of Sri Lanka whose batting is top class but bowling after the first 20 overs is threadbare.
The way New Zealand's top-seven recovered from a jittery start, then the bowlers finished the job, was ideal.
"What everyone wants to see is when you're under pressure what you can come up with. Particularly on Friday we saw that in abundance and a little bit [on Sunday]. The wicket was tricky early and they bowled exceptionally well," Vettori said.
"For Kane and Ross to get us to that score, and sticking to a gameplan of those two batting through the middle stages and trying to set it up for Corey and Luke at the end, we saw the gameplan work against and that's very satisfying."
- The Dominion Post