Black Caps miss semifinals boat at World Cup
An opportunity lost is how New Zealand coach Mike Hesson views his team's Twenty20 World Cup campaign.
Hesson is adamant that his is a fine side, who played some very good cricket here in Sri Lanka. And yet they go home with just one win to their credit, after finishing the tournament with four losses on the trot.
Grouped with England, West Indies and the hosts, the Black Caps had a right royal chance of qualifying for the semifinals. Instead they head home without registering a win in any of the Super Eight matches.
Two were lost in Super Overs, including yesterday's clash with the West Indies, but they were defeats just the same.
“We lost a couple of key moments. You know, we were two runs away from being top of the pool and being top qualifier, so there's a level of satisfaction there but I think every team that leaves the World Cup without the trophy's disappointed and we're no different," Hesson said.
The coach wasn't long on specifics about why his team was going home.
“We batted with consistency, we just never really strung all three facets of the game together on the same day. That's probably the disappointing thing," he said. “We were so close in so many things but, in the end, we go home with nothing."
From the outside, the Black Caps' problems were an inability to execute their skills when it really counted and an over-reliance on the batting of Brendon McCullum. The team has now played 10 Twenty20 matches since June 30, winning only two of them.
McCullum scored 91 in the first of those victories, against India, and 123 in the second, against Bangladesh. No-one else has come even close to registering three figures in that period.
“Look, it wasn't long ago Martin Guptill was ranked No 1 T20 player in the world so we've got a number of players in our side that can win a game on their day," Hesson said.
“Brendon obviously was outstanding against Bangladesh, Ross [Taylor] played very well yesterday and got us very close. James Franklin the other day got us a score that could've been defendable so we've got a number of guys in our side. Rob Nicol played a heck of an innings the other day as well."
It's obviously a shame for any team to come to a world event and exit at a relatively early stage, especially when they believe they could have won the thing.
But, having commenced a four-year term as coach in August, this tournament had given Hesson "a lot more information", he said and he now had "real direction about where we're going to head and that's really important for me and obviously to feed that back to the other people at New Zealand Cricket in terms of where we need to go."
One thing already under consideration is separate teams for Twenty20, one-day and test cricket. Each has unique requirements, Hesson said, and needs specific players to suit them.
The next question would have been to ask if that meant different captains, too. But that query's already caused enough problems in the last few days.