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OPINION: New Zealand's failure to beat the West Indies in the first cricket test was borne of insecurity and perhaps a mistrust of cleverness.
The most disturbing thing about the wet finish to the test was the rain shadow of self-pity.
No one took responsibility. Coach Mike Hesson said: "We knew there were going to be showers; the fact that it started raining and the wind stopped was nothing that we were aware of. We always hoped that it would clear and forecast was that it would clear, and it didn't. I can't predict the rain. When you play as well as that and you don't get a result, you're obviously disappointed."
Captain Brendon McCullum said: "We did everything we could to win this test match and I believe we'd have won if it hadn't rained ...
"Do I doubt the decision to enforce [the follow-on]? Absolutely not. I think it was the right decision at the right time. If the rain had held we would have got the result. There are times we'd love to have the other side of the luck but that's cricket."
It won't do. It all smacks of pity rather than self-awareness. New Zealand didn't win because they made a mistake in enforcing the follow-on. They didn't win because they dropped catches. They didn't win because they couldn't knock off 112 runs in 30 overs, despite all their practice at Twenty20, when they knew there was a good chance of rain.
And Ross Taylor, who is one of the more self-aware, may also think that New Zealand didn't win because he was not able to take charge of the situation.
Taylor is New Zealand's best bat by a very long way. He now knows deep down that he is far better than anyone else in the team. That is progress.
Like his mentor Martin Crowe, there were demons early in Taylor's career. Those are part of being a test batsman. But Taylor has one more level to go. Steve Waugh, Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar, Graeme Smith - and I could name many more - would have counter-attacked to victory.
Taylor's first thought was to save his own side, rather than destroy the opposition's. He has another level to go yet. But the last thing New Zealand need to take on to Wellington's Basin Reserve this morning is self-pity.
They need to think like All Blacks. When New Zealand lose a rugby test - yes, I know it doesn't happen very often - they don't lose because of a tummy bug or because the referee made some bad calls or the weather was a bit dodgy. They lose because there were things that they could have done better.
Former All Black coach Wayne Smith won't accept observations about the ref. They may be true, but they are also excuses. If you play well enough, you take the ref out of it.
Lydia Ko is young, but I suspect she doesn't lose because of the bounce of the ball. She loses because there were things that she could have done better. She did not putt well enough in her first pro tournament. So Ko did not excuse herself, but went away and fixed the problem. And now she has gone 68, 68, 69 and thank you for playing.
That is Tigeresque, or should I say Tigeresque when dad was still around to kick the bouncing young man. The older Tiger has made a friend of pity.
Geoff Boycott said young Joe Root had the "brains of a chocolate mouse" after the shot he played in England's first innings in Adelaide. But England's batsmen had a closed-door session in the middle of the test and a few hard words were said. No pity, no thank you. The result was an improvement in the second innings with Root getting most of the way to a century.
But England know they have not improved enough, nothing like. They will keep taking a long hard look at themselves. What does New Zealand know? Do they want to ask those hard questions or do they want to blame it on luck? No pity, no thank you.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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