Snook: Grounds for optimism in test outlook

IAN SNOOK
Last updated 05:00 16/01/2014

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OPINION: Oh no! What are they saying!"

Mark Waugh openly stated on television that New Zealand could easily upset the Indians in the upcoming two match test series and that currently the Kiwis are a better test side than England.

Seconds later his credibility went out the window by suggesting the Australians could beat the South Africans 3-0 in their three-match series in Africa and go to the top of the test rankings, assuming India did not beat New Zealand.

It is most unlikely that any of these statements are likely to be proved true, but then to add greater belief for the ever- optimistic Kiwi supporter, Mahendra Dhoni arrives in town and starts talking up the Black Caps.

Captaining the most populous and financially secure cricket nation in the world has obviously turned Dhoni into a master politician as he is no doubt well aware that the Black Caps only perform if they believe they are the underdogs. Too much expectation creates too much pressure.

Hang on though, is he speaking some sense here? In 2002-03 at home Stephen Fleming's side won the test series with a 10 wicket win and a four wicket victory, and the seven match ODI series was a runaway 5-2 scoreline. Admittedly the scores were more rugby like, as were the pitches, but the record is there to read.

In 2008-09 reality set back in losing the test series with only glimpses of dominance for the New Zealanders in the second of three tests. However Jesse Ryder, Brendan McCullum and Ross Taylor had plenty of success with the bat and Martin Guptill experienced that series.

The five-match ODI Series was lost 1-3 and the pecking order was as normal. In fact it is scary to read that in 52 test matches the Black Caps have won only nine for a win percentage of 17, and in 88 ODIs there have been 37 victories at a percentage of 42.

Realistically then the Black Caps have little chance at all of a test series or ODI series victory. But wait, Adam Milne can now bowl at 150kmh. Trent Boult can swing it and seam it both ways. Bowling coach Shane Bond says that Tim Southee is inches away from being "world class". Ish Sodhi bowls leggies with the control of a true sub-continent spinner.

Corey Anderson is the fastest batsmen in the west. Ross Taylor has emerged as one of the best batsman ever in the New Zealand strip. BJ Watling is moving in to the Ian Smith class. Kane Williamson is so much better than most players in the 80s who played with Paddles. McCullum's captaincy is in the Fleming mould and after all it was Fleming who led the heroics in 2002.

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How can the support base be feeling anything but confident!

Ian Snook is a former Taranaki and Central Districts captain. He is one of only four men to have played more than 100 games for Taranaki.

- Waikato Times

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