OPINION: Peter Fulton has just returned from fulfilling a childhood dream - a test cricket tour to England. Back home in Christchurch, he offers some insight on the ups and downs of the past month, which saw New Zealand lose the series 2-0.
One minute I am fulfilling a childhood dream as I walk through the Long Room at Lord's with Hamish Rutherford to open the batting in a test match for New Zealand against England. Fast forward four weeks and I am standing knee deep in water outside my St Albans home wondering how I am going to retrieve my recycling bin which is floating down the street.
How quickly things can change, and that phrase is probably an apt way to describe the recent Black Caps tour of England.
A tour of the United Kingdom is probably the ultimate for any cricketer and the current New Zealand squad are no different. The chance to play at grounds seeped in cricketing history such as Lord's, Headingley and The Oval is, for many, a once in a lifetime opportunity.
I was on the 2008 tour to England but didn't play a test and even six months ago would have been hard pressed to believe I would be picked for the 2013 version. But as the saying goes, cricket is a funny old game and that's exactly what unfolded.
After a hard fought 0-0 test series draw in New Zealand in March, it's fair to say that expectations were high that the team could compete and possibly even win the return series in England.
Unfortunately, after a strong start over the first three days at Lord's we lost the game in a crazy hour just before lunch when the top order failed to negotiate the English new ball pairing of James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
The good work of the previous three home tests was undone and we never recovered in time for the second test in Leeds.
Much was made before the start of the return series about the Duke ball which is used in England. The ball is much darker than its Kookaburra counterpart and continues to swing for the best part of 80 overs when conditions are damp and overcast like they were in May when we arrived.
The English pace bowlers rediscovered the swing they struggled to find in New Zealand while the return of a world class spinner in Graeme Swann added an extra dimension to their side.
Despite all that, I was still bitterly disappointed with my own performance after a good series in March and I know the other guys in the team feel the same way.
We had a great opportunity to build further on the good performances at home last summer and ended up taking a step backwards which is extremely frustrating for the team and also for the New Zealand cricketing public.
I have been in and out of the team over the years and during those periods out of the side it has been hard, at times, to hear what people say about the team and their performances.
What I can say is that no-one is more disappointed than the players when we lose; in the same way that no-one is happier when we win.
Every player is also aware that we have to be accountable for our performance and that means accepting criticism when deserved. However, the treadmill that is international cricket never stops and so now the team are looking forward to the next tour and the continual search for improvement.
- Peter Fulton is a New Zealand international and long-serving Canterbury cricketer.
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