OPINION: The most disappointing aspect of this Hamilton test was actually before a ball was even bowled. There seems a big disconnection between the people that are shaping New Zealand cricket and the winning direction required for our game
As I mentioned last week, and, as Shane Bond said a few weeks back also, it's about time NZ starting asking questions of the opposition techniques when they tour this country. Wellington provided a surface that was perhaps a little too emerald but why Hamilton has produced this pitch completely bewilders me.
I understand the groundsman is new in Hamilton and this is his first test match. But, we need to produce pitches that have a slight skew towards our favoured mode of play.
We shouldn't be afraid of acknowledging this, it is our strength and will allow us to climb to the rightful position this country should occupy in the world game - between second and no lower than fifth.
Now, a green pitch doesn't only require skill to bat on, it also needs accuracy to bowl on. Often opposition bowlers lack the skill to bowl on our seam-friendly pitches and are found short. As are touring batsmen with technical deficiencies.
An interesting observation of our test game and what direction we will be taking is the morning of the first test against India in about a month's time. Will we have the courage to have the game in our favour?
Ross Taylor deserves huge congratulations for his form this summer. It's always pleasing to see a quality player at the top of his game and long may it continue.
Also great to see Jesse Ryder back for NZ in the short form. I sense he is really keen to get amongst it but hopefully he will not get too excited.
Ryder is a special player and he must take a leaf out of Taylor's book. Taylor has decreased his shot range and by doing this he has increased his chance of success. If Ryder could also play a more compact game and do away with some riskier shots, NZ would get more out of him and Ryder would become more consistent. This is one of the first conversations Taylor should have with Ryder when he comes back into the squad, politely but with an air of a man who is at the top of his game.
Lastly, a mention of the Ashes. Sport is cyclical and this current crop of England players has had its time under Andy Flower. The result last year in England was somewhat inflated by the three-nil scoreline, it was never that big a gap but the alarming aspect is the demise of the English and how spectacular it has been. Alastair Cook has been found wanting as captain, something Shane Warne picked a while back, while Jonathan Trott has been sorely missed and here's hoping his current challenge away from cricket can be conquered. But it's the absence of James Anderson and Graeme Swann that has been most perplexing and questions are now being asked about their futures.
Above all else, the resurgence of Australia has been in their ability to get back to playing the game of cricket as they know it. Uncompromising, unapologetic and in your face. Darren Lehmann has played a huge part as coach in this transition.
NZ should look closely at our transtasman cousins and their resurgence by going back to their roots. NZ's roots lie in tough cricket on challenging pitches and heck, if you're struggling on the field we're still a great wee place to tour off it.
- Sunday Star Times
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