OPINION: Viv Richards, Lance Klusener, Adam Gilchrist, Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Symonds. In no particular order, these are the finest hitters of a cricket ball that I had the privilege to watch.
Corey Anderson's innings in Queenstown where he made the fastest ODI hundred ever was simply the cleanest striking I have seen.
Anderson's innings in Queenstown has launched him on to the global stage the five aforementioned men have graced. But this performance should never define him.
By that I mean this performance has shown team-mates, opponents, media and public what is within his armoury. But it is certainly not the norm and we should never expect it to be.
The innings revealed the ferocious power Anderson can deliver but in time he will begin to understand when it is time to release that and move beyond a strike rate of 100. If he can finish his career with a strike rate of 100, then he will be a champion.
The man that Anderson took the record off was Shahid Afridi and I always felt Afridi never really recovered from that innings which launched his career internationally. Afridi would play with such aggression that you always felt it was like watching someone drive faster and faster on ice. It was never sustainable.
Anderson, on the other hand, is more orthodox and I do see him as a batting allrounder until such time that his body is strong enough to shoulder more bowling - but that is three to four years away.
So which player should Anderson look to in world cricket as an example?
In my view it is MS Dhoni. Dhoni's ability to pace a run chase, be there at the end and use his power when it is required means that Anderson would do well to study the Indian captain's feats and get alongside him and talk about cricket and run-chasing when the Indians tour in a few weeks.
For the next few years, until around the 50 ODIs mark, the media and public should allow Anderson the time to grow and learn.
The pressure should be and will be on Guptill, Ryder, McCullum and Taylor to take responsibility in the big games. Williamson, Anderson, Munro and Neesham should have a free licence to play with no fear, to explore their games sound in the knowledge that their places in the New Zealand cricket side are safe.
What was tremendous about Anderson's innings in Queenstown is that it now lifts an enormous burden off Jesse Ryder. Ryder is no longer the king hitter and can get his head around batsmanship and fulfilling his potential. His century was superb and I was extremely happy for him.
This New Zealand side reminds me a lot of the Sri Lankan team of 1995 that won the World Cup.
In the lead-up to the tournament they played some excellent cricket and had a wonderful mixture of experience and exciting new talent. Sri Lanka won the World Cup in their backyard in '95 and that is why I firmly believe New Zealand is on the right track for something special in its backyard in 2015.
The players must start believing it and talk and train as though they believe this will happen.
When it gets tough they will need to look around the dressing room and count on everyone in it to come through under pressure. If they can get that right, there will be no stopping them.
- Sunday Star Times
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