Black Caps love affair continues
Black Caps: world beaters or pretenders?
Ever since I could grasp the handle of a bat in my small, yet eager hands, I have carried a passion for the game of cricket.
Hand in hand with that passion has gone an undying support for our much maligned and perennially disappointing New Zealand cricket team, the Black Caps.
For those true supporters, particularly those who hold a candle for the longest and most pure form of test match cricket, the last two decades have been tough viewing.
Like a jilted lover, we have been spurned time and again, as poor performances inevitably follow great ones, and our boys flatter only to deceive.
The infrequent victories are memorable and like the bouquet of flowers or romantic dinner at a fancy restaurant proffered by a negligent object of desire to their long-suffering partner, they keep bringing us back for more.
Yet, in the last two years, the dinners have been more frequent and they have been memorable feasts.
The arrival of Mike Hesson as the coach to replace John Wright brought immediate controversy.
He was pilloried after he appointed fellow Otago man, Brendon McCullum, to replace Ross Taylor after the latter had scored an impressive century in Sri Lanka.
Now all those troubles do seem so far away.
While the Black Caps still struggle to find a regular opening partnership and a consistent spinner, the signs for this team are very positive.
The combination of Tim Southee and Trent Boult continues to impress.
The pair consistently hit good line and length. They know where to put the ball to get it talking, by swinging in and out to confound opposing batsmen.
They have also shown remarkable patience in sticking to their guns over long periods.
It is in this respect the contribution of Neil Wagner as a tireless workhorse must also be noted.
When needed, Wagner turns up and readily bowls long spells without complaint. He serves as an ideal foil to the opening bowlers.
Meanwhile in the crucial first drop batting position we seem to have found in Kane Williamson a player of remarkable maturity for someone still just 24 years of age.
It is often said in sport that great players have time and so it is the case with Kane Williamson of late.
Williamson's technical strength from his sound stance and light feet means he makes time for himself and he can readily spring forward to loft the ball over mid off or lean back to punch square.
The aforementioned Taylor has reignited himself as a player in this team.
Whilst there has never been much doubt about Taylor's skill with the bat, the captaincy issue did seem to take its toll. These days it appears to be water under the bridge and Taylor just bats.
Jimmy Neesham has been a revelation with the bat since joining McCullum on his long march to 300. In the no. 6 position he brings an intensity and positive intent to attack the bowling which can help the team gain real momentum towards a large score.
The balance of this team is strong and an overseas series win off the back of victory at home over India bodes well.
I believe they have the ability to secure more significant results, but whether they fulfil this potential or not, we as fans must make the most of the good times.
In my living memory, this is the golden era for New Zealand cricket.
Let's enjoy it while the love is requited.
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