Kiwi cricket lovers spurned too often

In his scathing review of New Zealand's already sorry tour of Sri Lanka, Fairfax Media's Jonathan Millmow suggests that our national cricket team is an embarrassment.

And New Zealand Cricket boss David White concedes that fans will express "anger and frustration" at their ongoing decline.

Sadly, we suggest fans have long ago hit anger and frustration to the boundary and that embarrassment has now metastasised into a gnawing realisation that we are simply not very good and wholly deserving of our growing status as irrelevant minnows.

Witnessing with numb acceptance yet another woeful capitulation one was reminded that within a generation we have gone from watching Martin Crowe fall painfully short of what would have been New Zealand's only triple century against a cricketing minnow making its first, nascent steps into the cricketing world, to being casually dismissed by the same sporting nation.

The tables have turned. Even if we were never that good that we could suggest the mighty have fallen.

We are also reminded of sports writer Glenn McLean's column of last Monday, in which he suggested the All Blacks should not be made to waste time playing rugby's minnows when there is greater adventure and sporting contest to be had in swimming with the bigger fish.

Maybe his counterparts in Galle, Kandy or Colombo are now suggesting their fine national side should not be wasting time clashing blades with our own Bleak Caps.

And they would have a fair argument.

For while Sri Lanka long ago left behind their status as cricket's whipping boys, the globe's great nations now routinely line up to apply the whip-hand to New Zealand. When they can be distracted from playing more lucrative, longer series against each other.

That lure of great fortune has thrashed against New Zealand's previously stout walls of stoic character and pride, eroded the mental fortitude and skills that elevated collectively mediocre teams of the past in the longer form of the game.

We were never a team of stars, but we could draw on those intangible qualities to produce a star team. Or at least one that could compete. And occasionally win.

None of this is likely to be addressed in a review of a sport that kneels, out of necessity and pragmatism, before a shrine to short-term gain and player power.

No shuffling of personnel, both playing and administration, is going to fix a sport in a small nation whose audience has long ago left the longer form of the game to the purists and whose future players, audience and promoters are happily dancing to the pied-piper's shorter, jauntier tune.

New Zealand's cricketing fans are like lovers spurned too often: we have been hurt so many times that we either have low expectations or none whatsoever. It's our defence against too much pain.

And that should scare and inspire the administrators more than another habitual collapse in another far-off field.

Taranaki Daily News