Former Black Cap Peter Ingram has identified a lack of mental readiness as the primary reason behind the Taranaki cricket team's humiliating outright loss to Manawatu on Saturday.
The vice-captain of the Revital Fertilisers Taranaki team has had sleepless nights since the embarrassing loss in the opening match of Taranaki's 2012-13 Hawke Cup campaign.
The side was dismissed for a paltry 35 in their first innings - a record low for a Taranaki team. In reply, Manawatu scored 183 before Taranaki fared little better in their second innings, stuttering along before being bundled out for 80 to lose by an innings and 68 runs.
"We go on about training harder and getting fitter but that's only 10 per cent of it," said Ingram when reflecting on the loss yesterday.
"Cricket is a mind game. The mental side of it is massive, it's 90 per cent of the game."
Ingram said the Taranaki team were fooled into thinking they would be batting on a flat deck - a batter's paradise.
"All week, we went on about how good the wicket was going to be," he said.
Taranaki coach Kerry O'Neill was quoted in a preview for the match that the Pukekura Park wicket was the best prepared for a Taranaki team in years.
Ingram found otherwise when he inspected the strip himself on match morning.
"I got out there on Saturday morning with my spikes on for the warmup and had a walk around and I thought ‘Gee this is a bit tacky'. I said then to management ‘This has put a cat amongst the pigeons'."
Ingram said his comments were "fobbed off"' by officials who told him there would be nothing in the pitch. "So we win the toss and bat and we lose three quick wickets because of sideways movement, which is what happens when the pitch is soft and tacky."
Ingram admitted many of the Taranaki batsmen were guilty of poor shot selection at times.
"Yes we did play some bad shots and it wasn't all about the wicket either," he said.
"But it's about being in the right mindset to make good decisions and we weren't."
Ingram said, on the score of available talent, the Taranaki team measured up well with the very best.
"We've got a bloody good side. There is more talent in this team than there has ever been.
"But it's not about talent at the end of the day, it's being in the right frame of mind and making good decisions. And on Saturday we weren't and it showed."
Ingram said he'd had trouble sleeping since the loss.
"I'm so gutted. Even when I do drop off and wake up again, it's the first thing I think about.
"I love playing for the Naki.
"I always have and it hurts."
Meanwhile, a squad of 20 will practise at Pukekura Park tomorrow including several newcomers and four former players.
Added to the 12 who played the match against Manawatu last weekend are New Plymouth Boys' High School medium pace bowler Callum Stuart, Liam Muggeridge (NPBHS), John Dickson (NPOB) Hayden McIntyre (Inglewood), Aaron Zame (Inglewood), Andrew Mason (Woodleigh), Tom Bruce (Stratford) and Robert Northcott (Hawera United).
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