Black Caps bracing for fight

TONY BIRD
Last updated 07:20 28/02/2013
sandle stand
ANDY JACKSON
New Zealand cricket team manager Mike Sandle was in New Plymouth yesterday.

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New Zealand's best cricketers are determined to fight to win back respect from their fans, Black Caps manager Mike Sandle says.

Sandle, 50, recently moved back to Taranaki and will base himself in Stratford with wife Michelle and their two children.

The move comes after spending more than three years in Auckland where he shifted to be manager of the Blues Super Rugby team before taking up his job with New Zealand Cricket in mid-2011.

Sandle yesterday was guest speaker at the Taranaki Coaches Club meeting at Sport Taranaki.

The former police officer has been riding the highs and lows of the Black Caps, and plans to continue to do so at least until his contract expires in 2015.

Sandle is now looking forward to the home test series against England and the challenges it is certain to bring.

"Obviously England is going to be really hard to beat in the tests," he said. "They are number two at the moment so we're under no illusions that it's going to be really tough. All we want to do is earn some respect back and fight.

"Two or three-day tests kill everyone and no-one wants those results. We just want to be battling our bums off for our country."

Sandle said there had been a few good positive signs on England's tour here so far.

"We've had the one-day and Twenty20 series, and both were alive going into the last game and that's something we didn't have last year," Sandle said.

He said the Black Caps were hugely disappointed at losing the one-day series decider.

"What disappointed us the most was the match in Napier. We had a slow start and really picked up from the middle, and then didn't bat out our overs.

"We probably should have got over 320-plus, so we missed the bus there, getting 280."

The team had made advances over the past 12 months.

"We're doing some good things and then having those bad periods, and hopefully we can have less of the bad periods from now on."

Sandle was present with coach Mike Hesson and assistant coach Bob Carter when team management axed Ross Taylor as skipper in favour of Brendon McCullum during the Black Caps' tour of Sri Lanka last year.

Sandle side-stepped the question of his involvement yesterday.

"I don't want to get into it.

"Everything I wanted to say I've said to David White [New Zealand Cricket chief executive].

"'I was obviously involved in the meetings and I have relayed everything from those meetings to David White."

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Taylor subsequently took a break and made himself unavailable for the tour of South Africa.

He returned to the team at the start of the Twenty20 matches against England last month.

"He's a great player and the best batsman we've got in our team at the moment," Sandle said.

Sandle disagreed with the suggestion that the whole Hesson- Taylor saga, which dragged on for weeks, had been a distraction to the team.

"There was obviously lots going on in the media but I think it galvanised us as a team," he said.

Sandle singled out the one-day series win against South Africa as a special moment for the Black Caps. "I think it pulled us closer together.

"The tour finished on a real high for us and it was very, very special."

On Taylor electing to make himself unavailable for the tour of South Africa, Sandle was again tightlipped. "I don't want to say anything in regard to that," he said. "A lot of personal conversations went on and conversations between Ross and myself which are very private.

"It's just really good to have Ross back . . . and I'm confident we're going to see him perform really well against England."

Sandle said the controversy of Taylor's sacking had been laid to rest.

"I'm pleased that it's behind us now, and we're . . . looking forward to good times ahead."

Neesham to the fore, Page 22

- Taranaki Daily News

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