Monday, November 24, 2008

A Win At Last?

Well, we beat New Zealand. Good. Brendan McCullum said before the start of the match that it was a good time to play Australia. By the end of the first day that looked to be true, but if we're honest, it was really a good time for Australia to play New Zealand. We needed a win, and they were just the team to provide it.

New Zealand frustrate me at times. They really should be better than they are! By and large, they are a team with some talent, but for some reason they can't ever seem to get it together when it counts. Don't get me wrong, I didn't say BRIMMING with talent, they do have Aaron Redmund opening the batting after all, and the seam attack is ok but not fantastic - but in Ryder, Taylor, McCullum, Vettori, Southee, Flynn and even How on his day, they definitely have some good players. Gone are the days when you had the idea that the NZ side were park cricketers with the odd Hadlee or Crowe thrown in - these days, by and large, they have the look of good, solid, first-class cricketers. Throw in Oram when he's fit and you've definitely got a side that can make runs and take wickets.

And yet no matter what happens, they always, somehow, contrive to lose. They should have beaten England at home earlier in the year. They should have beaten them in England last summer, too. But ended up losing both series at a canter - 1-2 and 2-0. It was the Manchester test that really frustrated me, and pretty much sums up what I'm talking about. 381 in the first innings with a cracking knock from Ross Taylor, and then bowled out England for 202. Great! 179-run lead, thanks very much! Fait d'accompli, I hear you cry. But no. They slump to 114 all out in the second dig, which still leaves England with a still tricky-looking chase of 293, but they never look like threatening and England get there with six wickets to spare. An AWFUL result. I was appalled, and appalled in much the same way that I was (genuinely) after THAT result in Adelaide in 2006. Yes, it's great to beat England. It's good to humiliate England, too. But, dammit, isn't it better to beat a side when they're actually playing well, as opposed to having brain explosions in un-losable situations? I want to see GOOD cricket, not bad.

And this is why New Zealand disappoint me. They dine out on the under-estimate-us-at-your-peril-we'll-always-punch-above-our-weight thing, and sure it sometimes means that they'll do something unexpected, but nothing that's ever enough to win a Test match, or, heaven forbid, an actual series. It seems as though they enjoy annoying sides rather than actually beating them. And the recent test at the 'Gabba seemed to me to be a prime example - yes, the result was convincing in the end, and they did provide us with a pretty stern test, but how many times was Clarke dropped in the first innings? And the same with Katich in the second? It should have been so much closer, and therefore much more interesting, than it was.

What really irks me above all about this result is that every Kiwi cricket fan, and probably pundit, on the face of the planet will now be saying "oh well, we gave them a run for their money, we were never expected to win, anyway, well done, lads." Not good enough! What they should be saying is that they cannot be content with marks for effort, a loss is a loss no matter how wide the margin, and if they'd believed in themselves more they would have won. Nothing annoys me more than an inferiority complexes, and it seems that as a cricketing nation, New Zealand have one in spades.

In other breaking news, the Zimbos just lost to the Shrees in a thriller. Bad luck, fellahs - and I'm allowing myself to say that, because these guys really ARE park cricketers.


Tony.T said...

"isn't it better to beat a side when they're actually playing well, as opposed to having brain explosions in un-losable situations?"

Ummm... no.

Carrot said...

Yes! Finally! Someone disagreed with me.

Tony, I wrote in your comments at the time that I was disappointed by the Adelaide result. It produced somewhat of a stir, as I recall.

What I really wanted from 2006/7 was another 2005, another edge-of-your-seat series. It was great to see Australia dominate sides through fantastic cricket, but the 2001 series against India and the 2005 Ashes have to go down as two of the greatest because there was some great cricket played by both sides AND they were close. Once we'd won Adelaide like that you knew that there was zero chance of having another one. It also proved what we all suspected - that England weren't actually a very good side, it was just that fortune was with them in 2005 for a whole bunch of reasons. And that was disappointing because what really excited everyone in 2005 was that not only was there a cultural rivalry over the Ashes, but for once, an actual contest on the field. I'm sure I wouldn't be alone in saying that I enjoy good contests against anyone, but against England they're worth that much more, either. But then they capitulated by playing really, really stupid, bad cricket.

And as per my post, I enjoy seeing good cricket, not bad.