As we go to air (as they say on One News) the big questions are unanswered- is 241 a good enough score to win a game at this tournament?, Is a strike rate in the 30s going to be the way of things for the team batting first? Has to be said neither Pakistan nor Windies look like world beaters…
Anyway, It is that time; despite the jet lagged stumble against Bangladesh. The time before all major tournaments, when we look at the Black Caps line-up and, for a moment, we all believe. We believe that Lou Vincent’s pills will arrive in time, that Travis Wilson has remembered that you don’t have a glove on when you are catching in cricket and that Macca will get that glint in his eye.
We have of course been here before- many times. The unbeatable team that went to England in 2004, the World Cup in 2003. Sometimes I blame Flem. When he looks down the barrel of the camera, all tall, dark and handsome and says the team believe- we are inclined to do the same.
We all know the story, its not who to put in, its who to leave out. Barring any further paralysis or fractures among our bowlers, we look great on paper. Personally I am worried that there is no place in a balanced team for two metre Peter. We need his batting; his scary height helps too. But we have to have bowling options and that means Styris and McMillan (along with Bond, Franklin, Oram, Vettori, and Patel/Gillespie). With Flem, Vincent and Taylor up top- there is no room for Fulton. A matter of who to leave out you see.
Look at those names. On their day they could all win a match almost single-handedly. A balanced bowling attack with options to burn. We need Fulton to play the head down innings, but the others can do it if they have to.
I think Brendon McCullum could be the star of this tournament. He will inevitably save us at least once- even if it is when we are 100-5 against Canada, and he will be able to go over cover and reach the boundary with ease at almost every ground. He’ll talk non-stop in the field too- and Michael Holding will notice him.
I am beginning to believe. And then I remember the frailty, the fragility of it all. Didn’t we disintegrate spectacularly against Sri Lanka earlier this season? Aren’t we still leaking more than 100 in the last 15 overs almost every game? Haven’t we dropped at least two easy catches a game this season? Is there something genetic about the weakness of New Zealand backs?
Vic Marks in the Guardian at the weekend said New Zealand are always the dark horses of World Cups. The question is which horse will show- Zabeel or Mr Ed?