March 2009
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Daniel Brigham: Resurgent Kiwis learning Test lesson

March 27th, 2009 by Daniel Brigham in New Zealand, Test cricket

What is it with cricket teams at the moment? So many of them appear to be resurgent. First Australia return to their status as world-beaters (after a dip shorter than Bryce McGain’s Test career), then West Indies win their first Test series for five years. Now New Zealand are joining in, the flaying of India’s vaunted attack led by two very gifted enigmas, Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder.

For too long their undoubted ability as a one-day side has held back their advancement as a Test side. They can be destructive over 50 overs because their batsmen don’t hang around; they are self-destructive over five days for precisely the same reason. Prior to the current Test at Napier, the last time New Zealand batted for over 150 overs in an innings was also the last time one of their batsmen scored a double-hundred: April 2006.

Taylor, in his 16th Test and Ryder, in his 8th, could well change that thinking. The ease and assurance with which they played in the first innings at Napier suggested they’d been around for years. Both hundreds were innings of high-class batsmen, two that have the potential to get into any batting line-up in the world, on any pitch. Sure, the track was dead but the Indian attack is skilled. Yet neither batsman looked in any danger, their timing as good as Ponting’s or Tendulkar’s.

Ryder has had very public problems, but he is young and New Zealand have stuck with him, and look at how he’s rewarded their faith. He’s still obviously far too keen on eating the wrong things (although Samit Patel may have watched his innings with interest), but the way he reacted when getting out first ball after completing his double-hundred was as telling as it was surprising, slamming his bat to the ground in anger. His appetite for runs was obvious throughout the innings, but his disgust at getting out to a loose shot made it palpable. This is a man who isn’t happy unless he’s scoring big.

For too long New Zealand batsmen have made average bowlers looks good (Ryan Sidebottom anyone?), but with these two in the middle-order they have the ability to make good bowlers look average. World cricket needs a good Kiwi side as much as it needs a successful West Indies, and, with Taylor and Ryder fulfilling their promise, I know which one I’d bet on happening sometime soon.

Daniel Brigham is assistant editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in New Zealand, Test cricket | 1 Comment »

One Response to “Daniel Brigham: Resurgent Kiwis learning Test lesson”

  1.   Som says:

    I too could have shared your enthusiasm but fungi seemed to have licked the life out of the track and then India’s butter-finger fielders and their slip colander helped Kiwi cause.
    Having said that, you can’t take anything away from Ryder. One more thing, never disrespect any drunkard again, for he maybe just one rehabilitation away from greatness.

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