It May Just Be the Black Caps Time in the Spotlight
“It was heartening” to see Test cricket return to Christchurch in December, the Guardian’s Mike Selvey writes. “It was fitting, too, that the Black Caps should mark it with a resounding win over Sri Lanka and that it should be Brendon McCullum who led the way with a remarkable innings.”
“I watched the highlights of McCullum’s innings and it would not have seemed markedly different in real time. He has always been in the vanguard of modern limited-overs batting, first pioneering a technique that involved advancing down the pitch on the line of off-stump and outside and simply clipping over the legside.
“But he has gone beyond that now and sympathy lay with the bowlers for, when someone can bat in the manner he did, there is no hiding place. Anything remotely back from a length, no matter the line, he carved through the offside or occasionally smeared legside.
“In Christchurch he hit 11 sixes, which takes his tally for the year to 33, twice as many as anyone else and the most ever hit in a calendar year.
“New Zealand has always produced outstanding individual cricketers from a small pool of talent. Sir Richard Hadlee is the most clinical pace bowler I have seen, Martin Crowe the best technician with the bat, Daniel Vettori the outstanding left-arm spinner of my time and Stephen Fleming the best Test match captain.
“But with the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand approaching, and led by McCullum, the outstanding captain in world cricket at the moment, they seem to be gathering momentum and strength as a team.
“As a team they are prudent, make the most of resources, plan well, have the confidence to go with that and have caught the imagination of their public. It may just be their time.”
The Black Caps begin their ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 campaign with a match against Sri Lanka on 14 February at Hagley Oval in Christchurch, followed by Scotland on 17 February at Dunedin’s University Oval.
Original article by Mike Selvey, The Guardian, December 29, 2014.