Mark Richardson is a former Black Cap and current columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Mark Richardson: Batting first to boost morale

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The Black Caps must take the confidence and, more importantly, the points they earned against Pakistan and convert them into a first or second placing in their group.

It's highly likely India and South Africa will top Group B and they must be avoided if at all possible. A quarter-final victory against these teams is not impossible but it's not likely.

If confidence is an issue at the moment then I would suggest our boys would back themselves against a foe like the West Indies or England.

In fact, I would back them highly against these teams. It would take a lot of self-hypnosis, however, to play with freedom against India and South Africa in a crunch match.

The first job for New Zealand is a very healthy win against Canada today. The Canucks will be dispatched, have no worries there, but how well will they be beaten?

It's important because there is every chance placings in New Zealand's group could be decided by net run-rates.

So far the Black Caps have done a sterling job in achieving a very healthy positive rate. They have pounded the minnows and the win against Pakistan was so good it was a double-whammy - extra points and run rates.

That win did a lot to overcome the damage done by the big loss to Australia. With a net run rate of 1.848, the Black Caps sit second in the group, a whole point below Sri Lanka but slightly above Australia and a point above Pakistan.

Above all, however, the number of wins is the most important thing and the no-result from the Australia versus Sri Lanka match could be significant for our team.

The good news is that a win against Canada will keep the rate high but it will do no harm to increase it further.

They should bat first if Ross Taylor wins the toss today and go about setting a big total again. It would be too easy to bowl first, restrict the minnows and then whack it off in no time. They would gain more confidence if they post a huge total.

The way they conservatively worked themselves into the position to really open up and use the destructive hitting power they possess later in the innings in the game against Pakistan was excellent.

It's the way totals appear to be best made in this tournament and another similar effort will prove valuable.

Obviously, the acceleration is not always going to be that dramatic but wickets in hand gives them a great chance to pile it on over the last 10 overs.

- Herald on Sunday

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Mark Richardson is a former Black Cap and current columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Mark Hunter Richardson represented New Zealand in 38 Tests from 2000-2004 racking up an impressive 2,776 runs with an average of 44.7. The former Black Cap began his cricketing career as a left-arm spinner but soon realised that his talents lay with the bat. The transition from ball to bat was seamless and Richardson soon made his international debut against Zimbabwe at the age of 29. Known as a stalwart opener, Richardson’s intelligent style of hard-grind batting came at the perfect time for New Zealand cricket and provided much-needed stability for the Black Caps. Apart from being an excellent opening batsman, Mark Richardson was well-known among fans and team mates for his humorous off-pitch antics and friendly interactions with the famous Beige Brigade, with whom he formed a strong relationship. An excellent cricketer with a personable quality, Richardson once remarked that his retiring first-class average was only different to that of Sir Donald Bradman by a decimal point. Mark Richardson retired from all forms of the game in 2004 and continues to write an insightful, thought-provoking column for the New Zealand Herald.

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