Nathan Astle: Conservative game plan proved costly

The Black Caps' inability to adapt their game plan is what cost them a place in the World Cup final this morning.

You have to think on your feet in big games and they fell into the trap of sticking with the same game plan that worked for them in the quarterfinal against South Africa, where on a similar wicket they got a score in the low 200s and defended it quite comfortably.

Sri Lanka is a different kettle of fish than South Africa so taking the same approach was the wrong path to take.

They fell 20-30 runs short of what was needed against a team who are used to the slow conditions and failed to take a chance of getting on the front foot at the innings break. What's frustrating is that they were pretty well set up to do just that but failed again. Their batting plan was too conservative and they didn't seem willing to stray away from it.

They probably weren't as confident and attacking as they should have been. The side needed to push on from their quarterfinal performance as you have to lift your game at each stage of a World Cup and they failed to do so.

It wasn't just our guys on the field though and credit must go to the Sri Lankan bowlers.

They're a handful on any conditions, let alone their own. They are outstanding bowlers and Kumar Sangakkara can pretty much throw the ball to anyone he wants knowing full well that they'll do the job for him.

Despite the semifinal exit the tournament was a success for the Black Caps.

From where we were heading into the tournament, with the run of losses we had, and to come out as the only non sub-continent team to reach the semifinals, the guys can be pretty happy with that. The biggest disappointment is that we've now made six semifinals in our history and haven't managed to crack that major final yet.

The million dollar question is why? And unfortunately I don't have the answer. That's international sport, you never know why you can't get through, you've just got to go out there and play the best you can on the day and that obviously didn't work for us last night.

It was not the ideal exit for Daniel Vettori who has been a steady captain of the side. He's a stats driven person and over his career the results probably aren't where he would have wanted them to be. It was tough for him early in his time as captain as he had, for a period of time, a young team and a lot on his shoulders, which I don't think was the right thing at the time.

There are a lot of factors you can look back on over his time as captain but I think generally he did a pretty good job.

If I was a betting man I would say Ross Taylor will replace him and that's probably the right way to go. He's has stepped in well when Vettori hasn't played and my gut feeling is that he is who the selectors will go with.

Wasn't working against Brendon McCullum is that he is giving up the gloves in some forms of the game and he has to make his way as a complete batsman now. That's probably the biggest mark against him.

That what be the only change to the side. I think there are a few guys who will retire now. The likes of Scott Styris and Jacob Oram will be assessing where they are at and that opens the door for a few youngsters around the country who will get more game time now. Any young players that puts their hand up will get a chance to step into the national side and try to claim a spot.

It's just a shame we couldn't get across the line for the final but I think they've proven a few people wrong, myself included. They got a lot further than people thought they would and must be given credit for that.

Former Black Cap Nathan Astle was talking to sports editor Cameron McMillan


- NZ Herald

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