Mark Richardson 's Opinion

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

Mark Richardson: Action needed to stop rot

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The lack of preparation leading into the current Black Caps tour of the West Indies reeked of arrogance that New Zealand Cricket and the players have not earned or can ill afford.

They may right the ship over the second half of the tour - but the damage could have already been done.

First of all, our cricketers are just not good enough to waltz off the IPL playing field, or county cricket, or individual nets sessions in the cold of New Zealand and expect to perform against a West Indian team - particularly one whose skills have been honed against the might of England.

Sure, our players were never going to get that quality of game time preparation but preparing as a unit does more than drifting in like Brown's Cows.

It was reported that financial constraints meant a pre-tour camp was not possible. So has it got to the point that the New Zealand Players Association can negotiate a pay rise for our players but now New Zealand Cricket can't afford to properly prepare the team?

If that is the case, then perhaps, as independent contractors, the players should fork out a bit of their own coin to prepare themselves. After all, they tell us they all want to perform for their country.

The fact of the matter is our best players are going to leave the game having taken more than any other New Zealand cricketer has ever taken from the game - but if things continue as they are, they will leave the game in this country in a worse state than when they entered it.

Their lack of performance is making fans disenchanted with cricket in this country; people are gravitating away from it. Who will a lack of TV viewer numbers and support hurt the most? That's right, the next generation of New Zealand cricketers.

This current tour is being conducted in poor viewing hours for New Zealand, as is India and South Africa to come before we enter yet another truncated New Zealand summer.

At the very least, you want people wanting to rise early from bed to catch the last few hours or rushing home to watch edited highlights.

You do not want the apathy that appears to be greeting a Black Cap performance at the moment.

There was hype and excitement when New Zealand beat Australia in a test in Hobart at the start of last season but that goodwill has been eroded.

Something has to happen to reinvigorate cricket in this country and a lackadaisical approach is not going to do it.

When people just shrug their shoulders at a poor Black Cap performance we cricket aficionados should be worried.

- Herald on Sunday

Mark Richardson

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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