Mark Richardson 's Opinion

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

Mark Richardson: No joy in playing dumb

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I've hoped that in making McCullum captain, we will see a more responsible and consistent cricketer. Photo / Getty Images
I've hoped that in making McCullum captain, we will see a more responsible and consistent cricketer. Photo / Getty Images

It's unfair to judge a team based on one performance, so I expect an improvement in the next T20. That said, this was more of the same from a very different team.

I implore the new players in this Black Caps team not to buy into the culture of irresponsibility and mindless play that has led to our continued demise. I also implore the new leaders of this side not to allow it.

Cricket smarts is the missing link between the players that we often describe as having potential and their lack of realisation of that potential.

No, an amazing innings once every so often is not realising one's potential.

How smart can you be in a game of T20? Doesn't the game force your hand? You just have to go for it with the bat and dish up licorice all-sorts with the ball and hope for the best.

No, that is not the case any more because world cricket and the players have gravitated towards this hectic form of the game and by doing so have legitimised it and thus added science to its application.

Yesterday morning, our boys were once again un-smart. To be precise, they were dumb.

They were dumb in the mental skills necessary in all forms of cricket. They failed to acknowledge the conditions and play accordingly.

The pitch was tricky, it was very two-paced, with variable bounce. You can't therefore face a few balls and start hitting through the line with ease because conditions will play havoc with your timing.

In T20, you do need to take risks but they need to be calculated. Where was the realisation that 130 could be competitive out there? Where was the realisation that singles could have a higher degree of importance than usual?

To be fair to new leader Brendon McCullum, he did in his short stay look like he was aware of the requirements. It is his responsibility as the captain to make those around him aware of what is required.

I've hoped that in making McCullum captain, we will see a more responsible and consistent cricketer - and it is too early to judge that - but part of his new role is to make those under his control more responsible and consistent, too.

I'd also suggest that he may consider winning the toss and bowling first next time. How much can a pitch really slow up in 40 overs? The smart play may have been to accept the inexperience of the team, give them a run around in the field first and then chase a total.

If, with all that has happened in the past month, this is ground zero for New Zealand, then the one thing I want to see in a new era is an ability to learn from their mistakes. That is something that has been sorely missing for some time.

- 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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