David Leggat on sport
David Leggat is a Herald sport writer

David Leggat: One win in five highlights our struggles with T20 format


It's all very well quibbling about greens not rubbing your way, but New Zealand's campaign at the world T20 was dreadful.

One win from five games - against Bangladesh on the back of a blazing Brendon McCullum century - was an indictment on New Zealand's ability to create, then capitalise on, winning opportunities. They could do the first part, not the second.

But simply claiming Pakistan, Sri Lanka, England and the West Indies should have been beaten doesn't cut it. New Zealand have lost eight of their past 10 T20s, the exceptions being a one-run win in Chennai just before the tournament began - and now we know for all their domineering off-field attitude on global cricket matters India aren't much chop at the short game either - and Bangladesh.

Argue about the merits of the Super Over all you like, and to these eyes it seems the ideal way to decide a game made for a compressed period of time, but New Zealand weren't up to it. That they should have beaten both Sri Lanka and the West Indies in "normal" time is not in question.

The bowlers generally did well. Tim Southee was easily the most successful with eight wickets at 18.

Against Sri Lanka was a notable exception as Mahela Jayawardene and Tillekaratne Dilshan took them apart. They've done that to far better attacks, to be fair. But the batsmen found ways to mess things up.

What the team's best batsman, captain Ross Taylor, was doing at No 6 against Pakistan is anyone's guess. The only assumption to be made is that as it was a group game and New Zealand were safely progressing, it was a chance to tinker. So Dan Vettori and Jacob Oram went in ahead of him and Kane Williamson opened.

The destructive McCullum arrived at the crease in the seventh over; against Sri Lanka he didn't take guard until the eighth. Some things just didn't make sense.

Failure to score 27 runs off the last four overs against the West Indies, with six wickets standing and Taylor in full flight, was unfathomable.

Hanging over the tournament was the question of Taylor's captaincy.

In Sri Lanka, coach Mike Hesson eschewed an opportunity to endorse Taylor as leader, offering the line instead that Taylor's was a New Zealand Cricket board appointment.

He maintained more was made of that response than ought to have been. Taylor insisted he and Hesson were "working on our relationship".

Add in that Hesson's ties to his Otago chum McCullum, the most obvious rival to Taylor, are strong and you have the ingredients for a pile of smoke and mirrors. Taylor's record as captain since taking charge a year ago isn't flash, but his personal performances are significantly superior when he's been captain.

There is a problem for NZC. There may be a feeling that the more visibly aggressive McCullum is a better fit as skipper, at least in the short form.

But NZC has not exactly been a sea of tranquillity for several seasons. Coaches have come and gone with uncomfortable rapidity.

Hesson has been in charge for five minutes. Do the decision makers really want to shuffle the leadership again? That said, the coming tours to Sri Lanka and South Africa, and against England next year, shape as key to the Hesson/Taylor axis.

- NZ Herald

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