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

Mark Richardson: Mental strength has made ton of difference

Ross Taylor. Photo / APN
Ross Taylor. Photo / APN

I am so impressed with Ross Taylor. We have all known for a long time he is a very good batsman but we've all also known he's prone to the odd brain explosion.

Not any more, it appears. In this series there have been no big whooshes, no big swings, and it would appear not one premeditated shot up until he gets to about 130 - but I can forgive him that.

Taylor has put on an exhibition of batsmanship in this series and the period that impressed me the most was late on day two of this test. Sunil Narine was bowling well and causing all sorts of difficulty with his offspinner and his 'knuckle ball'. Taylor had a few runs at this stage and had been batting well. However, Narine got on top.

Taylor worked his way through this patch ... there was no fuss, there was no panic and most importantly there was no wild, pressure-relieving swing of the bat; just reasoned batsmanship.

I was also impressed with the way Kane Willamson worked his way through this period, too.

He eventually succumbed but not until making a meaningful contribution. Both these players showed clear thinking under pressure; they were examples for others to follow.

What I am not impressed with is this pitch. What in earth are we doing producing a dry pitch that suits the spinners? We are lucky the atmosphere in Hamilton allows for swing and suits our swing bowlers.

Now before I condemn it, I want to say it is not a bad pitch, it's very good - it's just that it's inappropriate.

As a cricket aficionado, I am glad this pitch is like it is. Watching good spinners bowl is fascinating, watching fast bowlers bowl is exciting but a good battle between a quality spinner and a good batman is absorbing.

Watching medium-pacers toil is not overly stimulating but watching fast mediums swing it like our lads did last night ... yeah ... that's not too bad, eh?

Also before I condemn this pitch I want to say that if New Zealand can pull this off and win this test, then hats off to the skill of the New Zealand swing bowlers; we saw plenty of skill last evening from all four. It was significant because it was a continuation of the dominance New Zealand have had over the West Indies, in more visitor-friendly conditions.

Right now this West Indian team should be disappointed. It's not over yet but they were given a shot here with a dry surface and a chance to bowl last on it. But why on earth did we produce a dry turner when we had a team caught and paralysed in the headlights of the good old-fashioned New Zealand green seamer in the previous test? Then again, I may be making a moot point here.

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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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