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

Mark Richardson: Positivism better pay off

Captain Ross Taylor bats in the nets during a training session ahead of their first Twenty20 match against India. Photo / AP
Captain Ross Taylor bats in the nets during a training session ahead of their first Twenty20 match against India. Photo / AP

I am expecting this column to reach you post a New Zealand Twenty20 win against India.

This is the Black Caps' strongest form of the game. So wouldn't it be nice if we could expect them to win rather than just hope for a fighting loss and then draw the positives?

I refuse to talk about our team as if they are a cricket minnow. To do so represents resignation and that I see as damaging to the game in this country. Recognition of the situation and zero tolerance is better.

I can, however, talk our chances up in the T20 game without blowing my credibility because there are a few reasons to expect a level of performance above what we have all witnessed recently and what cannot realistically, or more importantly, should not, be sugar coated.

There is a lot of experience in this T20 team and those experienced players have enjoyed plenty of success. Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor, Daniel Vettori, Kyle Mills, Jacob Oram, Tim Southee and Martin Guptill have embraced this game since it became a permanent fixture on the cricket landscape.

They have performed with distinction and while many have had a lean go lately, this is a stage that should motivate them to perform. It should not intimidate them.

These players have also experienced success against India, having beaten them in all three encounters. That's not really a reliable sample but it does show that the power of India's batting line-up can be contained and beaten.

In test cricket, Taylor is ranked at 12th in the world but in T20, we have two ranked in the top five; Guptill at two and McCullum five. Taylor is at 30 but we all know he is better than that.

The bowling does not have the same success in terms of ranking places, with Nathan McCullum at six, then Southee at 21, but I've a lot more confidence in the T20 unit's ability to contain than the test team's ability to bowl teams out in subcontinent conditions.

Sometimes the ICC rankings can be strange and confusing but they are achieved through player performance. If this Black Caps team want to use them as a source of confidence, then they (and us) can take heart from the fact India don't have a player within cooey of the top 10 in batting or bowling. Strange, isn't it, for a country that has almost hijacked world cricket with its love affair with T20.

I've put my credibility on the line and talked up our team before a game that will have been played by the time you read this. I'm seriously hoping I can walk around today with my head held high, proud of my positivism, rather than sneaking around in the shadows avoiding eye contact and hoping I've not been made to look an idiot.

- Herald on Sunday

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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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