Mark Richardson 's Opinion

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

Mark Richardson: Top job gets me nervous

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When I watch a Black Cap performance like Friday night's I get worried.

What are you meant to say? You have to champion that, it was too good a display not to. But every time you champion this cricket team, you're left looking foolish a game later.

Conversely, just when you give up on our cricket team, they turn in a wonder performance.

The easy way to view that demolition is to say it was just Bangladesh. But they are becoming more of a force and have proven, especially against us, they are not always easy-beats. However, on Friday they were average, New Zealand were good and Brendon McCullum was outstanding.

New Zealand did all that could be asked of them and McCullum did quite a lot more.

The job was to beat the perceived weakest team in the group to all but book a place in the super eights, and by hammering them you give yourself a little insurance should you lose to the better team. Job done.

Our cricket team has proven before that they are better than the minnows, quite some way better, but also some way behind the top teams.

In recent years, I've viewed the Black Caps as a schoolyard bully type of team. Boy have we beaten up on the small guy, as we did on Friday, but when a superior force or even our equals have turned up, we've failed to front at all.

This tournament is a real chance to right that flaw because the T20 ability is abundant in this team if they are a prepared to front when it gets tough and when the opposition has enough menace to employ stand-over tactics of their own.

The Black Caps have actually performed pretty well in ICC tournaments in recent years, so for this tournament to be seen as a success, I feel they have to make the final. They certainly have the make up of the side to do that. The New Zealand slow bowlers are highly capable T20 performers and the quicks hold their own. But the batting holds some real threat, as enigmatic as it can be.

Martin Guptill's qualities are known, don't underestimate just how good James Franklin is at this form, Ross Taylor will fire at some stage and the middle order is capable. But this tournament needs to be McCullum's time. Too often he plays a blinder and then goes missing but don't forget he did also score ninety-odd against India recently.

He looked so composed and selective in the way he destroyed Bangladesh, it was almost casual. Don't undervalue how driven this guy is for success and hold on to the knowledge that this is the one game in which statistically, he can actually call himself world class.

- 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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