David Leggat on sport
David Leggat is a Herald sport writer

David Leggat: Half-hearted performances doing team untold damage


Bangladesh Have Easy Win read the headline on the cricinfo website yesterday.

We are more used to seeing "Australia/England/South Africa/India etc have easy win" over Bangladesh.

Now that they are becoming Bangladesh's bunnies, how New Zealand's players must dread the thought of touring the sub-continent's newest test-playing nation.

Might they even adopt the Indian approach to nuisance issues and find an excuse not to tour next time that bilateral series comes up on the Future Tours Programme?

It is six years away, since you asked, but when Bangladesh come to New Zealand in December 2016 might there be a temptation to green up the pitches, revenge if you will?

That would completely miss the point, that cricket's challenge is to play well, test yourselves in all sorts of conditions, not just those you fancy.

The terrific work done in winning away limited-overs series in both South Africa and England, certainly demanding in their own right, is being eroded away game by game in Bangladesh.

Certainly the hosts are improving, especially in their own back yard, but that's no excuse for New Zealand's half-hearted batting performances. Nor is the absence of the injured Kane Williamson and Martin Guptill. Nor is the belated return of top seamer Tim Southee. New Zealand should be better than that.

Yesterday's batting effort, chasing 247, had the whiff of a group of players who'd rather be anywhere than Dhaka. And that's not a problem which can be cured by raising the number of net practices or camping out around the laptop poring over numbers.

It is all simply unacceptable.

October 21, 2008. The date is fast becoming the elephant in the corner of New Zealand's changing room.

That was when New Zealand last recorded a win of any sort in Bangladesh, a test at Chittagong. Since then there have been three drawn tests and six - and possibly rising tomorrow night - straight ODI losses. Good luck to Bangladesh, but that's plain embarrassing.

Sometimes we all get a reminder that it's best to be careful when speaking publicly, to be aware that your words could come back to take a bite-sized chunk out of a backside.

Here's Brendon McCullum before the first test in Bangladesh: "The 2010 series [lost 4-0] was a good lesson of what not to do. We were ill-prepared leading up to that. It was a damaging tour for many people. It hurt a lot of people's careers and hurt our country as well.

"[Winning the series this time is] the expectation of us, and we are better prepared for it."

In that case 2010 must have been a true shocker.

A couple of questions.

Is New Zealand as a cricket nation numerically big enough to be able to afford using a large number of players across the test and limited-overs formats as do the far more populous India, England, South Africa and Australia? It's time to rein that philosophy in.

And does this suddenly mean New Zealand have no chance of putting in a strong display when they co-host the World Cup in 16 months? Not at all.

Indeed, it may be that New Zealand are better performers against better teams. And in itself, that's an indictment on their mental preparation. The game is tough enough without being able to take opportunities against teams they should beat.

Whose careers will this tour hurt?

- NZ Herald

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