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

Mark Richardson: Failure is not an option

New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum shouldn't be using rustiness as an excuse for defeat in Bangladesh. Photo / AP
New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum shouldn't be using rustiness as an excuse for defeat in Bangladesh. Photo / AP

How much interest this current tour of Bangladesh has been generating is debatable. It's not been one of the more eye-catching, nor, anticipated series our team has been involved in.

It was probably summed up quite nicely when, last Tuesday night, my wife and I switched over the TV to the ODI. My wife's first reaction to seeing the cricket was: "The Black Caps are playing? Oh, nobody would even know this s**t is on."

Fair reaction, I thought. However tonight's game does catch my eye and holds a lot of interest.

Tonight is a must-win occasion. Yeah, I know, it's not a decider, the series is gone and it's not a game for survival because ... well ... the series is gone. It is, however, a game for dignity and credibility.

I am not being disrespectful to Bangladesh here or even the Black Caps because Bangladesh are a reasonable team now and not an easybeat - but a drawn test series and a whitewash in the ODIs is not acceptable and approaches hang-your-head-in-shame time.

I refuse to buy into the ever-growing popular opinion that we should not be getting upset any more by what our cricket team does - because I expect better and, more importantly, if they believe they are as good as they think they are, then they should believe a loss tonight will cause public outcry.

So what we have now is a must-win game with genuine pressure. It's is not a situation in which the Black Caps have performed overly well in the past. Every so often, they have punched above their perceived weight against England or Australia but ultimately lost the crucial games; this time they must play for their respectability against a team they should beat.

With players like Martin Guptill, Jesse Ryder, Daniel Vettori waiting in the wings and Kane Williamson rehabbing, this is the time for the young guys to show they can play under pressure which is a desirable quality for the selectors. More importantly, it's the time for the senior players to do what senior players are meant to do - perform when it matters.

There are no excuses tonight. They cannot blame their build-up because they have enough cricket behind them and they certainly cannot blame conditions because our cricketers play so much cricket on the subcontinent nowadays.

Rustiness as an excuse, as used by captain Brendon McCullum, is not valid either because, if they believe they are as good as they say they are, even a rusty performance should be enough to sneak past the Bangladesh challenge.

Rustiness should not result in a 40 run-hammering as in the last game.

- 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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