David Leggat: Two series crucial in Cup buildup

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Alan Richards will be remembered as one of the countries most distinctive cricket commentators.Photo / Sylvie Whinray
Alan Richards will be remembered as one of the countries most distinctive cricket commentators.Photo / Sylvie Whinray

Time was when New Zealand were up among the top echelon of one-day outfits.

Their World Cup resume shows an invariably awkward opponent, who tend to stumble at the semifinal hurdle. Still that's better than some others. Five countries have won the World Cup and South Africa and England are also not among that group.

In 14 months' time, New Zealand, as co-hosts of the second Australasian chapter of the tournament, will have another opportunity to break that duck.

They should at least be in the frame, notwithstanding their eighth placing on the international ranking ladder - and that's including away series wins over South Africa and England this year. They are one spot lower than the West Indies.

Don't read too much into statistics. There's not much between the eight major nations in the 50-over game. It's just that some get it right more often than the others at key times.

For New Zealand to hop ahead of the visitors on the ODI standings they had to win the current series 5-0. That's a goner now, after the two-wicket loss at Eden Park on Thursday night.

India are here next month. They're world No 1 in ODIs, and second in tests.

The West Indies and India are going to provide New Zealand with a fine examination of their one-day capabilities. New Zealand can't afford not to win this series.

Beat the Indians over their five-game joust and they'll approach the last year leading into the World Cup in a good frame of mind.

Lose badly, and it'll be head-scratching time. After all, no country likes to be bounced out of their own tournament unexpectedly early.

• A sad day for New Zealand broadcasting yesterday, with the death of Alan Richards.

He'll be remembered as among the country's finest radio men, on hand for some of New Zealand sports' epic moments.

Richards was the first person to broadcast a sports commentary from China in 1975, was behind the microphone throughout the leadup and finals of the All Whites' memorable 1982 World Cup, which captivated the nation; and called the 1981 underarm incident at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

When Rodney Redmond worked five fours in one Majid Khan over to all parts of Eden Park in 1973 en route to his century in his only test, Richards memorably described the Auckland lefthander as "working him around the clock".

He was a life member of North Shore Football Club and played first-class cricket for Auckland.

With Iain Gallaway, he'll be remembered as the country's most distinctive cricket commentators. But Richards' legacy extends well beyond that. He was 91.

- NZ Herald

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