Cricket: T20 challenge is to 'play to potential'

By David Leggat

Black Caps need to make most of confidence gained, and new talent, if they want results, says Ross Taylor

Ross Taylor says the Black Caps can feel good about their summer wins against India and the Windies but that was a while ago and some of the T20 opposition is dangerous. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Ross Taylor says the Black Caps can feel good about their summer wins against India and the Windies but that was a while ago and some of the T20 opposition is dangerous. Photo / Mark Mitchell

In Ross Taylor's mind, where the New Zealand team is concerned right now, momentum and confidence are distinctly different things.

New Zealand have one, but not the other going into the world T20 tournament, according to the country's premier batsman.

Any notion that New Zealand will take momentum into the tournament, starting against England at Chittagong early tomorrow morning, gets short shrift from Taylor. Confidence is another story.

"I think momentum is important but I don't think we can take much from the home summer because it's been a while since we played," he said yesterday.

"But we can take confidence from how we played [against the West Indies and India].

"If we start the tournament strongly, get a couple of wins, then things like momentum can come into it a bit more."

Taylor is battling a wonky right elbow, which is affecting his throwing more than his batting. He's hopeful of being ready to face England, a side that wouldn't rank among the tournament favourites, but which Taylor is wary of.

They beat New Zealand twice early last year and "they are a dangerous side - we can't take them lightly".

Openers Alex Hales and Michael Lumb, Ian Bell, Eion Morgan, Luke Wright and Jos Buttler are all batting threats. Stuart Broad leads a bowling attack mixing craft and guile in the form of Tim Bresnan and offspinner James Tredwell.

New Zealand lost both their official warm-ups, to Pakistan and Australia. Taylor acknowledged there were areas that needed tidying up.

"But they were definitely good hit-outs and it doesn't matter how you play in the warm-ups; it's how you play in the proper competition".

There's no denying New Zealand have explosive qualities in the middle order. Give Corey Anderson, Colin Munro, Luke Ronchi and Jimmy Neesham a solid springboard and there's much to lick the lips at.

Taylor hopes World Cup newbies, like Anderson and Neesham, thrill to the challenge on a big stage.

"I'm sure they'll be excited. Sometimes those youngsters who haven't been in that scenario, they get overwhelmed. Some embrace it.

"We've got a lot of guys who've played a lot of World Cups and others who bring a different dimension.

"I'm sure if we play to our potential we'll give ourselves a good chance."

New Zealand have decent prospects of at least making the semifinals, something they've only accomplished once before in the four previous editions of the format.

Failure to do so - and they must make the top two from England, South Africa, Sri Lanka and a qualifier, probably Ireland - would be disappointing.

It could come down to their final group game, against one of the favourites, Sri Lanka, on April 1 so early points are crucial rather than having to rely on a late rails run.

Just where outright favouritism lies is a moot point. The West Indies are defending champions and despite a fine talent for inconsistency, have the players who, if they get on a decent roll, will be hard to stop.

This is one title which has eluded Australia. They certainly have batting muscle.

Pakistan, winners in 2009, have quality spin and piles of passion but slip up when least expected.

India will certainly threaten, but Sri Lanka - with batting greats Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene announcing T20 retirement days ago - have a good allround blend. Plus expect their two marvellous veterans to want to end with a flourish.

- NZ Herald

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