Andrew Mulligan: We don't need to show Aussies any favours

Australian players watch on during their Eden Park defeat. Photo / Getty
Australian players watch on during their Eden Park defeat. Photo / Getty

This is about cricket, so let's start with tennis. Recently in the Australian Open, American tennis player Jack Sock lost to Aussie hero Leyton Hewitt.

During that match, Sock had a better angle on a Hewitt serve that was called out, so the American suggested Hewitt, this being his final Aussie Open, challenge the call because it was in.

Hewitt, somewhat in disbelief, challenged and Hawkeye confirmed what Sock knew - the ball was in.

In a few months, Brendon McCullum will give the annual Spirit of Cricket speech at Lord's for the MCC Cowdrey Lecture which was inaugurated in 2001 in memory of the late Lord Cowdrey of Tonbridge.

The "spirit" in which cricket is played is always up for debate when Australia are involved and the shock Sock call is relevant to the Eden Park ODI on Wednesday night.

Imagine the outpouring of angst and praise if McCullum had suggested to David Warner, "Mate, you should check that lbw decision because you were jumping and it hit you high up on the pad ..."

George Bailey, who was at the non-striker's end, told an Australian radio station yesterday he tried to convince the most dangerous, destructive and confident batsman in the team to challenge but Warner walked off. The rest is history.

The point is - there's being helpful and then there's scuppering your team's chances of winning a series against a fierce rival. Warner was the key wicket.

What we don't need is to show them too many favours. Let us watch them melt down. Let us savour the victory.

During McCullum's career, there have been times when the Black Caps have been caught out in the spirit of the game.

There were over-exuberant celebration scenes in England on the balcony after a tense finish over the hosts.

There was also the stumping of Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan who had left his crease to congratulate Kumar Sangakkara on a century, a decision which skipper Stephen Fleming defended to the nth degree, insisting the ball wasn't dead.

The Black Caps aren't perfect but the way they now play feels like a direct result of the team finding themselves on the right or wrong side of popular opinion. They've learned from their mistakes, and maybe the Aussies should, too.

There is no overt sledging from New Zealand (Virat Kohli is a master at winding up the Aussies recently), no negative play, just playing hard against a team they want to beat to retain the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy.

McCullum's captaincy is forthright and positive but the way he's learned to use aggressive cricket to our advantage in this golden era is the ultimate way to end a stellar career.

- NZ Herald

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