THE WORST New Zealand cricket team ever?
Maybe not. But after this month's 4-0 series loss to Bangladesh we might at least be able to agree on one point. Yes, there may have been greater embarrassments suffered during the national side's chequered past, and certainly being dismissed for 26 in a test match remains the daddy of them all.
But when it comes to the matter of cricketing intelligence and tactical nous, this is surely our dumbest side ever.
To take a line from a recent public service advertisement, it's not that New Zealand is losing that's the chief concern; it's the way that they're losing. The batting, in particular, has been as witless and random as anything seen under a black cap for 50 years, and the resulting lack of runs has told a dire story on the result sheet. Your average household cat could come up with some better batting strategies than those witnessed recently in Dhaka.
It's as if, when cricketing brains were being handed out, our guys were standing in another line, possibly queuing up for some freebies. That would at least explain the cluelessness when it came to chasing small targets in Dhaka, the apparent lack of individual batting methods or strategies, and some of the most mindless decision-making since Lord Cardigan joined the cavalry. That's right. All the technological help in the world; all the minders, and yet today's side appears thicker than ever.
He's absolutely right. Bert Sutcliffe must be spinning in his grave. Martin Crowe must be tearing his expensively-regrown hair out. And who can blame John Wright if he decided that trying to sort out the New Zealand top order was a bridge too far?
The batting that we saw in the matches against Bangladesh was simply awful. The shot, if you can call it that to which Brendon McCullum got out in the last match was the kind of ugly slog you'd expect to see in 4th grade club cricket; it was absolutely dreadful. And yet in a way, it typified the depths to which the Black Caps batsmen had tpo plunge in order to find new and novel ways of getting out.
And Boock rightly questions the use of people in key roles without a cricketing pedigree - read on:
It must now seem obvious to all but those within the inner sanctum that NZC have erred with their policy of introducing non-cricket folk into the national side's management structure. A standing press box joke involves the time, shortly after his appointment as manger, when Dave Currie strolled in front of a sight-screen at Hamilton, momentarily stopping the game. A nicer man there couldn't be, and from all accounts Currie quickly became more savvy. But, to be blunt, he knows nothing about cricket.
The same goes for former players' agent Roger Mortimer. How someone without any background in cricket, nor any formal qualifications in the science of elite training and coaching can end up as NZC's official "high performance manager" has yet to be adequately explained. The Dominion Post sports editor Jonathan Millmow suggested last week that Mortimer knew "diddly-squat" about cricket. To be frank, I was unaware he knew that much.
Quite why NZC continually tries to pluck rabbits from hats in this fashion is unknown, but it's proved a singularly unsuccessful policy. Despite Ric Charlesworth's recent success in Indian and Australian hockey circles, he was frustrated during his time at NZC and chose to walk. Mortimer will doubtless find success elsewhere as well. Cricket is a strange beast, with its own language and culture. Unless you can understand its essence, it's impossible to understand its priorities.
We concur 100%. One of the reasons that we love cricket above all other sports is its uniqueness, and eccentricity. Only those deeply embedded in the game really understand it.
Boock also calls for a back-to-basics approach from New Zealand Cricket. From what we heard in the media post Friday's debrief, we're not encouraged that such a radical move will happen any time soon, and it could be a summer of pain for ourselves and fellow cricket tragics. One thing is for sure though; our love of cricket is of the "'til death do us part" nature, and we will stick with the game and with the national side until we draw our final breath. That won't stop us voicing our bitter disappointment though!