Mathew Sinclair | 6:47am gmt 04 Jun 2009
There should be no reason why the Black Caps can't take out this year's inaugural ICC World Twenty20 campaign in England. Their pre season form with players over in the IPL and warm up games have given them a great opportunity to build from this and better their last effort.
It's encouraging seeing the batsmen scoring runs and of course the bowlers are taking wickets. Ross Taylor looks like he is back to his best with the bat and the entire NZ batsmen have had some time in the middle. The bowling depth will always be tested in these tournaments with not only the goal of taking wickets but also denying batsmen as best they can in scoring 4s and 6s. Not an easy job especially when you have to get it right from ball one. Ian Butler and the likes of Jacob Oram I see as the go-to men in being consistent with bowling at the death. There is no better ball I reckon than bowling block-holers at any batsman. For the Black Caps to be most effective in progressing through this tournament we have to be certain on this accuracy.
Slower balls and the use of bouncers are just as effective providing the bowlers are bowling to their field settings. England grounds are generally on the small side of cricket hitting distances and once through the 30 metre circle the ball gathers a lot of pace on these lush outfields. Good fielding which the Black Caps rate themselves on and train themselves at a very high standard help dramatically in saving runs. There is nothing better as a bowler than seeing a great catch or save when your team mate does this. It creates a great atmosphere and commitment that the team can raise up to. As we know runs are the key so every little bit helps in the field. Dropped catches create other opportunities for the batsman to get some momentum in their innings and of course it's a run that the oppositions have to get.
I am sure there has been a lot of talk in the Black Caps environment about how they are going to go about this campaign and the plans that they are going to try and implement. Keeping it nice and simple with controlling what you can do, I believe is the key in generating a big score. Lately I have noticed a lot of NZ's top order getting out relatively early in their batting stint. For sure you want to make the most of the power plays that are on offer but I still think time at the crease for the likes of Brendon McCullum is the key for setting up a big score for NZ to defend. Big hitters like Oram and Taylor will benefit from time at the crease, they are naturally good at clearing the ropes with ease but if they go out too early trying to hit boundaries it puts too much pressure lower down in the order for others to do this. If every batsman goes out there with an idea of scoring more runs than balls faced this is a good thing and the fewer balls faced to achieve this, the better.
India seem to have the perfect balance for taking out this competition but I think you find that this game relies on a bit of luck as well as winning becoming a habit mentality. Teams that start well in this competition have that confidence to do the hard things very well when teams that don't start well are playing catch up footy and that's when mistakes start creeping in. Look to see a lot of spin being used in this competition, not a bad ploy to use but I'm not sure it works very well in the first six overs when the power plays are on. Spin would be more effective when there are more fielders in place for boundary saving options. Of course timing is everything in this format of the game but I must admit it can be very hit-and-miss at the best of times. I think scores of well over 160 will be competitive and considering the short and quick outfields it will be a real test for any captain and bowler to contend with. I?d love to see a lot of improvisation and something different from a bowler or batter, the game requires this type of kamikaze attack and can't wait to see what it delivers.
This competition is shaping up to be one not to miss, a chance for fans to lap up on all the excitement that it has to offer as well as a chance for unsung heroes to step up and become superstars on the world stage. Expect plenty of action on and off the field. Being such a short tournament everything is on the line and I can't wait for the action to begin. The usual suspects to watch out for will always be there in Kevin Pietersen and MS Dhoni. My people to watch from NZ will be Butler, Taylor, Oram, McCullum, and Brendon Diamanti.
Central Districts have kindly offered me a benefit year which I have greatly accepted. The planning and implementation is well under way for what I hope to be very successful and one that people here in NZ can remember for a long time.
Watch this space for more of my upcoming news and views in the world of cricket.