Delusions are not altogether bad things. Some, we imagine, can be quite helpful in getting people through otherwise traumatic experiences. We imagine Imran Tahir tells himself the same thing every night. Mostly, though, they’re nasty self defeating things, and generally best avoided. Particularly when they entail possibly the worst New Zealand Test team of the past four decades (no mean feat it must be said) rolling the touring English in their upcoming Test series.
Everyone knows the Kiwis are going to get thrashed and the only real interest is if they can avoid three consecutive innings defeats or not. Well, everyone that is except us here at 51allout. Or some of us. Actually, more accurately, there is just the one of us who holds onto the belief that not only can the Kiwis miraculously take a Test into a fourth day, they could also bloody well win one. Or even two. That would be a hell of a result, particularly in an Ashes year.
So, apropos of nothing, we will attempt to outline the reasons why the Kiwis are capable of bringing off the greatest giantkilling exhibition since Eddo Brandes’ heroics in 1992.
England and New Zealand are pretty similar, really. They are both always cold, wet and generally bloody miserable. In both instances their best and brightest jump at the earliest opportunity to escape somewhere more hospitable; in New Zealand’s case it’s across the ditch to Australia, while for the English Magaluf is a popular destination. So local conditions won’t particularly favour the hosts, but playing in front of home crowds might.
Everyone expected New Zealand to be thrashed in South Africa, and you get the impression the Kiwis pretty much rolled over and accepted their fate. At home, giving up in such a pathetic manner won’t be accepted and you can expect to see a vastly different level of performance Basically, in an attempt to restore their battered pride, they will be looking to stick it up the tourists whenever possible. Which should be heaps of fun for the neutral.
Before he went and broke his finger playing domestic cricket, Southee was emerging as the most exciting bowling talent this side of Jackson Bird. Missing the South African tour may well prove to be a blessing as he will now be well rested, fit and ready to go when England arrive. Alongside Doug Bracewell, and possibly Mitch McClenaghan, the Kiwis will at least have a decent attack to call on.
Simple one this. New Zealand are a vastly better team when Taylor is included. As we have pointed out during one of our weekly bashings of all things Kiwi on our podcast, it’s extremely difficult to develop young batsmen when you’re being consistently flogged, as the Kiwis are again experiencing with Kane Williamson. Ditching Taylor just when all that hard work was beginning to really pay off was, of course, utter madness.
Ideally he would never have missed the tour of South Africa in the first place but, like with Southee, having Taylor return now may prove a blessing in disguise.
Really, it isn’t. Sure Martin Guptill is a walking wicket at the moment, but the signs are there that Kane Williamson, BJ Watling, Dean Brownlie and even James bloody Franklin are beginning to contribute more consistently with the bat now. Add to the mix the potential selection of Luke Ronchi, and the Kiwis potentially have an okay batting lineup. As long as everyone bothers to turn up that is.
Don’t get us wrong, we love Jesse. He represents everything that is brilliant about the modern game. The boxing bouts, the strops, the marathon Call of Duty sessions on Xbox 360. We’re also happy to accept that as good a batsman as Jesse is, and as strong as his domestic form has been (although considering the ‘strength’ of Kiwi domestic cricket, we’re not sure that’s worth mentioning), a bit more time on the sidelines could do Jesse the world of good. Plus there is always the upcoming IPL to consider, particularly if he is heading back to Pune this season.
We are at that stage of the English cricketing cycle where English fans are beginning to think their team is unbeatable again. Success in India has conveniently washed away the memories of humiliations at home and in the UAE, and most England fans are now looking forward to a calendar year of unimpeded Test dominance.
England have announced a full-strength squad for the tour, but there will still be the temptation to tinker a bit in order to keep players fresh for future challenges. Resting James Anderson and Stuart Broad from the recent ODI’s in India may also potentially backfire if they come into the Tests underdone. Sure, it’s a small hope, but when you consider that the backup bowlers include Graham Onions and Chris Woakes, it’s one the Kiwis ought to hold on to.