Monday, March 30, 2015

On the British programme Top Gear, they have a segment called "a star in a reasonably priced car".

This car, a Suzuki Liana, is, much like Brendan McCullum's batting philosophy, decidedly average. The driver, a star in some sphere of life, is not. He or she may be an actor or a sportsman or woman or some celebrity of note. Whoever it may be, they have achieved more than the Suzuki Liana ever will.

The New Zealand Cricket team is, in a way, the equivalent of the Liana. It's reliable enough but it sure isn't fancy. It will do a reasonable job, to a point, but it will never win you anything when it counts.

Trent Boult, though, is that star in a reasonably priced car. No matter the average state of the vehicle he is driving, he'll find a way to extract higher performance levels from it.

New Zealand's best bowler by bounds, this leftie can swing and seam and send a foe tumbling with Yorker's to crush a dream or three. Without this Tauranga raised twenty-five year old and his twenty-two World Cup wickets, there would have been no final's appearance for this team.

Even on a day when the batsmen wore the tag of chokers with distinction, here was Boult to bolt down Australia, despite New Zealand having set their neighbours a measly one hundred and eighty-four to win, with a wicket in his first over.

They didn't win a match nor glory but ten over's later, and one for forty, one could never accuse Boult of misfiring under pressure. No matter the situation, this easy going swinger has a delivery to suit his every whim. Over the wicket or around the wicket, no wicket has tamed this talismanic wonder with a average of fifteen for the tournament and a career average of twenty-four.

And, until recently, the New Zealand selectors would not countenance the possibility of Boult playing a onedayer. No longer. For, now he is the first selected, and even on a day when conditions did nothing but humour him, he still contented himself with a display unmatched by any of his teammates.

With his Captain appearing to lose his nerve for all out attack, Boult hung tough and displayed his substance. Unlike some others.

Not so easy, is it, Captain Courageous, when you're not on top and up against a fearsome foe, to attack at will. There was a potential catch go missing as McCullum pulled back from all out attack. Maybe he is not as confident as he portrays himself to be. So easy it is to talk big when you are winning.

For all his pre match bluster about not been intimidated and believing in themselves, McCullum failed to show complete faith in the one man who never lets him down: Trent Boult.

A second wicket came beckoning when Boult did what Boult more often than not does; put the cherry on the correct line and length and caught the outside edge of an Australian batsman's bat.

Except that Captain Courageous mutated into a lily-livered yellow belly, removing third slip, and a chance to turn the match went begging.

Sure, they didn't have the runs to play with, and yes, there has to be a balance between all out attack and being too negative. Just play what is in front of you.

Except that you have the one star at your disposal that may change the game for you. Back him.

After all, Boult backs himself. Does each and every match. That, skill, copious portions of hard work, and it isn't hard to see why those selectors eventually saw the light.

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