Sunday, May 24, 2015

New Zealand should win this Test. And they most probably will.

However, if they don't, the blame can be placed squarely on Brendan McCullum's irresponsible shoulders. On a day when Kane Williamson brought up his tenth Test hundred, and first at Lord's, through the novelty of batting sensibly, McCullum, meanwhile, was once again displaying his propensity for muddled thinking.

It all started out fine. It often does with the Kiwi Captain. Swaggering to the centre with the loss of his side's third wicket, he settled himself in for the long haul. Playing each delivery like it was an unexploded bomb at Wembley, the utmost care was taken to set the foundations for a long individual stay at the crease, and a team total in the mid six hundreds. Let's get a first innings lead of two hundred and sixty and let England sweat the nerves of even more rigorous public scrutiny.

Sounds good. But as many often point out, nothing about McCullum is conventional. You never know what is going to occur next. Well, not true. In fact, he is the most predictable player in World Cricket. After ten minutes it can be guaranteed that his mind will succumb to the urge to swing at anything and everything. There are swingers out there that would be proud of his natural aptitude to swing at the first thing in sight.

This usually seeps into his psyche when fifteen runs have protruded from his bat. The bulge of brutality saunters into his mind and suddenly he sees the bright lights of fours and sixes serenade his ego. He naively falls for it and a blistering barrage of bountiful riches ensues. Then, just when he has set himself up for life, he takes one gamble to many and loses the lot.

So predictable.

Sadly a majority then justify this idiom of rehearsed selfishness with "it's just the way he plays". Instead of holding a batsman that could be so much better than he is to account , they empower him to believe he answers to no one.

Perhaps McCullum doesn't answer to anyone. Mores the pity, because here is a player that has averaged nigh on fifty over the last two years that could be ten runs higher.

Interestingly, there are parallels in his case with Kevin Pietersen. The Exiled English star was regularly lambasted for losing his wicket needlessly with irresponsible shots that let his team down. And quite rightly he was criticized.

Sounds familiar doesn't it. On one hand Pietersen is dragged over the coals for his misdemeanours, and on the other, McCullum, a vastly more popular personality, is celebrated for his. Sounds a lot like double standards.

So, when McCullum swung wildly at a delivery from Mark Woods that was far too full to flay away at, skying the ball over the wicketkeeper's head down to Joe Root on the boundary, instead of for six on the on-side, he should have been pondering what words his apology to his teammates would consist of.

With a responsible attitude from their Captain, the kiwi's could have avoided having to bat again. And this pitch is showing signs of low bounce and turn. Not the sought of environment you want to be in chasing runs to win on the fifth day.

Yes, New Zealand still finished on five hundred and twenty-three. Yes, they have a lead of one hundred and thirty-four. And, yes, they have England struggling at seventy-four for two at the end of the third day.

It could have been so much better though. Much like McCullum's career.

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