England v New Zealand, Champions Trophy, Group B, Johannesburg September 28, 2009

Depleted New Zealand "desperate" for success


The last thing New Zealand ever need, given the relatively limited size of their cricket-playing pool, is an injury crisis. It is somehow in keeping with the way the cookie often crumbles for underdogs, though less than a week ago, calling anyone the underdogs in a battle with England could only mean an associate nation was playing.

But an outbreak of injury is precisely what Daniel Vettori finds himself dealing with, as he heads into what is, for his side, a quarter-final with England at The Wanderers. Jacob Oram has already gone home, another disruption in a desperately curtailed career; Daryl Tuffey has broken his hand and heads back home for surgery; Ian Butler is recovering from an intestinal infection which has seen him lose 7-8 kgs and he may or may not be ready for tomorrow; and of course Jesse Ryder, who took out the anger and frustration of his injury in a wildly entertaining and destructive 74, to set New Zealand up, is also out; Aaron Redmond, his replacement, will only arrive on the morning of the game, his flight from Hong Kong delayed by hours. You couldn't have found this script in ER.

It leaves Vettori with "the bare bones" of a squad but as with all New Zealand limited overs sides, you rule them out only if you are a fool. In this tournament of all tournaments you cannot underestimate them. "England have played exceptionally well since they have come here," said Vettori. "They've come up against two form sides and they have done the job and done it completely. We know if we are to have a chance we have to play really well. If you go on recent form and ours hasn't been great recently either so everyone was picking Sri Lanka and South Africa to go through and England and New Zealand to battle it out so it's a complete reversal and it's great for both sides."

Somehow New Zealand make things work and they are smart enough to find ways to win, as they did against Sri Lanka, where their top order finally kicked in; just their luck it is disrupted immediately. If Ryder is gone, Martin Guptill is at least in the runs and he may well find himself opening tomorrow. "Jesse Ryder is a big loss for us. The way he played in the last game showed what a destructive player he could be and even the last time he played against England in a home series a couple of years ago he was at his best.

"Aaron Redmond is coming as cover. He will get here tomorrow morning at 7am so it looks as if he will also not be playing. Guptill is the easy replacement because he opens back home and he has a few times for us. It's more about who is at number three and we've got a few options there to work through."

There will be chinks to iron out in the bowling attack as well; Shane Bond had a poor game against Sri Lanka, though he wasn't the only fast bowler in that match to have one and he isn't, incidentally, the only fast bowler to be hit around in this tournament. But James Franklin, who came in for Oram, had an "outstanding game" and Vettori will hope his left-arm seamer can produce more of the same against England. "Franklin can be selected in the team as a bowler and batter like Oram and that is such a luxury we lost with Jacob. Franklin gives us an obvious replacement and he proved it - he was outstanding for us in the last game."

As with Sri Lanka, there is a familiarity between New Zealand and England and both sides have played out tough ODI battles over the last couple of years. The surfaces in this tournament have evened things up between sides and the track tomorrow should again make for some good, balanced cricket. What it might come to is which side wants the win more and with a place in the semis at stake, New Zealand are naturally the more desperate.

"We played well in the home series and away against England. This is a neutral venue and both the teams know the wicket pretty well. It looks like it is going to turn into a good deck with lots of runs and both teams are coming off great batting performances. Both sides are confident of winning. Hopefully it means we are more desperate because it means our tournament. England are already through."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shafiq on September 29, 2009, 15:29 GMT

    In Response to Albert1972: Well I think ICC Headquarters should always stay in countries which have gutts to win the world cup of any sort, not the countries who are playing it for more than 75 years. I am not Sri Lankan, but would praise Murali's talent, only those who are Jalous of him dont want to see him, I understand that. I hope NZ goes through, they are always defeated by Pakistan in semi finals.

  • Sharad on September 29, 2009, 15:07 GMT

    Charindra, Before you start taking personal digs at fellow cricket followers, you should know that I took a dig at 3 of SL's bowlers. The press chooses these words to define them - unorthodox, mystery tweaker and unusual low arm action. Of these I have no real problem with the mystery tweaker, he has his variations. Now tell me, looking down from your high moral ground, which other team has more than one bowler with questionable (not suspect) bowling actions. I would certainly feel hard done by if I had to face them .. it's just unfair to the batsmen. I'm not against any particular team, only for "fair play".

  • PATHMANATHAN on September 29, 2009, 11:51 GMT

    Hope the Best Team Win Today

  • Mayur on September 29, 2009, 11:46 GMT

    There have been teams who claimed to have come to a tournament with broken bones but it really dint matter in the longer run as they did relatively well under pressure to put the opponents into asylum...West Indies did well just a few days back to pressurize Australia to lose only by 50 runs...So all the best to the Kiwis...!!

  • Simon on September 29, 2009, 11:37 GMT

    some bewildering comments on here today. I understand fewer than half of them....

  • Gareth on September 29, 2009, 11:23 GMT

    Albert1972 - what a mean-spirited and unpleasant post. It's deadly dull going on about the runner now, especially by turning it into a moral issue. Smith tried it on - getting a runner when he was tired (after a brilliant innings) - but the umpires (whose decision it was) turned him down. Strauss agreed. End of. As for your comments about the Sri Lankan bowlers, do you ever have anything positive to say about anyone or do you revel solely in the negatives? Murali, for one, is a legend whether you and others who see an unusual action as cheating think so or not. As for today's game, I hope England continue to play as they somehow have done so far in this tournament, but I think NZ will pull off the win.

  • Charindra on September 29, 2009, 10:56 GMT

    Wow Thatsy, you seem to be a cricket watcher of the lowest moral standing. Could you not have just backed NZ without taking an unwarranted dig at Murali, the greatest spinner of them all? I'm Sri Lankan, but I wouldn't really mind NZ going through given the pathetic display the SL batsmen put up last time and it would be heartbreaking if NZ miss out on a few net run rate points. Anyway, let's see what happens shall we...

  • Brian on September 29, 2009, 9:40 GMT

    "It is somehow in keeping with the way the cookie often crumbles ..." Or, indeed, how the grapefruit squirts.

  • Albert on September 29, 2009, 7:34 GMT

    I hope we win. What Strauss did was unthinkable, Smith has earned a life time of moral victory while strauss has pocketed life time of shameful defeat . And he would face a string of defeats now. Its time for the kiwis to put an act that would make the world give them the respect they duly deserve. If law of averages are to be believed, England would lose if it plays after winning the toss. In fact this would be England's dilemma. This time, New Zeland would get rid of the lankan lunacy. Bowlers like Mathews, Malinga and Murli, would be forgotten once they leave the fields because they have brought nothing but negative tactics and bad name to the game. Shame on ICC for making these players sit above the game. What is the ICC Mantra, Money rules? Indians are bullying the system and are getting away with murder. I say ICC headquarters should be shifted to countries which have been playing international cricket for atleast 75 years. This would preserve and nurture the game

  • Philip on September 29, 2009, 7:32 GMT

    Wow... I hope NZ win this game and meet England again in the finals. What a fairy tale ending it would be. Both started as underdogs... O how we love the underdogs... Come on NZ...It will not be cricket for another team to sneak in given the way NZ have performed....I speak as an England and SL fan....Philip Gnana New Malden, Surrey

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