June 20, 2008

'Our Twenty20 form is a mystery'

New Zealand's middle-order batsman reflects on a bad week for his team



Ross Taylor launches a six at Old Trafford, but it was a rare attacking stroke in a disappointing team performance © Getty Images
 

We are here in Bristol, preparing for the third one-day international after a week we'd like to put behind us. It started in Manchester with the continuation of our losing streak in Twenty20 cricket; next we were outplayed in the first one-dayer in Durham and then rain cost us a chance of winning in Birmingham. All in all, there's no hiding the fact that it's been a disappointing start to the NatWest Series.

We are puzzled by our lack of Twenty20 form, having lost our last seven internationals while being very competitive in 50-over games during the same period. Perhaps it's a reflection of how little Twenty20 cricket we play internationally and back home in New Zealand. Scott Styris, who has played over 50 matches, is easily the most experienced in Twenty20, while Brendon McCullum is the only other player in the team to have played in the English competition.

We are going to have put a lot of effort into our strategy over the next six to twelve months if we want to have a chance of winning the Twenty20 World Cup in England next year. It would have been a plus if New Zealand teams were part of the domestic Twenty20 Champions League later this year, and hopefully we can participate in future tournaments. With Jacob Oram's Chennai team having qualified, he might get the chance to benefit from more exposure to high-quality Twenty20 cricket.

In future years it would be good if some of us had the chance to play Twenty20 regularly in both India and England. Personally, I've wanted to play county cricket since I was a kid, though it's always been the idea of playing consistent first-class cricket and experiencing the English lifestyle that has been the attraction. Now with the ECB's big plans for domestic Twenty20, a season over here is even more appealing.

You should never blame your tools when things go wrong on the field, but when my defensive shot finished down long-on's throat at Chester-le-Street, it was probably the only time I've wished I'd had a dud bat. It was a good batting wicket and I was very annoyed at getting out, but I did see the funny side of it. We struggled in that match and our bowlers received a fair bit of criticism. However they bounced back well on Wednesday, including Grant Elliott's three-wicket performance on debut.

 
 
If one of us had to go into the Big Brother house, I reckon Mark Gillespie would have the best chance of doing well. He'd back himself, get the sympathy vote, and I know he would pay people to vote for him.
 

Off the field the guys spend their time in different ways. Jeetan Patel, Jamie How and Brendon are always in the shops buying designer clothes that half of us would never dare to wear. The fantasy baseball players are glued to the internet working out their teams, while the team management tend to be the most adventurous when it comes to getting out and about.

With lots of spare time, the players' partners take care of the touristy stuff. We have an open policy and partners can come on tour for as long as they are able to. These days we all have our own rooms, so there's no chance of getting kicked out of your room when someone's girlfriend turns up.

We don't have Big Brother in New Zealand, and it's become so popular in the team that we're now discussing what will happen next on the way to training. If one of us had to go into the Big Brother house, I reckon Mark Gillespie would have the best chance of doing well. He'd back himself, get the sympathy vote, and I know he would pay people to vote for him.

As I finish writing this, I'm preparing for Croatia's Euro 2008 quarter-final against Turkey. I drew Croatia in our sweepstake and they've impressed me. In fact, the whole tournament has been great to watch, even for someone like me who's not a big football fan. There can't be many tournaments where more than half the teams left have a good chance of winning and where there's a great match on television every night.

New Zealand middle-order batsman Ross Taylor's diaries will appear on Cricinfo through the England series. Taylor spoke to Andrew McLean, an expatriate cricket writer based in London