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Former New Zealand batsman and captain

Have New Zealand lost the ability to dream?

Individual players may be suffering in the pursuit of the collective good

Martin Crowe

December 14, 2012

Comments: 24 | Text size: A | A

Ross Taylor and Martin Guptill celebrate New Zealand's win, Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Colombo, 5th day, November 29, 2012
Ross Taylor is possibly the only current New Zealand player who aspires to being the best batsman in his country's history © Associated Press
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Without a dream to chase, the soul stagnates. Without a dream, individual expression stalls as it looks around for an avenue, a release, a path to go down. Dreams are what move us forward; without them we are stuck. That's what I believe.

As the profound American philosopher Henry David Thoreau said in the 19th century: "Do not lose hold of your dreams or aspirations. For if you do, you may still exist but you have ceased to live."

Over the last decade watching cricket in New Zealand I have noticed a change, a massive shift, in the development of our young men, our cricketing soldiers.

The change occurred with the formation of the players association in 2002. While the intention of better this and better that was the war cry, the reality was that each individual who signed up gave up his ability to grow and to blossom into something unique.

Each man became programmed to the collective cause. Each player fell into line, trusting a new way that promised an abundance of riches and protection from all evils. They asked for more resources and more facilities, and they looked away from the greatest tool of all - their own ability to dream big.

When they signed up, they gave away their freedom to express themselves. Their personal dreams became irrelevant. They were squeezed to one side, crushed by the desire to stick with the programme - the conditions, the clauses, the resources, all under the almighty collective.

What we have seen since in New Zealand's game on the field is a mirrored approach, a cloning of ways, a method of asking for more assistance from outside. We see no one individual looking within and in doing so reaching out to new horizons, new frontiers. Most of all, they aren't inspiring the young to dream big either. New Zealand cricket has ceased to live.

My memories of the men I joined as a young tyro are still fresh. These were players who had individual expression and purpose. They belonged to no one; they were free and secure in the knowledge that playing cricket for New Zealand was a badge of honour. Each knew it wouldn't last too long and that the privilege of wearing the blazer was symbolically borrowed and protected. It was worn with immense pride.

Each had a badge of his own: Bruce Edgar was tenacious, John Wright true grit, Jeremy Coney was theatrical, Jeff Crowe silky smooth, John Reid an artist, Andrew Jones unique, Richard Hadlee a genius, Ian Smith a natural, Warren Lees fatherly, Stephen Boock bold, Evan Gray steely, John Bracewell a bully, Ewen Chatfield honest, Lance Cairns resourceful, and Martin Snedden smart and thoughtful. These were men who stood their ground for good long periods. They fought the fight for their country; they played with their hearts and they believed in their dreams.

During a rich period through the 1980s, New Zealand did not lose a Test series at home for over a decade. We didn't always win but we never gave an inch. It was a bunch of individual spirits joining at the hip to throw off all challengers. This was not a group joined by a document. The blazer was a symbol of manning up.

We weren't a "mafia", as Stephen Fleming likes to refer to us. We weren't dysfunctional either. We were simply living that moment, together. It was unwritten.

Today the collective has killed off that natural right to grow and flourish, to dream and reach out. Ross Taylor is the only one I know who wants to be the best in the world, the best batsman in his nation's history. It's a worthy pursuit. The chances are he will get there one day. Without it he stops living as a cricketer.

Young men need to dream big. They need the chase. They need the pursuit. What they don't need is to sit around a lobby. Set them free. Let them live.

Martin Crowe, one of the leading batsmen of the late '80s, played 77 Tests for New Zealand

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Posted by   on (December 17, 2012, 16:09 GMT)

New Zealand are the new minnows now :D

Posted by   on (December 17, 2012, 2:06 GMT)

Some good stuff Martin but there are one or two others in the New Zealand team who want to be the best we've ever had - Kane Williamson for one!

Posted by   on (December 15, 2012, 15:58 GMT)

Martin, I don't care what anyone says about you. I like you, and I will always read your articles and appreciate their insight. I remember as a teenager you commenting on a NZ v Australia Test (was it at Eden Park in 2000 on the turning drop-in where Vettori took 7?) about the ways to combat Shane Warne (cross bats, playing late off the back foot), and my dad said, "Make sure you listen carefully to this."

You are always spot on. I find it ironic that, in an age where the players supposedly play for the team more than themselves, they seem to lack spine of any sort when the team is in a hole.

Also, please mentor Ross Taylor into removing the slog sweep from his Test arsenal. That would help my blood pressure no end.

Posted by WheezyRyder on (December 15, 2012, 0:14 GMT)

Brilliant article. I think in general all the countries that have moved towards a more sarcastic and sardonic, 'spare me the fake niceties' culture have lost some of their ability to produce truly great cricketers, batsmen in particular. South Africa, where credulity and piety are still seen as quite positive traits rather than backward or naive ones, aren't suffering to the extent NZ, England and Australia are.

Posted by   on (December 14, 2012, 22:51 GMT)

Great article Martin Crowe. Suprising too. More please.

Posted by   on (December 14, 2012, 21:42 GMT)

tim southee can be the best in the world

Posted by portman on (December 14, 2012, 16:51 GMT)

Crowe, yet again is correct, when the team of the 80's had all retired NZ had the talent to continue thier legacy but it didn't happen. The team definately lost the ability to dream as Crowe says. Fleming as a former captain was one of these players but instead came up with the term "mafia" for NZ's greatest team. This is where it started and the team still suffers now. NZC deserves more of these style of articles written about it, by more of there former greats, they have failed a generation of former players and fans with the way they are performing currently. Clearly current players are being included in NZC's current failings aswell.

Posted by TheRisingTeam on (December 14, 2012, 14:43 GMT)

New Zealand in the lead-up to 03 World Cup was ranked believe it or not third in the world and now slipping all the way down.

Posted by   on (December 14, 2012, 14:20 GMT)

Not exactly inspiring the troops up before they take on the 2 best teams in the world over the next 4 months!!

Posted by Noman_Yousuf_Dandore on (December 14, 2012, 14:12 GMT)

Very well put Martin. Right after NZ draw a tough series in SL and look like building on some success, they get into a mess; what a pity! Wish them all the best and you a speedy recovery. Cheers!!

Posted by StevieS on (December 14, 2012, 12:29 GMT)

Imagine Andrew Jones growing up today and in some sort of biomechanical academy, they would of totally changed his bat style and I very much doubt he would be as good today as he was back then.

Posted by   on (December 14, 2012, 10:01 GMT)

I'm sure that NZ rugby also has a players collective and it's not doing NZ rugby much harm now is it? I think you're reaching a bit here Marty.

Posted by Dannov747 on (December 14, 2012, 9:37 GMT)

Not sure why you start at 2002. For a while the NZ side under Fleming was quite good. True, few of them had aspirations to be the best players in NZC history, but they knew that they weren't another Hadlee and instead performed well as a group.

Posted by LillianThomson on (December 14, 2012, 9:17 GMT)

Martin Crowe is impressing me hugely since he fell ill with cancer. He's right: the modern fetish for conformity in cricketers - so beloved by John Buchanan - impoverishes the game and weakens teams.

The 74-76 Australians who massacred England and the West Indies would be second rate under the sort of team bs which sees New Zealand persecute its second best batsman (Jesse Ryder) for things which have nothing to do with cricket.

They tried to do the same to Parore and Cairns too until common sense prevailed. The old Aussies would by the same rules have had to drop Walters, Gilmour, Lillee, Thomson, Ian Chappell and Marsh for their drinking and smoking habits.

Test cricket is arguably barely even a team sport. A Pietersen or a Hadlee is disruptive to team spirit, but without their extra ability their teams cannot win.

Posted by KiwiRebo on (December 14, 2012, 7:53 GMT)

@venkateash018. Martin does have an axe to grind and rightly so, NZC is a disagrace to the game and has been falling to pieces for years. Calling Ross Taylor "just an above average batsmen" belittles what Ross has achieved and what he brings to the team. Ross is the only NZ player in ICC test Top 10, he is in the top 10 all time NZ batsmen by aggregate and 6th best average by a NZ batsmen (min 1000 runs). He is also the only player that has consistently shown a fighting spirit and ability in the last few years (hopefully Kane will be in the same category soon). NZ has always been a weak cricketing nation, but could always rely on spirit and tenacity to make games interesting. Those days are long gone and make it hard to support NZ cricket. We achive ONE win this year and it is now forgotten due to the shambles that NZC orchestrated before and after this historic win. RIP NZ cricket

Posted by Alexk400 on (December 14, 2012, 7:13 GMT)

if you do not dream you are stuck in present and even in past sometimes. For me NZ problem always lack of self belief. Only ryder showed some self belief. You need to be cocky but also tough it out. NZ has better bowlers than india and even better athletic fielders and selection policies may not have so many layers of filters like india. So why nz lose to india ,aus, sa, sl?. I think when nz were great in 80 because they had richard hadlee and great batsman. You need both. Also one thing i noticed is great teams always had few X factor players. Can player become X factor player ? he can if he believes and dedicate time to get better. For me current players throughout the world are lazy.

Posted by NonStriker on (December 14, 2012, 6:48 GMT)

Geez Marty... You OK? Time for a wee rest methinks.

Posted by venkatesh018 on (December 14, 2012, 6:24 GMT)

Martin certainly has an axe to grind with the men currently in power in NZC. Otherwise why so much anger now for discarding one player who by International standards is just an above average batsman-Ross Taylor.

Posted by Sanchonz on (December 14, 2012, 6:22 GMT)

If the blazer is such an important symbol of your era, how come you burnt it, Martin?

Posted by electric_loco_WAP4 on (December 14, 2012, 5:39 GMT)

NZ cricket finds itself in such a state ....and being ranked just above Bangla in all the formats doesn't say much. And things don't look like getting better.

Posted by   on (December 14, 2012, 4:53 GMT)

what an article martin ,New Zealand will be fine the kind of bowling attack we have is best.i am always proud of the likes of southee,boult,bracewell,milne,wagner.

Posted by cricPassion2009 on (December 14, 2012, 3:19 GMT)

Well meaning article by the legend.

NZ has to regroup and pick themselves up. They have the players who can do it. Taylor, McCallum, Vettori to name just a few. Shun the controversies and get it going NZ.

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