Champion says team peaking at the right time April 4, 2007

'New Zealand will be hard to beat' - Richards

Cricinfo staff



Viv Richards: "I thought the loss of Lou Vincent was a blow but they seem to be dealing with his loss, and that augurs well" © Getty Images

Viv Richards has added his voice to the list of experts singing the praises of New Zealand at the World Cup. Richards said New Zealand were capable of winning the tournament, even though they were slipping under the radar of some viewers.

"I like New Zealand's approach," Richards told The New Zealand Herald. "They're quietly bubbling away, making no noise, and getting stronger by the day. They're just going about their work with the minimum of fuss and bother; getting things done quietly but surely - I think they like it like that."

Richards' comments came after Ian Chappell tipped New Zealand as the only side who could seriously challenge Australia. Richards said New Zealand were impressive in their 3-0 Chappell-Hadlee Trophy win over Australia and had carried their form through to the Caribbean.

"You just get the feeling they're peaking at the right time, and they've got all contingencies covered," he said. "They've got a good squad, they seem confident and in good form, and I can see them sneaking up on everyone."

Even New Zealand's injury concerns - Lou Vincent and Daryl Tuffey have flown home, Ross Taylor has a hamstring strain and Mark Gillespie had a viral infection in his shoulder - did not seem to upset their balance, Richards said. "I thought the loss of Lou Vincent was a blow for New Zealand - and I still do, really," he said.

"With him they had all the ingredients: maximum flexibility and the potential to start off strongly, as well as finish with a bang. But they seem to be dealing with his loss, and that augurs well for them. I think New Zealand will be hard to beat."

Like Australia, New Zealand remain undefeated after five games. Their next match is against Ireland in Guyana on Monday.

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