Styris confident of strong showing
Though few are backing New Zealand to win the World Twenty20, allrounder Scott Styris is optimsitic about the team's chances. They may have been excluded from the list of favourites, but New Zealand boast an impressive record at major tournaments, including reaching the semi-finals of the last three big international events - the 2006 Champions Trophy, the 2007 World Cup and the World Twenty20 played in the same year.
"I think that's always going to be the case," Styris said. "New Zealand don't have that aura and that history to suggest we're always going to be strong. We've made the semi-final stage in all three of the last few tournaments, which suggests we're always going to be there or thereabouts. It's up to us whether we can take it a step further, but we're not too worried about what other teams think of us. We are aware, though, that if we play well enough we'll be better than other teams too."
New Zealand, who begin their campaign against Scotland at The Oval tomorrow, have the advantage of six players of their squad - captain Daniel Vettori, Brendon McCullum, Jacob Oram, Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor and Styris himself - fresh off another highly-competitive Twenty20 tournament, the IPL.
Styris, who turned out for the IPL champions Deccan Chargers, believes the influence of that tournament and the techniques developed in it will be a key part of the World Twenty20 event. "I played in the same side as Andrew Symonds and Adam Gilchrist and even just listening to them going into the final of the IPL, the language they speak and the way they think you should go about performing in big games has been great," Styris said.
"I'm sure that's the case in all the guys in all the teams - you're not only learning things about batting, bowling, fielding and techniques and tactics but also about mindsets going into big games - I think that stands us in good stead, but to be fair I think it helps all the teams with IPL players."
Styris said though developments over the Twenty20 format still continue, tournaments like the IPL provide a lot of valuable insights about the shortest format. "When one-day cricket first came in it would have taken a few years for tactics and techniques to develop in the game and it was always going to be the same with Twenty20 cricket," Styris said.
"It's probably got a long way to go even from now so I think you'll see a marked change in the way the game's played from two years ago. Most players from most countries have been playing in the IPL and there are so many ideas thrown about between each other, I can't see there being too many secrets either."
Should New Zealand go one better and win the tournament, matching their achievement at the ICC Knockout in 2000, it would represent an impressive double for Styris, being able to lift the IPL and the ICC World Twenty20 trophies in the same year.
"I know Andrew Symonds thought that winning with Deccan was as big as winning any World Cup and I think that was right," added Styris. "All our guys viewed it that way, we were absolutely elated when we won it and winning something like this would be no different - I think they're both on a similar level. Both are now taken very seriously in the world game these days by the players and winning either or both would be perfect."
New Zealand were also one of the first teams to arrive on English soil to begin their preparations and have played six warm-up matches - losing only to Australia. New Zealand are expected to be at full strength for their opening match and continue their campaign against South Africa at Lord's on Tuesday, with an eye on the Super Eights.