Alistair Campbell on the 3rd one-day international.
ALISTAIR CAMPBELL: THIRD ONE-DAY INTERNATIONAL
Alistair Campbell led the way with the bat, recording nineties in both of Zimbabwe's one-day victories over New Zealand. He talks to John Ward after the final match.
JW: Al, you must feel a little frustrated with two nineties in a row, but it seems to be that you're batting better at present than you have ever done before. What do you feel?
AC: Yes, I am, and I'm seeing the ball really well. You say two nineties, and obviously it's nice to get a hundred, but obviously the main thing is for Zimbabwe to win games, and personal performances just contribute to that. Today it would have been nice to get a hundred; yesterday I had more time and probably should have been 130 not out at the end, but we won both games and that's the main thing. As far as my batting is concerned, I spoke to you earlier on in the series and said myself that I was playing well and my mental frame of mind was good, so hopefully it continues throughout the season.
JW: (jokingly) You and Guy Whittall seem to have a bit of a problem with each other: you keep running each other out, and now he leaves you stranded on 99!
AC: (laughs) Yes, I know, Whits and I have had our occasions - I nearly ran him out today before he'd scored but luckily Harris missed from point. He said to me, "The team comes first," and I said to him, "One way, just finish the game," and he duly did that.
JW: This morning, if we had won the toss, what would we have done?
AC: We would have batted. I think you always want to bat first here, and if you can have 270 or so on the board, you're always going to have the side batting second under pressure. But I thought we did really well with the ball, although we had a bit of a patch in the middle with our spinners when Roger Twose backed himself and hit them out of the ground, and they looked at that stage to be heading for 290. But there was a magnificent last ten overs for us, with Heath Streak leading from the front, did a really good job, and Mluleki Nkala came back and got two crucial wickets as well - and I suppose what really turned it was when yours Truly got Roger Twose out as well! (laughs)
JW: Can you tell the story of how you came on and took that wicket?
AC: Streaky just said, "What about a change?" and bowled me for two overs. So I said. "Yes, no problem," and I came on there. It bounced and turned, a magnificent delivery, and he lobbed it to cover! The truth being that it was a wide half-volley!
JW: And our innings - how did you find the conditions out there?
AC: Oh, they were very good. We always knew the ball was going to come on and you can score quickly without taking too many risks, and all I wanted to do was work to my game plan: I just tried to hit it hard and straight, and if they give you any width you can free your arms, hit it through the off side and anything too straight you can tuck away off your hips, and Doug Marillier played really well the other end. He's a young guy with a very good eye and he backed himself with some very crisp shots, and it was just very disappointing the way he got out. Obviously with a bit of time he'll learn that when you get a good start like that, to keep the ball on the ground and accumulate after that, after the first 15.
JW: Stuey Carlisle always seems to be getting in, laying the foundation and then getting out for around 20 or 30.
AC: Yes, he is; he's struggling a bit, but getting to 30 and then getting out, that's the worst thing. But he'll come good, and with a bit more confidence he's got to push on. He knows that, and I'm sure he'll make the necessary adjustments.
JW: Andy Flower played an excellent innings, of course.
AC: Yes, he's one of the best one-day players in the world, because of the way he's able to innovate. He took off all the pressure when we needed to score quite quickly then, six or seven an over, and he took all the pressure off me. I was just able to get a single and he hit a couple of boundaries an over. That was magnificent and enabled us to need only sixes at the end, in the last ten overs.
JW: Then Guy just cut loose!
AC: He did! You know, when you've got mid-on and mid-off up, that's the way to go. If they give you any length, you hit over the top, and he did that magnificently. He's been such a good number six player for us in the past and such a good finisher; he plays so well under pressure, and that's what he did today and showed what a good player he is at number six.
JW: Do you think New Zealand made any mistakes, either with the bat or in the field, that may have contributed to their defeat?
AC: Not really. I think they should have probably got 280 or 290, but they lost wickets at crucial times, and the only way to reduce the run rate in one-day cricket is to take wickets. So we took wickets at crucial times, and they were probably 20 runs short of what they would have liked to have got. But we all know that it's a good batting wicket and 270 is a score you have to get and you're able to chase. It was one of those high-scoring games and we were able to bowl well, especially in the last five overs, to restrict them and win the game.
JW: Any other players in our team whom we haven't mentioned so far that are worthy of mention for what they did in this series?
AC: Obviously cricket is a team game; everybody contributes and everybody has played their part in the last two days. The spinners really did a good job yesterday but struggled a bit today, and Paul Strang has been really consistent in these games. Our fielding's been good, we've taken our chances, so it's been a good all-round team performance with people doing their jobs. My job when I'm opening is to bat through the innings, which I' ve managed to do, and we managed to get big totals, so there's the proof that's in the pudding.
JW: The team seems much happier now than they were earlier in the tour.
AC: There are still a few niggly issues, but a winning team is always able to smooth over the things that are not going so well in other departments. But hopefully we can get something going now we've won two games, and hope we can win a third against the same opposition in Kenya. But at the moment we are playing well and things are stable, and hopefully that continues.
JW: Any other comments you'd like to make?
AC:: Just that I didn't think we'd win a match after the performances we put up in the two Test matches and the first one-day in Harare. I thought we were really behind the black ball, we weren't playing good enough cricket, but we had some stern words, some very honest words, in a team meeting and it seems to have got guys to look in the mirror. And this is what the guys have done: we pulled out two great team performances and won two games.
JW: Who gave the words?
AC: Everyone gave the words. I had things to say and Streaky gave his, and Kev Curran and Andy Flower - all the guys. We just said, "Listen, we need to pull together and sort this out, because we're playing crap at the moment. We're just making basic errors." We managed to sort that out with net practice and the guys focused on what we needed to do, and it's come good for us in these last two days.