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3rd ODI, Bulawayo, October 01, 2000, New Zealand tour of Zimbabwe
(47.5/50 ov, T:265) 268/4

Zimbabwe won by 6 wickets (with 13 balls remaining)

Player Of The Match
99* (124) & 1/10

Kiwis suffer when they lower their own standards

Black Caps coach David Trist is right not to blame his side's bowling mortality rate for the series loss to Zimbabwe which was completed with last night's six-wicket rout in Bulawayo

Lynn McConnell
Black Caps coach David Trist is right not to blame his side's bowling mortality rate for the series loss to Zimbabwe which was completed with last night's six-wicket rout in Bulawayo.
It would be easy to cast around for excuses, and plausible as it might be to point out that the injury rate among bowlers is proving a boon for flight companies ferrying replacements across Australia and the Indian Ocean, the fact remains that it is New Zealand's batting which is of most concern.
A dip in world one-day rankings is assured now and while that shouldn't be a major consideration in match preparation, maintaining and lifting standards should be.
To avoid this campaign looking like a re-run of Napoleon's retreat from Moscow, some attention must be paid to the flaws that have been highlighted by the failure of key batsmen to fire consistent shots.
Injury to wicketkeeper Chris Nevin has clearly put emphasis on the opening position.
When the side was re-selected for the one-day programme, Craig Spearman was being retained as cover for Nevin.
Instead, Spearman was originally named in the lower-middle order, only rising to the No 3 position where he has appeared eminently suited when skipper Stephen Fleming was laid low.
Fleming meantime has stepped into the opening role, without success.
This is noble stuff. Leading from the front and all that.
But for a player who didn't fire a shot in the Test series, and who is the person most would like to see as the side's best batsman, it is hardly a soundly-based tactic.
Would it not have been better to retain Mathew Sinclair for the opening role?
He might have failed too, but given he showed some form in the Test series, and that he is going to be around the scene for a long time, the chance to learn would be better spent on him than by increasing the load on Fleming.
What has been lacking has been a commanding innings. Alistair Campbell twice got into the 90s for Zimbabwe and twice his side won.
Spearman scored 86 in the first game and New Zealand won.
The lesson here is obvious. Someone in the New Zealand batting top order, that's one, two or three, has to take control. Nathan Astle's inability to get on top of the bowling has compounded the situation.
Batsmen like Roger Twose, Craig McMillan and Chris Cairns are bonus merchants who shouldn't have to be tailoring their game to restoring an innings. That way when they are the subject of appalling umpiring decisions, as McMillan was in the final match, the loss is not quite so keenly felt.
New Zealand should have won both these games, even with a bowling attack, which could only be described as haphazard.
It is to be hoped that the 'rotation' method soon starts delivering results. Perhaps with Cairns restored, Geoff Allott and Shayne O'Connor in the side, and Paul Wiseman given a chance, New Zealand might have an attack to be respected in the short term, and perhaps even feared in the longer term.
Fielding standards have slipped, the word 'control' appears to have fallen from the team's vocabulary and the public expectation that the team is giving its all is in danger of being lost.
Come the ICC KnockOut return match against Zimbabwe in Nairobi much better will be demanded from a public sick to the stomach of seeing black-wearing sportspeople dipping out at the Olympic Games.

Zimbabwe Innings
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