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More than self-respect on the line for Kiwis

New Zealand's cricketers, battling to prevent a 5-0 whitewash in the National Bank One-Day International series at Jade Stadium in Christchurch tomorrow, have not only their self-respect on the line, but the need for a transfusion of confidence to be

Lynn McConnell
09-Feb-2001
New Zealand's cricketers, battling to prevent a 5-0 whitewash in the National Bank One-Day International series at Jade Stadium in Christchurch tomorrow, have not only their self-respect on the line, but the need for a transfusion of confidence to be ready to take on Pakistan next weekend.
These are troubled times for the New Zealanders.
With the ICC KnockOut win in Nairobi a distant memory, the lesson has been well and truly rammed home that players are only as good as their last game, and the general public's memory does not go back further than the game before that.
The greatest problem facing the side, and it is not a new one in New Zealand cricket performances, is inconsistency. A week ago in Wellington, in the second match of the series, New Zealand almost got home on the back of an outstanding fielding effort.
Things looked to have turned around for the better. In Auckland, in the third game, there was a nary a sign of the fight that took the side so close in the second game.
On Thursday, it was only a tight bowling effort in the gathering gloom that got New Zealand close.
The two positives that were stepping stones for what has to be the best effort of the series tomorrow, and probably the biggest game of the summer to date, were from skipper Stephen Fleming with the bat and pace bowlers Chris Martin and Darryl Tuffey in their second spells.
Skipper Stephen Fleming set an example of application with the bat that may hopefully have rubbed off on his team-mates. Others have to improve to give New Zealand a chance, while Fleming has to build on that effort.
The two pace men are inexperienced, but they are being given some useful lessons in how to bowl in various situations and it would be a big boost to New Zealand's effort if they could perform in their opening bursts as they did in their second in Hamilton.
Curbing the outstanding attacking batting of Sanath Jayasuriya is an absolute must if New Zealand is to be competitive.
It would also be a significant boost to the one-day game in New Zealand, with the Pakistan series in mind, that some scores in the region of 250-plus could be achieved to at least resemble the sort of contest one-day games were intended to be.
And if there is a lesson the players can take into the game they might ponder the words of former United States president Harry Truman who said: "I studied the lives of great men and famous women, and I found that the men and women who got to the top were those who did the jobs they had in hand, with everything they had of energy and enthusiasm."
Energy and enthusiasm, the cornerstones of successful teams in the modern era.
Coach David Trist has been saying constantly that cricket is a simple game.
As if the thought of a 5-0 series loss is not enough to lift most teams out of their malaise, the thought that the scrutiny the side has been under for Sri Lanka has only been mild with what is to come from Pakistan.
Pakistan, after all, was the beaten side in the ICC KnockOut semi-final and they are not used to being beaten by New Zealand in important matches. They have plenty to play for.