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Richardson: 'We don't want to cock it up'

Mark Richardson's dismissal was a rare bright spot in a bleak Test for India © AFP Cruel as it may be to rub it into one's opponents after keeping them in the field for two days, Mark Richardson managed it effortlessly

Rahul Bhattacharya
07-Jul-2005


Mark Richardson's dismissal was a rare bright spot in a bleak Test for India
© AFP


Cruel as it may be to rub it into one's opponents after keeping them in the field for two days, Mark Richardson managed it effortlessly. After scrapping and sweating his way to his highest Test score, he revealed that his childhood inspiration was Indian coach John Wright. Wright, known to jog away his frustrations, lapped Mohali relentlessly in the northern dusk, possibly contemplating how everything in life comes back to bite you in the bum.
Not just Richardson, but this entire batting line-up have imbibed Wright's example well - they have exemplified grit. Yesterday Lou Vincent spoke of limiting his strokeplay to create longer innings. Today Richardson talked about the lessons from this tour.
"You come over here and you learn about discipline and intensity," he said. "The hard parts are keeping yourself going, and keeping each other going. It's a lot of hard work mentally."
Richardson's was not an innings of fluency, and he did escape with an early life. "I was still nicking and poking and prodding after 410 balls," he conceded. "Technically it wasn't my best innings." But he made 145. Wright would approve.
Shining brighter than Richardson today was Styris. He is deceptively broad at the crease, much like Carl Hooper, so there doesn't seem to be a way to get the ball past him. Also Hooperesque are his preference for getting behind the ball rather than playing alongside it, and his ability to cover more ground with his feet than it appears. Yet there is little of Hooper's feline touch in Styris, nor can he boast as many shots.
Rather, Styris has worked his game out and understood how to put up scores - and it involves playing straight. Repeatedly he broad-batted boundaries down the ground, a feat made all the more remarkable given his extreme closed grip, with the face of the blade facing his toe in stance. Fifty of his 119 runs came in the V, including both sixes and four fours. Basically, India bowled to a wall.
And to think this was a man once best known for the ability to bowl a straight ball without lifting his leading arm from by his side. "He is the type of guy who performs when given responsibility," said Richardson of his team-mate. "He started first-class cricket as a medium-pacer, but his batting has come along leaps and bounds. He was given a job in the middle order, and he responded. He is a Test-class batsman now."
But despite all the records (highest score against India, top three batsmen all making centuries and their highest scores), New Zealand's refusal to force the pace - particularly after Stephen Fleming's 30 off 35 had provided the innings momentum - might cost them. As things stand, it is improbable that a declaration will come anytime early tomorrow morning. "We want to do the job well once," Richardson said. "There is still a lot of apprehension. We've come so far and we don't want to cock it up."
That means one thing. India will not win this series, save for a gambler's declaration by Fleming should New Zealand be required to bat again. And if they are this hellbent on not cocking it up, India should not expect one.