You are filling is some big boots, following in the footsteps of the likes of Dan, Stephen Fleming…your thoughts on that and how you intend to keep the flame going?
I guess I have never thought of it that way. Following Dan you would always be literally filling in some big boots! But yes New Zealand has been fortunate enough to have a tradition of great Cricket Captains. At the end of your career you would always want to look back and think that you had a successful run at it, and maybe even finish as one of the country’s all time great Cricketers but I am a long way from that and intend to learn a lot while at the job.
You played under both of them, any favorites? Can I put you on the spot and ask which one you think was better?
It’s hard to do that with captaincy, especially when both of them have been such great captains. I played a little under Stephen and he was regarded as one of the great Captains at the time. Tactically very strong and a really good Cricketing brain, but most of my career I played under Vettori and he borrowed a lot from Fleming but has his own unique style as well. Really close to the players and an excellent man manager. They were both good captains in their own right.
You have had a sniff of Captaincy now. How has it affected your personal game? Some great players, Sachin Tendulkar is the first one who jumps to mind in this regard, have failed to juggle their personal game and the act of leading the side. Have you felt any different when at the crease?
I guess a little bit but not that much so far. That is something I have learnt a lot from Dan. He was the best at leading the side from the front and getting the best out of himself while captaining and I want to follow him in this regard. Want to keep batting the way I have over the last few years and keep putting up the scores. I have been originally put in the side to score as a batsman and that’s my aim when at the crease. It is something I think that will also ease the pressures of captaincy and make the process of learning the tactical side of it more comfortable.
I wanted to talk about the World Cup clash against Pakistan a little…best Birthday ever?
Definitely the best birthday gift ever, but I have got to thank Kamran Akmal for that though. I wasn’t high on confidence running into that game and the scores were a bit low as well. It just shows how much a couple of balls can change the way you play this game. Had a bit of luck go my way and ran into a bit of form. That is definitely the way I look at that match, luck was on my side and I started to time the ball well and took a lot of confidence from the match on to the rest of the tournament. Felt a completely different batsman following the game against Pakistan and that’s just how this sport of ours is.
How big were you seeing the ball and how much of it was bad bowling?
When you have been out there for a hundred balls or so full tosses become a bit easier to spot. And by that time the ball had started to come on nicely to the bat. It was a shortish boundary the end Razzaq and Shoaib were bowling from and I was backing myself to clear it even if I got a little bit of the ball on to the bat.
The tour of Australia is going to pose a pretty stern test for the Black Caps. How do you see the team shaping up?
Oh we have a few players coming back from injury ready to knock down the doors. Playing Australia, our old rivals …I guess we don’t need any more motivation than that…. to do better in their own back yards. We proved in Zimbabwe that we are a side gelling well together but having said that we have a lot to improve on, and with some of our main guys coming back into the fold I can definitely see us putting the pressure on Australia, hopefully take it to the fifth day and any thing can happen from there.
Talking about the fifth day, what thoughts were running through your head on the last day of the Test against Zimbabwe? Did things get a bit panicky when the batsmen seemed to be on top and cruising home at one stage?
No you always try to stay ahead of the game and you keep trying different things. When they come off you look like a genius and when they don’t it doesn’t look that great. Going into the fifth day we were pretty confident, but the Zimbabwean batsmen came at us pretty hard, and credit to them for that. At the same time picking up seven wickets in a session of a test match though against any opposition is no mean feat and we should take away a lot from that performance, especially the way Vettori and Doug Bracewell bowled. They will take a lot of confidence from that into Australia.
Your thoughts on the novel experimental policies being applied by NZC recently, namely their selection methods are being considered by some as being regimental…
I guess there will always be people questioning any policy you apply so I don’t see that as much of an issue. At the end of the day if you are picking the right players and getting the best out of them, disregarding any external issues, then the job is getting done and that is what the main concern should be. The team culture comes into it a little bit, and the senior player group has a lot bigger part to play after the selection gets done.
How much of a say do you have in the selection?
Oh I have a little say, not a big say or any thing like that.
As a batsman you are a very strong puller and cutter of the ball, very Australian traits. What type of wickets do you like playing on?
Yea I don’t mind playing on surfaces with a bit of bounce and playing the back foot shots, but at the end of the day it’s all about scoring runs and adapting to any sort of conditions to pile up the scores. Conditions in Australia are going to be vastly different from what we faced in Zimbabwe but that is just one of the challenges of modern day Cricket and it is a challenge I am looking forward to.
Suppose you are being offered a great opening batsman or a tear away fast bowler which would you pick?
Oh we already have good opening batsman so I’ll take the fast bowler.
N.Z Cricketers have taken a liking to t20, where do your priorities lie and what should the balance be like?
Test Cricket is definitely the ultimate form of the game and rate it higher than any other form. In terms of balance I don’t think they have figured one out that is right so far. We have a world ranking now and the aim is to be number one in that and win the World Cup but Test Cricket has been around much longer than t20, which is still young, and ODIs, which are about 30 years old. It is the ultimate test of a cricketers ability and a right gauge to judge yourself against the Cricketers from the past.
Your idols growing up as a young batsman?
Sachin Tendulkar and Mark Waugh growing up. I wouldn’t say I emulated them as I had my own unique style and couldn’t ever bat as gracefully as them. Of the current Cricketers Sachin is still there, but Rahul Dravid is someone who I have developed a great admiration for playing with him at Bangalore and getting to pick his brains. Certainly one of the batsmen playing currently I have great respect for.
Pakistani players you have liked playing against?
Shahid Afridi I have enjoyed playing with on the park. Just his all round game and how goes about it holds a lot of appeal and admire him for that. Muhammad Yousuf and Younis Khan are two of the most consistent in World Cricket let alone Pakistan Cricket and I like watching them bat.
Maori Cricketers and Polynesians are more rare in Cricket than compared to other sports, for example, Rugby in New Zealand. Any special reason for that?
They are an untapped market and have not been exposed to Cricket to the same extent they have been in other sports. You will see them playing softball a lot and I think if they are given a chance and are exposed to it more you will definitely see more of them coming through the ranks. We already see some results due to the exposure in recent years and I think t20 is a great avenue to get the Maoris and Polynesian populations involved in Cricket more.
Is it Cricket 24/7 now that you are married to a professional Cricketer? And how much of the captaincy is coming from your better half ?
Cricket has always been a big part of my life and it certainly is right now. As far as captaincy is concerned I am afraid that’s left all to me, but yes can’t wait to keep leading the side and look forward to more success during the course of the coming season.
Originally for Pakpassion.net