There’s a point in time when most Commonwealth countries challenge their relationship with the United Kingdom.
Should we become a republic? What does the Queen do? Why is there a Union Jack on our flag?
New Zealand have just been through some of that process.
Their flag, which in poor light looks identical to Australia’s, was deemed by a vote of the people to be good enough for another 50 years or so. Then the dance will happen all over again.
Even when it makes absolute sense is often hard to do.
And herein lies the secret as to why New Zealand ultimately blew their ICC World Twenty20 campaign.
They brought innovation, but could not change.
It is a truism in cricket that a side is usually happy to mess with its bowling lineup, but rarely its batting order.
Bowlers get rested. An extra spinner gets picked for Indian conditions. Play your quicks in Perth.
The same sort of old wives tales do not exist when discussing batting.
New Zealand bravely and brilliantly played and rotated their no name spin and dibbly dobbler attack throughout this tournament.
Sodhi. Santler. The other McCullum. Elliott.
Backed up by McClenaghan and Corey Anderson.
And until last night, it worked.
They rolled India for less than Virat Kohli’s batting average. They defended against Australia. Pakistan and Bangladesh didn’t get close.
But they always batted first and found a way to defend whatever number was on the scoreboard.
Until last night.
It’s not as though their 8/153 was a poor score. It was New Zealand’s second highest total for the tournament. It is just that it should have been so much better.
The Kiwi top 3 did as it should.
Guptill, Williamson and Munro have been superb this tournament.
At 3/107 (13.2), a target of 170 was on the cards.
But unlike their bowling attack that morphs and changes with the conditions, their batting lineup does not.
Ross Taylor at 5 hasn’t really worked. He only looked in proper control during the Pakistan match. But every Kiwi looked like they were feasting in that battle.
Grant Elliott at 7 is simply a waste of possibly the Kiwi’s best short form mainstay. He deserved the right to come in at 4 or 5 and build some decent innings. The guy can hit. The guy also rarely gets out when his team needs him at the crease.
Ironically, like Jason Roy, he is the amongst only a handful of South Africans to perform in a semi final.
Last night when the brakes were being applied by the English in the final 10 overs, New Zealand didn’t counter with anything of note. No change to the batting order. No player sent out to hit out. No player sent in to rotate the strike and find a way through.
Instead, it was the same batting order that has delivered an average target of 149 runs.
The average score posted in the Super 10’s Stage by all teams was 150.
Australia’s only score below 149 in the tournament was against New Zealand.
You cannot continually post middle of the road scores and expect to win an ICC trophy.
New Zealand needed to find a way to challenge Stokes and Jordan when they cramped them for runs towards the end of their innings.
They couldn’t. They changed nothing.
When it was England’s turn to respond, the Kiwis didn’t have a Stokes or Jordan to turn to. They had left Boult and Southee in the sheds. In fact, these two played the whole tournament from an airconditioned box. It looked clever in the first match against India. It looked plain stubborn come the semi final.
It has been a strong couple of ICC tournaments for New Zealand. A World Cup final and a World Twenty20 Semi Final.
One senses that the ODI result was a fair reflection of where they were at.
However, this semi final loss is likely an under achievement for a team that got so much right, but went into the tournament without a plan B.
Originally posted at First Post