New Zealand thrive on tried and trusted formula


Kane Williamson enjoys spending time in the kitchen and discussing recipes with chefs at local restaurants in his hometown of Mount Maunganui. A coffee lover, he recently took a barista course with a group that had worked with indigenous communities in South America to grow beans in the rainforests.

Sometimes Williamson makes culinary analogies when talking about leadership. He once told Tauranga Radio: “Preparing a good team is like cooking a good meal, it is about knowing when to use the ingredients and how to use them. Just the right amount for the right results.

Some of its teams have had this precision in the ingredients. Just the perfect pinch of salt, just the precise pinch of pepper. Tasty, but no flavor comes out and leaves an aftertaste. In their teams, everyone has a well-defined role, and they neither underperform nor outperform. Some amount of overlap is inevitable, but more or less the components effectively stick to their functions like a clock. The team works with the cohesion of a refined football system, there is no jerking or shouting.

Everyone knows each other’s role. They are wary of stepping on each other’s shoes, and even if they do, they don’t try to ape the other, or be the other. So, while Martin Guptill’s designated role is to set the tone with his aggressive punches, Daryl Mitchell’s is to play the accomplice, pivot the strike, take the toughest pitcher, weather the storm and plaster. the basement. If Guptill perishes prematurely, Mitchell does not put on the Guptill mask, but adheres to his hitting philosophy. He gradually accelerates, humming low notes first, before strumming the high notes and reaching an evil crescendo, as he exemplified against England. In the middle of the innings, he was scoring at a hit rate of about 100. At one point, he was 46 on 40 balls; in the next six balls, he crushed 26 points. At no point during his slow intermediate phase did he panic, knowing he could dial in the big hits when the thrust went down.

Likewise, Williamson and Conway beat as they always do, with serenity and poise, keeping the pace of the race, hanging on to bad balls and non-violent shattering bowlers’ morale. There is no such thing as an unhealthy aspirant steak. They add more layers to their game, but not by diluting their original game or personality.

At the bottom of the order, they’ve got a handful of swashbucklers, from Glenn Phillips to Tim Southee, and often times, just a few of them putting the afterburner in a match. Against England, it was Jimmy Neesham’s turn; against Australia, it could be the night of Tim Seifert, who would replace the injured Conway, or Mitchell Santner. That New Zealand is the least tinkered with the hitting team captures the story of their clearly demarcated roles.

Role players

Their bowling is no different – structural discipline is the flagship. Even before a match, the opponent can guess his hand. Old buddies Tim Southee and Trent Boult would open, Adam Milne is the usual first change, followed by spinners Ish Sodhi and Santner. If the conditions allied, Neesham would pass more or two. Or Phillips would rush for an on-spin. But other than a fit here or a chop there, they’re as stereotypical as Hollywood rom-com movies. You know the script before you even enter the movie theater, but you still end up watching and enjoying the movie with popcorn in one hand and a wet handkerchief in the other.

Both work because the methods are simple and straightforward without undue complications. The skills are so clearly defined that there is no temptation to change the established models and ideals. The skills are so specialized that A cannot play the part of B, or C cannot put on D.’s clothes. Or the other way around. In other words, no player is alike and they bask in their differences.

Some may interpret this as a lack of versatility or worse rigidity. But this lack of versatility is a blessing in the T20 format. This gives Williamson and the team’s management clarity on what to expect from each player. In turn, the player knows what the team expects from him and what he expects from himself. There is no futile, twisted attempt to insert square pegs into round holes. The holes and dowels are the perfect sizes and shapes to fit perfectly.

Simplicity works

Often in T20s, the presence of too many multidimensional actors can be a burden. The often called happy headache turns out to be a terminal headache. A contrast would be the West Indies team – they filled their squad with so many similar types of players. Too many blockbuster openers, too many all-rounders in bowling, and too many finishers, they found themselves as a confused bunch, unsure of their roles.

Within this apparent structural rigidity, there is considerable flexibility in the Kiwi system. It’s not like they react the same in every situation, but they adapt and adjust. On a Belter, Mitchell wouldn’t absorb point balls or Southee would try to swing on every other ball. This is an extremely wise group of individuals with different backgrounds, different backgrounds to national teams and exposure to different conditions and opponents.

It’s the New Zealand model through the formats – there aren’t too many people doing too many things. But they have men who fulfill their roles to their optimum capacity. And players with unique skills, like Neil Wagner in Tests, a left arm executor, or Kyle Jamieson, a beanpole who could swing the ball back and forth. Or Boult and Southee, who could swing the ball even in T20 matches and on the parched tracks of the Middle East.

Many teams could boast of more exciting and flamboyant individuals. If the game was all about skill, they would have won hands down. But it’s also about temperament and teamwork – which helps New Zealand as they continue to win games and reach the finals. And knowing the exact proportion of ingredients, when to use them and how to use them.


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