This is a cricket tour more anticipated than most. And last night, in the deciding T20 New Zealand failed to close the deciding tie when it appeared they had it all wrapped up.
New Zealand needed 25 from 5 overs, with 3 down, and lost. Under such a hangover, the country wanted to know why and how.
Craig McMillan came on the radio the following morning, and in a cynical cry for attention, had the answer. Apparently, it was all Jessie Ryder’s fault. He needed to “carry the weight of the defeat on his shoulders”. And he was selfish.
Ah yes; the national obsession with personalising an issue or failure. Let’s point the finger at an individual rather than anything more complex. Lazy, lazy reporting.
This was the same Ryder who top-scored for New Zealand in his comeback match at a Strike Rate n the 120s.
McMillan claimed, and was not challenged, that he was more focused in bringing up the personal milestone of a T20 50 above the needs of the side. While there is no doubt that a lot of cricket is centered around personal records and milestones it would be stretching it to suggest that T20 half centuries feature highly in that.
This assessment of things said more about the accuser than the accused.
And this from the man famous at age group level for taking the single off the last ball of an over; sometimes managing to go for ten overs without his partner facing a ball.
The theory that Ryder was solely to blame for the loss was not only vindictive but just plain wrong. The fact that Ryder remained becalmed, and was dropped before finally being dismissed, after getting to the half century, indicated this was not a temporary phase of selfishness. An extraordinary accusation.
Before Ryder lost his way, following the brief rain delay which was clearly a factor in what was to follow, Guptill and Nicol had been dismissed once set. Not need to criticise their moral fortitude for that; this is T20 after all, but those dismissals were crucial.
Brendon McCullum, the world’s leading run scorer in T20 internationals never really got going, and was carried to a degree during that partnership by Ryder himself. He was dismissed at a stage when you would normally expect him to accelerate.
Williamson, like Ryder, never settled after the rain break and made 6 from 9.
Franklin never got going in the way he had recently, although was not helped by the fact he was starved of the strike in the last couple of overs. Nathan McCullum went for some strange over the shoulder flutter when a single was the better option. Doug Bracewll, who has probably never faced the pace of De Lange before, tried the glory shot when, again, turning ver the strike was the better option.
This is not to criticise any of these people personally; it was a collective lack of option taking under pressure and some really good bowling. This can happen; note South Africa worked their way through 10 consecutive dot balls at a similar stage in their innings.
Such a shame. This tour is just what the New Zealand cricket public wanted. It’s been a full 8 years since South Africa were last here, and in the post Hobart phase of optimism, alongside a really well compiled itinerary, has meant that this is something to savour.
So there’s no need for that kind of nonsense Craig.