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McCullum talks tough after Monday mishap

“Our cricket smarts weren’t there,” says New Zealand captain, adding that changes must be made before the 2015 World Cup
Brendon McCullum was a picture of disappointment soon after New Zealand had been knocked out of the ICC World Twenty20 2014. McCullum, who rarely shows off his anger or disappointment in public, could not hide his dismay, not so much at the loss, but the manner in which his team had played, being bundled out for only 60 by Sri Lanka on Monday (March 31).
McCullum strongly hinted that changes would have to be rung in, and that there were matters that needed to be addressed firmly before New Zealand cricket could move forward. “I said at the outset that we were going to have to play really well. We’re not good enough to only play at 80% and get through. There are some things that irked me, at times, during the tournament. I’ll be addressing those later,” he said. “I thought our cricket smarts weren’t there. When you’re playing on these surfaces, which are very foreign to what we’re used to, and the nature of T20, you have to be smart and decisive with your decision-making. You can’t afford to be lacking in cricketing intelligence. That’s what we lacked.”
McCullum suggested that there could be changes to personnel in the near future, with an eye to putting the team in a better place to win the 2015 World Cup, to be played in Australia and New Zealand. “We coughed up opportunities to win games that we should have. That is going to have to change at some stage, otherwise we’ll keep turning up for tournaments, winning a couple, losing a couple and not getting any silverware,” said McCullum. “Someone’s going to have to change it if New Zealand are to win major tournaments and we have one at home in a year’s time, which better be it.”
New Zealand was severely hamstrung by the fact that the dew, which had been such a feature of all games at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, simply did not show up on the day. The combination of anti-dew spray being used on the outfield, and a cloudy day and evening, ensured that the field of play stayed dry throughout. “As long as it’s consistent … tonight, we found out midway through the game that the outfield had been sprayed for anti-dew. That was not done throughout the tournament. It was a bit of a surprise. As long as the conditions are consistent, so the teams can work out a strategy and an understanding of the conditions, it’s fine,” argued McCullum. “It’s disappointing to see them change so much in one game. But, we should have been better than that. Certainly no sour grapes, we should have chased down 120 and only getting halfway is nowhere near good enough.”
McCullum pointed out the reasons why New Zealand’s batsmen imploded so spectacularly. “The wicket was completely different. We anticipated that the ball would skid on, as it has in every game that has been played here. Every team that has won the toss has wanted to chase, at night especially. The pitch was really dry, almost underprepared a little bit, the way it played towards the end, and we didn’t adapt our games quickly enough,” said McCullum. “There were some soft dismissals, poor choices, myself included. We couldn’t find the balance between being aggressive enough to give us a start, chasing a small total, and conserving wickets and stemming the flow of momentum. Sri Lanka were a far better team than us.”
Even with the conditions being what they were, and the element of surprise involved, there was little justification for New Zealand doing as badly as it did. Just how did they manage to get bowled out for only 60? “I’m trying to work that one out as well, especially when one guy gets 42. The two spinners took seven wickets between them, there were a couple of silly run outs. They bowled really well, but we didn’t bat well at all,” said McCullum. “We played across the line to the ball that was skidding on and some of us tried to be too aggressive against the ball turning away.
“T20 is a game where you have to be convinced in your method. Sometimes you go down playing that way but you still have to commit to it. I don’t think we committed to our method today – 120 at halftime, we were happy, we bowled well and were really desperate in the field, that’s the best attitude I’ve seen from us on the field. We coughed up a game against South Africa, and now tonight, at half-time we should have won that game as well. We let the opportunity slip and we’re going to be on a plane home tomorrow.”

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