Silent Agression won't help Team New Zealand

If there was ever a cricket team which has consistently under-performed despite world class talent - it would be South Africa. But South Africa or England for that matter have done well (really well) in patches. Sure, they didn't win the World Cup or dominate test cricket consistently but they have come close. I wouldn't be surprised if they do what they are capable of in the coming years. I would be surprised if New Zealand start performing to their potential though. I don't think many captains would mind players like McCullum or Taylor or Vettori or Styris or even Ryder or Oram leading the charge. Nor would they mind Guptill or Franklin or Nathan McCullum or Southee backing up the star players.

So lack of talent is not a sound argument when you judge what they have achieved in the last 4 years. Frankly, no one gave them much of a chance to best South Africa in the World Cup quarter-finals, but SA being SA - that was always a possibility. Take a look at their build up to the World Cup:

Series against a weak and mismanaged Pakistan team:
ODI: lost 3-2
Test: lost 1-0
T20: won 2-1

Series against India:
ODI: lost 5-0
Test: lost 1-0

Series against Bangladesh:
ODI: lost 4-0

As far as I remember they have always been a 'good' team but have never really dominated world cricket in any form. As the selectors pointed out - Daniel Vettori led by example, with minimal fuss. I think that's precisely the problem. Someone needs to create a fuss when the team's achievements don't match up to their ability. No better person to do it than the captain himself. If the captain doesn't shake things up in the middle (or in the dressing room), despite seeing a big fat pink elephant then there is a problem with leadership and the attitude.

I don't think anyone can argue about Vetorri's commitment or understanding of the game. What baffles me even more is that he is actually a pretty sharp guy, which is not common. And yet I rarely see him over-react to an overthrow or dropped catch. Great captains have the ability to mentally assault a player, just by looking at them after they commit 'yet another' silly mistake. I don't think Vetorri does that. He probably puts his composure and dignity much ahead of results.

If Ross Taylor's 'expected minimal fuss' style has been a major factor in his selection - it is sadly sending the wrong message to the players and the competing teams.The recent Bangladesh series was perhaps the bottom of the pit for them. It doesn't get more humiliating than that. New Zealand really needs to claw its way to out of that pit of low ambitions. 

As they embark on a new chapter the new captain needs to draw a thick red line and make it personal (almost like stepping on the tail of an angry dog):

- it is not okay to play your natural game even when the situation demands otherwise
- it is not okay to settle in and not convert 30s to a 100
- it is absolutely not okay for an international player to bowl 'only 1 bad ball' per over

Lets take last decade for ease of memory. If Ross Taylor had inherited a team like Australia in 2003 or India in the last 2 to 3 years- it would have been okay to not create a fuss about mistakes. Both the teams boasted of remarkable mental strength, self belief and fighting spirit -  irrespective of age or experience. That is not the case with this New Zealand team. I wonder if Ross Taylor should consult a certain yesteryear's abrasive Indian captain who took over the reign from greatest batsman of the modern (or arguably any) era. There might have been respectful ways to deal with a demotivated team and angry fans in the middle of a match fixing soap opera but he preferred the shock treatment. Even Rahul Dravid occasionally had a couple of 'pleasant' things to say in the press conferences in Australia. Such was the shift in attitude and the psyche of the players. I think that's what the New Zealand team needs. Maybe that will wake them up.