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Last Updated:  Saturday, 15 March, 2003, 17:43 GMT
Kiwi all-rounders to blame
By Oliver Brett
BBC Sport in South Africa

Some New Zealand fans will doubtless continue to harp on about how the forfeited match in Kenya ultimately cost the team their semi-final spot.

The counter-argument to that is simple. What, exactly, would have happened if the two sides had met? Kenya after all beat Sri Lanka, a team who trounced the Kiwis back at the start of the tournament.

And New Zealand, who scraped into the Super Sixes when the Durban rain ended the South African dream, must now really start to rethink their tactics at this level of the game.

Chris Cairns
Cairns has been useful with the bat but not the ball
The Black Caps' teamsheet tends to reveal about nine guys who can bowl a bit and nine guys who can bat a bit.

So Stephen Fleming, a captain for whom the dreadful word "proactive" could have been invented, always has a myriad of options.

But how many of the team are in as batsmen, and how many are bowlers? And if people do not really know what their job is, then what do they concentrate on at nets, and indeed in the middle?

The three World Cups in the 1990s tended to suit the Kiwis because it was a decade in which the bits-and-pieces guys tended to do OK, especially on those dodgy tracks back home and in England.

But the fashion has died out now and New Zealand simply have too many all-rounders.

Chris Cairns, Scott Styris, Chris Harris, Jacob Oram were ever-presents but unless they were all going to be in top form that was at least two all-rounders too many.

On these good South African pitches, rewarding top-class bowling and top-class batting in equal measure, the bits-and-pieces characters have rarely been in their element.

Take the final team to beat New Zealand, India.

Fleming and Astle
Fleming consoles Astle after NZ lost to India
Nine months ago, they decided on a very simple strategy.

Pick seven good batsmen and four good bowlers, give Rahul Dravid the gloves and create a fifth bowler out of two or three of the batsmen.

Packed with classy specialists, India have been running as smooth as a Ferrari while the Kiwis have been blowing gaskets and springing leaks aplenty.

The gas certainly ran out when they had the Aussies at their mercy in Port Elizabeth, and despite batting atrociously against India they were suddenly back in the match before three dropped catches ended their hopes.

Yes, there were victories to savour against West Indies and South Africa, and if New Zealand had crept in through the back door to reach the semis few would have begrudged them their place.

But despite the fact they had one of the best batsmen in the tournament, Fleming, and arguably the best bowler of all, in Shane Bond, it was those endless all-rounders who let them down all too often.

The end of the road cannot be too far away for Harris, and possibly Cairns, and how much more patience can be shown to Craig McMillan?

All these thoughts will be filtering through the cerebral Fleming's mind as he flies back home across the Indian Ocean.

Links to more New Zealand stories


India overwhelm Kiwis
14 Mar 03 |  Team Pages
India v NZ: over-by-over
14 Mar 03 |  Team Pages
India sweep past New Zealand
14 Mar 03 |  Photo Galleries
Full scorecard
15 Mar 03 |  World Cup
Have Your Say on India
04 Jan 03 |  Have Your Say
Have Your Say on New Zealand
10 Feb 03 |  Have Your Say

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