The Black Caps have struggled in test series in India and South Africa in a way that we have not seen for a couple of years. Have we become complacent in recent times that the Black Caps will just keep getting better? Is this a reasonable expectation? Did the influence of a few people, Brendon McCullum, Shane Bond and Kane Williamson, have such an impact across other’s performances? Or is this just a wee slip up, having faced possibly the top test bowling side in South Africa and India, the top test nation, both in the comfort of their own backyards?
For a short period we had close to the best batsman in the world, a captain who had a strong and clear influence and the the respect of his international peers, and arguably the best bowling coach in the world. Having lost 2 out of 3, Kane Williamson is left holding the fort, but can one top performer influence an entire team? Feels a bit like the days of Daniel Vettori and the one man cricket team.
Sports in New Zealand sporadically over achieve, recently golf and para-swimming, with star athletes who are able to shine in relative isolation. One person is all the difference in individual sports, but in a team sport their influence is limited, they need support. The NZ cricket team in the late eighties had Crowe, Hadlee and Ian Smith, and over achieved. But once Crowe was on his own, the results didn’t continue.
When you see the performances of some of the individuals, it is impossible to know the extent to which that performance can be attributed to the influence of others, be they captains, coaches or peer players. You may have been in teams, sport and other, where a single top performer is useful, but 2 or 3 can really set the tone and change the team’s outcomes. Is this is what has happened to the Black Caps?