Chennai, Feb 14 (IANS) Apparently, New Zealand is a team on the make under coach John Wright, notwithstanding the back-to-back ODI series defeats against Bangladesh (0-4), India (0-5) and Pakistan (2-3) as the Kiwis hope to be a force to reckon with at the Feb 19-April 2 World Cup.
Two of the more experienced New Zealand players – Scott Styris and Brendon McCullum – who met the media here Monday, were unanimous that the Black Caps are in the process of a makeover of sorts with Wright pulling the strings.
Semi-finalists in two of the three previous World Cups, New Zealand cricket has been plagued by controversies on and off the field to an extent that the authorities roped in Wright, who replaced Mark Greatbatch in a major reshuffle in December.
Greatbatch went on to head a three-member selection panel while skipper Daniel Vettori was dropped as one of the selectors.
Yet, the Kiwi quartet opined that the process of change has benefitted the team despite the series loss to Pakistan under Wright.
Styris, the 35-year old all-rounder playing his fourth World Cup, said: “He (Wright) is always relaxed and focused. I think the batsmen have benefited a lot from him. He has given them the clarity and focus.”
The other three echoed these sentiments and felt certain changes in the team brought about by Wright have been paying dividends.
Wright broke up the opening pair of McCullum and Jesse Ryder in a bid to stabilise the middle-order. Ryder was pushed down the order while Martin Guptill partnered McCullum.
“We have a few talented strikers of the ball, and John has taught them how to build an innings and score a hundred. And if you look at the impact he had, Ryder and Guptill scored hundreds against Pakistan and Ireland.
“If you look at their age, they are still young, Ryder and (Ross) Taylor are 26, and Guptill is 24. Some of the other batsmen in the team are also young and inexperienced, and they have a lot to learn from John’s extensive experience,” Styris said.
McCullum, the 29-year old hard-hitting opening batsman and wicket-keeper, set to play his third World Cup, said: “John has only been around for a month now. None of us were really sure what he was going to bring from his time outside the group. He is a passionate person. He understands New Zealand and its cricket and coaching.
“He knows how to get the best out of each individual player. He can speak in each individual player’s language. He has certainly had a calming influence.”
Since Wright took charge, Ryder blazed away to a century and a 50-plus against Pakistan while Guptill, promoted to open the innings, notched a hundred against Ireland, though in a warm-up game at Nagpur last week.
“We have had two very good hundreds in last two games. We played Martin in the warm-up game and in the last game against Pakistan. This is the sort of confidence we are going to have.
“We know this tournament is going to be determined by who gets most runs. We are a little bit nervous, but we are also pretty excited because it is a great opportunity to do something special,” McCullum said.