Kevin Pietersen: The New Zealand story is fascinating – how do they do it?
The Betway ambassador ponders New Zealand’s remarkable success, previews the T20 World Cup final and rues an injury that ‘cost England the title’.
Tymal Mills’ injury cost England the World Cup
I’m pretty confident I’d be previewing a final which England were likely to win if Tymal Mills hadn’t been injured for their semi-final against New Zealand.
Mills was the only irreplaceable player in England’s squad.
Jason Roy went down, but Jonny Bairstow could shuffle up the order. They had plenty of spare batsmen, right-arm and left-arm seamers, and even Liam Livingstone’s spin has been a revelation.
But Mills was an unknown quantity to several opposition in this competition and has skills nobody else does.
He bowls incredibly fast, he has great changes of pace. He was a fabulous selection.
England were poor at the death on Wednesday, so it’s fair to say that Mills’ injury has cost them the World Cup.
How do New Zealand do it?
What is it about NZ? Population 5M!— Kevin Pietersen🦏 (@KP24) November 11, 2021
They’ve got the All Blacks and a cricket team that’s getting to major finals regularly.
What is it? Might be a model for global sport to follow…
The New Zealand story fascinates me. How is a country with a population of five million so successful in both rugby and cricket?
The All Blacks are one of the most powerful brands in sport. And now the cricket team has qualified for the each of the most recent finals across all three formats of cricket.
What do they get right?
I wonder whether it’s the attitude of the media. Do they infiltrate and disrupt the lives of the players like they do in England and India? I don’t think so.
Do they have a tabloid culture, where every part of your life is examined and cross-examined? Again, not like in other countries.
The culture within the team doesn’t seem to be about big personalities. There are no huge distractions off the field, they just have everybody pulling in the same direction.
They feel so safe and secure within themselves. There’s no external pressure, players know that they’re not going to get slated if they have an off day. There’s a respect for the players from the population.
I don’t think ego is something that is connected to New Zealand sport. They just play for each other.
Players like Jimmy Neesham and Tim Southee, who do quite well on the franchise circuit but aren’t necessarily stars, have come into their own in this tournament. These guys step it up because they feel at home in that side.
I’m thinking aloud, and I’m fascinated to learn more about the secrets to their success, but it does seem that the unity, humility and lack of distractions around the New Zealand team set them apart.
When the going gets tough, Australia get going
When the going gets tough, the tough get going!— Kevin Pietersen🦏 (@KP24) November 11, 2021
It’s the Aussie way! 💫
It’s the Australian way that when it’s do or die, they do. They’ll just get the job done.
That’s why they’ve been a formidable opponent for such a long time. If they get themselves into a semi-final of a major tournament, they’ll find something extra.
David Warner is a great example of that. People like to cut sportspeople down very quickly after a bad run – and make no mistake, Warner was struggling with Sunrisers Hyderabad during the IPL – but he hasn’t had the success he’s had because he’s a rubbish player.
He’s shown his class in this competition when his team needed him most. It’s not a coincidence.
Australia have the edge in the final
New Zealand seem to have all bases covered, but I fancy Australia.
History suggests that when you get these two together in a major final, the Aussies blow the Kiwis away. It’s what happened in the 2015 50-over final in Melbourne.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Australia lift the trophy on Sunday.
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