Match Day: England’s death bowlers never under pressure
When New Zealand lost the 1999 World Cup semi-final, their fourth straight such defeat in ICC world events, Dion Nash sat alone in the dressing room after everyone had left. He was absolutely filthy with himself and with his team at a “shocking” display in a one-sided defeat to Pakistan. “I am a bit of a bad sport at that,” Nash said. New Zealand fans might be feeling the same at yet another semi-final defeat after having bolted out of nowhere to enter the knockouts as one of the favourites.
This team won’t get too down on itself, though. A calm – as usual – Kane Williamson accepted the fickleness of the format where two mistimed full tosses can lose you a match, and said the team will be better for the experience. It certainly wasn’t, Williamson said, the knockout match bringing them down psychologically.
“We were 130 for 3, which certainly is a very good platform in any match that you play in T20 cricket,” Williamson said. “We couldn’t capitalise on it. It is such a small part of what you look at when you [look for things to] improve on. It would have been nice if we had got a few more there. It wasn’t due to lack of effort, and England bowled well. It’s one of those things. Twenty20 is very fickle in nature, and today wasn’t meant to be for us.”
When asked about semi-finals, Williamson had a recent example to help him disagree. “I think every cricket game you play you look at it as an isolated event,” Williamson said. “You accept that when you turn up to the ground you want to play your best cricket, but if the other team plays better then you tend to come second. That’s what happened to us. We didn’t win. We didn’t play the better cricket. England were very very good. As simple as that. We played a semi-final not a long time ago. We went all right. We didn’t come second. We came first in that one. That’s just cricket. We move on and we look to get better as a team.”
The main reason why New Zealand were second-best on the night was they scored just 64 runs in their last 10 overs when they had nine wickets in hand. Two big wickets in this period – Luke Ronchi and Corey Anderson – fell to full tosses that were high enough to be able to get under. Williamson recognised that, but also said England bowled around those breaks to create the pressure.
“That didn’t quite unfold the way we would have liked,” Williamson said. “Saying that, it’s a fine line. A couple of full tosses and maybe other deliveries, when you look back and think a few inches the other way and you get that extra 20 runs. It’s a fine line, T20 cricket. Today didn’t work out for us the way we would have liked. I think the overall tournament was a real positive. We played some good, consistent T20 cricket and in this format you can always lose one. We came up against a better team today.
“Their death bowling was very good. In between they hit the yorkers really well. By taking those wickets off certain deliveries, that puts you under pressure as a new batter coming to the crease has to try to hit from ball one. That is never easy. They were able to take wickets consistently through that middle to backend period, which meant that stemmed the flow of runs in that death stage. You can look at it in a number of areas, but at the end of the day we just didn’t get things right. It wasn’t for the lack of trying, it’s just a fine line in the game that we play. We will all be better for it. We will move on and be a better team.”
In a format that is so result driven that there is no room for even a tied finish, Williamson said it was important to detach yourself from the result. That is perhaps what keeps him calm at the end of what must be a demoralising defeat.
“I think it is very important to be process-driven in this format and play fearlessly,” Williamson said. “There is no room for conservative cricket. Saying that, you want to be smart in how you want to execute your skills. Do it as best as you can. Let things unfold to a certain extent. Sometimes in this format the harder you try the worse it can get.”
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo