Kiwis elbow aside Aussie neighbours
Trevor Chesterfield - 20 May 1999
CARDIFF - What a birthday gift it was for this transplanted Kiwi. Just as they gave South Africa a serious jolt in the ribs back in March, New Zealand beat Australia when relocated Warwickshire left-hander Roger Twose battered down Australia's door at Sophia Gardens today.
Elbowing aside their cocky cousins with a comprehensive five-wicket victory in the 46th over of their Group B game, New Zealand need to beat either a distressed-looking West Indies side when they meet in Southampton on Monday or Pakistan at the windswept racecourse in Derby next Friday to ensure a Super Sixes slot.
Oh boy. What a treat that will be. Getting in on the big boys act, which says much for the commitment, determination and flair of the Kiwis as they stepped on the gas, put their run-making abilities into over-drive and cruised home. Well, at least one Australian, 1980s rebel Steve Rixon, can take some credit for the success which will have bruised Australian egos. Steve Waugh admitted when it was over that the Aussies need to do ``some serious thinking with games against Pakistan and West Indies ahead.''
It left you with the feeling that the second favourites may be struggling just a little to beat the return from the outfield and get into the Super Sixes should they fall against Pakistan. Not the sort of prospect those from Down Under are going to appreciate.
While the New Zealanders had an early innings hiccup, there was this pleasant gut feel that when Chris Cairns and Twose took on Shane Warne, and that other bit of puff-pastry-flake look alike, Shane Lee, all was going to be well. Warne bowled a couple of deliveries which would embarrass a novice. Neither the googly nor the flipper were working well at all. Ach, shame Shane ... ! Not nice to take a bit of tap for the Kiwis, eh? Never mind, fellah, there's more where that comes from.
Twose batted with care and attention, picking off 10 fours in his 99 ball innings of 80 not out as the Kiwis kicked off the covers and dispensed with the land of the long white shroud image. So, what else was good about the Kiwi efforts? For one thing the Aussies were unable to get their innings into any sort of fluent mode because of the New Zealanders' fielding. It seems they have taken to heart the lessons from South Africa's tour and paid attention to that department.
Sliding saves on the boundary and in the circle, quite outstanding catching and generally all-round flair made the Kiwis appear a strong and more purposeful side with a clear idea of where they are heading. They are a lot better than their 20/1 World Cup odds.