CricInfo at World Cup 1999
[The ICC Cricket World Cup - England 1999]

New Zealand v Pakistan, 28 May 1999

by Trevor Chesterfield

In the past Steve Rixon has been known for his almost loquacious approach to life. Now there are those who have a high opinion of the New Zealand coach: they see him as a hard-talking tough guy with a sharp mind as well as nose when it comes to appraising a situation.

Perhaps he is not quite the verbal pinch hitter you would except from an Australian with a clear streetwise view of the game. At least the Kiwis know where they stand with him and they are also very aware of his views and respect for the captain Stephen Fleming, the tall elegant batsman who so far has not had a great World Cup.

Rixon’s views of New Zealand’s game against the West Indies at Southampton are well known. But he also had some thoughts of his own which the Kiwis need to remember when they tackle Pakistan in an all-important Group B game at the normally windswept Derby tomorrow.

Asked whether he thought New Zealand’s batsmen had scored enough against the West Indies, the former wicketkeeper/batsman growled he thought it had been a poor effort from the Kiwis.

"It was abysmal," he said, emphasising that with 23 runs coming in penalties in the form of six no balls and 17 wides had shown that the batting had not done the job needed to put a challenging total on the board.

"You cannot expect to win defending such totals," he said. "We need a bigger effort against Pakistan; score more runs off the bat."

One of the problems New Zealand had in their innings of 156 was that they lost three wickets in half an hour adding only 26 runs. As Fleming said, and stating the all too obvious, it was not good enough. And the Windies bowlers, putting the ball in the right place, did not give away too many free hits.

"We’ll have to do a lot better against Pakistan," he agreed but also put in a thought of his own when commenting that there was a marked difference between the innings. This might construed as vague criticism of the pitch conditions, especially as the Kiwis had noticed the pitch had "seam around a bit" in the game against Hampshire in the warm ups. But it was not as noticeable then as it was on Monday.

Whether the Racecourse at Derby is going to provide similar conditions is another conundrum.

Any number of adjectives can be linked to Pakistan this tournament: volatile, explosive, winners of the World Cup best actor’s award for the ‘most demonstrative appeal in a match’; which along with Inzamam-ul-Haq’s running between wickets, have seen the former title-holders involved in a variety farces. The suggestion when he goes out to bat that he takes either a skateboard or, be given the rare privilege of his own running lane, as is the case with the London bus lanes.

After all, a special award for how to get run out, and do your partners in as well, should be instituted by the players’ association’s guild. Watching Geoff Boycott and Inzamam would have been a real treat. As with the dearly departed Denis Compton, it seems the call for a single was merely a negotiation for a request to run. Anything else required a written agreement.

Then, imagining Inzamam chasing up and down his special lane on a skateboard may also have its problems for the fieldsmen. Obstructing the field comes to mind, but not the shoulder charge variety al a Roshan Mahanama on Darren Gough at Adelaide earlier this year.

No doubt Wasim Akram will have a few fancy tricks to pluck out of the hat. For them the win is not as important as it is for New Zealand while both sides will watch the West Indies/Australia match with much interest.

Pakistan’s habit of pulling off the impossible when they are all but buried has a long history: escapes of the sort which amaze some, surprise many and confound the experts saw them emerge at Headingley in Leeds last Sunday.

A colourful side with the sort of manners which might not fit into a Victorian parlour, no one can ignore their competitiveness: certainly not in this World Cup.

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