It’s the Black Caps’ division of labour I really enjoy

More perhaps than in any other sport, a great cricket team represents a great division of labour.

Brendon McCullum’s Black Caps are a great cricket team.

In times past New Zealand cricket teams have had one or two champions, and have at rare times had some pretty good teams.

This team is a great team. A champion team. And as they say, a champion team will always beat a team of champions.

The gods of chance rarely smile on everyone in a batting or bowling lineup every day, and not everything every player tries will come off. But you do need them all to be trying, all taking necessary risks; and if the failures do start to mount and pressure begins to impinge, when someone fails, or a whole lineup looks to be struggling, someone in every champion team needs to stand up and say “It’s my day today.”

NZ’s internationals haven’t always been good at that, let’s be brutally honest, but for me that’s one of the great things about this team moulded in McCullum’s image: On any given day when the pressure comes on, they all now know that some one of them will stand up manfully to do the job: Kane Williamson holding together an innings after his openers and all but one of his batting partners have gone; Martin Guptill carrying his bat and setting records, making it easier for his partners at the other end; Trent Boult or Tim Southee taking wickets when other bowlers aren’t; or, last night, new boy Matt Henry stepping into the breach when a bowler was down to bowl two sorely needed maidens (rumours he was whitebaiting earlier in the week have already been discounted, but not extinguished); or Corey Anderson and Grant Elliott accumulating runs when things were starting to go pear-shaped, allowing Elliott the chance, the slim chance, to hit a match-winning final-entering six to win a semi-final with just one ball to spare!

And wasn’t that moment just glorious! Its memory will be savoured for years to come by everyone who cheered the ball’s flight up into the South Stand.

But it’s not just that staunchness that engenders self-belief — essential to any cricket player to achieve his best. It seems to me it’s the division of labour in this team that means when they are at their best — something coach Mike Hesson, captain McCullum and assistant coaches Shane Bond and Craig McMillan have so brilliantly helped make happen almost every game in this tournament — that the skills of every player complement every other player.

McCullum can take risks knocking the top off a run chase, making it less scary for batsmen who follow in his wake, secure in the knowledge there is batting depth to come if his risky hitting doesn’t pay off. Guptill and Williamson can accumulate masterfully, holding up a run-scoring end even if the other is a revolving door. Ross Taylor, Anderson, Elliott, Luke Ronchi and Daniel Vettori can pull irons out of the fire, even if (as they were last night) faced with the team’s best four batsmen sitting in the shed and a significant mountain to climb.

It’s the same story in the bowling lineup, with speed complementing left-right swing complementing spin, meaning for once we have an attack that can actually take wickets (and when have we been able to say that about a NZ team!), and with these gun performers no need for the dibbly-dobblers of old.

It’s not just depth — which this team has in spades — it’s complementary talents being expertly employed.

It’s a champion team led by a champion that every one of them wants to follow.

I’m looking forward, with hope in my heart, to them beating whichever team of champions they face in Melbourne on Sunday.

If it’s anything like the monumental semi-final we watched through our fingers last night, it will be one that’s never forgotten.

To victory!

Love the Almanac? Contribute to our crowdfunding campaign – great rewards. Click Here.

About Peter Cresswell

Saw the game for the first time in 1984, and laughed so hard I had to play it myself. Played in NZ and the UK. Never in Australia. Never stopped laughing.


  1. It was brilliant to watch. I think the Kiwis can go all the way.

    They are not a great cricket team yet, but they could be soon.

  2. bob utber says

    A wonderful game that was exemplified by the wonderful sporting nature that it was played in. Take note Australia and India.
    Brendan McCullum and AB De Villiers need to be congratulated.
    It was pure theatre at its most finest.
    I tipped NZ to win the contest at the start of series and I am sticking with them.

  3. Steve Hodder says

    my mum is an Utber, from Coleraine. Her Father and Grand father were named Percy. Can you contact me on [email protected]?



  4. @Bob, you said: “I tipped NZ to win the contest at the start of series and I am sticking with them.”
    I didn’t (few of us did) , but I am now.

    @Dips, you said: “They are not a great cricket team yet, but they could be soon..”
    Yes, that’s fair, to be truly great requires some signs of longevity. We’re seeing good signs the foundations for that have been laid…

Leave a Comment