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Cricket Needs India, They Deserve To Play World Test Championship Final: Richard Hadlee

India and New Zealand will clash in the first World Test Championship final at Southampton from June 18.

Cricket Needs India, They Deserve To Play World Test Championship Final: Richard Hadlee
Richard Hadlee feels New Zealand were left frustrated at not winning the 2019 Cricket World Cup against England. | Photo: ICC-Getty Images
Cricket Needs India, They Deserve To Play World Test Championship Final: Richard Hadlee
outlookindia.com
2021-05-26T19:00:21+05:30

Kiwi legend Richard Hadlee is excited that New Zealand will clash with India in the final of the first-ever World Test championship at Southampton in England from June 18. (More Cricket News)

The 69-year-old former right-arm pacer, who was among the leading all-rounders of his time, took 431 Test wickets and was known for his amazing ability to make the ball talk in all playing conditions. Hadlee was part of the Blackcaps team that scored its first win in England in 1983. Born in Christchurch, played nine seasons with English County Nottinghamshire. Known his enormous knowledge of the game, Hadlee, who is recovering cancer of the bowel and liver and is in good health, spoke on the WTC final to International Cricket Council.

READ: Full India's Squad

Excerpts:

Q: From Glenn Turner’s team in 1975 to the missed opportunity in 2015 to the 2019 heartbreak in England, New Zealand have come agonisingly close to an ICC World Cup before letting it go. Do you see the World Test Championship final a chance for New Zealand to make up for all those lost opportunities?

A: We have a proud record in 50 over world cups, Yes, those near misses were frustrating and disappointing but we were so close to winning in 2019 at Lord’s. I would go as far to say there were no winners and losers on that day – it was just by a technicality that England won! Both teams scored the same amount of runs in 50 overs and in the super over. The match was tied. In the old days, New Zealand would have won because they lost less wickets in their 50 overs. A fair result would have been both teams sharing the world cup honours or at the very least another super over until a true winner was determined.

The World Test Championship is a one-off game. Yes, it is a final, but I don’t think either team will be too fazed about it. It is a neutral ground with no home team advantage. It is something to look forward to. Both teams deserve to be contesting the final because of their consistent playing performances over a set period of time. It all comes down as to who is better prepared and who adapts better to the English conditions the quickest. The weather may also play a part and if it is cold that will favour New Zealand. The Duke ball will suit both team’s fast bowlers especially the genuine swing bowlers and the Kiwis are well served in that department with Southee, Boult and Jamieson. If the ball seams around off the pitch, batsmen in both teams will be challenged. Both teams have high class batsmen so it will be an interesting game to watch. It is too difficult to call a winner at this stage.

ALSO READ: WTC And India Vs England Test Series - Full Schedule

Q: India has time and again been bracketed as a country that is turned cricket a wee bit garish and money-making enterprise, thanks to the Indian Premier League (IPL). But, also at the same time, India has upheld its priorities towards Test cricket, and it shows in their consistency, the rankings and some recent big overseas accomplishments – such as the one in Australia. Your perspective on India’s contribution to Test cricket post the turn of the century?

A: There is no doubt India produces a lot of revenue for cricket especially through television rights, sponsorships, advertising, attracting big crowds and through tournaments like IPL etc. Without India, the face of world cricket would be very different, therefore cricket needs India.
India has made an outstanding contribution to Test cricket – in fact, all formats of the game. Their Test performances in Australia were outstanding even though they had that blip and were bowled out for 36. They bounced back superbly well, and Test cricket came alive again – it attracted a lot of interest and their performances in Australia was a remarkable achievement especially with so many youngsters having to come into the team and perform. India has a great depth of talented players in all formats of the game, waiting for their chances to be selected and show the world what they have to offer.

Virat Kohli’s India and Kane Williamson’s New Zealand deserve to be in the World Test Championship 2021 final, according to former Kiwi great Richard Hadlee (Pix: ICC-Getty Images)

Q. What do you make of Kane Williamson? Martin Crowe had foretold that by the time Kane is done, he’ll be New Zealand’s greatest batsman ever.

A: Martin Crowe was a great player and thinker of the game. He was the best New Zealand batsman in my time – a touch of class. Greatness is a word that is often misused or overused. No one becomes a great player in just a few years. Martin’s assessment of Kane is absolutely right. Kane has earned his stripes to be recognized as a great player now and in all formats of the game. By the time he ends his career he will have all the New Zealand batting records for most runs scored, most hundreds and a world class batting average. Kane has worked on his game and handles pressure extremely well – his temperament is outstanding - he knows his limitations and thrives on his strengths. He keeps his batting game simple, and he has a proven method that is effective. He collects his runs and then he can use his power game by playing proper and at times innovative cricket shots. Through one-day cricket he has expanded his shot selection capabilities – there does not appear to be any obvious weaknesses in his game. His leadership has also grown – his body language suggests he is calm and in control of what he is doing, and his personality appears to be unflappable and consistent. He is a student of the game and has a very good understanding of how he can get the best out of himself and his players. As for any captain, tactics and strategies employed will evolve from game to game, format to format and what the match situation demands. He is doing a fine job in the leading New Zealand in that role.

Q. Do you endorse Virat Kohli’s brand of cricket – the aggression, that in-your-face thing he brings to the field of play? He is such an antithesis to Williamson. And yet, they are competing neck and neck to be the world’s best.

A: All sports at the highest level, is about competing. It is finding a way to win a game and gain an advantage over one’s opponent. There will always been a fine line as to whether gamesmanship from a player or a team goes too far. Umpires and match referees will control this situation and penalties imposed if anything is unacceptable. I quite like seeing any player expressing themself towards the opposition by having a real presence – it is a form of intimidation that can be unsettling, and a tactic used by many sportspeople. Having said that, sportsmanship and fair play is still paramount, so it is finding that balance between doing what is right and expected from a player instead of going too far and bringing the game into disrepute.
I see Virat as being a very passionate and competitive cricketer with a strong desire for himself and the team to succeed. He is a proud man and a world class player – a delight to watch. The pressure and expectations on him to ‘win’ is enormous. There are millions of Indian fans who idolize him which puts great pressure on him. Virat is responsible for ensuring that Indian cricket remains competitive and be one of the best teams in the world. However, fans still need to understand that we are all human and champions will fail from time to time – any cricketer can score a duck or get no wickets which is deemed to be a failure, but when a player succeeds, everyone is happy, except perhaps the opposition!

The unorthodox nature of Jasprit Bumrah’s action will surely test his longevity, says Hadlee. Photo: BCCI

Q. What do you make of Jasprit Bumrah? With that kind of an action, does he have a long career ahead of him?

A: Being a fast bowler is a highly unnatural thing to do. Running in from 20 paces, gathering pace, taking off at delivery, bowling a ball at 140-150 kilometres, cartwheeling, twisting and turning, following through and then stopping, takes its toll on the body. Then the process is repeated time and time again.
Fast bowling is an explosive sequence of highly coordinated movements – it is about rhythm, timing, and co-ordination and not necessary about brute strength. All fast bowlers will have their own way of developing and fine tuning their actions to get the best result of delivering the ball to get to the batsman. Some bowlers have simple classical and effective actions, others will have unorthodox and unusual actions, and some will have short or long run ups.
Jasprit fits into the unorthodox bowling category with virtually no run up to the crease. His technique in some ways defies belief but has proved to be a highly effective one. He is what I call a shoulder or strength bowler with all his power and pace coming from the final part of his action as he releases the ball. It would be very difficult to coach his technique to an aspiring fast bowler and I think a coach would refrain from doing from that because biomechanically it could cause problems with injury. However, I suspect some youngsters may try to imitate him. I believe you let aspiring young fast bowlers do it their way but help to fine tune some the skill sets and finer subtleties of bowling.
Jasprit’s longevity in the game is yet to be determined. I suspect he could be more vulnerable to injury problems than those fast bowlers with more classical and ‘pure’ actions or techniques. Some of his potential injuries could be severe because of the stresses and strains he places on his body. I hope any injuries he may incur will not be potentially career ending because he is a delight to watch, and he causes batsmen all sorts of problems with his unsuspecting pace, bounce, and ball movement in the air and off the pitch.

Q. Both New Zealand and India enjoy a good pace attack. You see this WTC final turning out to be a bowler’s Test match? Also, there is a reserve day. Just like the good old days. A more guaranteed way to derive a result.

A: Yes, we had rest days in the 1970s. Sometimes I looked forward to a day off! Rest days were only good because it allowed especially bowlers an extra day to recover from a heavy workload. The disadvantage of rest days is that the momentum of the game can be lost. A team in control of the game would rather keep playing and finish the job off. Rest days can change the course of the match as everyone has a chance to freshen up and revisit strategies. Players also had to switch-on again and be mentally prepared to perform and this did not always happen in my time. Not so sure if rest days guarantees extra results. It appears today, we still get a lot of good results in four or five days play anyway.
(Courtesy: ICC)

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