McCullumAs the winning captain today, McCullum had a few things to say. What he said was

This was more of a subcontinental wicket than a New Zealand, or Australian one, but it is good to still pull through with the win. I cut my hands a couple of times (diving in the field), but we have to be desperate in the field. It is an attitude we need to bring to the table. If we are serious about going deep, we got to keep it up. It doesn’t bother us who we play next. We just need to reach the levels we are capable of, just be on song, and then make sure we turn up and deliver come the quarter-final.

We are used to such war talk and hyperbole from the present day captains. With McCullum, what he talks about fielding, is what he does on the field. Sometimes he is successful and sometimes he isn’t. If you see both the videos carefully, there is a similarity apart from McCullum’s effort- he crashes into the advertisement hoardings and the commentator’s concern following soon afterwards. McCullum himself appears nonplussed in both the efforts. In the latter effort, he does look at his right palm twice; as if he is shocked that it couldn’t manage the effort in the microseconds that were afforded.

Why he places such importance on fielding can be judged from this clip, where drops the catch, but has the presence of mind to throw the ball back in to the bowler, thus effecting a run-out. That these efforts can be inspirational are well known.

While talking of New Zealand’s fielding, Andrew Fernando had this to say after the second Test against Sri Lanka in Wellington

When Kaushal Silva cut a ball behind point early in the 29th over of the innings, third slip, fourth slip, gully and point peeled off to give chase.

Kumar Sangakkara had already been dismissed. Sri Lanka were 66 for 3, in pursuit of 390. Most teams would commit one man to this errand, some might send two. But here was more than a third of New Zealand’s fielding resources tearing after it; in each other’s slipstream like a track cycling outfit, even though this ball seemed destined for the fence.

Somehow, between the four of them, they found a way to haul it in, one man scooping it back from the rope, another plucking it up and returning it. Each of the four fielders then high-fived the others – even the two that had not touched the ball. Seven high-fives in all. One run saved.

Talking about their fielders, he said

Occasional mistakes are made, of course, as they always will be in a sport played by humans. But even after a chance is shelled, each New Zealand fielder seems to want the next ball to come to him. In Christchurch, Ross Taylor let a simple slip catch spill from his bucket hands, but held firm to a more difficult chance moments later. In the same match, Sangakkara grassed one off McCullum, then within half an hour, had dropped James Neesham as well.

My favourite lines from that piece are

Sri Lanka’s fielders were virtually dragging the meat of their own carcasses around the Basin Reserve towards the end of New Zealand’s second innings. New Zealand were whizzing about the same ground like pinballs during Sangakkara’s day-two onslaught

A lot of people in India don’t rate New Zealand highly. I have come across as a lot of people like that. Some have gone on to the extent of saying that his efforts are fluke! Well, in my defence, from IPL is this

Yes, New Zealand are my favourites to lift the World Cup

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