Thursday, February 19, 2015

Now for Aussie, the next test for Brendon McCullum's men

Breath-taking. That can be the only description for New Zealand's demolition of England in the World Cup.

An eight wicket win achieved in 45.4 overs. That's 33.2 overs for England to post 123, losing their last seven wickets for 19 runs, and 12.2 overs for New Zealand to score 125.

Brendon McCullum's style is now thrown all over his team who were magnificent in the field, and responded to a brilliant demonstration of swing bowling by Tim Southee.

The Northland fast bowler doesn't always have the wickets fall in his favour, but he reaped a superb reward in Wellington in taking 7-33 from his nine overs, the best figures by a New Zealander in World Cup cricket and the third best in World Cup history.

McCullum increasingly chooses the bigger stages to demonstrate his batting wares and achieved the fastest 50 in World Cup history taking 18 balls en route to 77 off 25, with eight fours and 7 sixes.

England looked clueless from the outset and never recovered.

This is clearly a side with deep internal issues because there are too many quality players contained within it for it to be anything else.

As for New Zealand, they are stepping, perhaps even over-stepping, their older brothers from the 1992 campaign with a level of determination and skill that now only needs to overcome the threat Australia pose in Auckland next weekend to earn the right to a share of favouritism for the final prize.

These are heady heights for a country that rarely pokes its head above the cricket clouds. They are to be enjoyed while remembering that the path gets steeper now, and focus is vital.

New Zealand track cycling continues its brilliant rise

Absolutely brilliant news out of the World track cycling championships in Paris today.

If it wasn't already apparent, New Zealand track cycling is in the middle of an absolutely stunning era, the greatest in its history.

A gold medal over the British in the team pursuit is a stellar result which after yesterday's sprint triumph over the French, albeit rescinded to a silver medal for a technicality, will have the world buzzing.

New Zealand are no longer making up the numbers, they are setting the pace, and they will be featuring prominently in everyone's assessments ahead of the Olympic Games next year.

Add to that success the effort of Eddie Dawkins taking a silver medal in the men's keirin with team-mate Sam Webster in sixth place and it is clear this success is no fluke.

The men's pursuit team of Dylan Kennett, Pieter Bulling, Alex Frame and Marc Ryan qualified for the final by heading off Switzerland while Britain beat Canada.

Cycling has followed rowing in showing what can be done when intelligent resourcing, quality coaching, inspired vision and participant skill and strength are combined. It's an impressive mix and nowhere near fulfilment.

(Photo: Guy Swarbrick/Cycling New Zealand)