How New Zealand kept their distance from ‘the line’

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New Zealand’s performance against England in the recently-completed Test series was the most relentlessly aggressive we can remember. There have been examples of individual players adopting a persistent attacking approach before now, but look back on those series and you’ll tend to find obdurate batting and dry bowling from a fair proportion of their team-mates.

Aggressive teams are, in general, a myth. We did a piece for Cricinfo a year ago in which we highlighted this using the Ashes-winning Australia side as an example. That side was – and its current incarnation still is – a side with a reputation for playing aggressively which was based on the exploits of the few. The highlights packages show Mitchell Johnson bouncers, but when asked to outline the team’s overarching bowling strategy, Peter Siddle said simply: “The key stat for us is maidens.”

But there’s another angle to this, and another of our old Cricinfo articles as well. Why do people think that acting aggressively is somehow part of playing attacking cricket? New Zealand have, surely, driven home the message that such a view is a complete pile of crap.

Through the World Cup and now this series against England, the Kiwis have attacked with both bat and ball in a way few other sides would ever even consider. Yet they have never once gone close to the mythical ‘line’ that separates perfectly acceptable behaviour from that which is universally condemned. Attacking cricket and verbal aggression – turns out they’re entirely different things.


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  1. >> Attacking cricket and verbal aggression – turns out they’re entirely different things

    One can blame S.Waugh for propagating the opposite (and incorrect) view

    1. Waugh never described “mental disintegration” as sledging but as an attitude that the Australian team would keep coming at you.

      Besides, the Kiwis are perfectly happy to dish out the verbal. Vettori has been censured in the past two world cups for his on field willingness to front up, especially when the opposition are from the ancient enemy across the sea. Don’t let the “oh hey, we’re just here to play a few games against you guys, say do you fancy getting together a scratch team only my mates got themselves a sweet keg last week and we wanna celebrate” act fool you.

    2. Unless you mean their sledging of the nightwatchman, attacking cricket in the abstract, T20 sense is hardly equivalent to good cricket, so I’m not sure how much Waugh is to blame here, especially being Steve Waugh. If you mean cricket which is aggressive in the same sense as the actions, with aggression towards the batsman, etc., then that can just as much appear ‘defensive’ or stubborn as otherwise, as cricket generally does when its focus moves beyond merely practicing technique – in any case that view would make sense in a way, you don’t want to have a style and then not use it.

  2. So the twins have been called up…is this the start of something exciting, or will they just be carrying drinks?

    Either way, I’m outraged to see that his majesty is too lazy to cover this important etc etc

  3. It was interesting to note the utter lack of support from Lehmann from Warner’s stated desire to be less of an oik (H/T Ged) in the future.

  4. Didn’t see the Lehmann piece, daneel, but Lehmann is a quintessential oiks’ oik.

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