We stand on the verge of another semifinal encounter in a major international competition, and we are hopeful, despite the string of injuries that has hit our campaign, that we will clear the last-four hurdle.
The latest in an unfortunate sequence of injuries that have become something of a trend with us in big events is Grant Elliott’s broken thumb. Grant was man-of-the-match in our win over England and this injury is a shame.
Scott Styris has come over for Grant, and his experience should come in handy. Pakistan have had the wood over us in semifinals of major tournaments in recent times, and it will be crucial how we tackle their spinners in the middle overs. Over the last year or so, Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal have done an excellent job for them, and we need to come up with the right answers.
Having had a look at the Wanderers strip, it’s the same one on which we played against Sri Lanka. We batted first and put up 315, and Sri Lanka came pretty close, so I expect this match to see plenty of runs too. Needless to say, we will miss the batting skills of Jesse Ryder and Jacob Oram, but I believe that the guys that have come in have the quality to step in and deliver the goods for the team.
The ICC awards function too was an enjoyable one. I was happy for Martin Guptill, who figures in the ODI side of the Year, and Mitchell Johnson winning the Cricketer of the Year was no surprise given the fantastic last 12 months he has had for Australia.
We won the Spirit of Cricket award, an interesting one that. We have sometimes been criticised for being too nice, but New Zealanders in general are that way.
If we can win this Champions Trophy as well to go with the Spirit of Cricket award, it will be a great week personally for me and for New Zealand cricket. First up is the semifinal against Pakistan. I look at it as the start that will help us show the world that nice guys too can finish first!