The Lord of the Rings and the Middle Kingdom is a recurring theme in New Zealand, where the film trilogy was shot. And Lorde is the country’s new queen of music. But for the New Zealand cricket team, it has been a lot about knocking down a crown and at the same time making sure the hosts stay an integral part of the realm.
After sealing the series triumph against India on Tuesday, skipper Brendon McCullum was diplomatic when asked whether the India, Australia and England Boards teaming up trying to change the way international cricket is played – and dictating terms on revenue sharing – was extra motivation to beat the world champions and lords of global cricket finance.
“That’s way above our head, but what we can do is go about playing good cricket and trying to impose ourselves on the world game and show we are capable of playing against the very best teams in the world and having success,” McCullum had said.
MS Dhoni’s team won the ODI series here in 2009. But this time, the Kiwis have kept India on a tight leash on good pitches. Former skipper Ross Taylor and young No 3 Kane Williamson have been relentless with the bat while the fast bowlers have used the short deliveries effectively against India’s compulsive stroke-makers.
Mills, 34, landed in Wellington on Wednesday after playing a key role in winning the fourth ODI in Hamilton. He spoke of spending hours analysing India’s batsmen. Taylor, who struck a match-winning century on Tuesday, said had tweaked his batting by curbing leg-side shots and scoring through off-side.
Mills agreed it was important to send across a message to cricket’s big guns. “I guess it comes down to what we can control, and that is win the series. As far as what’s happening offshore at the moment, we players have got to put a lot of faith into our players’ association and New Zealand Cricket.”
The pacer with 233 ODI wickets said: “I like the FTP (Future Tours Programme). It is great for the world, being able to play all the Test-playing nations in home and away series.
“You get exposed to different conditions on a regular basis, get to play all the international teams. I love cricket, and we need to spread it as much as we possibly can. I am a bit of a fan of, in the past, in Champions Trophies and World Cups, we have had those lower nations get an opportunity to qualify.”
Taming the team that matters was a theme in South Africa after the BCCI slashed the tour due to differences with Cricket South Africa CEO, Haroon Lorgat. New Zealand benefitted with a longer tour, but they too seem intent on prolonging the agony on the field for India.