Kiwis borrowing baseball techniques

The latest buzzword to hit the New Zealand is 'cross pollination' by which techniques from various other sports are assimilated to improve one particular discipline.
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Published on Jan 09, 2003 03:23 PM IST
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PTI | ByPress Trust of India, Auckland

The latest buzzword to hit the New Zealand camp is 'cross pollination' by which techniques from various other sports are assimilated to improve one particular discipline.

This is a high point of sporting revolution that started in the late 1980s. The concept of a sportsperson has been redifined whereby he is basically seen as an athlete who can perform all kinds of drills. And fired by the trans-Tasman rivalry in sporting excellence, the Kiwis are leaving no stone unturned to stay one step ahead of the Aussies.

With the one-day series against the Indians already sewn up, Stephen Fleming and his men have a nice opportunity to test their skills in various departments ahead of the World Cup.

If it was coping with pressure while batting first in bowling conditions - which is very much expected in South Africa - in the fifth one-dayer, the home captain is planning to use the remaining two matches to fine tune his side's fielding.

And Fleming has already indicated that baseball and rugby, the country's two most popular sports, would play a major role in improving their fielding.

New Zealand players attended major league baseball matches in the US before the West Indies tour in June last year, and they have already begun to borrow some of their aspects in fielding drills.

And more recently the team had worked on relay throwing, where rather than having an outfielder dispatch the ball all the way from boundary, it would be relayed flat and hard between two sets of hands.

New Zealand have long prided themselves on being one of the better fielding units in world cricket and this was reflected during the first five matches of the seven match one-day series against India.

"It could be pivotal, we saw Matthew Sinclair produce a run out the other day in Queenstown. If we can create one run out a game, we'll be pretty competitive," said Fleming.

"There's still some fielding techniques we can use, and we would like to expand on those in the next two games. We would like to tighten up on that."

Fleming, whose innovative captaincy was hailed by Australian commentators when the Kiwis drew a three-Test series 0-0 last year in Australia, is always studying other sports.

He is a big rugby fan and has been influenced by the theories discussed in "One Step Ahead", the autobiography of former Wallabies coach Rod Macqueen.

"We have picked up bits and pieces from baseball, with their throwing and catching techniques. We've looked at cross-pollination in a lot of sports," said Fleming.

"I've been reading a lot of rugby books. Just professional ways of looking at other sports."

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