Cricket: Run-outs a blot for Black Caps

Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara runs out New Zealand's Daniel Vettori during their ODI match in...
Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara runs out New Zealand's Daniel Vettori during their ODI match in Hamilton earlier this month. Photo Getty Images

The New Zealand cricket team has seldom been in better form heading into a World Cup, but veteran Daniel Vettori has highlighted run-outs as an area where they must exercise better judgment.

New Zealand has had eight ODI run-outs since the start of the year, compared with eight in total for each of the previous two years.

Vettori's response came after the mix-up involving Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson, which ended their 117-run third-wicket partnership during the sixth one-day international of the series against Sri Lanka in Dunedin.

Williamson reached 97 off 95 balls but succumbed to a miscommunication after paddle-sweeping through backward square leg. Williamson assumed two runs were on; Taylor ball-watched in expectation of a single. Taylor went on to make 96 off 101 balls. It was the third time either batsman had run the other out in an ODI.

"Top six batsmen should never get run out," Vettori said. "It's the waste of a dismissal for the sake of one run. If those guys can stay there as long as possible, they'll make up that single at some stage. It's not something we want to continue because it could cost us an important game.

"At different times throughout an innings there are pressure situations where running becomes more difficult but, when we're in a good position with Kane and Ross playing as well as they were, it's probably not the thing that needs to be done at that stage."

Vettori's comments were made in the wider context of a series victory but hinted at a desire to stay focused in what is becoming a period of unprecedented ODI success. It has led to high expectations about the team's capabilities when the World Cup starts on February 14.

"Everyone wants to see what you can come up with when you're under pressure. I think we saw that in abundance in the Dunedin matches. The wicket was tricky early on and Sri Lanka bowled well. For Kane and Ross to get us a score, sticking to a game plan batting through the middle stages to set things up for Corey and Luke; that's satisfying."

The new record holder for New Zealand ODI appearances, who celebrates his 36th birthday today, said the World Cup build-up was perfect for spinners such as himself, Nathan McCullum and Williamson.

He reflected on Sunday's performance where he finished with figures of none for 22 from eight overs and contained Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, two of the world's most spin-savvy batsmen. Vettori has an economy rate of 3.67 in 28 overs across three matches this series, second to Matt Henry's 3.51 from one bowling appearance.

"To contain batsmen of that quality is always pleasing," Vettori said.

"They don't look to be as destructive as other players, but they'll slowly kill you. They have the ability to put the bad ball away and can make a good ball sail over the boundary, particularly Sanga[kkara]. As a left-arm spinner, bowling to him [as a left-hander] is a real challenge."

The former New Zealand captain said his fitness remains strong after troubles with an Achilles tendon over the past couple of years.

"The main concern was to get through games of cricket but I've had almost four months non-stop where I've played a lot of games and bowled a lot of overs and there haven't been any niggles. Obviously there's still a fair amount to go, including the World Cup, but I'm confident I can get through those games."

- Andrew Alderson of the New Zealand Herald

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