New perspective but there’ll be no letup: Neesham

Not mates exactly. Not enemies, either.

The Black Caps and Australia arrived in Dunedin yesterday on the same flight.

Sounds cosy, right?

The five-game T20 series has been billed as a rival revival.

Jimmy Neesham. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Jimmy Neesham. Photo: Peter McIntosh

But some of the feelings which used to accompany games between the nations appeared to have warmed.

 

The various T20 leagues around the world have helped break down boundaries.

And Covid-19 has helped introduce a new perspective as well.

Black Caps all-rounder Jimmy Neesham felt the rivalry was still alive but perhaps more collegial.

‘‘I think there is a bit of that, especially with Covid and the sort of battle to get professional cricket back under way internationally,’’ he said.

‘‘I think there has been a bit of a feeling that all the professional cricketers are in it together.

‘‘But having said that it is never a friendly game with the Australians because both teams want to win quite badly.

‘‘There are obviously a few guys who have played together over in the IPL and over in England and those sorts of places as well, so there is that friendly rivalry, too.

‘‘Just like when you play in the backyard against your brother and sister. Those are sometimes the games you want to win the most.

‘‘We’re certainly not going to take the foot off the throat in game two.

‘‘The aim is to go up 2-0 and hopefully close it out after that.’’

The Black Caps won the opening match in five-game series on Monday night.

Devon Conway powered the home team to a 53-run win with an undefeated knock of 99 at Hagley Oval.

Swing bowlers Tim Southee and Trent Boult grabbed two wickets apiece and legspinner Ish Sodhi claimed career-best figures of four for 28 to help seal victory.

The Australian players had only got out of managed isolation on Sunday night and perhaps were not at their best.

But Neesham felt the visitors started the game well and had their moments.

‘‘I think we saw at the very beginning of the game they put us under a bit of pressure and it was a bit of a testament to Dev [Conway] with the way he fought through the pressure and allowed us to get a above-par score.

‘‘Obviously Tim and Trent did what they do best and broke the game open for us.’’

Game two of the series is in Dunedin tomorrow. It will be the first time Australia has played an international in the city since February 2000.

Its last outing here certainly sparked some strong emotions.

Pace bowler Brett Lee struck Adam Parore with a bouncer and it flipped his helmet on to the stumps.

He was out hit wicket but some members of the crowd became so incensed the delivery was not ruled a no-ball they threw cans and bottles on to the field.

The game had to be delayed about 10 minutes.

 

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