NEW Zealand coach Mike Hesson’s assurances that his team won’t take Scotland lightly when they meet in a Cricket World Cup Pool A match Tuesday is more than just the usual platitudes that emerge when a highly-favoured team meets a weaker one.
When New Zealand, in the guise of a New Zealand XI, met Scotland in a World Cup warm-up match in Christchurch four months ago it needed a wicket from the last ball of the match to win by a single run. That was a sobering-enough warning to Hesson and his players of the perils of taking any team lightly, and Scotland in particular.
“I think I’ve stated before, I think there will be number of upsets in this tournament and I think that if sides take any side lightly, they’ll get turned over,” Hesson said.
“We’ll certainly prepare and scout as best we can with Scotland,” he added. “We don’t have a heck of a lot of footage, but what we do we’ve got some good information. We’ll prepare as well as we do for any international.”
Hesson bridled at the suggestion New Zealand might use a rotational selection policy in “lesser games,” although he acknowledged there might be changes to the team that beat Sri Lanka by 98 runs in its opening match Saturday.
“We don’t define them as lesser games, to be fair,” Hesson said. “Scotland smashed Ireland and they’ve put a lot of sides under pressure so we’ll respect Scotland as much as we do every other opposition.”
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum was more blunt.
“We’re not good enough to take any team for granted,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure we’re on our game and make sure we treat it as if we’re playing one of the bigger teams because at this World Cup ... the associate teams have players who are capable of standing up and making things uncomfortable for you.”
New Zealand all-rounder Corey Anderson, who played in the closely-won warm-up match at Lincoln, Christchurch, said there was risk in thinking any game at this tournament would be easy.
“It’s a World Cup. You have to treat every game the same,” he said. “It’s obviously a cliche. But we probably got put in our place a little bit in Lincoln when they did give us a run. They showed us they have players who can play and bowlers who can bowl.
“We don’t want to be two or three down early on, otherwise we’ll be chasing our tails. We’ll treat them as a very good side and go about our way.”
Scotland captain Preston Mommsen said the experience of playing New Zealand late last year, and losing so narrowly, had reinforced his team’s confidence ahead of Tuesday’s match at the University Oval.
“It gave us great confidence of taking a full member country playing very good cricket close,” the South African-born Mommsen said. “We take great confidence from that but we know we’ve got to start again on Tuesday. We’ve got to earn the right to take the game deep.”
Scotland can’t disguise the deficit in experience between its relatively young team and New Zealand.
Coach Grant Bradburn, the former New Zealand all-rounder, pointed out that Daniel Vettori, with 287 one-day internationals, had played more ODIs than all of his squad combined.
Scotland, along with Ireland and other associate teams face the prospect of exclusion from the World Cup when it becomes a 10-team competition in England in 2019. The team has a chance in Tuesday’s match and throughout the tournament to make plan the folly of that decision.
“We were obviously very unhappy with that news,” Mommsen said “We’re trying to stay in this moment of 2015; obviously it’s a huge opportunity being here so we’re trying not to think too far ahead.
“It’s is called a World Cup for a reason, because it’s a global event. You may as well call (at 10-team World Cup) the Champions Trophy No 2.”
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