ICC WTC Final: “If the ball seams around off the pitch, batsmen in both teams will be challenged” says Sir Richard Hadlee

In a conversation with Times of India, New Zealand great Sir Richard Hadlee discussed at length about New Zealand at ICC tournaments, World Test Championship (WTC) final, New Zealand legend Martin Crowe and Virat Kohli's brand of cricket.

One of New Zealand’s and the World’s greatest all-rounder Sir Richard Hadlee has been an avid follower of New Zealand and its cricket. In a conversation with Times of India, New Zealand’s great Sir Richard Hadlee discussed at length about New Zealand in ICC tournaments, World Test Championship (WTC) final, New Zealand legend Martin Crowe and Virat Kohli’s brand of cricket.

Excerpts of Hadlee speaking to Times of India –

Question: From Glenn Turner’s team in 1975 to the missed opportunity in 2015 to the outright heartbreak in 2019, New Zealand has come agonizingly close to winning an ICC World Cup…

We have a proud record in 50-over World Cups, Yes, those near misses were frustrating and disappointing but we were so close to winning in 2019 at Lord’s. I would go as far to say there were no winners and losers on that day – it was just by a technicality that England won! Both teams scored the same amount of runs in 50 overs and in the super over. The match was tied. In the old days, New Zealand would have won because they lost less wickets in their 50 overs. A fair result would have been both teams sharing the World Cup honors or at the very least another super over until a true winner was determined.

Question: Do you see the WTC final in the same bracket as winning a World Cup, or probably a notch higher given the format?

The Test Championship is a one-off game. Yes, it is a final, but I don’t think either team will be too fazed about it. It is a neutral ground with no home advantage. It is something to look forward to. Both teams deserve to be contesting the final because of their consistency over a set period. It all comes down as to who is better prepared and who adapts better to the English conditions the quickest. The weather may also play a part and if it is cold, that will favour New Zealand. The Duke ball will suit both team’s fast bowlers, especially the genuine swing bowlers, and the Kiwis are well-served in that department with Southee, Boult, and Jamieson. If the ball seams around off the pitch, batsmen in both teams will be challenged.

Question: India has been bracketed as a country that turned cricket a wee bit garish, thanks to the advent of IPL. Yet, India has prioritised doing well in Test cricket…

There is no doubt India produces a lot of revenue for cricket. Without India, the face of world cricket would be very different, therefore cricket needs India. But India has also made an outstanding contribution to Test cricket – like in all formats. Their Test performances in Australia were outstanding despite that 36 all out blip. They bounced back superbly, and Test cricket came alive again. So many youngsters came into the team and performed. It showed the great depth of talented players India have in all formats.

Question: Martin Crowe had foretold that by the time Kane Williamson’s done, he’ll be New Zealand’s greatest-ever…

Martin Crowe was a great player and thinker of the game. He was the best New Zealand batsman in my time – a touch of class. Greatness is a word that is often misused or overused. Martin earned that badge and wore it well. His assessment of Kane is right. Kane has earned his stripes to be recognized as a great player now and in all formats. By the time he ends his career, he will have all the New Zealand batting records for most runs scored, most hundreds, and a world-class batting average. Kane has worked on his game and handles pressure extremely well – his temperament is outstanding – he knows his limitations and thrives on his strengths. He keeps his batting game simple, and he has a proven method that is effective. His leadership has also grown, and his personality appears to be unflappable and consistent.

Question: Do you endorse Virat Kohli’s brand of cricket – the aggression, that in-your-face thing he brings to the field?

All sports at the highest level are about competing. It is finding a way to win a game and gain an advantage over one’s opponent. There will always be a fine line as to whether gamesmanship from a player or a team goes too far. I quite like seeing any player expressing himself towards the opposition by having a real presence – it is a form of intimidation that can be unsettling. I see Virat as being a very passionate and competitive cricketer with a strong desire for himself and the team to succeed.

The WTC final will be played between India and New Zealand, in England from June 18 to 22, with 23 being reserve day.

(with inputs from Cricbuzz)

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