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John Ward has interviewed the Zimbabwe captain Alistair Campbell about the recent New Zealand tour to this country.

JW: Perhaps you would start by outlining the preparations of the Zimbabwe team for this tour.

AC: We were very confident after our performances last year, and we thought that we had a real chance against New Zealand. They are a good side, but we felt that, playing on our home turf, we were quite a hard side to beat, and we felt that if we played cricket like we had last year, that we would have a very good chance of beating them and winning our first Test series.

Our preparation was very good we had Bob Simpson out here, and he helped us a lot in our preparations. We were very intense in what we did, whether it was in batting, bowling or fielding, and we encouraged a great deal of positive thinking among the guys. We had a lot of respect for the New Zealand, knowing they were a good cricketing side, but we were also going to go out there and be very positive, playing to win.

That's what we did. Before the First Test, there was a lot of debate on the selection of the side. We finally went with the positive, which was to play two leg-spinners and, if the truth be known, the way the pitches turned, we should have picked Andrew Whittall as well, instead of the third seamer. That's looking back in hindsight, but the preparation was there. When we look back, we should have won the First Test match, and if a few decisions had gone our way we should have won the Second Test. There was a case there where they were on 170 or so for six, and one lbw appeal was turned down when Chris Harris was batting. That's one of those things that's cricket, but if it had gone in our favour it would have put a different perspective on the Test match. Conservatively, I think we should have won the Test series 1-0.

Looking at the one-day games, I don't know how we conceived to tie the first match. It boggled my mind, but that's the beauty of this game you never know what's going to happen. Funny game, cricket! We won the second one, albeit with a little shuffle of wickets at the end, but we won that quite comfortably. In the last match, they came out with nothing to lose, all guns blazing, and made 294. It's always difficult to chase those sort of scores, and some silly run-outs really destroyed us. So, if we look back, we probably should have won the one-day series 2-1.

But, as I have said in previous interviews, you learn how to win by winning, and we haven't won that much. We've only won one Test match, so we don't really know yet how to win a Test match. I think that when we've won a couple we'll realise how to finish a team off when we have them on the back foot, and we didn't really know how to do that in the First Test match. I think we had ample time to bowl them out there might be questions levelled to the effect that the declaration was a bit late, but I think that if you give yourself 130 overs to bowl a side out in the last innings, that is plenty. We didn't do that, but that's one of those things. We played really well, and we have a chance to go over to New Zealand and redress the situation.

JW: I thought that having several players in England, including the coach, until just before the tour began, might have handicapped the preparations quite a bit.

AC: Well, the Flowers were only over there for three months, so they came back at the end of July, and we had a whole month with them. The only two who came back late were Paul and Bryan Strang and the coach being away, obviously but there are a lot of professional hands here. I was helping out a lot, and so was Andy Flower. Dave just had to come in at the end, and he only needed a week to get the guys together and make sure we were getting things right, because all the hard work had been done pre-season all the running and circuit-training, so it was just a honing of skills. We don't need an extended time, because then we can play ourselves out of nick. We just need a good intense time, such as the week we had of very good fielding sessions with Bob Simpson, including nets, specialised training, and it worked for us.

JW: I thought some rustiness showed up in the catching; I thought we would have won both Test matches if we had held our catches.

AC: Yes, true, but we go through stages. Those were 30% chances that we were dropping we dropped some easy ones, but those that counted were pretty tough catches. But you would expect us to catch those, and I'll grant you that our fielding was not up to scratch. Our ground fielding and throwing was good, and we did take some blinding catches albeit we did drop a few as well. But I agree that the reason why we beat Pakistan was that we took all our catches, all the hard chances, and we didn't do that against New Zealand. That's something that we need to address, and we've been doing a lot of hard work out there.

But it doesn't matter how much hard work you do on the practice ground; it all boils down to each individual showing the ability to concentrate for long periods of time, and you've got to be awake when the ball comes to you. It's that simple. You can catch two hundred balls on the practice ground, but if, when that same ball comes to you in match and you're not concentrating, you're going to drop it. We're working a lot on the concentration: you can switch off between balls, but during that second when the ball is being delivered, you've got to be on the ball. We're working on that, and hopefully we can address it.

JW: What was the plan behind the change in the batting order? (The middle-order line-up changed for the series, from Campbell, Houghton, A Flower, Whittall to A Flower, Whittall, Campbell, Houghton.)

AC: Basically we needed somebody to bat at number four. Davy wanted to bat down at number six; he knew they have a good left-arm, spinner in Daniel Vettori, and he wanted to bat at six in case Vettori was bowling then, and he was needed to stabilise the innings he is our best player of spin. I felt that Andy Flower was in really good nick after scoring that double-hundred and another century in the Logan Cup, and we felt that it was a good time for him to go in at number three. He could help get us off to a good start, especially if there was a wicket early on, as he is a better player of new-ball bowling than I am; he leaves the ball a lot better than I do, so we thought that was a good move. Then we were just looking for a guy to bat at number four; we went through a few names, and came up with Guy Whittall. We decided to give him a crack; he looked as if he was batting really well in the nets and for Matabeleland, and our decision was vindicated the rest is history!

JW: Have you any comments to make on the Mashonaland match against the New Zealanders?

AC: It wasn't a very good wicket, to be honest. We bowled them out for 174, Bryan Strang bowling really well again, taking 4/45, a very good effort. Matambanadzo 3/44 bowled very well also. Then we batted for 351; everyone contributed, with several forties and fifties, but nobody went on to get a big one. They were behind the black ball and we needed to try to bowl them out and win the game. Matt Horne got 181; we dropped a lot of catches there as well. It was a turning wicket and we should have done better than we did. But it was another of those games where Mashonaland did really well and troubled a touring side yet again. It was good for us, because I think a touring side that comes out and fails to win against Mashonaland has got to ask itself a few questions.

I think that from there we had a psychological advantage, and we had a chance to look at some of their players as well. In fact, I think it started before that, when we gave them a scare in the Country Districts game. That was a good start to the tour for us.

Then we came to the First Test match lost the toss in good conditions for bowling, and Rennie and Flower batted really well early on, despite Grant being caught off a no-ball, which could have changed the course of this Test match. But he was magnificent with 104, and with contributions of a couple of thirties and forties we got up to 298, which I think was a really good score on that wicket. Then we managed to restrict the New Zealanders to 207, with Bryan Strang again bowling really well 19 overs, three for 29 and Paul Strang and Huckle two wickets apiece. That gave us a lead of about 90.

Then we batted again, got our score up to 311, which meant that they needed somewhere in the region of 400 to win the Test match. Maybe it was a bit of a conservative declaration, but we felt that we had given ourselves enough time to bowl them out. They replied with 304 for eight, which wasn't good enough to win the Test match, and that was in 128 overs. Remember that we lost about 14 overs to bad light on the fourth day, so that would have given us about 140 overs if we had been able to bowl them, which I reckon was enough.

Grant Flower scored two hundreds in the Test match a magnificent effort from him and all the bowlers bowled really well. Huckle and Bryan Strang both took five wickets in the game, a really good effort, but in the end, despite a few dropped catches and a declaration that was maybe too conservative, we outplayed them. We should have won the Test match, but cricket is a funny game, and we didn't.

JW: It seemed to me that our second innings seemed to lose its way after Grant Flower was out, instead of the later batsmen pushing the ball into the gaps and taking the singles.

AC: Yes, the guys came in and tried to play a few too many big shots, and we lost a few wickets. To give them credit, they also bowled quite well towards the end. It was a very defensive field, so we should have been able to take a lot more singles than we did. We did lose our way a bit, but then again they were bowling about 11 overs to the hour. We wanted to declare at tea time, but by then they were still about 10 overs behind what they were scheduled to bowl. I think that's bringing the game into disrepute, and if you're going to fine anyone that should be a finable offence. But that's Test cricket, the stuff that does go on there, and makes it such an interesting game.

JW: I agree. What actually happened on the last day, when you went to the umpire and complained about something?

AC: I just mildly enquired as to whether Adam Parore had been bitten by a tsetse fly; they not only bowled their overs slowly, but when our bowlers were ready they were patting the pitch and doing up shoelaces, taking their time in whatever they did. There was a bit of a bust-up, but that's what happens in the heat of the moment. We are trying to win a Test match and they are trying to save it, so it was one of those confrontations that happens. A beer after the game is always a good opportunity to settle the disputes that happen out on the field, and that was what happened.

JW: What was the business that some players were warned for when Parore was batting?

AC: The match referee cautioned some of the players. Just before that I had had that confrontation with Parore, as I mentioned, and then when Parore got out some of the guys just sent him on his way. He didn't take to this, and a few words were exchanged, but it was nothing much, really just one of those things that happens on a cricket field. Good aggro, good aggression it's always good to see!

JW: Wasn't there are aggro before then?

AC: No, just the normal banter that goes on on the field.

JW: The Second Test?

AC: This was really the story of Guy Whittall in the first innings. It was a very good batting wicket, and Guy showed immense concentration and a good array of shots, and Grant Flower was in good nick again 83, and another good opening stand, with Gavin Rennie 57. That 203 from Whittall was really the backbone of the innings; there were no other really major contributions.

JW: A lot of people thought you should have declared at tea on the second day and not be concerned about Guy Whittall's double-century. What was your feeling about that?

AC: You never declare your first innings closed in a Test match. Five days is a lot of cricket, and you get as many as you can. When you're in a position to get runs, you get them! This business of declaring is not on; you get as many as you can so the follow-on target is as high as possible. Unless you are cruising and are 500 for four or so, then you can declare. If you get 460 in a Test match, you are not going to lose that Test; you are looking at just two other options, unless you play extremely badly. If you bat for almost two days for 460, you have eliminated the option of losing, and now all you can do is draw or win. So I think that's what you need to do in the first innings, and that's what we did then. I think it paid dividends or would have done, until it veered from the script when Vettori and Harris got together.

461 is a good first-innings score in a Test match in any game, and at one stage we had New Zealand 162 for six. Really at that stage we were looking at putting the nails in the coffin, but then I'm afraid that guy Harris irritated us again. Astle batted well for 96, and then Vettori got 90, which will probably be the highest score he will ever get in his life in any game of cricket. It just happened to be against us, and from looking at one position like being able to bowl them out for 230 or 240 and make them follow on, they got 403.

JW: Just concerning your comment on Daniel Vettori's batting: the guy is only 18. When he played in the First Test, he seemed completely at sea against the leg-spinners, but when he batted in Bulawayo it seemed he had learnt how to play them. I would have thought he showed the capability to develop into something of an all-rounder.

AC: I think he'll chip in with a few good runs here and there, but I just can't see him making that score again in Test cricket. We dropped him a couple of times and, if you look at the replay, you'll see he was stumped when the umpire did not call for the third umpire. He played and missed; he's very much a block-and-slog man. He'll block a few, and then hit a few over the top. You can't take it away from him he did play well but you can't help but think that'll be his highest Test score for all time. Unless something funny happens in the future and cricket is a funny game I can't see him getting above that ever again. He might get a few fifties, but I don't think he's going to go on from there. They're going to pick him as a left-arm spinner and bat him at eight or nine, and with the bowling sides around in the world today I can't see that happening. It's one of those observations you make when you see a guy batting, and I don't think he'll get there again.

It wasn't really a satisfying effort on our part, but then we had to go in to bat again we didn't really bat that well, to be honest. We ended up 227 for eight declared; I made the declaration, as otherwise it would have petered out into a very boring game if we had just batted it out properly. We lost wickets in pursuit of runs, and we left them 286 in 68 overs.

They were cruising at one stage, and basically in that position there is only one loser, and that is the side fielding, because the batting side can control it and shut up shop at any stage. So we needed an early breakthrough, which we didn't get. If you look through their scorecard, they had good contributions all the way down. We dropped a lot of catches; if we had taken all our catches it would have made a difference to the game. Finally we managed to get a few quick wickets in the last session, put the brakes on them a bit, and it turned out to be quite an exciting game. They ended up 11 runs shy with eight down. I wouldn't say it was a fair reflection of the game; in their first innings after they were 162 for six, you can't let a side go on and get 403. If we had knuckled down and bowled them out for 240, I think we would quite easily have won it, as we should have won the first one. But it wasn't to be, and that's cricket! We made a game of it, and it turned out to be quite an exciting finish, and quite a good series all round for us.

All in all, we can look back on this series and say we played good cricket; we just weren't able to finish the job, and we have to look at how, if we get into good winning positions in the future, we are going to follow through with it and win the game.

JW: In retrospect, do you think tactically there was anything you might have done that might have made any difference on that final day?

AC: Not really. I think we were rather on a hiding to nothing; a side that declares as we did needs a few early wickets to put some pressure on. To take ten wickets in 60-odd overs, as we needed to do, in a Test match is quite something, and we didn't get that early break-through. If you go through their top five, you'll see the figures: 27, 62, 29, 75, 21. That was the big problem, and we needed to take our catches. I think I started the rot: I dropped Fleming straight after tea, when he had about 15 or 20, and he went on to get 75. But there are ifs and ands: Cairns came in and we got him out for 8, but if I had caught Fleming he would have been able to play himself in for a bit, and you've seen how far he can hit a cricket ball! He might have won them the game. It's a case of six of one and half-a-dozen of the other.

So I don't think there was much else that I could do. I think I had to bowl the leg-spinners, and they didn't have much luck. We were on a hiding to nothing, and I just declared to make a game of it. I wasn't really expecting, to be honest, to take ten wickets in 68 overs, but I just wanted to scare them, and maybe it would end up pretty close which it did. But you never know. Other sides, I think, might have had a crack at the end, after I had thrown down the gauntlet. They still had Harris in there, and I thought they would have had a crack until there were nine down, especially when there were only four balls left and they still needed 11 runs. With Harris in there, you never know; had he hit another boundary, and they needed 7 off 3 balls game on, isn't it? And you would back your number eleven to block out three balls. That would have been real good but it was a good ending to a well-fought Test match and Test series.

JW: I saw Heath Streak was fielding on the last day, although he was injured and unable to bowl. Did you have him on the field just as an option, in case you were really stuck and needed him to bowl at some stage?

AC: No, he's probably our best fielder, and at the end there we needed to get him on, because he could catch that vital catch or make that vital run-out. In our field placings we needed a really quick guy on the boundary to cover all that ground, so he came on and was able to do that. It was probably the wrong thing to do, because he was injured. But he was injured on his left side, and so could still throw with his right arm. He could still save those twos, and might just take a good catch.

JW: Now the first one-day international.

AC: I can't believe that we actually managed to tie this game. Really unbelievable! We got 233, probably 20 shy of what we should have got, considering everyone contributed and then got out: G Flower 66 again, then A Flower 35, Whittall 24, Houghton 40, Evans 21, Strang 17 we didn't fully capitalise on the last ten overs, I don't think. When Dave Houghton got out we blocked a lot of balls and didn't score a run a ball. If you look back, if you want to be hyper-critical, I reckon 255 or 260 was probably the score to get on that wicket, on that outfield. But we still had something to defend.

Then they came in and played like millionaires, and we had them seven down for 137, which should be game over. But it wasn't! Harris came in and played magnificently, as he had done all tour, irritating us, and made 77, ably supported by Vettori and Larsen, who made 18 and 17 respectively. They should actually have won the game: they needed two to win off the last ball, but with a good piece of fielding by Andrew Whittall at long-off we managed to restrict them to one, getting a run-out when they were going for two. So that was very disappointing for us, because we should have won that. Even the commentators were saying things like, "New Zealand are just playing for a bit of pride now, to see how many runs they can get to restrict the margin of defeat." But they pulled it out of the bag, thanks to Chris Harris. We shouldn't tie games like that, let alone come close to losing them. It was very disappointing for us; we should have started off on a winning note.

JW: From the other side of the boundary, when about six or seven wickets were down, I seemed to get the impression that the team was relaxing a bit, as if they were sure they had it in the bag already.

AC: I'm not sure that was true; I think that when you are defending a score like that, which is easily obtainable on a flat wicket, that when you have a side on the back foot like that, it's not a case of relaxing but rather of being a bit relieved, thinking, "Well, the hard work's done now; now we just need to bowl line and length to get us through to the end." We didn't bowl line and length, the bowlers weren't concentrating. The fielding still remained at a high standard, which is probably what got us into the game, and you can't take it away from Chris Harris; he played really well. Although we didn't get the ball in the right area, you've still got to hit it for four, and he did that, and played really well. When you look back, people may look at the last two overs and say, "They scored 30," but I don't think it was that. The game had been put in their reach long before that, in the five overs prior to that. We just didn't get the ball in the right area and make them work hard enough. We gave them a boundary every over to keep them up with the rate, which was not good enough. But we live and learn, and that's why we play this game! It's so unpredictable. It can go either way. We have pulled a lot of games out of the bag when we were dead and buried, and New Zealand did it to us here.

JW: The second one-day match.

AC: We bowled magnificently in this game, especially Paul Strang, who bowled ten overs and took one for 13, which was a great effort. All the guys chipped in and bowled really well, to restrict them to 185. They didn't have an answer really; I don't know what they were doing; I don't think they worked it out properly. They started off reasonably well, apart from losing Spearman early. Then there was a stand between Horne and Astle, but after Astle went, 74 for three, they ended up going nowhere. They were batting very slowly, and 185 really wasn't good enough on a decent batting track.

We started off petty nervously, losing three for 42, and then Gavin Rennie and myself batted well, taking the score up to 165 before Gavin was out lbw. Then there was a flurry of wickets, quite unnecessary really, and we managed to get home by three wickets. I don't think we were ever in danger of losing the game; we still had a lot of wickets in hand, but there was some careless batting at the end that kept the spectators on the edges of their seats, as it were. But it was good for us to come back after the last game and win this one, albeit with a few wickets lost at the end, pretty convincingly. It was really good for us to take a 1-0 lead and we were really looking forward to the game the next day. Paul Strang, Man of the Match, bowled really well, and Gavin Rennie, in only his second one-day game (Note: at home; he did play twice in Pakistan) also played really well, a very mature innings.

JW: Over the last couple of years, you have certainly shown yourself to be the sort of guy who can come in when wickets are falling and hang in there and see us through, starting with your innings in the first one-day match against England last year.

AC: That's my job as captain! (Laughs.) I think I've found a niche in the batting line-up, coming in at number five. I think I do a good job steadying the ship. I did that in Kenya as well. When you get a good start, you need a bit of consolidation, talk to the guys I think I bat pretty well with the tail, so I think I've found a good spot there. I think we've got our batting order nearly right now, and that's why you've seen some good scores from me. We're more competitive now, whereas in the past we didn't always put the runs on the board and give our bowlers something to bowl at.

JW: We just need to see you make some really big scores!

AC: I need some big hundreds! Which WILL come!

JW: Now the third one-day match.

AC: We saved our worst match until last. We had a very lackadaisical approach in the field and didn't bowl that well, although we took some good catches John Rennie took a great catch, and so did Andrew Whittall. We just couldn't put them under enough pressure; we were giving them too many free hits. It was one of those days in the field that you wish to forget, and they ended up with 294, which is a huge score, especially at Sports Club, where the grass is a bit long.

We knew we had our work cut out for us, but we started off in a blaze. Grant and Andy Flower were going at seven runs an over; Guy Whittall came in and scored 49, but during that innings he ran out two people! This didn't help our cause, and we were basically dead and buried after that. There were four run-outs in all, and when that happens in a game, we've got no price on winning.

JW: I've wondered how much Guy got fined for running out the captain!

AC: (Laughs.) He just got ignored! We looked like we had a shout when we got above the required rate; all we needed to do was keep wickets in hand and leave ourselves six runs an over to get in the last 15 overs or so. I reckon we could have done it, but those run-outs killed us. It's just one of those things. It was a very disappointing end, because we did really play the better cricket in the series. I think we should have won the one-dayers 2-1 and the Test series 1-0. It was very frustrating, but this gave us a stepping-stone to Kenya; we went there and played really well. We beat each side by a considerable margin, so we are playing good cricket; we are getting better and better. It's just that when we get into winning positions against sides, we have to learn the formula to finish it off and win games.

JW: It did seem as if some of the guys didn't really do their homework quite as well as they might have done: for example, Chris Harris was still getting run-outs at the end of the tour, as he had done all the way through.

AC: Yes, people were still not taking 'percentage' runs I know. There are these little errors that creep in and you can be hyper-critical about. But the bottom line is that we're playing good cricket, and we just need to learn how to win. Once we do that, it could be quite a good side, especially at home, where we play quite well!

JW: We certainly should do an awful lot better in Sri Lanka this time.

AC: Yes, it won't take much to improve on our last performance there! Murray Goodwin is in the squad; I think his papers should be coming through today. We have a new opening pair, with Gavin Rennie in there; we have a good middle order, with Guy Whittall having scored a double-hundred this season. We will have Streaky and John Rennie in firing, Strang and Huckle at their best, and Andrew Whittall is bowling really well. We have a really good balance in the side.

JW: Did you have any particular tactics you used against individual players, such as plans to dismiss any particular batsmen?

AC: Yes, we did, but I can't tell you those, because we still have to go to New Zealand, and they might have a computer boffin in their side who will pick this up on the Internet! But we've obviously got our game plan, and I think every side in the world has its game plan. It depends what wickets we're playing on; I think if you are playing on a green seaming wicket, you can't really make a plan for your leg-spinners, can you? We have to work out what we think a batsman's weaknesses are against seam bowling, and if it's a turner, make a plan using our leg-spinners.

JW: Well, if we do get a lot of seamers' wickets over there to neutralise our leg-spinners, at least we have Heath Streak, Bryan Strang and Co to handle them.

AC: We don't mind if we have seamers' wickets over there, because if we have our bowlers, bowling properly, we can use them, and anyway I don't think they can make some of their wickets into seamers' wickets. Where are we playing our Test matches? at Hamilton, which turned. I don't think they'll do that; they will prepare good Test wickets that will turn on the last few days. I think every wicket does; if it starts off as a greenish seamer, it will turn. The one in Faisalabad was a classic example of a good Test pitch, which seamed a bit on the first day, and then turned. This is the way it should be done. In New Zealand at that time of year they're normally quite slow and do turn. There is the odd green one, but it depends where you go. The Basin Reserve, at Wellington, seamed a bit. In Hamilton and Auckland they don't seam that much Auckland is a featherbed, it really is.

JW: With our well-balanced attack now, it would be difficult to prepare a pitch that would neutralise our attack completely. When we go to Sri Lanka, if they prepare spinners' pitches again, we have three good spinners now who can take advantage of it.

AC: Yes, correct.

Here Alistair Campbell gives his assessment of the New Zealand tourists individually:

STEPHEN FLEMING. He's a really nice guy, a good ambassador for his country. He's done a good thing for New Zealand cricket, as you can see by their performances against Sri Lanka before they came out here. I think he had a relatively young side which hadn't played that much cricket, so they were just getting into full flow. He's a good batsman who leads by example, and I think the more this New Zealand team play together and the more they gel they should improve. Especially in one-day cricket, where they're a really good outfit; I just think they lack the bowling penetration in Test cricket, and they lack the batsmen to occupy the crease for long periods of time. We found they all like to hit boundaries; they have no one there who can bat for long periods of time. Once they get that right and they have a good leader in Stephen Fleming I think they're going to go places.

(Comment by JW: I think he had quite a bit of luck with the umpires during the series!)

He did indeed, but he plays it hard. He times the ball so well and we saw in the First Test in Australia, he scored 91, batting really well, and it makes a difference if you have a captain leading by example. I think he does that, and I think he has the respect of his team.

NATHAN ASTLE. A guy who hits the ball really cleanly, but apart from 96 in the one Test didn't do very much. He can blow hot or cold when he gets in, but when he is in a streak he can play really well, hit the ball a long way, and play well up front in limited-overs games. Bryan Strang seemed to have the measure of him on this tour, and I believe it's a fault that he does have, on the off side, getting caught a lot in the area of gully and point, pushing at good-length balls or cutting. So he has to work on that; I think there are a few technical deficiencies there. Martin Crowe does work on the New Zealand batsmen quite a lot, and if Astle can get a few technical deficiencies sorted out he'll be a great player for them in the future.

CHRIS CAIRNS. In my opinion he's probably their best player; he's got a good cricketing brain and bowls well for them now that he's fit again. He was probably their best bowler, although he didn't have a great tour, but when it was needed he came to the fore. He got 70 to save them in the First Test, and then set up their winning the last one-day game. On the two occasions when he was needed the most he came to the fore and did the business. As long as they can keep him fit and playing as he is doing, I think he is up there contesting as one of the best all-rounders in the world.

HEATH DAVIS. He has the ability to be quite sharp, but is very inconsistent. He had a big problem with no-balls, as he did in his debut Test in England; he needs to get that problem sorted out and he needs to get a bit more consistency going if he's going to make it at the top level. Hopefully he will go back and sort this out, because I think that New Zealand are lacking a bowler of genuine pace and they need a bit more firepower up front. If he can come right, that will obviously give them that option.

CHRIS HARRIS. Good cricketer; a great cricketer! A wholehearted trier, ideally suited to the one-day game, and a very nice bloke to go with that. He gives such attention to his game and works really hard at it, so he can't help but succeed. He was basically the difference between the two sides; if he hadn't been here, I reckon we would have cruised past them. He came in at number eight; when you have a guy like that coming in number eight in a Test match, when you think you're into the tail, it's quite a nauseating sight! He batted well to get them out of trouble in the Second Test match, and did it again in the one-day games. He batted well at the end, bowled well, fielded well, and really did them a huge service.

MATT HORNE. A bit of a dasher, really, but he also seemed to be the only guy on their side who had the ability to bat for long periods of time. He struggled a bit against the spin; he played a good innings against Mashonaland, but in the Test matches he struggled all the way through. He played a good innings in the first one-day game, but after that didn't seem to get going, and I think he's been dropped from the New Zealand side because of a poor string of scores. He hits the ball really cleanly but, like many of the others, struggles against quality spin bowling. But I'm sure with a bit of hard work he can get in there, because of his ability to hit cleanly and bat for long periods if you've got those two qualities, then there's no reason why you shouldn't come through.

GAVIN LARSEN. He's their old war-horse who has done really well for them in the past, not so much in Test cricket but more in the one-day game. His bowling is just on the tickey; he has good variation, and if we look at his career stats I don't think he's gone for more than 3 1/2 an over in one-day cricket, which is quite outstanding in the context of the one-day game. He played a big part in their charge in the World Cup in 1992, especially on New Zealand wickets. He comes into his own on slower wickets because that pace is really hard to hit. He's a model professional and a great guy. I think he's coming towards the end of his career now, but perhaps he can continue to do something in his capacity to help New Zealand cricket, and they will benefit from him a great deal, because he has a wealth of experience.

CRAIG McMILLAN. He is hailed as a young prodigy in New Zealand where he has scored a lot of runs. I think that he has a lot of talent; I just don't think that he's worked on his game properly at this stage. I think he has to go back into the nets with his coach and work out how he's going to play different sorts of bowling. We saw in the second one-day game he was all at sea against Strangy, although he came out the next day and played with a lot more confidence. In that match he looked a class player. He didn't play in either of the Test matches, so I wasn't able to assess him in the longer game, but he has heaps of potential.

SHAYNE O'CONNOR. He did a good job for them, but I don't think he's an opening bowler. If he is going to fit into New Zealand's plans in the future, I think he's going to be used as first change. He bowls an exemplary line and length, does swing the ball, and bowls within himself, not trying to bowl too quick. He troubled a few batsmen on this tour because of his line and length; he doesn't give anything away. His second quality is that he's able to bowl consistently for long periods of time. So I think he was used in the wrong capacity here, because they didn't have any other quicks, but I think in the future he could be used very effectively as a first-change bowler.

ADAM PARORE. A good cricketer who plays spin really well; when Lee Germon was keeping wicket, he was playing as their number four batsman. Now he is keeping, he bats at number seven, so they have some really good batting depth. He made some good contributions with the bat, and also kept pretty well. He's another good find for them, and his batting gives them a lot of depth. He also gives the captain someone to talk to (comment by JW: they seemed to spend most of the Zimbabwe second innings in the Harare Test doing just that!) because he has a good cricketing brain.

BLAIR POCOCK. A very solid opening batsman; he didn't get any really big scores, but he gave them good starts. He always seemed to be getting thirties or forties, with a fifty at the end. He has a very sound technique, but tends to walk across the stumps a bit. He struggled against the spin and didn't seem to know which way it was turning, and tended to push at the ball a lot. He played it well and worked it out in the last innings of the final Test, where he played a lot of sweep shots, pick-up sweeps, but you always felt you had a chance when the spinners came on especially quality leg-spinners like we have. I'm sure that if he can form a partnership with Bryan Young in the future, that will give New Zealand the solid starts they require.

DAVID SEWELL. He didn't really play that much on tour. Left-arm seam I think he's very raw and was a surprise selection; half their team didn't know who he was when he turned up. From what we saw of him here, I think he's got a long way to go to get back in the side, but that shows that they've got a lot of depth. If he can work on his game and get a bit better, there's no reason why he can't play a part in the future.

CRAIG SPEARMAN. He is a guy who likes to hit a lot of boundaries, and we always felt when bowling to him that we had a chance. I think he was left out of this tour to Australia; he didn't make it as an opening batsman because Bryan Young is back. He didn't really have a good tour of Zimbabwe, to be honest; he's been renowned for getting twenties and thirties, and that's all he did against us. He does hit the ball really well, though, when he does get in, and plays the short ball very well; he's a good hooker and cutter. He got a hundred against us in New Zealand, but this time round he didn't really trouble us.

DANIEL VETTORI. I think he has a high ceiling; he could develop into a very classy left-arm spinner he's already shown it and when he gets into the later part of Test matches, on turning wickets, he has very good control. He does turn the ball and has a good arm ball, and on top of that he can bat a bit, so that gives them further batting depth, as he showed against us when he got 90. He's another guy who's going to fit in well in the future young guy, and I think he could develop into a very good Test spinner.

PAUL WISEMAN. I just played against him once in the warm-up game; he's their off-spinner. Nothing special; they never used him at all except in the one warm-up game, so I can't really comment.

Overall, I think both sides got on really well. I think we come from similar backgrounds; the guys played hard on the field, but off the field the guys were willing to share a beer, and after the series finished swapped shirts and had a few 'toots' in the changing room. You could see the guys talking to each other off the field, so it was a good friendly series. I'm really looking forward to this tour of New Zealand because we have a good rapport between the teams despite playing hard on the field, and the games are quite evenly contested. It should be a really good series between two evenly balanced teams, and I think it has been set up by what happened here.


Date-stamped : 03 Jul1999 - 14:45