Aussies and Kiwis- contrasting attitudes to performance

Watching Australians being beaten in any sport is never a great hardship for an ordinary red blooded Kiwi bloke, and that the sport in question was cricket only heightened the pleasure. That it was the English team that was handing out the punishment only slightly reduced the joy.

The Poms winning the last test to win the series 3-1 only increased the sense of ecstasy because it robbed the Australians of any semblance of cricketing dignity.

Before the Sydney test, the players, commentators, critics, blowhards and professional optimists had twisted and turned ,wriggled and squirmed like a prawn on a hot barbie spinning the line that a drawn series wouldn't be so bad even if the dream of getting the Ashes back had evaporated in two sessions on day one of the fourth test at Melbourne. So a thorough trashing - yet another innings defeat, the third in five tests - has shown just how undressed the Aussie Emperors of cricket really are.

But and this is a really important but, all those who played for either the Australian or the English teams on all 23 days of the five test series played as if there was something important at stake. The outcome mattered to them personally, and they understood it mattered to the team and to the tens of thousands of people at the ground, and to the millions who watched on TV, listened on the radio or followed the game on their mobiles or on the internet.

Contrast that with the attitude of the Kiwi players in the first test against Pakistan just completed in Hamilton. It would be hard to find a single Kiwi player to whom their own performance and the team outcome mattered.

Arguably there are two possible exceptions: one is Brendon McCallum, who seems more and more like Chris Cairns, a player who plays more for himself than for the team, and who plays well when he can be bothered to do so.

The other is Tim Southee, who did perform well with bat and ball, and looked to me like he was making a genuine effort.

The rest were an ill disciplined rabble who were incompetent, out of form, rash in their decisions and stroke play and who surrendered tamely to a B side from Pakistan playing away from home.

No wonder the day one crowd was 86 thousand plus at the MCG for the fourth test of the Ashes series, and only a few hundred for the Black Caps in Hamilton. Commitment makes a difference to the way teams play, but commitment, or more particularly the lack of it, makes a difference to the way teams are seen and hence how much they are supported.

On the evidence e of the Black Caps performance, their commitment to playing good cricket is so weak that they are lucky to have any fans at all.