I was looking forward to returning to New Zealand. I was born here, I still have an affinity with the place and if you ask me it still has the freshest air on the planet. The trip back has not quite gone as I might have hoped, either in my dreams or in reality. A bit of a black cloud in the land of the long white cloud.
Once more, I am out of the team, who have lost the first two one-day internationals (three in four matches since arriving here). I have not bowled well, I have probably not bowled enough, for the first time the crowd have been on my case for being a native New Zealander who moved to play his cricket elsewhere, and it has rained for most of the week. Apart from that everything has been marvellous.
England are up against it now. The opening exchanges in any series are important, especially of the one-day variety, and being 2-0 down does not augur well. However, there is nothing wrong with this side's determination . We will not go quietly and we have come back before.
The last time, you may remember, we were being written off was barely two weeks ago in India. We were 3-1 down and came back to draw 3-3. True, we may need that resolve to do something similar here but these teams are closer matched than the series score indicates at the moment. England were making one-day progress, we have not suddenly gone backwards.
We are a funny side who seem to have made a career out of starting slowly and coming back. It is a trait we must overcome, but it also means that we can come back at New Zealand. On paper, player for player, we are a better side. We have better individual players. We have allowed them to beat us.
But the Kiwis know themselves. They have been together, five or six of them for a third of a lifetime. They trust each other when they succeed and they still trust each other when they fail. They show the value of a group of experienced men. Chris Harris is their leading one-day player in terms of caps. He became the first New Zealander to play 200 matches yesterday and is the embodiment of what a player can make of himself.
Harris comes from Christchurch, as I do. If you had told me then that he would be such a prominent international player I probably would not have agreed. But he has been an essential part of the team for 10 years. Experience, which is so crucial in one-day cricket, is what Harris has in bundles. You could see it when he went into bat yesterday on a slow pitch.
He immediately assessed the conditions and started pushing the ball around. You could see it when he bowled. He bowled slow balls, made England hit it, probed and cajoled. It was good stuff, he's a good player.
England need more like him. The only way to get that is to play more matches and to stick with the same group of players. But that is a mantra we have been hearing for a long time. Harris and I are the same age, he has played 200 one-dayers, I have played 38.
I was a touch surprised to be dropped for yesterday's match. I know that I haven't bowled well, but I think that's largely down to a lack of bowling. That can easily be put right in a Test match, of course, where you can bowl 50 overs and you are then back in your rhythm. In limited overs cricket you get 10 and you need more work.
Before anybody else mentions it I am aware that I missed the Test series in India. That probably has made it a little bit trickier for me to get up to speed in all departments. I do feel there is more pressure on me to perform in New Zealand now, but pressure is something I have to deal with.
I want to be back to have a go at these Kiwis. I believe I can take wickets against them. The third match is in Napier in midweek. I may not get back, it may depend on the pitch. Obviously, England have to win it to stay in the series. The last time we were here, we went two up and the third game was tied. New Zealand then unexpectedly won the last two in the rubber to draw level.
It could yet be that tight this time. England will have to play better than they have been doing but then we know we can do that. It was only two weeks ago that we were taking Bombay by storm. Napier isn't Bombay. We aren't finished yet.Reuse content