'Happy dressing-room' as Kiwis march on

Ross Taylor (AFP)
Ross Taylor (AFP)

New Delhi - Unsung New Zealand have begun to emerge from Brendon McCullum's shadow and are revelling in their success over cricket's big guns, according to veteran Ross Taylor.

After they cruised through the group stages of the World Twenty20 in India, winning all four matches, the spotlight is beginning to be shone on a team that is largely devoid of household names.

While pre-tournament favourites India and World Cup holders Australia have put in nervy performances, New Zealand have appeared serene even when defending modest totals.

After McCullum's retirement on the eve of the tournament, few observers gave the Black Caps much hope in India but their unblemished group stage record has prompted a rethink.

Taylor, himself a former captain who was replaced as skipper by McCullum, said the New Zealand dressing room was a happy place to be these days, with players comfortable in their roles.

"As the tournament has gone on, we are winning those crucial moments and putting pressure on opponents," the 32-year-old told reporters after Saturday's 75-run victory over Bangladesh.

"Still a long way to go but it's a pretty happy dressing room and obviously we're now looking forward to the final, er, the semi-final," he added to laughter from the assembled reporters.

New Zealand's next assignment is that semi-final, in New Delhi on Wednesday, when they are likely to play England. The World T20 final is in Kolkata next Sunday.

Taylor admitted New Zealand had been lucky to have won every toss but said the team's unheralded spinners deserved praise for taking advantage of the conditions.

"Twenty20 is a very fickle game and all it takes is a world-class batsman to take it away from you. But the bowlers have to take a lot of credit for the way this team has gone so far in this tournament," he said.

"We don't want to get too carried away but you have got to enjoy the success of everyone and every bowler has played their part."

Mitchell Santner, who has been playing international cricket for less than a year, is the top wicket-taker in the group stages with nine scalps while fellow spinner Ish Sodhi has eight.

Their performances have meant pacemen Trent Boult and Tim Southee, New Zealand's premier bowlers in Test cricket, have been kicking their heels on the bench.

But Taylor said everyone had bought into the philosophy of playing horses for courses and the selections showed the strength in depth of one of the smallest Test-playing nation.

"Over the last few years we've had some pretty good depth in our cricket," he said.

"Obviously losing Brendon was a big thing at the top of the order but it just shows you the depth of the New Zealand side at the moment and the confidence that it has that whichever eleven go out onto the field are very comfortable in their roles and confident of doing a job for the team."

Taylor said captain Kane Williamson, who has gone up the order to open in the T20s, was growing into his new leadership role, partly by absorbing lessons learnt from playing under the famously swashbuckling McCullum.

"Any time you have an influential captain, there's still going to be a period where his influence is still in," said Taylor.

"But I think Kane has come a long way and over the next few years he'll develop his own style and I think he already is. There is a little bit of learning from what Brendon did but also doing his own thing as well.

"I'm sure in a few years time we will talking about Kane Williamson as a very good captain as we talk about Brendon as well."

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