Friday, December 23, 2022

New Zealand won't underestimate Pakistan despite England whitewash: coach

Gary Stead says he expects matches to be tight, hard-fought, and maybe very, very close as well

New Zealand coach Gary Stead addresses a press conference in Karachi on December 23, 2022. — Provided by the reporter
New Zealand coach Gary Stead addresses a press conference in Karachi on December 23, 2022. — Provided by the reporter 

KARACHI: New Zealand coach Gary Stead said his side will not underestimate Pakistan despite a three-nil loss to England, expecting a tight contest in two-match series.

Speaking to the media persons during a press conference, Gary said that the team watched Pakistan and England series very closely and are analysing footage of three Tests as well but his side will not underestimate Pakistan.

“Whilst it was three-nil to England, I think it was a very tight series and at times could have swung either way. We're certainly not underestimating Pakistan at all, especially in their home ground as well."

"I think spin will take a bigger part than what we're probably used to normally but we also saw signs of reverse swing at times as well. For us, honing our skills in those areas will be very important,” he said.

“I don't think Pakistan can be beaten easily, I think there are times in Test cricket that you get a little bit of rubber, the green and things go your way. And I think maybe Pakistan haven't had that recently."

"They have had a few injuries to some key players in their team as well. But for us coming here, it's more focused on what we can do and what we can do well, so looking forward to the test matches that are ahead."

"I expect they're going to be tight Test matches, hard-fought, and maybe very, very close as well. I think it's always exciting for us when you come to a new country or a different country, you have to adapt fast. And that's what we'll be trying to do,” the New Zealand coach said.

In response to a question, the coach said that there is still a little bit of jet lag in the group but hoped his side will adjust to the conditions quickly.

He added that despite the fact that his side is out of contention to play the final of the World Test Championship, the Test series remains highly important as every test match is an important milestone. 

On Southee and Sodhi

He also put his weight behind the new captain Tim Southee.

“I think he will bring an aggressive nature to his style, I expect it'll be a good test for him. First up, because maybe more spinners are playing," he said.

"It will be a good challenge for him, but he has a great cricketing brain." 

"He understands this team very well. And I'm sure he will get the best out of the players that are around him,” he said of Southee.

Moving on to Ish Sodhi, who has returned to the side, the coach said that the player has been in and around our test team in the past and hasn't played for some period of time. 

Despite that, the coach noted that he's made a few changes to his action in the last 12 months. "And we think he's probably going to be a little bit more consistent than maybe what he has been prior to that when he wasn't playing for us."

"The conditions that we face here are very different to what we get in New Zealand. So we picked our squad thinking that a leg spinner will be important. And we've obviously seen Abrar and Mehmood bowling well for Pakistan in the recent test series. So that's great,” he said when asked about Ish Sodhi’s return to the side.

England changing face of cricket

When asked about the brand of cricket that England displayed recently, the head coach of the New Zealand side said that every team has their own way of playing but the way England played recently has changed the face of Test cricket.

“I think the way that England are playing their cricket at the moment is probably through Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum as their coach and captain and I guess when you look at both of them, it's their natural style to play that way."

"I think you have your own style as a team that you work out how you can best play but there's no doubt that they are changing the face of Test cricket a little bit and I think all teams will be thinking a little bit around how England play and the successes that they've had in this past year,” he said.

“What England have done recently with their cricket, they played at a much faster pace. When they played the first test in Rawalpindi it looked like quite a low wicket and I think they read that and said we need to play at a faster rate there's no doubt T20 cricket has sped up scoring overall and now most cricketers that play test cricket have the ability to score at a much faster rate."

"So for me, it's still about finding your tempo, your style of play that suits your players the best and that's what we're all striving for as coaches, to find that and then you can get the very best out of your players,” he concluded.