He changed the concept of one day openers! Mark Greatbatch, the Kiwi, sent all the opponent bowlers packing when the Kiwis won seven matches on trot to top the group in the 1992 World Cup. Now, Greatbatch is of the opinion that power-hitting will continue even after the World Cup like his pinch-hitting became a norm post the 1992 World Cup.
Q: You are almost synonymous with Pinch-hitting!
A: Well, it should not be credited to me alone. It was our captain Martin Crowe and some of the senior members of the team who had formulated the strategy of doing something new to surprise the opponent. And to execute the strategy, I was given the responsibility of hitting the balls in the early overs. During those years, only two fielders were allowed outside the circles. We wanted to take the advantage of that rule.
Q: And that had become a new rule after that…
A: Yes, now every team wants to do so. The openers are taking strokes starting from ball one. Now this is easier, I believe! If you can increase the rate from the beginning, it helps the team.
Q: Are you impressed with the openers of this World Cup? Or, who are the openers you are most impressed with right now?
A: Well, there are two in fact. One is David Warner and the other is our captain Brendon McCulum. And both of them have been doing so for the last two years consistently. I like Chris Gayle, too. The day he starts middling the ball, it is just impossible to stop him.
Q: Among the two Indian openers – Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma – did anyone catch your attention?
A: I think both of them are quite good. Dhawan is in-form, scored two hundreds already. In the test series, however, he was not at all impressive. But, he is playing superb in the World Cup.
Q: Rohit Sharma?
A: He is supremely talented. Nobody can score two double hundreds in the 50-overs game unless he is talented. But I expected a little more from him in the World Cup. Yes, there are some more matches for him to show his talent. I think he will do it in the knockouts.
Q: Power-hitters like AB de Villiers, Brendon and Gayle had made a storm in this World Cup. Do you feel that this would be the norm even after the World Cup?
A: Yes, this is the trend and every team will be following it even after the Cup. We have seen teams scoring 400-plus runs thrice already in this tournament. Batsmen from each team are inventing new shots.
Q: Is it because of the T 20 format?
A: True, T20 had made batting more exciting. Moreover, the bats are improved. The intent of the batsmen had changed, they want to be aggressive all the time. The reflection is there in the team total!
Q: Like 1992, the Kiwis have won all the matches till now in the group stage. But in 1992, you were out in the semifinal against Pakistan.
A: Well, I must admit that we should have won that World Cup back in 1992. We were unfortunate not to be able to do so. That was a good, balanced side, like this side of Brendon. It’s really difficult to find a weakness of this Black Caps. They have good batting, excellent bowling and superb fielding. Only there were a bit tension in the match against Australia. Already they are in the quarter finals and there is no reason they should not be winning the next two matches. At least I can see no reason for them not to reach the finals. Once they reach there, it should be anybody’s game.