Sat, Apr 07, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Black Caps' big hitter Craig McMillan back in fashion

AP , GEORGETOWN, GUYANA

New Zealand's Craig McMillan poses for a photograph during team training at Guyana National Stadium in Georgetown, Guyana, on Thursday. New Zealand play Ireland in their next Super Eight fixture on Monday.

PHOTO: AFP

Six months ago, big-hitting allrounder Craig McMillan was planning an early summer in England playing county cricket and watching his New Zealand buddies battling it out in the World Cup.

Half a year on McMillan is once again in fashion among a New Zealand cricket establishment which has never really been able to decide whether it likes his pugnacious, sometimes downright aggressive approach to the game.

"From a personal point of view I've really enjoyed it. I see this as a huge opportunity to do something positive for New Zealand," said the 30-year-old, whose batting attacks can be devastating and whose bowling is faster than the medium pace tag he has been given.

McMillan sees it as unlikely that he will be playing for the Black Caps in 2011 for his fourth World Cup, although this is not from any lack of desire.

"Four years is a long time," he said. "But I've also found out that six months is a long time in cricket so I'm not going to put a timeline on it. But there's a good chance this could be my last one."

New Zealand are seen by many as the only team that has what it takes, on a good day, to steal the World Cup from favorite Australia. The Kiwis just missed out on a final in 1991, losing out to a blistering batting display from a young Inzamam ul-Haq in the semifinal.

"I'd love to finish on a high at this World Cup with a very good side," he said at the Guyana National Stadium at Providence, where the New Zealanders were practicing before Monday's Super 8s match against Ireland.

McMillan says the hectic international calendar has done players no favors and could end up shortening careers.

"There is a lot more cricket played these days. It's something they need to look at because, combined with the test tours, it can get very tough," he said.

"Maybe you will get guys just playing one form of the game. That might be a way to sustain yourself and stay involved for the last two or three years of your career, maybe forgoing one-dayers so they can play test cricket for the last two or three years," McMillan said.

New Zealand, along with champion Australia, remain unbeaten in the Caribbean and are expected to take one of the last four spots in the 16-team competition.

"The thing about our game so far is that we haven't relied on one person," he said. "Some teams rely on one or two players and you know that, if you put them under pressure, then the rest of the side is under pressure. The strength for New Zealand is that we have guys from one to 11 who can win a game."

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