Key batsman warns of Kiwi 'juggernaut' at CWC
New Zealand's efforts to contain the hype around their Cricket World Cup prospects had been going well until all-rounder Corey Anderson used one word yesterday to describe their campaign. He called it a juggernaut.
With that, all of the Kiwis' careful efforts to play down expectations, even after their comprehensive 98-run win over Sri Lanka in yesterday's opening match, went out the window.
The New Zealanders accepted that anyone was free to make their own judgments, and there were plenty of pundits who liked the look of them as World Cup chances. But when Anderson dropped the J-word at a post-match news conference, the carefully constructed facade of caution and humility fell away.
He revealed that this is a New Zealand team that seriously backs itself, and whose confidence is at an unprecedented high.
The word juggernaut - coach Mike Hesson admitted later he'd heard it before but never in connection with the New Zealand team - carries the implication of something that rolls on, something unstoppable. It was in that sense that Anderson used it: He was emphasising the need for any team with serious World Cup ambitions to create early momentum, then to roll through the tournament, knocking other teams aside.
There was no immodesty on Anderson's part. He was asked about captain Brendon McCullum's influence on the New Zealand team, and the manner in which his leadership and his example has a calming effect on other players.
Anderson said McCullum decided not to make any emotional or rallying speeches before the match against Sri Lanka, but stressed the need for the team to maintain the momentum it gained from strong performances in both Test and one-day series over the past 18 months.
He said McCullum exhorted his players to "treat it as another game of cricket and go about our work and keep what, I guess, we've begun as a juggernaut, to keep rolling forward, and that's what we did".