Defeated Cricket World Cup semi-finalists New Zealand have defended their ‘good bloke’ team culture after a withering attack from Australian allrounder turned commentator Simon O’Donnell.
O’Donnell created waves in New Zealand by insisting the Black Caps were too friendly to Virat Kohli as the Indian star belted a century to send them out of the tournament.
Kohli cramped and was hobbling between the wickets as he neared his ton, with O’Donnell raging at offers of assistance from Kane Williamson’s side.
“Why would you go and help Virat Kohli when he had a cramp? When they’re heading for 400 in a World Cup semi-final?” O’Donnell said on SEN on Thursday.
“Virat Kohli is tearing your country apart and you want to go over and give him a hand?
“Under no circumstances should you have gone within 20 metres of Virat Kohli when he had a cramp.
“He threw his bat away and one of the Kiwis went and picked it up. (I would have said) ‘Go and pick your own bat up while you’ve got a sore hamstring and a cramp. Stop hitting us for sixes and fours’.
“I just don’t get it. Stuff helping him out, he’s made 50 one-day hundreds, why help him make the 50th against you in a World Cup semifinal? Give me a spell.”
O’Donnell’s view was widely read in New Zealand.
As of Friday morning, it was the second-most viewed story on the country’s biggest news website Stuff.
Kohli’s 50th one day international century – an all-time record – was instrumental in sending New Zealand out of the tournament as India amassed 4-397.
Daryl Mitchell smashed 134 in their chase but New Zealand finished 70 runs short to miss out on a third-straight ODI World Cup final.
While Kiwis have been riled up by O’Donnell, Mitchell was unbothered.
“We’ll keep playing cricket the way we do … that’s something that we really pride ourselves on as Black Caps and as New Zealanders … ” he told journalists from India on Friday (AEDT).
“We want to play cricket in a way that suits us as a country and how we want to see our kids grow up and play the game themselves as well.
“Hopefully the rest of the world can respect us and how we go about our day-to-day life, not only on the field but off it as well.
“We’ll just keep being Black Caps and doing what we’re doing.”
In recent years, New Zealand has embraced a ‘nice guys’ culture under coach Gary Stead and captain Williamson, which has coincided one of their best runs of results in the country’s history.
In the past four years, they have made finals of both white-ball World Cups and in 2021, won the inaugural World Test Championship.