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You need to have Test matches: Richard Hadlee

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Richard Hadlee, a paragon of rhythm, with a dream action, bowling from close to the stumps, sometimes coming perilously close to knocking a stump or nudging the umpire, has been a supreme example of a fast bowler and a fine ambassador of the game.

In Delhi to promote the World Cup to be co-hosted next February-March by Australia and New Zealand, Hadlee is also the Christchurch International Airport ambassador.

He wants Indians to visit his country and “enjoy” cricket, life and nature.

“These are exciting times for New Zealand. It is a great opportunity for New Zealand to be showcased.

“The great thing about this World Cup is we are sharing things equally with Australia. We get 21 pool games, apart from a quarterfinal and a semifinal in seven cities,” Hadlee told The Hindu in a chat at the New Zealand High Commission.

According to New Zealand High Commissioner-designate Grahame Morton, “we will have common visas for Australia and New Zealand. Preparations are on track.

“It is a catalyst opportunity for the re-emergence of Christchurch as an international city with the opening game of the World Cup, a positive occasion and rebirth after the 2011 earthquake.”

Hadlee added: “The quality of pitches are far different now with some drop-in ones to maintain consistent quality. The facilities for the fans have improved.

“We are not using the rugby grounds. Eden Park (Auckland) is probably the only one, for obvious reasons. We get the biggest crowds at the Eden Park. The players and fans, I promise, will enjoy.”

Known for his humility, Hadlee acknowledged modern day bowlers as better. “The bowlers today are lot more clever. The reverse swing that happens today was not around in our days.

“The bowlers today have wonderful skills. One has to train a lot for honing these skills to be very effective.”

The batsmen too, noted Hadlee, have become superior. “They have become more skilful than the players of yesteryear because of the way the game has evolved with different formats.

“The only problem is they sometimes forget in what format they are playing.

“The range of shots from the batsman’s point of view, the power hitting, the bigger bats, the boundaries that are being hit, the ball clearing the boundary by 20-30 yards, some of the reverse sweeps are quite phenomenal.”

The Kiwi great, who took 431 Test wickets in a 17-year career, picked Dale Steyn as the best fast bowler.

“He is the all-round perfect quality fast bowler. For evidence, look into his eyes and you know he is an enforcer, very competitive and fast. He changes the course of the match and wins the game.”

Looking ahead, Hadlee said: “All three games have to co-exist. You need to have Test cricket.

“That’s the foundation on which the game is based historically. They play the one-day stuff and T20 because the financial rewards are greater.

“But I would hate to think that one form of the game or the other would compromise the major form.

“I can imagine the future tours to be two-match or three-match Test series but there will be five one-dayers and two T20s. That’s the way it is and we got to live with that.”

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