Auckland: Craig MacMillan, the former New Zealand batsman, has blamed New Zealand's defeat in the third and final Twenty20 at Eden Park on Jesse Ryder for slowing down the scoring so he could get his half-century. New Zealand were coasting towards their target of 166, needing 17 off the last four overs, but lost by three runs and conceded the series 2-1 to South Africa.
McMillian, now a television commentator, said Ryder was guilty of putting himself before the team's needs. However, Ryder found support from his team-mate James Franklin, who said it would be unfair to single out one player for the defeat.
"The reason New Zealand lost their momentum in those last four overs is because Jesse Ryder was trying to get one run for his 50, it took nine (sic. 7) deliveries to get that one run. It's always dangerous when you put yourself ahead of the team and I think that's what Jesse Ryder did last night," McMillan told Radiosport. "I've gone through it last night, the reasons why I thought we lost, and when you need 16 runs (sic. 17) off four overs, which is 24 deliveries, you do it in a canter. You basically get bat on ball and you win easily."
Ryder, who returned to the team following a calf injury, had raced to 48 off 29 balls before slowing down. He added only four more runs to his score, off 13 balls, and then scooped Johan Botha to Morne Morkel on the leg side, increasing the pressure on New Zealand. They needed 8 off seven balls after Ryder's dismissal.
McMillan said the other batsmen were also culpable, but Ryder had to accept responsibility for putting New Zealand in that position.
"Yes, the others had opportunities to win the game in terms of Franklin, [Tim] Southee, [Doug] Bracewell, Nathan McCullum, will all be disappointed they didn't bring New Zealand home," McMillan said. "But the reason that New Zealand were put in that position last night was because of Jesse Ryder's selfishness in trying to get to 50.
"He changed the way he was batting. He actually took about six (balls) trying to get a single and then he hit to the fielder and thought 'Well I better hit one out of the park because this just isn't working for me'. There were a couple of swings and misses and all of a sudden New Zealand are under pressure where they need seven off the last over.
"This defeat falls squarely on his shoulders and he has to wear it."
Franklin, who remained unbeaten on 9 off eight balls, backed Ryder and said the team should take the blame.
"He [Ryder] played brilliantly last night," Franklin told NZN. "It's very much a team game, and there were other guys that came in after that had the chance to win the game. None of us did that, so to pin it on any individual I think is very much unfair."