The newspapers are all over the selections for the West Indies series. Rather than rephrase the debate in my own words, I thought I would look at the selections separately, starting with the batsmen.
Looking at How’s record, he must be charmed. He averages less then 25, but has outlasted a slew of other openers: Redmond most recently, but Bell before him, as well as Cumming, Papps and Hamish Marshall, most of whom have not done much worse than How. He did show some real class in the two series against England earlier this year, with 428 runs in 12 innings, and the legacy of that should keep his place in the team secure for at least the rest of the season. Also, with a career now amounting to 30 innings, he is our most experienced batsman (excluding McCullum) – a senior member of the team, believe it or not. With no one else really challenging for the spot, How’s experience and proven ability are valuable.
The dark horse in the selection as he is the only debutant. In first-class cricket he has the ability to score really big. Already this season he has scored a 191 for Auckland, and last year he scored a 268, with a 205 the year before that. The problem he has is that aside from these big innings, he doesn’t get a hell of a lot of runs. In each season, about half his runs come from these big single hauls. To my mind, we want the opposite in the Black Caps; we want an opener who doesn’t necessarily get big scores, but always gets a start. McIntosh is due for a trial though – the next opener through the revolving door – and he is one of my players to watch for the series.
Has little in the way of results to show (still working towards his first test 50), but has impressed with his technique and approach to the game. Worth persevering with then. The talk is that he will be promoted to 3, which I have already suggested would be a good move. Flynn might not do much better at 3, but the test will be whether Ryder does better at 5.
Shouldered with the responsibility of being our chief batsman since Flem’s retirement, and has responded well. We know he’s got more in him and we know we’ll see it as he gains experience.
The wunderkind has had a distinctly average start to his test career. However, as long as he keeps his head, there is no reason he should ever be out of the team.
The gloss seems to have come off McCullum recently. He was a superstar earlier this year due to this one-day exploits and his IPL paypacket, with commentators gushing about him being the new Gilchrist. In tests he doesn’t nearly live up to that hype – however, he still is one of our best batsmen. I think he is best at 7, where he gets the chance to graft a bit with the all-rounders, but also pick up bonus runs with the tail-enders against tiring bowlers.