Jan 29 2009

Shallowest of shallow barrels

The top-order batting clique that we sent over to Aus looked pretty damn strong and possibly the strongest we have to call on: Ryder, McCullum, Guptill, Taylor. So Ryder has to go and spoil it by having a sore shoulder. There seems to be a good chance that he won’t play in the series at all.

And who do they choose to replace him with? Craig Cumming, who we last saw three years ago scoring a forgettable 13 – in fact you might have forgotten entirely that he ever played ODIs.

This is a dramatic weakening of our top order. In the 12 matches they have respectively played, Cummings has scoring 161 runs and Ryder 330. How is it that our second tier is half as strong as our top selections?


Dec 13 2008

Selections – the bowlers

Mark Gillespie

A contentious selection. Replaces Chris Martin, who, popular opinion has it, was hard done by to be dropped for this series. And beyond his selection, Dizzy’s popularity is divided. I like him, but then I’m a Wellingtonian. He is a wicket taker – he has over 200 for Wellington. But he gives away runs, and he does it by bowling too short too often. Can such an unsophisticated approach work at international level?

Iain O’Brien

Plenty’s been said about O’Brien already. He was a contentious selection last year as his earlier efforts for the Black Caps weren’t impressive. However, he came good during the tour of England. He now largely replicates his excellent first-class record in tests.

Jeetan Patel

It is tough being the second spinner behind Vettori. And it’s not going to get easier. In an international career already two years old, Jeets has played only 5 tests.

Kyle Mills

Back in the team, leapfrogging both Martin and Southee (and O’Brien in the bowling line up). Very surprising. He’s in because of his batting, which is fair enough because his batting is decent, but he’s selected as a bowler despite being overlooked in Australia behind two others, which just shows the contortions you can get into when your selections get too clever.


Dec 11 2008

Selections – the batting bowlers

A wonky distribution of runs amongst the batting order is a feature of NZ cricket. The success or failure of an innings often depends on the middle order. It is extremely lucky for us then that we have such good allrounders. In fact, our allrounders are the best players in the team.

Daniel Vettori

Excellent bowler and middle-order batsman par exellence, so not much to say about his selection. He’d make just about every team in the world, maybe not for his bowling in some teams, but certainly for his all-round ability.

Jacob Oram

Again, an instant selection, barring injury. Even though he often bats at 7, he is one of our best batsmen. His bowling is also ‘handy’. So he wouldn’t hold his place in the team based on his bowling alone (does that disqualify him as an allrounder?), but considering that 3rd seamers are often in the mould of Scott Styris, Oram’s bowling is a huge asset.

James Franklin

It remains to be seen how the injury layoff has effected Franklin’s game. Before injury he was second only to Shane Bond as a bowler, so that should now make him our best. However, his injury is likely to have slowed him down and he is unlikely to bowl as much as he did before. Pre-injury, it really seemed that he had not fulfilled his potential as a batsman. There is a big difference between his test and first-class averages. He has been working hard on his batting, so it may be that what we lose from his bowling, we gain in his batting.


Dec 9 2008

Selections – the bats

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.

Jamie How

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.

Tim McIntosh

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.

Daniel Flynn

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.

Ross Taylor

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.

Jesse Ryder

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.

Brendon McCullum

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.


Dec 8 2008

Our ziploc-fresh test team

The test team for the upcoming series against the West Indies has been named:

Daniel Vettori (c)
Jamie How
Tim McIntosh
Daniel Flynn
Ross Taylor
Jesse Ryder
Jacob Oram
Brendon McCullum
James Franklin
Mark Gillespie
Iain O’Brien
Jeetan Patel

In: Tim McIntosh, Jacob Oram, James Franklin, Mark Gillespie, Jeetan Patel.
Out: Aaron Redmond, Chris Martin, Grant Elliott, Tim Southee, Peter Fulton.

You can read discussion about the selections here, here, here and here.

If I can manage it, I’m going to take a look at each of these selections individually – even if it is just a sentence.