New Zealand

Recently I watched the highlights of the ’96 quarters game between NZ and Australia and couldn’t believe how well Chris Harris batted on that day. Harris, Cairns, McMillan and Fleming were seriously talented and capable players, who also performed a lot more consistently than the current side.

Players like Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Jesse Ryder and Neil Broom possess enough skill to perform at the international stage. But looking at the way this side has performed over all formats in the last two years, I think I have been very optimistic about New Zealand’s chances.

They have been silently good performers in most of the ICC events. To believe that this team will go the entire distance in this tournament will mean a lot of optimism. We’ll see how the squad goes and who they will face in the round robin.

John Wright has decided one out of McCullum, Ryder and Guptill will play down the order. That will mean McCullum moving down the order. Ryder and Guptill are good enough at the top and I won’t debate much on that. McCullum should float between 4 and 6 and never below than that. I would suggest he always come in before Oram and Franklin, if the latter plays. In case, one out of the three is injured, the other two certainly have to open the batting. Jamie How is the other top order option and is getting his millionth chance in this team. I would have never picked him in the first place and he will have to be preparing the drinks. NZ do not have too many other options anyway. Peter Ingram and BJ Watling are the other names for top order slots but with Ryder, with God’s grace, fit and healthy, there is no vacancy here.

Numbers 3 to 7 will have Mr.Cricket fixed at 7. My  3 to 6 will be Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Scott Styris and Brendon McCullum. Ross Taylor has moved up to No.3, which is not a bad move but in case of an early wicket, Kane Williamson can do an anchoring role at three. Neil Broom is a very similar player. He’s very gutsy and fighting and is a must for one day games. If Taylor plays at three, Williamson could move to five. He should also have a lot of faith in himself after the way he played the tests against India here, last winter. Considering that, he’s a surety in the eleven. Scott Styris has been in fine batting form ever since his comeback to the team. He brings in disciplined bowling and a wealth of experience. Grant Elliott is someone who should take Styris’ and Oram’s place after these two depart. He is surely a long term prospect for the Kiwis. They have used James Franklin a lot at No.6. He’s not in my starting eleven. I don’t think he can improvise and keep the scoreboard moving in Indian conditions. And his pace has gone down a lot. He only remains an ordinary medium pacer. He’s a good back up for Styris. He deserves his place in the squad ahead of anybody else. I am disappointed to have missed out watching Luke Woodcock in the recently ended one day series. He’s probably one who would play in the spots of Oram and Franklin in the future.

 

Eight to eleven

Mills and Southee pick themselves. And so does Nathan McCullum at 9. Jeetan Patel would have been very useful in India. Nathan has gone ahead with his far better batting skills.

Kudos to Kyle Mills for serving his national team with this kind of consistency. He’s remained fit and he’s retained his pace and he’s now the frontline fast bowler, difficult to handle in swinging conditions and good at the death. Mills will also use the long handle to good effect. Southee could leak some runs early in the innings but he’s too good to be out of this team. Tuffey, Arnel and Andy McKay are seaming options but far inferior to this couple. Ooh and how amazing, you have a pure test bowler around in Chris Martin!! How many others do that? Play only tests, or rather,  get picked only for tests??

Hamish Bennett has been picked mainly for his pace. Ian Butler and Brent Arnel are better picks than Bennett. Bennett wouldn’t get too many games in India as Nathan McCullum is a certainty. Add Styris, Ryder and Oram’s medium pace to Mills and Southee, there is no need for a third specialist seamer here.

I know Micheal Mason doesn’t belong to the country’s top 15 and Adam Milne is too raw. There is some talk about Milne’s potential, his pace and some similarity to Bond but he is too young for a World Cup. He could be thwarted around. Southee has gained a lot more control over his bowling. Mills and Southee hold key to NZ’s hopes.

Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will be NZ’s main opponents in the round robin. John Wright says this format containing quarterfinals could work to their advantage, which sounds weakness and not much confidence. Yes, they are certainly expected to beat Zimbabwe, Canada and Kenya to reach the quarters but I am sure, they can stretch Australia to the limit. The game against Pakistan could be close as well. Sri Lanka should be very tough to beat. I’ll pick Australia as one of the major teams that the Kiwis are going to win in the first round. And with some momentum, they should be in the semis.

I continue to remain one of New Zealand Cricket’s genuine fans. They are a very committed bunch and I’ll be pleased to see them in the last four and carry on from there.

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2 Comments on “New Zealand”

  1. vishwanathrenegade Says:

    Yes u r a kiwi fan…ur blog shows tat…all d best to u n ur team…

  2. SJK Says:

    I am sorry, Wright wanted one out of Ryder, Guptill and McCullum down the order only for tests. The three will very much be the top 3 in the order. May Williamson play at 5 but Franklin seems to be their preferred option.


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