Thursday, 2 November 2006

The end of the road

Wanted: Top order batsmen. Must look good in black AND be able to hit a cricket ball.

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Lou Vincent 34 runs at 8.50
Hamish Marshall 10 runs at 3.33
Peter Fulton 11 runs at 3.67

It isn’t hard to spot where the New Zealand challenge for the Champions Trophy was derailed. Fleming and Styris looked solid enough and Astle managed one half decent knock, but a top and middle order that contains two and a half decent players is not going to win any kind of international tournament. The top order malaise has gone on for too long. Vincent needs to be told that his role is to bat and not to slog, Marshall needs some time in domestic cricket to regain his confidence and Fulton needs a bit of work on his back-foot technique.

Our next match is a test against Sri Lanka in Christchurch starting December 7. I wouldn’t like to be a selector picking our batting line-up for that match. Batting at the top level is hard, so I don’t think it is appropriate to call for axings unless we are sure that there is international class talent waiting in the wings. One of the problems we have is that we just don’t know how much talent there is available to us. Players like Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder need to be given a chance to show that they have what it takes. Throwing them into a test match might be a step too far, especially as both have built their reputations around attack rather than defence. So I would retain Vincent and Fulton for the tests and, if they continue to fail, bring in Taylor and Ryder for the one-day series against Sri Lanka so we can assess their ability before the rigours of the VB series and the World Cup.

As Karel pointed out in the comments section, there are some positives we can take from the tournament. Bond’s radar still isn’t quite right, but his pace and swing are back. Dan Vettori is a world-class all-rounder and Jacob Oram is not far behind. And, perhaps the biggest bonus we can take from the tournament is that Kyle Mills is finally starting to look like he really belongs at the top level. His 10 wickets at 11.80 included an excellent haul of 4-38 in last night’s defeat.

5 comments:

parker said...

Marshall has already proved himself at domestic level - surprisingly more convincingly in English county cricket this year than he ever has at New Zealand domestic level. However, you'd expect more from a professional cricketer who has had an excellent first class year, but I don't think that sending him back to more domestic cricket is the right answer. No doubt he'd do well, come back, and fail again. I'd definately play him in the Sri Lanka series.

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