Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Craig McMillan's return

If there is one reason to be pleased that Craig McMillan is back in the New Zealand team, it is that he can now put his country music days behind him (link "borrowed" from the Beige Brigade website). But that shouldn't be the only reason.

McMillan had a terrible couple of seasons which seemed to turn the country against him. Mention the words "stupid reverse sweep" and someone in New Zealand will inevitably curl their lip and mutter his name under their breath. And there was a period where all it took for a bowler to take his wicket was to make him angry (and that didn't look hard) and watch him try to slog the ball out of the park.

But if you can remember back past the bad times you should remember some much better ones. McMillan belting Shane Warne for six to bring up 50 in his first test, his assault against Pakistan at Hamilton in 2001, test centuries against Sri Lanka, India and England.

McMillan's 64 ball 29 not out at Auckland wasn't the world's best or prettiest innings. It included a lucky escape or two and some terrible uncertainty against Malinga's slingers. But it was also a very mature innings. If McMillan had an undoing during his summers of discontent it was poor decision making, and at Auckland his decision making was good.

McMillan is only 30 and still has the same skills he had during the early years of his career. He has always been aggressive player and I hope he remains one. But that aggression needs to be shackled and kept for when it benefits him and the team. Australian cricket is littered with players who have returned from testing times and long absences as much stronger players - if McMillan wants inspiration, he can't do worse than look towards Martyn, Hayden and Langer for starters.

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