Thursday, 3 April 2008

Ben on...generation next month

So we're off to England in a months time for the away leg of the six-match series. Unlike other six-match series we've played in, we have a short break in proceedings during which we can take stock and re-jig our team.

The three tests showed that we have some glaring holes, namely an opener to partner How and a middle order batsman. So who might we see in the touring squad?

Several pundits have tried to pick possible fillers for the gaps in the batting line up 1 2 3 4. I thought I might take a look at some of the suggestions.

Greg Hay
Hay's name seems to be everyone's lips at the moment and he is clearly in the minds of the selectors. If you haven't heard of him, don't worry – I don't follow domestic cricket either. Also, he has only been playing for a couple of years. Hay plays for Central Districts and has scored over a thousand runs over two seasons at an average of just under 50 (State Championship). Most significantly, he has kept his average up over both seasons. In fact, this season was better than the last. He has also improved his conversion rate. Even if he doesn't get selected, he is clearly a batsman to pay attention to.

Daniel Flynn
We've actually seen a bit of Daniel Flynn before. He played in the Christchurch T20 and ODI, scoring 1 run from 5 balls over both matches. It would be unfair to judge him on those performances however. He has had an excellent season for Northern Districts, scoring 663 State Championship runs at over 60, including 3 centuries (none of them very big however). Quite a bit has been expected of Flynn. He burst onto the scene at the under-19 level. He has taken a few years to really show his promise, but he is clearly a player for the future.

Gareth Hopkins
Gareth Hopkins has become a bit of a feature in the New Zealand squad as a backup wicket-keeper. We are very likely to see him tour England again, though I doubt he will get any tests. Being backup for a player that hardly misses a match means a lot of waiting around. There is however always the possibility that he could play the ODIs, either as a middle-order batsman or as keeper-batsman with McCullum playing as a specialist batsman. He is certainly good enough with the bat, at domestic level at least.

Tim McIntosh
There has been quite a bit of excitement about Tim McIntosh after his big double century against Canterbury. However, given that that one innings makes up nearly half of his total State Championship runs for the season, you have to wonder how much people are being charmed by a single innings. Especially considering he followed it with scores of 2 and 9 in his next two innings. Or perhaps it just shows how desperate we are for openers. In McIntosh's favour, he is left handed and he does score big centuries – he has scored two centuries in the last two seasons and they have both been doubles.

Martin Guptill
I know nothing about Guptill nor why he is being discussed. He has a poor first-class average and a good list-A average. He does open, so I guess he is just another example of our desperation.

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