Monday, 17 March 2008

On to Napier

I am trying to be gracious in defeat, but the sight of the smiling Barmy Army swarming through Wellington has put me in a bad mood. This has less to do with the defeat we just endured, and more to do with the fact that I was stuck at work while they spent the morning lying in the sun at the Basin.

The New Zealand defeat was the result of a bad start to the game. We let England get too many runs in the first innings through bowling too short on day one, and the cloud cover of day two resulted in some prodigous swing and that (with some bad batting) did for our first dig. The result was obvious by the end of day two, despite those optimistic words from TV commentators and the New Zealand camp.

So we head to Napier at 1-1 and with the momentum swinging back to the English camp. Will we make any changes to the side for that match? Probably not. The squad has been announced and it is essentially unchanged, except for the addition of the Maungakaramea Express - Tim Southee - to cover for the niggled Kyle Mills. Southee in for Mills is a possibility, but I would guess it is an outside one - in my view adding Southee to the squad is probably aimed at getting him involved with the national squad rather than getting him any game time. The wording of the NZ Cricket press release doesn't make Mills injury sound particularly threatening:

Mills reported soreness in his left knee after the 126-run defeat in Wellington, but the injury is unrelated to the one which required surgery last year.

The other possible change might be to bring Grant Elliot into the squad, probably at the expense of Matthew Sinclair. My feeling is that Sinclair will earn a stay of execution however. His 39 in the second innings was as fluid as we have seen him in a while and he probably deserves more chances than most given his past mistreatment at the hands of selectors.

One small possibility could be Elliot in for Matthew Bell. Bell looked utterly bereft of confidence in Wellington and I can't see his morale rising very far in the next few days. If Elliot were to come in to the side, he could slot in at 6 or 7, with McCullum promoted to the top of the order. It is risky, but to have McCullum come out and face the new ball would give England the kind of message that Vettori likes to give - "we are coming to get you".


Ben said...

Are you trying to wind me up? You want to go the Basin today?!

McCullum should definitely not open. He may do better than Bell and How, but who will make up for his absence in the lower order? I'd open with a lame horse before opening with a pinch hitter in a test.

Sportsfreak said...

This McCullum to open fad seems to be gaining momentum on the Sportsfreak forum too. It’s strange how a loss can propel people into mad ideas…

It’s the sort of thing David Trist would come up with.