Monday, 4 March 2013

Bleeding Heart Cricketers - The Promise

The face of England 2013 in New Zealand??

Talking up New Zealand's chances.

So now after an inspiring defeat of England "A" by NZ "A" where to from here for the tests??

Let's get something clear here.  Eng "A" were without their two strike weapons, Finn and Anderson, and any romantic idea that the Blackcaps go into this test series as favourites should be put well out the back paddock.  And don't expect the likes of Trott and KP to fail in the tests, they won't.

But my concern isn't wholly with what England will bring to the series.  My thoughts are on how the Backcaps will front for this series.  I think one of the main concerns for everyone after the Taylor debacle is the leadership in the team.  Thankfully there seems to be a steely edge now to the team performances.  In SA we managed a 2-1 series win in the ODI's.  Sure the test series was a whitewash but on the back of terrible first innings was a fighting second innings in  both games.  That showed to me that this team was capable of fighting and their time will come.

And the old hori chestnut of selections seems to be showing promise (although the selection of BP Martin defies logic) but let's be honest, we all have been asking for talent to be fostered and form to be selected and that seems to be happening, with both the bowling and batting.

The likelihood is (as stated earlier by my good self) the first and third tests will be four seamers games so the bowlers have basically picked themselves.  Southee, Bracewell and Boult have picked on performance and ability and deserve the top three slots, but the picking of Wagner was a close run thing and purely based I feel on his ability to tie up an end and also based on his battle with Gillespie at Queenstown.  Gillespie was unlucky not to make the test lineup (his 12 no balls bowling from the wrong end) and has wicket taking capability and I think if Wagner doesn't come off in the first test on his home strip, then you might see Gillepsie back.

Before the Queenstown match everyone was lamenting the batting struggles this cricket playing nation has suffered of late.  There were those wary of Taylor performing under BMac (since cleared up by his ODI ton) and our lack of depth at opener.  The loss of Ginga also served to weaken our lineup.  So the selectors pick two young players with little pedigree to face Eng A to see how our opening stocks were.  Rutherford (90,33 averaging 61.5) and Latham (11,48) certainly gave us some hope, but how both or either would fare with Finn and Anderson is anyone's guess.  We know Rutherford has been selected and that seems a wise choice, especially on home soil, but the worry for me now falls on 2MP as the other opener.

Fulton is an enigma.  There have been calls for his re-inclusion ahead of the seasons top performer (Redmond) as opener but his figures don't really stack up to me.  He scored three (small) centuries this season, two in one game and one shortly after, but in the latter half of the season didn't really shine whereas Redmond has been scoring at will right through.  So the best I can hope from him is to be able to back up Rutherford (who scores quite freely) and give us some foundation for the following batsmen.

As stated, a spinner will be included in only one match, The Basin and BP Martin is that man.  Or is he?  In his only match at the Basin this season he performed with:
(1st innings) 25 overs, 7 maidens, 1 wicket for 95
(2nd Innings) 20 overs, 1 maiden, 3 wickets for 81
It would be fair to say he didn't set the world on fire but a "slight improvement" in 2nd innings returns wicket-wise suggest maybe on day five he could be a threat with the ball.  Btw in the same match he scored 0 and 33 with the bat.

Yes the focus is on the new boys here and that's understandable.  But let's be realistic, I'm not expecting great things from the new boys.  If one or two come off and help get us a result in one test, fine, but the real focus for me is how well the incumbents perform to ensure there is no 3 test drubbing.  Most of those incumbents have shown form in varying forms of late so whether they can transfer that form to the test series is about to be tested.

England 2 (Bowlers on top including Panesar)
New Zealand 0
Drawn 1 (University Oval - weather)

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