Hesson Gets It Right for Upcoming Test Series

On Friday morning, Blackcaps coach Mike Hesson named the strongest team possible for the up coming Australian test series. 

While all the selections are to be expected there is one name who is extremely unlucky to miss out; Neil Wagner.

Wagner’s bowling statistics are nothing to write home about with an average of 34.48 and strike rate of 60.6. What the statistics don’t pick up, however, is the heart he brings to the bowling crease.

On the tough batting-friendly pitches that aren’t doing much for the bowlers, Wagner is at his prime.

Countless times when Southee or Boult have not been able to make breakthroughs, Wagner has come on and bowled long spells which have kept the pressure on the batsman leading to a breakthrough. I believe this skill set will be sorely missed in the Perth test match.

Hesson has decided to select the two No.6 all rounders saying; “a lot of our recent success has been based on the value of our No.6 batsman bowling some overs, and we’re comfortable continuing in that vein.”

I agree with the decision to take two No.6 all rounder’s, however I felt Luke Ronchi didn’t deserve selection.

Ronchi during the World Cup, England and African series has been extremely out of form except for his Test Debut against England. Ronchi has been selected as back up wicketkeeper, I don’t see any merit to this thinking.

Tom Latham has proven himself as a great back up wicketkeeper. I would see more merit in keeping Luke Ronchi in New Zealand to play Plunket Shield matches or New Zealand A tour to get back into the form that we saw from him pre World Cup.

The selection of Hamish Rutherford comes across to me as very odd.

By having him in the squad says we are still having the conversation over who is the best opening partnership. I believe from recent England and African tours this debate is dead. Tom Latham and Martin Guptill have proven they have the goods and are the men that should be opening the batting for us.

Now onto the important part who out of these 15 players would make the 11. The top 5 select themselves being:

  • Martin Guptill
  • Tom Latham
  • Kane Willamson
  • Ross Taylor
  • Brendon McCullum

The number 6 all rounder spot seems to be a big debate in the media. I see it as quite an easy decision;  James Nessham. He has great test batting technique and is handy enough with the ball. With this series I would like to see Brendon chuck the ball to him more.

Over the past few years while we have won a record number of test matches our 5th bowling option is always been underused. I personally think this has seen the injuries that have happened to Boult and Southee as a major reason for this occurring. Nessham is economic enough and picked up enough wickets to deserve more overs.

The next four are as follows:

  • BJ Watling
  • Tim Southee
  • Mark Craig
  • Trent Boult

This leaves one last seamer spot. I have really enjoyed seeing Matt Henry rise through the ranks over the past year. I would still select Doug Bracewell because of the skill he showed during the African series along with having the experience of being the bowler responsible for winning the test match against Australia In Hobart. I can easily see the selectors swap between these two players throughout the test series.

I am really looking forward to this test series considering the recent retirements of Australian players giving New Zealand the best chance we have ever had to win a test series in Australia.

The full team Mike Hesson’s has selected is as follows:

Brendon McCullum (captain)
Corey Anderson
Trent Boult
Doug Bracewell
Mark Craig
Martin Guptill
Matt Henry
Tom Latham
James Neesham
Luke Ronchi
Hamish Rutherford
Tim Southee
Ross Taylor
BJ Watling
Kane Williamson

By Nathan Pont

Summer of Cricket Looking Hot for Kiwi Fans

For quite possibly the first time in my life, I can say with confidence that it is a great time to be a New Zealand cricket fan.

On the back of hit and miss tours to England, Zimbabwe and South Africa the summer of cricket ahead brings great promise to the previously frustrating hobby that is supporting the Blackcaps.

From November we are set to hit the shores of Australia for a three test series with what I believe to be the highest quality outfit New Zealand has put on the paddock in our 85 year international history.

Undoubtedly the Aussies will be hard to beat at home – they always are, but this tour presents a great opportunity to add to our three previous test victories across the ditch.

There are six, possibly seven likely starters from the famous 2011 Hobart victory, all of who are probably better players now than in 2011.

In Brendon McCullum New Zealand have a leader that plays with an Australian mindset, aggressive and attacking, but in the spirit that an 19thcentury Marylebone Cricket Club XI would be proud of. He also finally seems to be comfortable with his test game, which four big hundreds in 2014 attest to.

Boult and Southee have since combined for 223 test wickets at an average of 27 and are arguably the best opening pair going around at the moment. In Doug Bracewell, Neil Wagner, Adam Milne, Matt Henry and Ben Wheeler there is plenty of firepower to supplement the swing twins early barrage.

Kane Williamson has developed from an emerging talent to a world class batsman, and Ross Taylor has churned out hundreds – 17 international tons to be precise since Doug Bracewell pinged the cherry into Nathan Lyon’s middle stump to secure the ‘caps first victory over Australia since 1993.

Guptill has worked hard at his game and deserves to be back in there as opening bat. Supplementing this experienced core will likely be Tom Latham, Mark Craig, Corey Anderson, Jimmy Neesham and BJ Watling, all of whom have tasted recent success in tests.

It should be a cracker of a series and the Aussies are vulnerable with a number of senior players retiring after The Ashes.

But beware a wounded Aussie, they always back themselves at home, have a good pace line up and the Kiwis will have to be on top of their game to be able to call the Aussie tour a success.

Back in NZ we have the perennial visitors Sri Lanka and Pakistan on our shores for a series of limited over, and in Sri Lanka’s case, test matches. I expect us to be too strong for the rebuilding Sri Lanka in our own conditions. Anything short of Test and ODI series victories here would be disappointing.

I also expect us to get the better of Pakistan, although it will be interesting to see how we deal with Wahab Riaz if he offers the same level of heat that he did in the World Cup – although Mitchell Johnson should give us plenty of practice at the Gabba.

Then the Aussies are back, this time for a 3 ODI – 2 Test series in our own backyard. This should be another closely fought series, with the Chappell-Hadlee series up for grabs in the one dayers.

It is great to see test cricket back in Christchurch. Hagley Oval is a picturesque ground well suited to the longer form and I expect the Cantabrians will provide some of our best test crowds in recent memory.

This action packed summer of cricket is all wrapped up by the end of February in time for the Twenty20 World Cup in India from mid-March. All going well we can run deep into that competition, and in the shortest format anything can happen on the day.

The summer should be a pearler. We have batsmen that can score big hundreds, a bowling attack that can run through quality batsmen, and a country riding a wave of momentum generated from last summer’s world cup heroics. I couldn’t be more excited.

By Michael Aitken