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From David Balme, New Zealand
Had the Champions Trophy gone ahead as scheduled, this tournament would be only relevant for who is here - not in Pakistan. Now it is a tournament that previews a Border-Gavaskar Trophy, and gives a window on the future of New Zealand Cricket.
New Zealand need to find a couple more international players to make an international team, they have been described as rebuilding, this means the only international players they had last generation are gone; not that the house fell down, as it seems to be doing as I write with Bangladesh. But rather, some have moved down the road to the rest home and none have yet stepped up from high school to fill there boots. India has home advantage, they are at home, yes, but sometimes you wonder if this is a blessing or a hindrance with the scrutiny they get. More importantly they have a large group with international experience. This reflects a combination of the Indian selection panel being indecisive, and the amount of cricket played by India. At least a couple of the top order they would put out could be a near automatic selection in the top team in New Zealand.
The New Zealand A squad is a mixture of those who have been in and out of the NZ top squad, and seasoned domestic campaigners who have strung two good seasons together. Reflective of its true strength would be a comparison of the batting averages, only Fulton has a first class average over 40. The batting might struggle either against Australian pace or Indian Spin. Their strength is they will become a team faster than the other two sides. The weakness is the question; do they have a quality anywhere on the field to succeed? Particularly can they conquer a tendency to face to many dot balls between the power plays and over 40? Players to watch Overall: Peter Fulton: A right-hand top order batsman. Tall, able to play pace and spin, correct all around the clock, and with a full ODI hundred. Fulton is near unique in the current NZ domestic scene, he averages >40 in First class and >30 in List A cricket. Last year was a terrible time to step up to the test number 3 spot.
Batting: Neil Broom: A right-hand middle order batsman. Broom had been a quiet achieve, with lots of contributions, but to few big scores. His average in the high 30's in both forms shows ability, but the chances to step up under pressure have not occurred - this is a chance to shine.
Bowling: Jeetan Patel: Off-Spinner. Patel has not got a great record, welcome to the life of a spinner in Australasia, but has played above himself in a NZ shirt. Also a death bowling specialist, something NZ always needs. These should be his conditions for a change.
Australia A have the most battle hardened players on show, it is clear that in the last two decades, anyone regularly making an Australian domestic team could be close to international cricket elsewhere. Their strength is aggressive batsmen capable of big scores fast, and aggressive pace bowlers capable of big halls. The weakness is spin.
Cameron White has yet to show even a domestic level of spin ability, he should be targeted by the Indian batting. Players to watch Overall: Cameron White: A right-hand middle order batsman, and Leg spin bowler. His batting should win games, captaincy might win games, and his bowling could lose games. Using his bowlers well and stepping up his own bowling effort will be the keys for success.
Batting: Adam Voges: A right-hand middle order batsman. Seems the most likely to step up a class, particularly in the one day arena. Hits hard and often, also very at good at closing an innings. Voges needs to learn how to score hundreds to become an international, hopefully this is the message from the selectors. As such he should bat higher than 6.
Bowler: Doug Bollinger: A left-arm quick, Bollinger had a very poor record till last season he sparked. Could play in the Border-Gavaskar, left arm quicks are valued everywhere.
A Point to Prove, Shaun Tait: Has shown in the past that he is the quickest bowler around at the moment. Is he well rested, or will the scatter gun miss the target. He needs to learn control and some variation in is second life.
Possible Performer: Peter Siddle: Has had good reviews and has also been noticed by the Australian selection panel. His record looks excellent. If he can stay fit enough to show it.
India A This is a line up some nations would want to swap with whole sale. It's time that the players who have been there step up, and the ones who want a go to show that they have got it. The batting is a mix of those who couldn't keep a place higher up and those who deserve a go. It looks, skilled, inventive, hard hitting, and competent. The pace attack is not sharp, but should be skilled. The spinners are useful with Chawla's leg spin likely to be telling. It is a surprise that a third spinner has not been selected.
India A's strength is that they have the longest middle order in the competition with some capable batters right down to the more experienced bowlers. Both the other sides look a bit weak at this level after number 6. The weakness is teamwork. So many of the players in this India A side will be looking out for themselves, they may forget that the team needs to win too.
Selecting a batting order here will be a nightmare. The biggest problem will be leaving quality players too late in the order to have an effect. Badrinath should bat high enough to show his class as a constructor of big innings as he has never been given the top team chance the others have.
A Point to Prove, Robin Uthappa: Is capable of more than he has shown recently. He also has the advantage of 50 overs to bat. He should be capable of influential innings.
Enjoy the tournament.
© ESPN EMEA Ltd.
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