South Africa v New Zealand, Champions Trophy, Group B, Centurion September 23, 2009

McCullum, Guptill should switch batting spots - Crowe

Cricinfo staff

Martin Crowe has called for changes in New Zealand's batting order in their first Champions Trophy fixture against hosts South Africa on Thursday. Crowe suggested Brendon McCullum bat down the order given his poor form, and Martin Guptill replace him as opener alongside Jesse Ryder.

McCullum has had a disappointing 2009, averaging 24.46 in 16 ODIs. He averaged 8.50 in the recent Compaq Cup in Sri Lanka and managed 33 runs in the two warm-up games ahead of this tournament. Guptill, on the other hand, tops the run-scoring charts for New Zealand this year with 473 at 47.30, and notched up scores of 63 and 78 in the warm-ups.

"I'd love to see Brendon McCullum drop down to number six or seven and Guptill come up and join Jesse Ryder," Crowe told. "I think those guys are in reasonable form and we know that McCullum isn't.

"With McCullum coming down the order, if he's got a target in his sight it will help his focus. He struggles to set up innings and he has done for a while now.

"I'd also bring (Neil) Broom, who has shown some form in the warm-up games, up to four or five to join (Grant) Elliott, and (Ross) Taylor would go into number three, where I think he could do some real damage in the first few overs."

New Zealand are currently placed at No.7 in the ODI rankings, and have been below par this year, losing eight games and winning five. They are up against South Africa, who'll be keen to bounce back after a comprehensive defeat to Sri Lanka in the tournament opener.

Crowe felt New Zealand stood a chance of making it to the final four. "The New Zealand side on paper is a good side," he said. "We win a game and all of a sudden you jump up a couple of places (in the rankings).

"They are capable of doing that but just recently their form hasn't been good. Let's hope there is a turn around.

"If you win one game you're pretty well sure of making the semis. That's what New Zealand have got to do.

"They've got to try and take on South Africa, who I think fancied themselves going into the tournament but got a bit of a wake-up (call against Sri Lanka)."