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Former New Zealand batsman and captain

A mouth-watering Indian summer

New Zealand must buck the trend and prepare pitches that provide more for swing and seam bowlers

Martin Crowe

January 16, 2014

Comments: 115 | Text size: A | A

Tim Southee and Trent Boult have a great chance to target India's relatively inexperienced top six © Getty Images

High anticipation abounds as India prepare for their first tour to New Zealand since early 2009. Fascinatingly, they bring just three old faces for the Tests: MS Dhoni as captain, Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma. Therefore, the new-look India will be in full view, especially their lucent and luminous batting line-up.

It's for this reason alone that New Zealand should focus their preparation on exposing a whole line-up that has never before batted in these conditions. First of all, the home side must aim for a series win. While I am not big on unrealistic expectations, I believe that in home conditions all teams must set that goal. These days, to not win at home, whoever you are, is a missed opportunity.

To start with, New Zealand will gain good ground in the rankings if they can achieve this goal. Recently, against West Indies, they showed excellent consistency in their fast bowling stocks, a growing strength. It is this factor, against a resplendent yet unacquainted Indian batting line-up, that should give them a fierce focus.

Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner (or Adam Milne as back-up) are the men to target India's top six. They are confident, fit and work well together. Most importantly they can produce a significant amount of swing to trouble any top player early in his innings.

Importantly, the pitches should be green and hold moisture. This environment has been missing recently. Hadlee and Co, from the glorious past, didn't bowl on featherbeds; they gained assistance off the seam as well as through the air. With respect to an Indian attack that is ageing a little with Zaheer back in, local groundsmen should be watering freely, just as the ones in India remove life from their pitches.

An example of this, which went a little too far, was the India tour here back in 2002-03. Then, results came quickly for the home team, although it happened so fast that a contest never emerged, as India threw in the towel early.

In the last year or so, the pitches have been too batsman-friendly, and so there must be a natural adjustment to provide more for the swing and seam bowlers. If it does, the Indian line-up will be tested as much as they were in South Africa last month, but in different ways. On that score, they coped well against real pace and bounce, despite losing the series to a classy No. 1 ranked team. Their confidence of adjusting to foreign conditions will be high, given their showing overall. In New Zealand, their ability to adjust will need to keep evolving.

India will start the tour with one-day matches, and in those games the pitches will be fabulously lame for bowlers. Runs will flow like a raging river. New Zealand, therefore, must protect Southee, Boult and Wagner from a limited-overs beating and prepare them appropriately for the two Test matches.

 
 
If better footwork isn't shown by Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford, their places will become open to scrutiny, if they are not under the cosh already
 

Instead, in the ODIs, NZ should focus on playing the four Ms: McClenaghan, Milne, Mills and McCullum. Wagner, in particular, needs to rock up to the Tests firing on all cylinders. His pace and aggression need to be at a high octane. If not, Milne, as the country's fastest bowler, may well be unleashed. Added to that will be the growing all-round abilities of Corey Anderson, as the fourth seamer, or even fifth.

The toughest question will be how Ish Sodhi, the young legspinner, is used. If pitches are green, Sodhi may become redundant; if they aren't, he will be exposed anyway, given India's glory against any spin. It would appear greedy, but adding Milne in as the fourth bowler and second right-armer, instead of Sodhi, wouldn't be that ludicrous, particularly if the pitches are indeed hypersonic and frolicsome. It is a shame that Daniel Vettori has seemingly finished his Test career, as his experience of keeping an end tight would have been ideal in this vital series. Sodhi, though, is a great lad, with a handy blade, and he will learn immensely being in the mix.

Of course, the Indian bowlers shouldn't be discounted by any stretch. Zaheer is one of the finest to ever open the bowling for India and his experience will be invaluable. He will know he can exploit the New Zealand openers, who are showing a distinct lack of proper foot movement at times. Frankly, if there isn't better footwork shown by Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford, their places will become open to scrutiny - if they are not under the cosh already. I suspect the status quo will stay for this series, but Fulton at this stage of his career needs to keep posting contributions if he is to bat long into the year. Rutherford is a precocious talent, and he is worth guiding through this second-year phase of his promising Test career.

The mouth waters when you line up Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli against Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor. Both Pujara and Kohli have had remarkable run sprees recently, as has Taylor, while Williamson will be looking to kick on after getting decent starts. He has shown growth and progress in the pivotal No. 3 spot, and this tour will be a good challenge for his mental strength. The only critique I would offer is for him to show the opposition, via his body language, that he will not be denied and that he will rise to any occasion, offensively or defensively. I like everything else about his development and overall ability.

Crucial runs need to come from Brendon McCullum, Anderson and BJ Watling, as is always the case. Time and time again we see sides falling short when the lower order don't contribute. Dhoni and R Ashwin do it admirably for India, and Ajinkya Rahane has already shown his stickability at No. 6 and desire to bat with the tail. Crucial runs (as I indicated in my last article, about the Ashes) are the cornerstone from which bowlers can properly present their case.

The teams' tactics are in good hands with their respective skippers. The fielding unit is another vital cog, and the team that makes an impact first could well be the one that gets the jump. New Zealand have no excuse in this area, it's just a matter of deeper intent.

India are ranked No. 2 and New Zealand No. 8, but don't let that fool anyone. This series, if played on energetic pitches, where results are found in approximately four days, could well be as memorable as any we have seen in this part of the world for a while.

Martin Crowe, one of the leading batsmen of the late '80s, played 77 Tests for New Zealand

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Posted by   on (January 20, 2014, 14:19 GMT)

India will have a really tough time out there...thats for sure...any Indian batsman who fares well in this test series should be the lynchpin of Indian batting for a long time without doubt...

Posted by   on (January 18, 2014, 14:17 GMT)

The Hamilton test match of India's 2002-3 trip to New Zealand is evident that this theory doing the rounds via ex-New Zealand internationals now plying their trade in the media that India are vulnerable to an all-seamer assault is almost sheer folly. India were bowled out for 99 in the first innings of this match BUT New Zealand were bowled out for 94 in their 1st innings of this match. New Zealand lost 6 wickets before reaching the 4th innings 160 target set them by an Indian side that applied themselves slightly better 2nd time around. Zaheer Khan claimed 5-29 in New Zealand's 94 all out innings and didn't show up for the 2nd innings leaving it to the ineffective-on-pacy-pitches Harbhajan Singh & the less consistent Ashish Nehra(takes a 6-for in a 1-dayer against England but then gets butchered in a world cup final for more than 60 against Australia) to try and level this test series.The belief that India can be undone by seam bowling alone has historical evidence of being wrong.

Posted by android_user on (January 18, 2014, 4:39 GMT)

Indians are slow starters and I guess we will get to see real form only at the end of the one dayers and the beginning of the tests...

Posted by android_user on (January 18, 2014, 2:23 GMT)

Will be a test of Dhoni's captaincy as well. On sub continent wickets he is a master of getting the best out of his non regular slow bowlers Raina, Rohit and Yuvraj. Will be interesting to see how he goes about here.

Posted by fguy on (January 17, 2014, 20:54 GMT)

@Greatest_Game at least we have our home grown pacers. we dont have to import spinners who arent picked by their own countries.

"Cricket is not the French open: it is not played on clay!!! Cricket is like Wimbledon: it is played on grass"

really?! cricket pitches, even the greenest of them, even the grazing fields that some of yours are, have much higher clay content than grass

Posted by AVIRAL_Ashok on (January 17, 2014, 20:39 GMT)

@greatestgame @shanebond well both of urs cmnts doesnt matter here. one says dey lost to BDbcoz dey hd no taylor etc etc. We can say we lost to SA bcoz we hd no ST RD SG Laxman etc. so stop giving excuses. Eng too can say dey had no trott or swann. performance matters not excuses. NZ r 8th ranked bcoz dey DESERVE it.how come u compare India to NZ.??? @greatestgame says that Indian pitches are dead . well they r d same pitches where we practised frm our childhood n went all arnd d wrld to win d matches. And where u come to lose. Name a single match u have put performance agnst Ind SA Aus n Eng????? I dnt remember dat. do u???

Posted by RapidCommentsPlz on (January 17, 2014, 20:38 GMT)

let NZ post 400 total. Indians will go down in d history as d only nation to chase a medicore score wid rohit scoring another 200 n NZ sliping to(i dnt knw how far) d far bottom. ha ha. gud luck Nz.

Posted by   on (January 17, 2014, 19:35 GMT)

Yes, I am eagerly waiting for this contest. NZ are a decent side at home and have a very good pace attack with the likes of Boult and Southee. India were struggling outside of India for a while but their recent performance in SA was impressive and so they can have high hopes for this series. Pujara and Kohli played brilliantly while Rahane did reasonably well, too. Shami might find NZ conditions very suitable for his bowling so he is another man to watch out for. All in all, it should be a close series and I hope to see a lot of exiting cricket!

Posted by Nampally on (January 17, 2014, 19:29 GMT)

@A.J.Welsh: You say Ross Taylor is ranked above any other batsman at #3! Pujara bats @#3 in Tests & his average of >66 after 20 matches, is easily #1 in the World Test Cricket today. FYI, Ross Taylor averages about 45 in Tests from 52 tests. Both are good batsmen & I saw Taylor playing great innings in the IPL too. Most of the current NZ players have played IPL & are known to the Indian players. Boult is a young fast bowler who tore the OZ batting a couple of year back. He sure will be handful. Southee bowled well in test matches in India. It will be a tough & closely fought series. But judging from the past NZ batting was always a bit "iffy" & relied heavily on 3 or 4 guys. Indian batting albeit it failed in SA ODI series, has 2 of the strongest ODI finishers in Raina & Dhoni apart from their top 4. If it gets going, 300 will be the target total. Indian bowling is unreliable but guys like Raina & Jadeja can bowl some tidy overs, even if seamers fail. Good Luck to both the Teams!

Posted by warneneverchuck on (January 17, 2014, 18:17 GMT)

Last time NZ toured SL amd they levelled a series. Having said thay they performed badly in BDbcoz Sl is medicore wherever they play. India vs NZ in Nz wil be a tough series thouhh

Posted by android_user on (January 17, 2014, 17:31 GMT)

some bizarre comments doing the rounds out here! why are people calling Indian pitches dead?!! as an international professional each player prides on performing well at different venues ... I bet pujara will value his 153 at the wanderers more than his two double hundreds and steyn will flaunt his incredible record in the subcontinent rather than his exploits at home... and please don't bring in unnecessary comments about grand slams... we all know that greats like federer and nadal have won multiple grand slams on all surfaces but that doesn't make any grand slam title inferior in any way... if players are capable enough to dominate the world they l score on raging turners and on green tops... if they fail in either of the 2 they don't have any right to criticize the other..

Posted by hnlns on (January 17, 2014, 17:24 GMT)

As an Indian supporter, I wish the pitches would be seamer friendly because that is when Indian team performs at its best, as we have seen a few times in South Africa, the most recent one at Johannesburg. On dead pitches, India will not be able to take 20 wickets, so a drawn series against NZ will be a disappointment to the no.2 ranked team. I hope for at least one test being played on a rank green top, if not both. Indian seamers would be more than a handful on such tracks.

Posted by DhairyBoghani on (January 17, 2014, 17:14 GMT)

My playing eleven (for ODI) is Poojara,Rohit,Kohli,Rhane,Binny,Dhoni,Jadeja,Rishi,Aswin,Bhuvneswar,Shami.

so in this team first four with can build innings & save wickets in startings & make 150-175 in first 35 overs. with wickets in hand and stroke playing or hard hitting ability in next four will double score in last 15 overs. no.9 & 10 can also bat if needed.

We will have two attacking frontline fasters (Bhuvi & Shami). We can have two other fasters(Binny & Rishi) who can provide tight lines in middle & last overs. two spinners (Jaddu & Aswin) to work with & two part timers (Kohli & Rohit) who can bowl 2/3 overs if needed.

This team has also some great fielders in Kohli,Jadeja,Rahane & slip catchers in Aswin & Rohit with close in fielder in Poojara.

Who can beat this team? Have you any batter option?

Posted by Leggie on (January 17, 2014, 17:08 GMT)

@Greatest_Game: I don't know why you think Indian wickets are dead. Its far from reality. The pitches may not have steep bounce but there several wonderful pitches that offer lots of pace & carry - some examples being Mohali, Chennai and Mumbai.Given that it's a tropical country, the sun does beat hard and the abrasive nature of pitches provide lots of assistance to the spinners & reverse swing alike. If you're not from the sub-continent and you're stereotyping Indian wickets to say the ones from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh or the UAE, then its absolutely incorrect. Indian wickets have lot more bounce & carry than the countries mentioned. The bounce and carry may be as much as say London Oval or Adelaide Oval - especially for Test matches. You really need to watch closely & figure it out. Unfortunately there are no statistics to back this!

Posted by wapuser on (January 17, 2014, 15:47 GMT)

@Greatest_game: Indian pitches are dead? Take your non-sense for your blog. Indian pitches offer spin, batsmen score runs and good fast bowlers find reverse swing and take wickets. It is not like the graze field of SA where mediocre trundlers like Philander takes wickets. Are you trying to give excuse for inevitable SA whitewash when they visit India next time?

Posted by Greatest_Game on (January 17, 2014, 15:24 GMT)

@ Puneet Mahajan wrote " If Cricket was played only on grass, we would use rakes instead of bats..eh?"

Rakes are used for leaves and stones, to get the junk off the grass. They are used by the groundsmen, not the players.

Mind you, rakes are also used for sand. I guess they are used on Indian pitches then, right?

And yes, cricket is only played on grass. That stuff they play on sand is not really cricket, is it? Might as well use a tennis ball for all it is worth.

Posted by android_user on (January 17, 2014, 14:56 GMT)

@Puneet Mahajan. NZ are mediocre? Excuse me, we surrendered in B'desh but only in Odi's. If you look closely, we didn't have Kane, Ryder, Guptill, Mccullum (last odi). But not taking anything away from Banglas, they played well. Cricket was invented in England hence swing and seam, bounce are considered superior. If you look back, you'll see spinners were used as bowlers to manage workload of fast men. But it's good we have subcontinent. Mind you, Sydney, Adelaide, Hamilton, Carribean also support spin but the seaming tracks are nowhere to be seen in India. Pak had them and Sri lanka has Pallekele and P Sara Oval. What have India done to support fast bowling so we should support there spinners. I remember last time we toured India, boult, southee and bracewell did splendid job. It's rather more of a misconception on your part that spinners can't perform well outside subcontinent. Vettori and Warne operated whole career of their in NZ and Australia, England and south Africa.

Posted by   on (January 17, 2014, 14:55 GMT)

@Greatest_Game If Cricket was played only on grass, we would use rakes instead of bats..eh?

Posted by   on (January 17, 2014, 14:26 GMT)

@Greatest Game Circket is not like Wimbledon or French Open, it is a grand slam where you need to prove expertise and adaptability on different surfaces. If the Indians can't bat on green tops and win against a mediocre side like NZ, they do not deserve to be number 2 in rankings. And if this "talented" NZ is such, it would not have shamelessly surrendered to Bangladesh on subcontinent pitches. Subcontinent teams can't bat on green tops and the rest of the world can't bat on subcontinent pitches- unless you are the all conquering WI team of 80s or the Aussie Invincibles of the 90s.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (January 17, 2014, 14:00 GMT)

@ Ravi Chandra Mouli says he was "just just calling out the general double standards that are in place while evaluating subcontinental pitches."

Double standards indeed. Indian pitches are roundly proclaimed by Indians to be sporting surfaces, but are really dead, flat and rank, having nothing sporting about them, offering no fair match between bat and ball, & disadvantaging pace bowlers to the extent that India have none. Yet, as soon as India venture abroad a loud chorus erupts, & fair, decent, sporting cricket pitches are suddenly criticized as green tops, viscous green mambas especially prepared to disadvantage the Indian players who are of course clueless when batting on grass

Cricket is not the French open: it is not played on clay!!! Cricket is like Wimbledon: it is played on grass. If cricket was supposed to be played in sand, we'd use spades instead of bats.

India should buy a few tons of grass seed, plant it, & join the rest of the cricket world. Its a pitch, not a beach!

Posted by jb633 on (January 17, 2014, 13:58 GMT)

Good article and I am glad to hear someone at lease try and address the issue of the dreadful pitches that NZ have produced in the last 5 years. New Zeland are an emerging side and have an excellent pace attack. Trent Boult is a top bowler and could be a real handful. India have improved massively in the last couple of years so I still expect them to come out victorious in this series and latterly against England later in the year. New Zeland need to move on from Fulton as he is technically deficient and any seamer worth his salt would have about 3 cast iron ways of getting him out. Rutherford is talented but needs to work on his shot selection and reading of match situations. NZ's biggest problem is the lack of runs coming from McCullum. Whether he is captain or not if you don't contribute for any length of time you should be dropped.

Posted by SamRoy on (January 17, 2014, 12:30 GMT)

Couple of things with this article are a bit biased. Didn't expect that from Martin Crowe as I thought he was close to the best cricket writer around. In 2002-03 when India visited NZ the pitches were terrible. Tendulkar said they were the worst test pitches he has played test cricket in a 2008 interview and he has played a lot more than Martin Crowe himself. It was not that the pitches were grassy (no problem with grassy pitches); the pitches were very soft because of moisture and Tendulkar said his boot spikes were going 2 inches inside. It offered way too much up and down bounce. Swing and seam can be combatted but uneven bounce is difficult to combat. In such situations batting becomes a lottery. And NZ won that series not because they had the best bowler in Shane Bond (Tuffey took most wickets) but because their lower order (No. 7 onwards) batsman were better than India's lower order batsman. Hope we get grassy pitches but not pitches with uneven bounce on first day of the test.

Posted by   on (January 17, 2014, 10:17 GMT)

In tests, India should play both Jadeja and Ashwin+3 pacers. Rohit, at least on away tests, is still a liability, and we need 5 bowlers to take wickets and keep our pacers fresh. Since we don't have a pace bowling all rounder, we have no option but to try Ashwin in this slot. Jadeja is the sole specialist spinner. The pacers for the first test should be Zaheer, Shami and Bhubi. Leaving Bhubi out on a swing bowlers paradise like NZ shall be a crime.

Posted by   on (January 17, 2014, 10:15 GMT)

Fantastic article, really looking forward to this series!

Posted by ADARSH100 on (January 17, 2014, 9:27 GMT)

I dint understand why Crowe said NZ should go with 4 Ms preserving Southee,Boult and Wagner. Is that an excuse when NZ lose saying that it was not playing in full strength squad. They should play with full strength squad. World Cup is nearing and they got the chance of playing against World No.1 in the venues of world cup. So NZ must certainly go with full strength playing Xi in both ODIs and Tests.

Posted by RMCroos on (January 17, 2014, 9:07 GMT)

whole cricket world miss the best new zealand cricketers what a team they had in the past .......a great cricket nation fan from srilanka

Posted by warneneverchuck on (January 17, 2014, 7:28 GMT)

No doubt india has best young players in pujara kohli and rahane who performed very well in SA agaist SA I believe NZ will give tough fight to indians in seaming condition. If it was against any other team from subcontinent NZ would have easily won the test series

Posted by   on (January 17, 2014, 6:49 GMT)

Man, what an article!!. Now, I want to really follow the series. Martin, you are not only one of my favorite player, now a sports writer too.

Posted by   on (January 17, 2014, 6:25 GMT)

Imagine the Kiwis were touring India. Imagine an ex India cricketer saying something like this. Imagine the brouhaha that would ensue. Just saying.Not trying to suggest they should prepare wickets that help spinners, but just calling out the general double standards that are in place while evaluating subcontinental pitches.

Posted by CurrentPresident on (January 17, 2014, 5:29 GMT)

This series will really be New Zealand bowlers against the Indians. I expect the NZ tailend batting to be the difference between the two teams.They will help NZ put up good enough scores to put pressure on India.

I expect the Indian batsmen other than Pujara (and Kohli to some extent), to struggle against the swing bowling and the conditions. Southee looks likely to have an important contribution.

Result prediction: 1-0 in favor of NZ in the tests.

Posted by Leggie on (January 17, 2014, 5:15 GMT)

Very well written article with very balanced views - except for the mention <<< local groundsmen should be watering freely, just as the ones in India remove life from their pitches >>>

Well, why should a pitch be considered to have "life" only if it has pace and bounce? Pitches in India have enough in them to provide assistance to spinners. Is this also not part of life ;-) ?

Posted by sandy_bangalore on (January 17, 2014, 4:21 GMT)

NZ are an excellent side. This Indian team has a real tough fight on their hands

Posted by   on (January 17, 2014, 4:18 GMT)

The Indian players on this tour will learn a lot about green pitches; cant wait to see which Indian bowler dominates the most...! NZ are in good form some could say and are going to go hard at India after drawing the WI ODI series.

Posted by OE-Chores on (January 17, 2014, 3:26 GMT)

Cpt. Meanster. Clearly you have an Indian bias here, but I would like to point out the hypocrisy in your statement; "Martin Crowe says that NZ must prepare green tracks. I ask him this: HOW will NZ LEARN to play on slow/low tracks, if they play only on green tracks ? When they come to India, they will be owned. If NZ cricket is to really improve, they need to play on a variety of tracks."

Turn this logic around, and ask yourself HOW will India LEARN to play on green tracks, if they play only on low/slow tracks when at home?

As India do when they are at home, we are simply looking to prepare tracks that will improve New Zealand's chances. We would never come to India expecting green tracks on the proviso that India can LEARN (?) how to play on a wide range of tracks... That would be unbelievably patronising...

The fact is, we have a better pace attack than you (look at the numbers) and our batsmen grow up playing on green wickets, so their techniques are more suited to it.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (January 17, 2014, 3:22 GMT)

@ Capt.Meanster wrote " Man to man, India have the best run scorers. NZ perhaps have only 2 - McCullum and Taylor."

India have 3 batsmen - Pujara, Rahane, Kohli. On seaming tracks they are not too good anyway - see ODI series in SA. India have 1 bowler - NZ have a battery of quicks. And, Jesse Ryder is back. He can't wait to face Ishant the Terrible & Zak "Ghengis" Khan.

@ sarangsrk wrote "Why don't NZC ask the groundsmen to leave the pitches without any grass cut? Then you could play anywhere on the ground like in SA ODI series. This might help NZ bowlers to get this young but ambitious Indian batting lineup out quickly."

I think that you have confused the words 'ambitious' and 'incompetent.' The latter makes perfect sense inn your sentence.

Posted by android_user on (January 17, 2014, 3:19 GMT)

@Shrikar I see. Ross Taylor=Average 47+ with centuries against Aussie, Poms, Indians, pretty good record against saffas and under all circumstances. Scored runs in India, England, Australia against top attacks. Pujara's good, 2 matches outside India, eh? And he has a luxury of leaving his team early and he knows his team can afford that. Kohli and co. to come. But Ross? If he's out, apart from williamson and maybe watling whole team collapses like pack of cards. Bark all you want mate, we'll talk later.

Posted by Johnny_129 on (January 17, 2014, 2:47 GMT)

I feel, in a way, that the current young Indian batsman can adjust to overseas conditions quicker than the earlier generation (SRT, Gavaskar and Dravid being exceptions amongst a few others). Reason being, more A tours overseas - when batsman are exposed to foreign conditions when still young, they tend to cope better or adjust quicker when faced with the same conditions later. If India is brave and make the big and bold decisions with regards its bowling then they will come away with the win. It is good that Zak is on the tour. However, on this tour he should not play - he should serve as mentor/ coach for the younger lot. Ishant is far too inconsistent as a bowler - He may get 2 or 3 gets in a burst but then goes back to looking innocuous. Three pace bowlers should be selected from Shami/ Yadav/ Aaron/ Pandey/ BK. Both Jadeja & Ashwin should play instead of Rohit, giving India 5 frontline bowlers. Rohit may go on to become a great batsman in the future but right now...?

Posted by satchander on (January 17, 2014, 2:43 GMT)

I want green tracks to be produced for this series. The youngsters from India will never get a chance to test their batting skills on such green tracks against international lineups. That is the best thing about international cricket. You get to play in such different conditions across the world. I would really want the Indian young batsmen to get a feel of playing on swinging and seaming wickets. And I am sure if they can show the same resolve that they showed for most of the test series in SA, they can definitely come with tremendous learning after this trip. The results are immaterial as long as I see this indian team fight out the alien conditions.

Posted by   on (January 17, 2014, 2:18 GMT)

Test team.....for me McGlenahan and Milne must play with Boult and Southee to put the wind up the Indians on greener pitches. Add allrounders Anderson,Ryder and Williamson and that's a hell of a bowling line up. Rutherford,B McCullum,Taylor and Watling give you a very good balanced 11. Sodhi ...? maybe not this time. A pounding from India on non spinner friendly pitches he doesn't need.

Posted by zn264 on (January 17, 2014, 1:39 GMT)

Time to put all the talk to one side as this New Zealand team really needs to stand up! We've shown glimpses of how strong we can be against the Windies without enough consistancy, and now we're up against the big boys. Time to start climbing those rankings and get cricket back on top as New Zealand's favourite summer event!

Posted by Murupara_madness on (January 17, 2014, 1:22 GMT)

@ capt meanster - you're logic is flawed, when comparing the two sides NZ strength lies in their seam attack while India lies in their top order. Why not produce conditions that will favor our strength as opposed to the opposition? Also, I know you are Indian (and therefore think the cricketing world evolves around you) but you might be suprised to note that it is not our primary objective of the summer to LEARN how to play on Indian style tracks, it is to win - similarly (as results would seem to confirm) this Indian team have little intrest in working out foreign conditions.

Posted by android_user on (January 17, 2014, 1:17 GMT)

If NZ are going to play Adam Milne then there is no point in having green tops. He has air speed to beat batsman. If there is good backup to Milne then NZ has better chance on sporting tracks. Green tops are good if Tuffey, Andre Adams, Oram comprise the attack like in 2002 bowling at a gentle 125 Kph.

Posted by SameOld on (January 17, 2014, 0:56 GMT)

It's a tough call, but I think what we'll see is good, fair wickets. A little bit for everyone, as they say.

India should win the ODIs easily. But then, so should have South Africa and England against NZ. I Hope Ryder racks up tons, just to see what happens to the Test side if he does.

The Tests, I think, come down to Southee and Boult. If they come out, do their thing, and have a little luck early on, things could get very interesting. Pujara and Kohli can't hurt us if they are both back in the shed by lunch. The thing is, I back Tim and Trent to do it maybe two out of four attempts, even without help from the groundsmen, which puts NZ right in the match. I think Baz and co. may be thinking along similar lines. A bit for the quicks early, hopefully some bounce throughout, but certainly not minefields. As it should be.

All that said, I'd like to acknowledge the possibility that perhaps Martin Crowe knows more about cricket in NZ than myself.

Posted by   on (January 17, 2014, 0:31 GMT)

@Nampally - Ross Taylor is ranked higher than any Indian batsmen in test matches at No.3. Ashwin is handy in the bowling ranks at no.7 while Trent Boult has just entered the top 10. I expect the test matches to be a good contest. This new Indian batting lineup is sure to be tested if the ball swings and seams around. NZ as always lack consistency in terms of their batting - they will need put some serious scores on the board to be competitive..the Indian batting lineup is dangerous if they get going. So it comes down to how NZ bat in my view. If they score good runs India will be in for a tough contest against the likes of Southee and Boult. Another top article Martin, keep up the good work :)

Posted by espncricinfomobile on (January 16, 2014, 22:47 GMT)

Fulton can't be selected if Ryder plays.

Posted by 22many on (January 16, 2014, 21:17 GMT)

Capt.Meanster....isn't it sad that we keep saying our top 2 batsman includes someone with a test average of 30...when are we going to accept someone with an average like that will never win you a test.......fact is NZ have only one world class batsman and india have several . To win, we are going to rely heavily on our bowlers to knock them over for very few and hope some of our batsman get amongst some runs. Odds are not good but we live in hope.

Posted by   on (January 16, 2014, 21:10 GMT)

Draw games? Holy - prepare green tracks, India will expect this. I wonder if playing Sodhi is good? Shane Warne has always said if there's something for the seamers, the spinners will get some juice as well.

I am interested to see how Pujara goes. I have a feeling this guy will be the next Indian great.

Posted by cardassian on (January 16, 2014, 20:31 GMT)

@nampally no Indian bowler is top 5 in either odi's or tests. As for batsmen Ross Taylor is number 3 in test rankings. Next time you should check rankings before posting about them.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (January 16, 2014, 19:51 GMT)

If NZ prepare green grass lands, they will be in for a shock. It's better to prepare sporting tracks where average teams like NZ have every chance to at least draw games. If they prepare anything extreme, their brittle, fragile batting line up will be found out by India. Let's face it, India have the BETTER batting. Man to man, India have the best run scorers. NZ perhaps have only 2 - McCullum and Taylor. So I can't see how NZ are even going to compete in this series. They might draw 1 game and win 1 ODI, but the series is India's for the taking. Martin Crowe says that NZ must prepare green tracks. I ask him this: HOW will NZ LEARN to play on slow/low tracks, if they play only on green tracks ? When they come to India, they will be owned. If NZ cricket is to really improve, they need to play on a variety of tracks. Since this is late summer in NZ, expect the pitches to be good batting ones with even bounce. India would have learned a lot from SA, so expect them to be positive.

Posted by   on (January 16, 2014, 19:45 GMT)

Agree that this is Fulton's last crack, he has done admirably but really gets bogged down through his limited array of shots (at least at this level). Would love to see Ryder open up, interestingly, since his international return Ryder has been out caught all 6 times. On 5 of those occasions, Ryder was caught in the outfield (only once was it to the keeper or slips). Opening in a test means those catches in the outfield are unlikely to be there which could really free Ryder up to play a Shewag type role. Of course he'll nick off and get out LBW every now and again - but when it comes off it would be great to watch.

Posted by Joll on (January 16, 2014, 19:16 GMT)

Fundamentally, the problem with the NZ team is its batting, not its bowling. I can see the NZ bowlers dismissing India for under 300, but I can't see our batsmen making more than 300, or not often enough to trouble India.

I am not a great fan of Kane Williamson. I think he is an okay batsman, but would not go much beyond that. Taylor apart, the NZ batting line-up is fickle. In this regard, India should have a distinct advantage. But such advantage could be knocked back by what I see as good quality swing bowling from NZ. No matter who you are, no batsman is comfortable against accurate late swing. And Southee and Boult have proved themselves adept at producing late swing.

Posted by Venkat_Gowrishankar on (January 16, 2014, 18:11 GMT)

@Greatest_Game: i am not a big fan of M Vijay personally( though many might that think that I am supporting him due to my regional allegiances ) , but just writing him off is nonsense. Everybody quoted that "The SA tour wuold end M Vijay's career' ", he proved all of them wrong, outperformed Dhawan, "god Gifted" Rohit Sharma and Dhoni. To me, I personally laud his attitude to fight it out and moreover he seems to be a nice humble chap off the field too, unlike Dhawan , Kholi or Sharma.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (January 16, 2014, 17:39 GMT)

@ GVRJPR writes " I agree with home advantage but it shouldn't be so much that when the home team goes away it becomes a disadvantage."

But that is EXACTLY India's problem. India's players are so used to dead, flat tracks and rank turner's they fail wherever else they go. The fact that they fail at home too - like the "revenge" series against Eng - shows how India's pitches have so weakened their players they can now easily be beaten at home, at their own game. Bad pitches make bad players.

NZ should prepare seaming green tops, just like India would prepare rank turners for them. Only Pujara, Kohli and Rahane will put up a defense. A few short balls will take care of Dhawan, Vijay will manage 20 or so after 2 sessions, for Nohit just bowl quick, straight at the wickets, and he is done, Dhoni never lasts and the tail runs away.

Then, feast on the ordinary bowling.

Posted by vrms on (January 16, 2014, 17:13 GMT)

If any one expects that a No:2 side will thrash a No:8 side in this series they will be proven terribly wrong. India as always been when abroad, will rise up (contrary to their reputations) and will make a fight of it and play like a No:7 side (is there a No:9 ranking?) which will make the series very interesting and nail-biting, not even considering the NZ's superior bowling attack at home. India's generosity abroad, is well-known and they will offer NZ team all opportunities to rise up in rankings and reputations which will auger well for world cricket. Would n't anyone like to watch the battle of 7s and 8's rather than 2s and 8s?

Posted by Nampally on (January 16, 2014, 17:12 GMT)

A good summary of the NZ side, Martin. NZ will rely mainly on their 4 seamers- Southee, Wagner, Boult & Mills. But India is not that far behind with their 3 seamers- likely Shami, Aaron, Kumar/Ishant. + 2 spinners- Ashwin & Jadeja. NZ batting bank on McCullum, Ryder, Taylor & Williamson. India for the Tests has Dhawan, Vijay, Kohli, Pujara, Rahane & Dhoni as top 6 while in ODI's Rohit Sharma & Raina replace Vijay & Pujara. Indian batting has a better performance record in both Tests & ODI's with Kohli & Pujara ranked amongst the Top 5 in batting averages in ODI & Tests resptly. Similarly, in bowling both jadeja & Ashwin are amongst top 5 spinners in ODI & Tests resptly.NZ does not have any amongst the top 5 ranking in either boeling or batting.So India has superior performance record. India is ranked #1 in ODI & #2 in Tests. A top ranked team finds a way to perform well even on the NZ pitches - Can India live up to its ranking ? That question will be answered by India on this Tour!

Posted by Srini_Indian on (January 16, 2014, 17:06 GMT)

India would welcome the green tracks. I always believe to pose problems for India in overseas conditions, prepare a good surface and crush our clueless bowlers, then put pressure on our batting. If there is slightest of help in the surface, Indian bowlers will expose any line up. That happened in Joburg 1st innings. Its not that NZ batsmen are technically perfect. India will bowl NZ out cheaply and our batsmen will definitely cope well. NZ has a good bowling line up but there is no express to push our batsmen back. The pace of NZ pitches don't allow that anyway. All our batsmen have to do is get onto the front foot and have a good judgement of playing or leaving which they showed in SA they can do well.

Posted by   on (January 16, 2014, 15:43 GMT)

I think the decks will be well grassed but not green. Grass encourages bounce and carry, it also negates spin in some cases. Playing on greentops creates a lottery of the toss and means anybody can take wickets.

Playing on dry well grassed decks that aren't that green encourage good seamers while keeping the batsman on their toes. In my opinion the decks India played on in England last time around had that balance, possibly excluding Trent Bridge early on. If NZ have the better seam attack then they will be more likely to prevail in those conditions.

Posted by soumyas on (January 16, 2014, 15:36 GMT)

It is indeed a challenging contest, but Newzealand is not considered as serious rivals as pakistan, australia by Indians, Even if Indians loose it doesn't hurt us much. Everyone here has soft corner about New Zealand. Don't know real reason. Lot of people use this opportunity for touring beautiful this country.

Posted by venkatesh018 on (January 16, 2014, 15:33 GMT)

Hope Martin Crowe's wishes regarding the pitches bears fruit. If there is some juice left on them, it will be a great contest worth looking forward despite the gulf in the rankings of the two sides.

Posted by   on (January 16, 2014, 15:26 GMT)

It seems NZ is playing international cricket non-stop! Can't South Africa borrow a few NZ board officials to help them arrange a few tours and at least three tests in every series. I mean this India/NZ series must have been arranged at short notice. Obviously NZ knows how to deal with BCCI.

Posted by   on (January 16, 2014, 15:22 GMT)

I like reading the comments .... people cursing each other

Posted by shane-oh on (January 16, 2014, 14:29 GMT)

@flickspin - I see...that makes a lot of sense, really, and definitely seems like a situation that would benefit everyone.

Top 22 players? Assuming we include our current internationals, I think it would look something like:

Brendon McCullum Ross Taylor Kane Williamson Martin Guptill Jesse Ryder BJ Watling Hamish Rutherford Doug Bracewell Corey Anderson James Neesham Tim Southee Kyle Mills Trent Boult Neil Wagner Mitchell McClenaghan Adam Milne Daniel Vettori Ish Sodhi Jeet Raval Nathan McCullum Daryl Mitchell Craig Cachopa

That's probably pretty close - a bit of tweaking possible. Allowing for 13-14 players per squad, there are a few others who should probably be included like Colin Munro, Luke Ronchi, Michael Bracewell, Colin de Grandhomme. I like the idea of giving our young promising FC players as much FC exposure as possible, which is why I'd like to see more county contracts for some of them.

Posted by   on (January 16, 2014, 13:42 GMT)

I think pitches must b sporting. And all the international players should cope up under all conditions. this tour will b really test some of the indian batsmen. hope they come out triumps.

Posted by flickspin on (January 16, 2014, 13:42 GMT)

shane oh

new zealand still would have 6 first class teams, the best 22 from all teams (auckland,wellington,northern districts, central districts,canterbury and otago) would play against australia.

for players who carnt make the elite 22 player that form north island and south islands continue as normal in the new zealand first class system.you could play games all around new zealand including central and northern districts and queenstown

the elite 22 players would improve thier standard by playing against australia, australia has 22 million people in 6 teams and new zealand has 4 million and 6 teams.

so 2 teams for new zealand would be about right

the exposer to green tops for australia would help australia, and exposer to hard bouncy pitches would help new zealand.

im not sure who new zealand top 22 players but i would love to see vittori,maccullum,guptill,southee,boult,ryder and so on

shane oh if you where to nominate the best 22 players in new zealand who would they be?

Posted by shane-oh on (January 16, 2014, 13:33 GMT)

@Shrikar_11 - Comparing Taylor to either of those two is a valid comparison, given Taylor's ongoing march up the rankings. Pesky facts huh.

NZ destroyed the West Indies. Did you check the results? Pesky facts huh.

I love that you are already making excuses for a first up loss in this series as well.

Posted by Shrikar_11 on (January 16, 2014, 13:21 GMT)

I think the most interesting part of this article is martin crowe's delusion that this is a contest of equals. New zealand are a team that scraped by the west indies and bangladesh, and while they may win the first ODI while India acclimatize, but I dont see NZ winning any more games. And comparing Ross Taylor to Pujara and/or Kohli may be the funniest joke ever made..

Posted by shane-oh on (January 16, 2014, 12:48 GMT)

@flickspin - that's an interesting concept, and some kind of integration is probably inevitable st some point. However, North Island and South Island teams are probably a bit too simplistic. I mean the North Island also has Central Districts and Northern Districts, rather than just Auckland and Wellington. We have 6 provincial areas that need to be satisfied, and we aren't in a position to risk losing a whole part of the country to the game. Your idea would also mean that NZ would only have 2 FC teams - not nearly enough of a player base to prepare for international cricket (it's tough enough with 6!). I think the T20 concept is more practical. 4 franchises in the BBL would probably be just about right, while still maintaining our own HRV Cup for those that aren't involved. Everybody wins - some broadcaster $ for NZ, a much bigger market for the BBL, and experience in (albeit slightly) different conditions for our top cricketers.

Posted by Cricketfan23 on (January 16, 2014, 12:43 GMT)

New Zealand were lucky in 2002-03 as they won the toss for both matches & bowled first which proved crucial. Still remember the 2nd test where India were bowled out for 99 & still ended up getting the 1st innings lead. Had India bowled first in both those matches, the result might well have been different.

Posted by mgr125128 on (January 16, 2014, 12:33 GMT)

Martin Crowe has underestimated or rather forgotten the swing/seam capabilities of Shami ,Bhuvi ,Ishwar and Binny. They may not be express pace but if there is grass on track...they become10 times more potent...Good they are not considered a threat.....The surprise factor from Indias side may prove decisive

Posted by fguy on (January 16, 2014, 12:15 GMT)

i hope the pitches are green. they'll only help india seamers who struggle on flat pitches but do well when there's something in them. msd better play bhuvi. if he does i feel bhuvi'll be the highest wicket taker of the series. & as for the 2002-3 series india did not "throw in the towel"; those very very slim margins of victory & it was down to luck of the toss. if toss had gone the other way then so would have the results. nz were not convincing victors.

Posted by flickspin on (January 16, 2014, 12:15 GMT)

i love the green tops in new zealand, just as i love 2 spinners and a handful of players around the bat in india.

new zealand without green tops is like the perth with no pace or bounce.

for this reason i would add 2 new zealand north island(auckland & wellington) & south island(canterbury & otago) teams into australian domestic comp, the comp would look like vic vs north island & nsw vs south island

this way australia play on new zealand green tops on a regular basis & new zealand play regulary on hard bouncy pitches along with the turners in sydney and adelaide,

the best 22 cricketers in new zealand vs the best 66 cricketers in australia.

the concept works in soccer,basketball,rugby league and uinion have domestic teams in australian sport

i think it would attract intrest in new zealand playing against australia.

i would give new zealand 4 teams in the australian big bash 20/20 league, the teams would be auckland,wellington,canterbury and otago

fans would love it

Posted by ramli on (January 16, 2014, 12:10 GMT)

Just prepare a good pitch and keep fingers crossing ... that is all can be done .. this idea of green tops, flat bellies or brown bottoms may give ideas only to spectators about dressing ... otherwise, it all boils down to how the players take it up ultimately ... good luck to both teams

Posted by Clan_McLachlan on (January 16, 2014, 11:19 GMT)

Sadly for Martin Crowe, NZC will no doubt prepare pitches that ensure that the games go five days. I wouldn't expect any greentops.

Posted by RDBX on (January 16, 2014, 11:03 GMT)

Well, good post by one of cricket's greats. I'm an Indian fan but I'd seriously love NZ to prepare real green tops for the tests and see how Indian bowlers do there. As far as batting is concerned, I think its pretty good, few may have failed in SA but they gonna come back in form before the tests, thanks to 5 ODIs. Its our quick bowling that really needs to click now and guys need to show that they can at least perform in helpful conditions. (Which is rare for them in India)

Posted by DJRNZ on (January 16, 2014, 10:42 GMT)

My money is on India of course but this NZ team really has the potential to cause them some grief if not cause an upset. Really hope Milne gets unleashed and I'd bring him in to the test team for Wagner. This series will be an absolute stunner if the Black Caps turn up and it could really create some careers if our more inexpereirncd players in particular play well.

Posted by Amit_13 on (January 16, 2014, 10:31 GMT)

The main contest will be between India's new bowlers working with ZK and NZ's new batsman in the ODIs. They haven't played each other at all. Its advantage NZ due to home conditions. In tests, contests may flip the other way between NZ bowlers and Indian batsmen. B Kumar may well have a brilliant tour as he is likely to find most movement but is he a liability after the first spell? Make or break for ZK? He is fit but needs to pick up wickets to go back there next year. Fielding is likely to be evenly matched.

Will this be the first instance in a long long time of two wicketkeeper batsman captains meeting in tests? I mean as appointed captains and not one off stand in contests.Or is this the first ever time? Hope B McCullum keeps just this once.

Posted by wapuser on (January 16, 2014, 10:15 GMT)

Yes, it is certainly going to be a mouth-watering series. Kiwis are a very formidable side at home and their pace battery is capable of destroying a realitively young indian top order. The real concern lies with their batting. Taylor and Williamson are scoring runs but others need to back them. Also NZC shouldn't shy away from making green tops as they could give the home side a huge advantage.

Posted by shane-oh on (January 16, 2014, 9:29 GMT)

I feel a competitive series coming up, and huge potential for an upset - although I shouldn't use that term, because NZ are finally producing fantastic results on a regular basis. Of course, India are an extremely strong team at the moment, and rightly ranked very highly, but I feel we will end up having the edge in this series.

Posted by nzcricket174 on (January 16, 2014, 8:29 GMT)

One difference I've noticed in the bowling of these teams.

Although New Zealand have the better pace attack, the Indian batsman have seen these bowlers quite a few times before.

But New Zealand have not seen the likes of Shami, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Zaheer Khan before. Only Ross Taylor and McCullum (and sort of Williamson and Guptill) have faced Zaheer before.

Posted by muzika_tchaikovskogo on (January 16, 2014, 8:07 GMT)

As an Indian fan, I'm hoping to see green tops in New Zealand. That will really test the mettle of our batsmen.

Posted by rajuramki on (January 16, 2014, 7:58 GMT)

West Indies lost in Newzeland , because their players were impatient and were playing test matches as if they were playing ODIs . However, Indian batsmen apart from Dhawan have patience in abundance and will be able to counter the swing and seam of Newzeland bowlers . If Newzeland bowlers can be effective , so will be the Indian seamers . Other than the playing conditions being familiar to Newzeland, they do not have the right ammunition to beat India.

Posted by fairfan70 on (January 16, 2014, 7:57 GMT)

If Dhoni sheds his conservative approach and drops Ishant Sharma, Zaheer and Ashwin this would be a very competitive series. If he cannot trust and try Umesh Yadav, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Varun Aroun on these pitches where will he/where can he? If he is going to depend on selectors to do him that favor (of dropping the above trio), India's not-so-good performance overseas will continue. His conservatism led to the 4-0 routs in England and AU 2 years ago where he continued to depend on faded/over-the-hill batting stars along with unfit bowling attack. After the selectors bit the bullet and forced the retirement of earlier generation batting jewels, new stars arrived and have been acquitting themselves admirably. The same thing could happen to bowling attack if a little bit of vision and foresight are employed.

Posted by 51n15t9r on (January 16, 2014, 7:54 GMT)

A cricket wicket that favours the home team, is nothing new. England used it in Ashes and Australia returned the favour. India does it all the time, I would really hope NZ does the same. Lets not forget that it was only after the 2002-2003 series that Dravid the one day batsman was born. Playing on such pitches, in difficult conditions is what separates the men from the boys. Its time Pujara, Kohli and Rahane stand up and be counted among the best in the world and this is their chance to do it.

Posted by sergio11 on (January 16, 2014, 7:52 GMT)

Zak's bowlng avg in NZ is 22.00...wen there is assist form the track indian bolwers hav always done really well..last SA tour 1st inng at job'rg is an example..but since ind dont have a real quick bolwer to hit the deck hard...wen pitch go a bit flat and no reverse to xploit..the pacers are strugglng...so i dont think if green top are made indian bolwing will be dat poor...plus ind have a quality spinner..jadeja with the sort of action he is having dont need much of an assist from the track..and NZ dont play any spin dat wel..so dont thing bolwing is a worry at all...

Posted by Tova on (January 16, 2014, 7:52 GMT)

I honestly believe that if the kiwis produce seaming wickets it will work against them. The young Indian batting order is very good and they bat deep. They are far superior to the kiwi batting order... Will the kiwi batsman handle the Indian quicks on seaming wickets? I have my doubts... Shami is a very good bowler and will cause the kiwis a lot of trouble. The kiwis are gaining false confidence after smashing the poorest West Indian team I've ever seen... I think a few of their batsman really aren't very good, and will be exposed on lively wickets...

Posted by   on (January 16, 2014, 7:44 GMT)

I think MSD will have to use his resources well, especially Shami. Shami could be a handful on pitches aiding swing. If, as said by the writer, there is any help off the air, Bhuvneshwar Kumar could be a handful for the Black Caps batsmen. It would be interesting to see how the Indian batsmen cope with the Kiwi quicks, especially Wagner. Again, it's good that the ODIs are played first; this would give the Indians time to adapt to conditions. With the grounds being small, we can expect a run-feast. It's a shame that it's only a two-test series, right? I expect a keen battle in both tests. Certainly a challenge for the young Indian side, but with MSD at the helm, they are in a good place to start as favorites. All the best, Team India...

Posted by android_user on (January 16, 2014, 7:34 GMT)

Indians hold the edge..

Posted by GRVJPR on (January 16, 2014, 7:30 GMT)

That';s why I am not a huge fan of cricket stats. The author says here that Kiwis should prepare certain type of wickets for India. It meas they are of different types when Australia and Sputh Africa visit there with good pace attacks i.e they are basmen friendly. So despite poor techniques SOuth African and Australian batsmen will end up having better averages there than Indian who are forced to play on designer pitches. I agree with home advantage but it shouldn't be so much that when the home team goes away it becomes a disadvantage. What will happen to NZ seamers when they visit palce like chennai and durban where there is not a ready made help for seamers??

Posted by rame1975 on (January 16, 2014, 7:26 GMT)

In India's tour of 2002-03 , NZ also were in trouble. In fact INDIA took the lead in one test match after being bowled out for some 100 odd runs. and got NZ dismissed under 100. If they prepare green wickets that assist seam and swing, then ZAK and Shami will be quite a handful for the inexperienced NZ batting line up except for Ross Taylor and Brendon Mccullum. and to some extent Kane Williamson & Guptill because they had never faced Zak or Shami .. This will boomerang towards NZ if they prepare green ,seaming wickets. Hopefully the contest will be even this time and tests should last the whole five days if not weather intervenes...Anyway great contest is on the cards...

This tour will help them adapt to seaming conditions which they will face in England late in July - August this year when they tour and play 5 tests..

Good Luck to MSD & Team .. Come on INDIA...

Posted by rame1975 on (January 16, 2014, 7:08 GMT)

Hope India will do better this time. Good Luck India..

Posted by   on (January 16, 2014, 6:57 GMT)

Mr Crowe, New Zealand has a bowling line up which is way better than the one in 2002, and so does India. The biggest worry for NZL might not be Zak(peerless though he is) it might well be Shami. 2002-03 pitches were downright shameful. It had almost pedestrian bowlers who bowled at 120k look like mosters. We all know what became of "pace sensation" Daryl Tuffy after that series. Lets have green pitches, but not minefields- helps no one. I for one will have a plan for at least eight days test cricket. NZL, do not rob me that satisfaction!

Posted by latecut_04 on (January 16, 2014, 6:53 GMT)

A lot of errors in the article.Factually and otherwise.To start with Crowe's reference to 'India throwing in the towel too early' back in 2003.It didn't happen like that.All matches were finished insdie 3 days and margin of victory was slender.It could have gone either way and was a shootout.Also regarding Dhoni doing an 'admirable' job lower down the order---did he really watch India's last test match.Dhoni's lack of contribution with the bat was the main reason for India's failure.(as almost always outside India).Otherwise they would have at least secured a draw.Also Martin says 'The teams' tactics are in good hands '..he can't mean it.Dhoni's tactics are out of box and world class--BUT IN ODIs..in test matches his choice of bowlers,field placements and virtually everything leave a lot to be desired.(will never change;he just isnt a test skipper.period).almost the same applies to NZ skipper not an exceptional tactician for sure.The last paragraph is spot on though.

Posted by   on (January 16, 2014, 6:35 GMT)

In 2002-03 the NZ batting was also tested by the Indian quicks - we dismissed them for 94 in one match. The wickets were badly prepared. NZ have this history of preparing highly grassy swinging pitches from the Hadlee/ Chatfield days. In 1975-76 Hadlee dismissed India for 81 and they squared the series. Later in the year the Kiwis had to struggle on spinning tracks in India (the four spinners were at their absolute peak). We should play Umesh/ Bhuvi and Shami should be first change. One part timer can spin....maybe Rohit. While Zak has been good it is high time to look beyond him. Ishant is mediocre....should be out of international cricket. If Aaron does well he should play as well....this guy is too good to lose out. The batting is settled and did well in SA. 2 test series is a horrible concept.

Posted by Rahul_78 on (January 16, 2014, 6:17 GMT)

I guess India will prefer result oriented pitches too cause it increases their chances of taking 20 wickets. It is no secret that Indians batting line up is their main strength and bowling is their weaker pursuit. In SAF Indian bowlers struggled to take 20 wickets even when their batsmen were posting more then decent runs on the board. If NZ prepare green tracks and Indian batsmen can score competitive runs on the board which is very much likely then it is the only assured chance for India of winning a test match by taking 20 wickets. If as Martin suggests the wickets are batsmen friendly then tests might result in high scoring draws. Always respect Martin as cricket writer and would like to see another article from him from visiting teams perspective and what India should do to do well in NZ.

Posted by TATTUs on (January 16, 2014, 6:15 GMT)

If they prepare green wickets then NZ will be playing into Indias hands. India has the batsmen to handle that. And green pitches mean, Indias good for nothing seamers would be effective. Shami would be real good. So just think a bit before you guys do that.

Posted by android_user on (January 16, 2014, 6:06 GMT)

Marin Crowe wrote a whole column on the Indian tour and didn't mention Jesse Ryder once. Surely Ryder is challenging both Fulton and Anderson for a test spot. Ryder's record against India is pretty impressive.

Posted by pollachiprakash on (January 16, 2014, 6:03 GMT)

just two tests and they are playing after 2009 so five years in between whats the use of playing like this atleast there should be three tests we dono when we tour next ..an indian player can play only 4 tests in newzealand in 10 year career.nothing to cheer.

Posted by nakihunter on (January 16, 2014, 5:37 GMT)

Martin Crowe has a poor memory. In 2002-03 he was responsible for the terrible wickets - test matches finished in 2.5 days. 22 wickets fell on the fist day & India got the lead! The toss played a huge role in which team won! India certainly DID NOT throw in the towel. When Ganguly said that these were the wost pitches in the world, Crowe went on the offensive and started attacking Ganguly's captaincy and demanded that he be sacked!

Martin Crowe is no stranger to controversy and his credibility is again in question. He was a very good batsman but a poor team mate (ask Ken Rutherford or even Flemming, Nash & Hart!). He is also a very poor cricket analyst!

Posted by its.rachit on (January 16, 2014, 5:07 GMT)

@ThemanID - If India's bowling is a disgrace, then so it New Zealand's batting ... and it has been a disgrace over the past 80 years ... Not one batsman averaging over 46 ... LOL ...

Posted by gsingh7 on (January 16, 2014, 5:06 GMT)

on paper it will be contest between number 2 test side vs number 8 test team but on field it will be lot closer than rankings suggest. nz bowlers can surely spring a surprise but i am pretty sure young talented indian batsmen have the firepower to repeat heroics of past indian teams in nz.i thing india will win series 2-0 with pujara top scoring from either side. dhoni needs to marshal the troops well to close the series asap.

Posted by android_user on (January 16, 2014, 5:05 GMT)

@jimbond : Yeah no disagreement there. Bhuvneshwar swings it more than Ishant and is probably in better form . And given the propensity for windy conditions in Basin Reserve ( 2nd Test venue) Bhuvneshwar might just get the nod. But it might have been interesting to see how 'Hit the deck' bowlers like Ishant and Pankaj Singh (not picked) extract life out of the pitch. We may need these tall hitting the deck bowlers in case conditions are not favorable for swing. I remember a test in Karachi where until it was swinging on days 1,2 Indian bowlers Pathan, Zaheer (swing bowlers) were unplayable and suddenly during the latter half of the test Pakistan bowlers hitting the deck seemed unplayable and Indian swing bowlers looked like they were bowing on another pitch altogether.

Posted by shanks1967 on (January 16, 2014, 5:03 GMT)

I do hope that NZ prepares GreenTop fast pitches for the entire series including the ODIs. Why should ODIs have batsmen friendly pitches. Bring it on. The Indian Batting must pass this test. I vividly remember the 2003 series just before India put up a Grand show in the WC at SA. New Zealand wiped the floor with the Indian batting line up which included RD/SRT/SG, et al... But one difference is that now the Indian bowling line up is better. Ishant should be dropped. He is far too inconsistent, we cant go with a bowler who bowls one good spell in about 10 matches or so. We can probably give Umesh the new ball along with Shami/Zak. Since it is a 2 match series(who invented this concept), teams should go all out in the first test. Looking forward to a great series. To sum it up, India batting looks good and NZ bowling looks good.

Posted by Shongololo on (January 16, 2014, 4:51 GMT)

Did Martin Crowe actually watch the recent SA v India Test series in South Africa? It's hard to believe given some of the comments he makes here - the Saffa groundsmen were enormously generous to India, given them a Wanderers track with little 'pace and bounce' and a Kingsmead surface that was as dead and docile as a sub-continental dustbowl. Then, to say "Ajinkya Rahane has already shown his stickability at No. 6" is a joke as Rahane was a lot more than 'stickable', he was fluent and one of the few Indian batsmen to do their reputations any good...then Dhoni "doing it admirably for India" (getting runs in the lower order) may apply to the dustbowls, certainly doesn't - and didn't in SA - away from home. I could go on... He is right, though, in saying NZ's only hope is to prepare swing and seam tracks...but expect NZ's rather weak batting line-up to come unstuck, too. Should be an interesting series.

Posted by Chris_P on (January 16, 2014, 4:36 GMT)

I have a lot of time for the Kiwi seamers on helpful tracks, rating them among the best around. I will be interested in the type of pitches they prepare, but all they need to do is prepare a typical NZ pitch, & it will be a challenge for any team.

Posted by mehulmatrix on (January 16, 2014, 4:32 GMT)

I think Virat,Pujara and Rahane will be really crucial for India. Will be great to see Bhubaneshwar in place of Ishant.His swing might be important in windy & swinging conditions. Add Shami's pace/swing with Zak's experience to that!Taylor and Brendon M will be the experienced guys for NZ.Enough of indian pitches talks, high time to show more maturity. None indicate the sporting pitches of Bangaluru, Chandigarh or Nagpur. Also the soil composition is much different here. Why not also complain about SL or UAE then?Pitches in NZ are also now more flat to go with small grounds, helps bowlers?

Posted by jimbond on (January 16, 2014, 4:29 GMT)

@Anand Kumar: I doubt if Ishant Sharma would be effective on green tracks- there is no evidence from the past to suggest so. On the other hand, I would think that someone like Bhuvaneshwar Kumar (who was quite ineffective in SA) would be tough to handle on green tracks. The same can be said for Zaheer Khan- if he retains his fitness. Pandey takes his wickets due to swing, and hence he too could come into the mix. Shami would of course be part of the team even though it remains to be seen if he can get the ball to reverse in NZ.

Posted by   on (January 16, 2014, 4:28 GMT)

Dhoni has the option of picking 3 / 4 of 6 competent seamers. At least 2 if not 4 of these 6 bowl in the 120 - 130 range where movement is critical OR they become batsman fodder. Give us Green tops & these potential batsman fodders will suddenly become potent match-winning options. In terms of batting - yes India's batsmen have not been tested in really testing conditions, but that is true of NZ batsmen as well. Non-seaming tracks will neutralize the Indian seam contingent more than it will relatively impact the batting. NZC have options, in traditional Hindi, we would call the options - Ek Taraf Khai (Deep valley) Aur dusri taraf Kua (Well), they have to decide where they want to fall.....Neutralize Dhoni's seamers & safely draw the series OR risk bringing them into the game & losing the series.

Posted by sarangsrk on (January 16, 2014, 4:12 GMT)

Why don't NZC ask the groundsmen to leave the pitches without any grass cut? Then you could play anywhere on the ground like in SA ODI series. This might help NZ bowlers to get this young but ambitious Indian batting lineup out quickly.

Posted by   on (January 16, 2014, 4:08 GMT)

Sir, its an absolute shame that series is curtailed to only two test matches.

Posted by ThemanID on (January 16, 2014, 4:05 GMT)

@Anand Kumar while India has a decent batting lineup, their bowling is a disgrace. I mean zaheer and Ishant and probably the worst opening pair of all teams currently. Young bowlers are medium pacers who fade away in their career. It unbelievable that we can't produce 1 good bowler in this cricket mad country

Posted by Herakles on (January 16, 2014, 3:55 GMT)

New Zealand might turn out to be a sterner test for Indian batsmen than South Africa was. As Martin says, the Kiwi pace attack is not bad at all and they acquitted themselves well in 2012 in the two Tests in India and have been doing so ever since. On a helpful surface against a slightly dodgy opening pair, they may feel luckier. At the same time, Bhuvneshwar Kumar can play an important role on green tops. He bowls long spells, is disciplined and can seam the ball around. It won't be a bad idea to see him partnering Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav. Those two are quick and the Kiwi batting is a bit iffy either side of Nos. 3 & 4. It will be fascinating if New Zealand get those green tops in order. As they say. all 4-day Tests are good Tests.

Posted by SanjivAwesome on (January 16, 2014, 3:54 GMT)

The challenge for India is to adjust to tracks and environemnt which are alien to what they have been brought up since they were school going kids in the diverse towns and villages of India. Have you seen New Zealand? It is green. Road sides are green. Hills are green. Gardens are green. Farmed fields are green. Cricket grounds are very green! Geography is opposite. I don't think our team is technically deficient - the theory of how to play on green wickets is known to all - just that they don't get to habitually play on green pitches. Likewise NZ batsmen don't habitually play on spin pitches for reason of NZ's geography. Martin is right, NZ have the best chance of beating India, regardless of rankings. I am excited by this series!

Posted by kiwicricketnut on (January 16, 2014, 3:34 GMT)

i find myself agreeing with crowe alot i too would bowl four seamers with the inclusion of milne with anderson the fifth bowler but i disagree with his batting line up surely ryder makes the team at the expense of fulton or rutherford. as for the pitches, i'd like to see, just for the indian series mind you that the test pitches be the same as the basin reserve one that the windies got, not because their batsmen can't cope with that sort of pitch, im sure they can but because it nulifies their spinners which is a bigger threat to us. after the indian series i'd like to see pitches that bring ish sohdi into the game, especially on day four and five, more like the hamilton pitch, if sohdi is to become one of the most impotant cogs in our bowling line up he needs a little help from the pitch, no use having a classy leg spinner with nowhere to play because he is the ingrediant we've been missing to bowl teams out twice.

Posted by android_user on (January 16, 2014, 3:26 GMT)

Still don't agree with the notion that India can be rolled over on green tracks. If anything it will bring Ishant Sharma into the game big time. If Ishwar Pandey or Varun Aaron fill the long existing void in Pace Department, then the tour will have been worthwhile for India. Good opportunity for Varun Aaron to rub shoulders with likes of Shane Bond and pick up a thing or two about "FAST" bowling

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