June 21, 2014

Steady New Zealand need minor tweaks for Barbados

They could look to pushing Watling up to No. 6, and bringing Wagner back on a track that isn't likely to offer much to spinners
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New Zealand's ten-wicket Test loss to West Indies in Trinidad is their first defeat in more than a year, signalling it's no time to panic on the selection front as they seek to hold on to their sixth-placed ranking in Barbados.

They played well in patches, but were principally let down by a collapse of nine for 101 in 32 overs after choosing to bat on the first day. However, if it hadn't been for BJ Watling and Mark Craig's partnership of 99 for the ninth wicket in the second innings, the tourists would have capitulated by more than an innings. The loss is largely an opportunity for introspection rather than examining external factors such as the batting strength of Kraigg Brathwaite in his return and the rejuvenated bowling of Jerome Taylor and Kemar Roach.

Drastic changes would be counter-productive, but subtle positional and personnel tweaks are worth considering heading into next week's decider at Kensington Oval.

One area to consider is whether to promote Watling to No. 6.

Captain Brendon McCullum said it best, speaking about Watling's second-innings contribution of 66 not out from that position after illness forced Hamish Rutherford down the order.

"He's fast becoming my favourite cricketer with his strength of character and fighting qualities. The guy never complains. He gets on with the job after keeping for 100-something overs [137.1 with no byes] then bats for close to seven hours [six hours 27 minutes] to try to save a Test. He's done it on numerous occasions and is becoming a strong leader in the group through his actions."

Hear, hear. Perhaps Watling should be seeing more of the innings rather than coaxing the tail from No. 7? Exposing him earlier might detract from his keeping but given he's already earned a reputation for gritting out the hours in rearguard actions, it's unlikely to taint his mindset.

Reinstating Neil Wagner could be another adjustment. The renowned toiler took 11 wickets at 24.54 in the two home Tests against India and six wickets at 10.50 from 18.1 overs in the two Jamaican XI practice matches.

Kensington Oval's recent record does not suggest it is particularly spin-friendly. Last year 14 of the 31 wickets fell to spin in West Indies' victory over Zimbabwe, but in the five previous Tests stretching to 2008 it was limited. Eight out of 35 were spin-induced in West Indies' 2012 defeat to Australia; five out of 33 in a draw with India; 14 out of 33 in the loss to South Africa; eight out of 17 in the draw with England; and ten out of 35 in another defeat to Australia.

It will depend on how this season's wicket shapes up, but those are hardly compelling statistics to go spin-heavy. That means a choice might be required between Ish Sodhi and Mark Craig.

Craig was Man-of-the-Match in Jamaica, then, in his partnership with Watling in Trinidad, he made 67 from 167 balls - the fifth-longest innings in Tests by a No. 10 in terms of deliveries faced. Sure, it's not his core role in the team but it demonstrates his tenacity.

Sodhi had the best New Zealand match figures of 4 for 117 in Trinidad but conceded more than 5.5 runs an over. Craig took none for 128 from 32 overs. Brathwaite's inclusion at the expense of Kieran Powell means the West Indies' top six is split 3-3 for left and right-handers as opposed to 4-2 in favour of lefties, which had created an extra reason to use Craig, with his stock ball spinning away from them.

Tom Latham's opening spot is secure but New Zealand must decide who should partner him, given Rutherford and Peter Fulton are both out of form. Whoever is picked probably has a last shot at Test redemption; otherwise it's back to the domestic Plunket Shield for at least a season.

Elsewhere, it would seem a knee-jerk reaction to revert to Corey Anderson as the designated allrounder for Jimmy Neesham. Neesham's superlative batting with centuries in his first two Tests before Trinidad hint he's worthy of persistence. However, his bowling offered little at Queen's Park Oval with one for 68 from 15 overs. Two wickets at 89 from 46 overs in three Tests suggest his medium pacers need to be more penetrative.

Andrew Alderson is cricket writer at New Zealand's Herald on Sunday

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • bobagorof on June 26, 2014, 4:36 GMT

    CGKK - Warner was never an opener?!?! Warner has always been an opener! His first couple of First Class matches he only played in the middle order because that's where the spot was.

  • evebathowsai on June 25, 2014, 22:47 GMT

    NZs best side is Lathan, Ryder (Yes Ryder, techncially sound, although bats in the middle order, can be an excellent counter attacking opener); williamson, taylor, mcullum, waitling, anderson, southee, sodhi, wagner and boult. ALso I feel for Williamson; hopefully he can change his bowling action soon and make it leagal, otherwise he is a very good offie.

  • on June 25, 2014, 21:10 GMT

    By the way - that was sarcasm. The thing is most spinners go well in their first few games as teams try to work them out. Two games later, there's material for video research, hence Craig's returns will drop off imo.

    Sodhi's did the same, but he's young and the future of our spin attack so definitely would've kept him. Picking a tailender on his batting ability never sits well - it's a Ross Taylor move, defensive. It's like saying there's no faith in the batting unit, which is where everything hinges.

    Gotta have the faith. Rutherford for a hundy.

  • on June 25, 2014, 21:06 GMT

    Runs from McCullum would indeed be amazing - when he gets them we go well. But while some might not be jumping on him, as McCullum fans we ALL KNOW of the people who whinge about him 24/7 365 days of the week.

    Dropping Craig after a MoM performance is fair for a number of reasons - first, he performs as he is relatively unknown. The Windes will be doing their homework, as you saw with his returns bowling in the second match. He was no longer unknown.

    Sodhi is NZ's spin future, he's got some experience and he also isn't bad at batting so I'd go him over Craig any day, and as I said, put Wagner in.

    Turns out NZC thinks EXACTLY THE SAME WAY. Weird.

  • StevieS on June 25, 2014, 10:15 GMT

    Campbell Weal it's a one of game, nothing at all do do with turning Williamson into an opener, you think it is going to shatter his confidence if he fails? Heck he is practically opening as it is. Yes McCullum did score a triple and I don't think anyone is serious about dropping him and that is not going to happen anyway but he is very inconsistant to say the least. I and many others just think we NEED to accommodate Anderson and the only way we can do it is by replacing one of our woefully out of form openers, this is not the test to hope that one of them comes back into some sort of form, we need to win it at all costs!

  • CGKK on June 25, 2014, 9:01 GMT

    Bring back Fulton and Rutherford! That way they can collect their stamp...NEVER TO BE PICKED AGAIN. Thats rubbish about ruining someone by promoting them to open out of their normal position. Look at australia over the last 15 years. Langer, Katich, Watson and Warner were never openers to begin with but Australia picked their best eleven and fit them all in. If Neesham scores another hundred...where will that leave Anderson? On the sideline for the next 20 tests while Nz stuff around with incompetent openers.Is rutherford in the best eleven batsmen in the country right now....we all know...unfortunately the selectors dont agree. God help us if he plays and scores thirty odd....he will be in for the next year.

  • on June 25, 2014, 6:55 GMT

    nz can win 3rd test then they will be this playing eleven.........pls rutherford out of the squed and bring in corey anderson............I Really Like To See This Playing Eleven........bm u should open because u r not a middle order player....................So pls U Should Open................This Eleven Should Be 1.b.mac 2.latham 3.williamson 4.taylor 5.neesham 6.watling 7.anderson 8.southee 9.sodhi 10.wagner 11.boult

  • 22many on June 25, 2014, 5:44 GMT

    @Campbell....yep I agree....let him score big twice and then average 10 in between the years...I am happy with that from the leader....leaders lead from the front...they win games for the team...and is that what he does?...if so I am with you.

  • BlakeHoulihan on June 25, 2014, 5:38 GMT

    @CampbellWeal - If we want to win this Test, and the series, we need McCullum to make some runs. We've had 30 odd runs from four innings from our captain so far. No one will ever forget his epic triple, no one is "jumping on him" but we need him to stand up if we want win this series. That's all the fans are saying. We want to win and we know that when he succeeds we have a great shot. If that isn't a positive, I don't know what is. And suggesting dropping Craig one match after a MoM performance, kind of contradicts your statement about McCullum.

  • on June 25, 2014, 4:28 GMT

    a) anyone suggesting Williamson open, leave this thread now. You don't take your best batsman who is killing it at one position and just throw them into the opening slot as a stop gap - regardless of how early he usually heads out there.

    b) don't say McCullum needs runs. The man is fresh off New Zealand's first triple century. It's been two tests since then. He can score 10 goldens in a row and should still remain in the positives. People always forget so fast and jump on him after four subpar scores. Yawn.

    c) Probably persist with Rutherford because without him BCs are making someone open who isn't an opener. Rutherford is crispy as and always looks so elegant - just needs more confidence and patience so he doesn't chase everything with a booming cover drive.

    d) Bring Wagner in for Craig. The man brings the pain.

  • bobagorof on June 26, 2014, 4:36 GMT

    CGKK - Warner was never an opener?!?! Warner has always been an opener! His first couple of First Class matches he only played in the middle order because that's where the spot was.

  • evebathowsai on June 25, 2014, 22:47 GMT

    NZs best side is Lathan, Ryder (Yes Ryder, techncially sound, although bats in the middle order, can be an excellent counter attacking opener); williamson, taylor, mcullum, waitling, anderson, southee, sodhi, wagner and boult. ALso I feel for Williamson; hopefully he can change his bowling action soon and make it leagal, otherwise he is a very good offie.

  • on June 25, 2014, 21:10 GMT

    By the way - that was sarcasm. The thing is most spinners go well in their first few games as teams try to work them out. Two games later, there's material for video research, hence Craig's returns will drop off imo.

    Sodhi's did the same, but he's young and the future of our spin attack so definitely would've kept him. Picking a tailender on his batting ability never sits well - it's a Ross Taylor move, defensive. It's like saying there's no faith in the batting unit, which is where everything hinges.

    Gotta have the faith. Rutherford for a hundy.

  • on June 25, 2014, 21:06 GMT

    Runs from McCullum would indeed be amazing - when he gets them we go well. But while some might not be jumping on him, as McCullum fans we ALL KNOW of the people who whinge about him 24/7 365 days of the week.

    Dropping Craig after a MoM performance is fair for a number of reasons - first, he performs as he is relatively unknown. The Windes will be doing their homework, as you saw with his returns bowling in the second match. He was no longer unknown.

    Sodhi is NZ's spin future, he's got some experience and he also isn't bad at batting so I'd go him over Craig any day, and as I said, put Wagner in.

    Turns out NZC thinks EXACTLY THE SAME WAY. Weird.

  • StevieS on June 25, 2014, 10:15 GMT

    Campbell Weal it's a one of game, nothing at all do do with turning Williamson into an opener, you think it is going to shatter his confidence if he fails? Heck he is practically opening as it is. Yes McCullum did score a triple and I don't think anyone is serious about dropping him and that is not going to happen anyway but he is very inconsistant to say the least. I and many others just think we NEED to accommodate Anderson and the only way we can do it is by replacing one of our woefully out of form openers, this is not the test to hope that one of them comes back into some sort of form, we need to win it at all costs!

  • CGKK on June 25, 2014, 9:01 GMT

    Bring back Fulton and Rutherford! That way they can collect their stamp...NEVER TO BE PICKED AGAIN. Thats rubbish about ruining someone by promoting them to open out of their normal position. Look at australia over the last 15 years. Langer, Katich, Watson and Warner were never openers to begin with but Australia picked their best eleven and fit them all in. If Neesham scores another hundred...where will that leave Anderson? On the sideline for the next 20 tests while Nz stuff around with incompetent openers.Is rutherford in the best eleven batsmen in the country right now....we all know...unfortunately the selectors dont agree. God help us if he plays and scores thirty odd....he will be in for the next year.

  • on June 25, 2014, 6:55 GMT

    nz can win 3rd test then they will be this playing eleven.........pls rutherford out of the squed and bring in corey anderson............I Really Like To See This Playing Eleven........bm u should open because u r not a middle order player....................So pls U Should Open................This Eleven Should Be 1.b.mac 2.latham 3.williamson 4.taylor 5.neesham 6.watling 7.anderson 8.southee 9.sodhi 10.wagner 11.boult

  • 22many on June 25, 2014, 5:44 GMT

    @Campbell....yep I agree....let him score big twice and then average 10 in between the years...I am happy with that from the leader....leaders lead from the front...they win games for the team...and is that what he does?...if so I am with you.

  • BlakeHoulihan on June 25, 2014, 5:38 GMT

    @CampbellWeal - If we want to win this Test, and the series, we need McCullum to make some runs. We've had 30 odd runs from four innings from our captain so far. No one will ever forget his epic triple, no one is "jumping on him" but we need him to stand up if we want win this series. That's all the fans are saying. We want to win and we know that when he succeeds we have a great shot. If that isn't a positive, I don't know what is. And suggesting dropping Craig one match after a MoM performance, kind of contradicts your statement about McCullum.

  • on June 25, 2014, 4:28 GMT

    a) anyone suggesting Williamson open, leave this thread now. You don't take your best batsman who is killing it at one position and just throw them into the opening slot as a stop gap - regardless of how early he usually heads out there.

    b) don't say McCullum needs runs. The man is fresh off New Zealand's first triple century. It's been two tests since then. He can score 10 goldens in a row and should still remain in the positives. People always forget so fast and jump on him after four subpar scores. Yawn.

    c) Probably persist with Rutherford because without him BCs are making someone open who isn't an opener. Rutherford is crispy as and always looks so elegant - just needs more confidence and patience so he doesn't chase everything with a booming cover drive.

    d) Bring Wagner in for Craig. The man brings the pain.

  • Jordanious77 on June 24, 2014, 19:43 GMT

    If it is in fact true Rutherford will be opening, it's a bad decision. I respect the fact Hesson wants to build a structure in the team without making too many changes. But by opening with Rutherford you are effectively forcing Anderson or Neesham out of the team.

    By removing Anderson or Neesham out of the team you either weaken the batting or bowling. Rutherford is a worse player then both of them AND mcCullum can open for the short term. All this does is weaken us.

  • nzcric20 on June 24, 2014, 11:58 GMT

    This is really frustrating to see players be persisted with when they are not performing and have been given many a chance. I am very happy to see Latham in the starting 11. Should have been a loooong time ago, . As for the 2nd opener the best candidate is definatley Williamson. Hes realistically opened the batting for a long time now and is a world class batsman that needs to lead the way for nz. Nothing would have changed by doing this apart from the opposition not gaining momentum with that early wicket we are always giving away and hopfully get some good opening stands. Watling is in the form of his life with the bat and needs to be in the side as a specialist batsman and would make an outstanding no3. Play the Rahul Dravid role, which he fits best too. Neesham and Anderson both need to be in the starting 11 as they are both true talents. Latham, Williamson, Watling, Taylor, McCullum, Neesham, Ronchi, Anderson, Southee,Wagner/Craig/Sodhi, Boul

  • BlakeHoulihan on June 24, 2014, 9:10 GMT

    StevieS - yeah Hesson has confirmed it. Quote: "he only really had one chance and we don't want to make any rash decisions"

    You will see Latham and Rutherford walking out together. Agree McCullum needs some runs, and he needs them now. I'd like to see Taylor convert a start to something bigger as well.

  • on June 24, 2014, 8:25 GMT

    not a good idea going in with 4 wicket keepers in a test, sure watling and latham have done a lot of time opening but why fix something that aint broke, watling is doing just fine batting between 6-8 if anything give rutherford a couple more chances, give him a short term talk that he would be replaced if runs dont start coming that he will be out

  • StevieS on June 24, 2014, 7:58 GMT

    BlakeHoulihan well if that is correct then if we want to win the test McCullum should be dropped for Anderson or maybe it is McCullums turn to score his once in 10 innings score above 20.

  • BlakeHoulihan on June 24, 2014, 4:52 GMT

    Rutherford will open the next test. It's official folks.

  • BenGundry on June 23, 2014, 19:02 GMT

    It would be a major risk to promote Anderson, Neesham, Watling or McCullum to open. McCullum and Watling should be kept where they are having success (though moving Watling up 1 spot sounds like a good idea). Manufacturing an opener out of an all-rounder would be foolhardy.

    Rutherford should be given another go to prove himself. It's the safest option with the squad currently in the WI. If he fails again, then a new opener needs to be selected for the next tour.

  • on June 23, 2014, 1:38 GMT

    Reminds me of the old days where the arguments were between playing Cairns and Oram.

    However I agree with the majority, both alrounders need to play. I would go with Sodhi as Williamson can send down his offies to the left-handers. B-Mac or Watling to open for this test only.

  • blackcapsfan3 on June 23, 2014, 1:01 GMT

    why not make anderson or neesham opener, with latham. we shld bring in wagner for sodhi, move craig to sodhi's spot. win the toss and bowl first, is wht we need to do.

  • on June 23, 2014, 0:00 GMT

    Might be a bit harsh on Rutherford, but we have a quality batsman and part-timer playing county cricket. I know Jesse Ryder isn't an opener in longer formats, but it's surely worth a shot in the next series. Keeping him on the sidelines while he plays for Essex, Otago and now the Melbourne Renegades isn't teaching him anything, it's just shooting New Zealand cricket in the foot.

  • on June 22, 2014, 23:01 GMT

    If Hesson and co. were to read the comments here, it would be an HILARIOUS sight to behold! Lolz!! Never have so many comments people been so in agreement from one country when their solution was left of field... EVER! Let's just hope they are as aggressive and as full-on as we are... I mean, we're kiwis, they're kiwis, it's not unthinkable! And it is a line-up that I think the Windies will hope we do not name, thus we should name it 8-) Go the cricinfo kiwi (and Black Caps' neutral fans) comments' team! I think our unified agreement is quite special... awwwwww... 8-)

  • venkatesh018 on June 22, 2014, 13:19 GMT

    Drop Craig and bring in Wagner. If Corey Anderson is fit, he must replace Rutherford and open with Latham(Strictly an one-off solution only for Kensington).

  • siddhartha87 on June 22, 2014, 12:48 GMT

    NZ should play both Neesham and Anderson.

  • Min2000 on June 22, 2014, 11:59 GMT

    Watling is the best equipped to open with Latham. Not long term, I like him at 6-7, but for this 3rd test I'd go with those 2, and bring in Ronchi to keep wicket.

    Latham, Watling, Williamson, Taylor, McCullum*, Neesham, Ronchi+, Sodhi, Southee, Wagner, Boult

  • weasel_zapper on June 22, 2014, 9:43 GMT

    Obviously i'm hoping if picked Rutherford does make some runs, things looked so promising after that debut and continuing the openers merry-go-round wouldn't be great. But for the sake of discussion who would be next (going on Plunkett Shield form I guess http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/records/batting/most_runs_career.html?id=8533;type=tournament ) Always thought Papps should've been given another go as he had a tough intro all those years ago, but did I read that him and Redmond didnt make the NZ A side? So that probably rules them out. Bracewell or Cachopa who bat at 3 or 4? Don't think they would go back to Flynn or Brownlie. Guptill has been playing well and working with Richardson? His record is pretty poor though. Raval? Jimmy Franklin...

  • BlakeHoulihan on June 22, 2014, 9:24 GMT

    Most of the comments here are on the same page. I like the aggressive intent from you all as we push to win the series by selecting Baz as an opener, but there also seems to be some agreement that it should be a one off arrangement. But if he succeeds, then won't we all demand he stays there? It's not where he wants to bat, and being able to come in at 5 gives him time to rest his dodgy back after coming off the field. Tough call, but if Rutherford is selected (at the cost of Anderson) and fails both times, then the fans who had been calling for a different line up the whole series deserve to be frustrated and angry. Need a new specialist opener when we play Pakistan in UAE. Someone who can play spin, which might rule out Guptill.

  • Toyohashi on June 22, 2014, 8:52 GMT

    We can win this last one if we make some sensible selections. I'd really like to see this XI: BMac, Latham, Williamson, Taylor, Neesham, Watling, Anderson, Sodhi, Southee, Wagner, Boult Anderson's coming in late because he might be a bit out of touch with test batting, but his bowling will be more than handy, possibly paired with Wagner after the Southee/Boult spell. There are talks of Watling batting higher, and I think 6 would suit him well. I like this XI but I somehow doubt they'll put BMac in to open.. They'll probably persist with Rutherford, which is fair on him as Fulton had a large share of chances too. But fair on the team as a whole, hmm different question.

  • 22many on June 22, 2014, 7:44 GMT

    A total of 48 runs have been scored between McCullum, Rutherford and Fulton during the last two test for 8 times out....average = 6. Now that must be a huge worry for management.

  • GasPipe on June 22, 2014, 7:40 GMT

    Well I think they will give Rutherford another crack, but he will be feeling the heat. Wagner absolutely must come in - I suspect it will be for Craig, because Williamson has the offies covered for now, and Sodhi may have been expensive but he is taking wickets and they want him to develop. Anderson probably won't come in, because even though he is a far superior bowler to Neesham, the bowling has already been strengthened by Wagner, and Neesham's batsmanship is definitely test-quality. I really hope keep his bowling to a minimum next test though, his seamers were a complete letdown.

    Anyways, my XI: Rutherford, Latham, Williamson, Taylor, McCullum, Neesham, Watling, Sodhi, Southee, Wagner, Boult.

  • hokeypokey on June 22, 2014, 6:27 GMT

    What a mess, fulton shouldnt even being on tour..now we are talking bout stop gap solutions..two openers who have being out of form for a season now..amazing really, other countrys wouldnt take it.i say mccullum open, lead from the front.

  • kiwicricketnut on June 22, 2014, 5:40 GMT

    everyone here seems to be on the same page so no argument from me, only i'd like neesham to have a shot at opening but with the series on the line mccullum is the safer option, wagner to play for craig, sohdi should play because we don't need two off spinners in the attack and willuamson is still allowed to bowl for another 21 days, we were a bit timid this test but this xi will scare the windies.

  • weasel_zapper on June 22, 2014, 5:28 GMT

    Think they may persist with Rutherford if he's fit, though definately see the merit in the McCullum idea. Though i'm a fan of picking specialists and giving them a chance to prove themselves it's a huge game and Rutherford just looks woefully out of form. A series loss here would be a bit of a setback. McCullum at 5 long term for sure, think he's earned it after the home summer.

    Agree with Jordanius re the spin option, very tough choice. I think Wagner definately comes in, just gives alot more reliable backup to Southee and Boult, and he would be absolutely fizzing to put in a big effort. For a start I thought for Craig as we have the offspin option in Williamson, but perhaps Craig would be able to limit runs/ keep a bit more pressure on than Sodhi.

    @choppa isn't Williamson fine to bowl until he's tested or whatever? unless they actually started no balling him mid test which I doubt.

  • on June 22, 2014, 1:19 GMT

    ** I meant Craig AND Sodhi in other post. Not Southee, as he definitely playing!! 8-) ** I am concerned about the hard calls on this third Test line-up for the Black Caps... and the need to be a bit out of the box what with our openers being out of touch at present. Rutherford at least may well be persisted with post-series once form / technique sorted. He just needs to go away and work on leaving. The team for the third test should bat deep though and have an extra bowling option once the decision is made on whether it is or is not a spinner's pitch. Because the issue in the second test was NOT our bowling, but our batting (runs on board make the difference as first test showed). We have two options IMO and both include shifting B.Mac to opener in order to win.

    If Quicker Pitch = 1/ Latham 2/ B.Mac 3/ Williamson 4/ Taylor 5/ Anderson 6/ Watling/Neesh 7/ Neesh/Watling 8/ Southee 9/ Wagner 10/ Sodhi/Craig 11/ Boultt If Slow, both spinners play, Wagner drops out.

  • choppa13 on June 21, 2014, 20:10 GMT

    Definitely agree with the comments here mccullum needs to open in the next test(just as a one off) to accommodate both Anderson and neesham. The big decision is sodhi or Craig? Because wagner needs to play and With kanes action under scrutiny they might not have him bowl. But if Anderson and neesham play do we need another seamer? And Keep the 2 spinners instead of Wagner? Tough decisions to be made here but NZ need to pick the team to win here and now. I hope they don't try ronchi as opener or resort back to Fulton his time has gone. Cheers and go blackcap's

  • BlakeHoulihan on June 21, 2014, 16:09 GMT

    Glad I don't have to make this decision, going to be very, very tough for the selectors. If we lose/draw the series it will be a bit disappointing after such an outstanding start. Going to be a tough T20 series afterwards too, especially if Gayle continues on with his return to form.

  • Jordanious77 on June 21, 2014, 11:47 GMT

    Yep I agree with StevieS as well. We need to win the series (rather than looking long term) and our best immediate team REQUIRES both Anderson and Neesham. Anderson for his bowling as well as Neeshams ability to score runs. And the only way to do that is moving someone into opener.

    2ndly, the choice between Sodhi and Craig is one that has to be made. BUT WHO? It would kill me to pick one over the other. Craigs toiling with the ball ( consistency) and his dig in with the bat... Would hate to see him dropped for such a good display. But when we already have Williamson there, would Sodhi be a much more effective player to have on the field? Especially considering the amount of turn Sodhi gets is VERY useful for removing the tail quickly which (as NZ showed) Is very important.

    BUT we need to play Wagner so the decision has to be made :) I look forward to seeing what happens

  • on June 21, 2014, 11:12 GMT

    Everything else I said is what StevieS is saying... though I will also be happy if they go with Craig AND Southee, the Corey/Neesham double (and Corey bowling) and BMac is a necessity due to opening batters' form and is best overall option. Nice call(s) StevieS and I've been saying this since before first test. Let's do tihis Black Caps!! We can lift again... we have faith 8-)

  • StevieS on June 21, 2014, 9:18 GMT

    We need a stop gap solution for the opening position and since it is the last test we should open with McCullum so both Anderson and Neesham can play and also bring in Wagner for Craig or Sodhi. My team Latham, McCullum, Williamson, Taylor, Anderson, Neesham, Watling, Southee, Craig/Sodhi, Wagner and Boult. This gives us 5 seam options, 1 full time spinner and 1 part time.

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  • StevieS on June 21, 2014, 9:18 GMT

    We need a stop gap solution for the opening position and since it is the last test we should open with McCullum so both Anderson and Neesham can play and also bring in Wagner for Craig or Sodhi. My team Latham, McCullum, Williamson, Taylor, Anderson, Neesham, Watling, Southee, Craig/Sodhi, Wagner and Boult. This gives us 5 seam options, 1 full time spinner and 1 part time.

  • on June 21, 2014, 11:12 GMT

    Everything else I said is what StevieS is saying... though I will also be happy if they go with Craig AND Southee, the Corey/Neesham double (and Corey bowling) and BMac is a necessity due to opening batters' form and is best overall option. Nice call(s) StevieS and I've been saying this since before first test. Let's do tihis Black Caps!! We can lift again... we have faith 8-)

  • Jordanious77 on June 21, 2014, 11:47 GMT

    Yep I agree with StevieS as well. We need to win the series (rather than looking long term) and our best immediate team REQUIRES both Anderson and Neesham. Anderson for his bowling as well as Neeshams ability to score runs. And the only way to do that is moving someone into opener.

    2ndly, the choice between Sodhi and Craig is one that has to be made. BUT WHO? It would kill me to pick one over the other. Craigs toiling with the ball ( consistency) and his dig in with the bat... Would hate to see him dropped for such a good display. But when we already have Williamson there, would Sodhi be a much more effective player to have on the field? Especially considering the amount of turn Sodhi gets is VERY useful for removing the tail quickly which (as NZ showed) Is very important.

    BUT we need to play Wagner so the decision has to be made :) I look forward to seeing what happens

  • BlakeHoulihan on June 21, 2014, 16:09 GMT

    Glad I don't have to make this decision, going to be very, very tough for the selectors. If we lose/draw the series it will be a bit disappointing after such an outstanding start. Going to be a tough T20 series afterwards too, especially if Gayle continues on with his return to form.

  • choppa13 on June 21, 2014, 20:10 GMT

    Definitely agree with the comments here mccullum needs to open in the next test(just as a one off) to accommodate both Anderson and neesham. The big decision is sodhi or Craig? Because wagner needs to play and With kanes action under scrutiny they might not have him bowl. But if Anderson and neesham play do we need another seamer? And Keep the 2 spinners instead of Wagner? Tough decisions to be made here but NZ need to pick the team to win here and now. I hope they don't try ronchi as opener or resort back to Fulton his time has gone. Cheers and go blackcap's

  • on June 22, 2014, 1:19 GMT

    ** I meant Craig AND Sodhi in other post. Not Southee, as he definitely playing!! 8-) ** I am concerned about the hard calls on this third Test line-up for the Black Caps... and the need to be a bit out of the box what with our openers being out of touch at present. Rutherford at least may well be persisted with post-series once form / technique sorted. He just needs to go away and work on leaving. The team for the third test should bat deep though and have an extra bowling option once the decision is made on whether it is or is not a spinner's pitch. Because the issue in the second test was NOT our bowling, but our batting (runs on board make the difference as first test showed). We have two options IMO and both include shifting B.Mac to opener in order to win.

    If Quicker Pitch = 1/ Latham 2/ B.Mac 3/ Williamson 4/ Taylor 5/ Anderson 6/ Watling/Neesh 7/ Neesh/Watling 8/ Southee 9/ Wagner 10/ Sodhi/Craig 11/ Boultt If Slow, both spinners play, Wagner drops out.

  • weasel_zapper on June 22, 2014, 5:28 GMT

    Think they may persist with Rutherford if he's fit, though definately see the merit in the McCullum idea. Though i'm a fan of picking specialists and giving them a chance to prove themselves it's a huge game and Rutherford just looks woefully out of form. A series loss here would be a bit of a setback. McCullum at 5 long term for sure, think he's earned it after the home summer.

    Agree with Jordanius re the spin option, very tough choice. I think Wagner definately comes in, just gives alot more reliable backup to Southee and Boult, and he would be absolutely fizzing to put in a big effort. For a start I thought for Craig as we have the offspin option in Williamson, but perhaps Craig would be able to limit runs/ keep a bit more pressure on than Sodhi.

    @choppa isn't Williamson fine to bowl until he's tested or whatever? unless they actually started no balling him mid test which I doubt.

  • kiwicricketnut on June 22, 2014, 5:40 GMT

    everyone here seems to be on the same page so no argument from me, only i'd like neesham to have a shot at opening but with the series on the line mccullum is the safer option, wagner to play for craig, sohdi should play because we don't need two off spinners in the attack and willuamson is still allowed to bowl for another 21 days, we were a bit timid this test but this xi will scare the windies.

  • hokeypokey on June 22, 2014, 6:27 GMT

    What a mess, fulton shouldnt even being on tour..now we are talking bout stop gap solutions..two openers who have being out of form for a season now..amazing really, other countrys wouldnt take it.i say mccullum open, lead from the front.

  • GasPipe on June 22, 2014, 7:40 GMT

    Well I think they will give Rutherford another crack, but he will be feeling the heat. Wagner absolutely must come in - I suspect it will be for Craig, because Williamson has the offies covered for now, and Sodhi may have been expensive but he is taking wickets and they want him to develop. Anderson probably won't come in, because even though he is a far superior bowler to Neesham, the bowling has already been strengthened by Wagner, and Neesham's batsmanship is definitely test-quality. I really hope keep his bowling to a minimum next test though, his seamers were a complete letdown.

    Anyways, my XI: Rutherford, Latham, Williamson, Taylor, McCullum, Neesham, Watling, Sodhi, Southee, Wagner, Boult.