New Zealand news January 20, 2011

John Wright hints at changing opening combination

ESPNcricinfo staff

New Zealand coach John Wright has hinted at splitting the one-day opening combination of Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder for the series against Pakistan, as his side seeks to end a 11-match losing streak in the format. Wright hopes to use the six games against Pakistan to zero in on the right line-up for the World Cup, which begins on February 19.

"They [McCullum and Ryder] may not be at the top of the order," Wright told NZPA. "There may be only one of them at the top of the order. We really need to look at the way we have been playing and to consider where we have our firepower, particularly our impact batsmen. There is the opportunity to start with the Powerplay, and then who plays where when we get to the next Powerplay. We will have a look at that and make the decisions.

"It's something we just have to consider carefully. Dan [Daniel Vettori] will have some strong views on it and you look at the batting line-up, and if we can get players in form, and get our order right, then we should be able to do the job."

McCullum and Ryder formed one of New Zealand's most successful opening pairs, and Wright said the decision to move one of them lower down would be to beef up a misfiring middle order. "The one thing about New Zealand one-day sides is that they always appear to be at their strongest when you had great batting depth around Nos. 5, 6, 7, 8," Wright said. "When you played against New Zealand they were just a hard side to break down. We will be looking to bat as deep and with as much quality as we can around those areas."

Martin Guptill, who opened in the second Test in Wellington when Tim McIntosh was dropped, is likely to take the role in the one-dayers, if New Zealand decide to make the change. "Obviously the development of Martin Guptill has been a huge plus for us," Wright said. "He has played incredibly well in the Twenty20 series and he worked ever so hard in the Test series, and he looks ever so promising."

Despite the 1-0 defeat in the Test series, Wright was encouraged by New Zealand's show in the second Test when they stretched Pakistan for a hard-fought draw. "I was pleased with the improvement and quality of our play in Wellington. It was disappointing not to get a win, if we had broken that partnership [between Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan] we probably would have. I suppose we have got to learn to play sessions and we had a terrible session in Hamilton that cost us the series."