West Indies in New Zealand 2013-14 December 16, 2013

End of McCullum as a keeper


Brendon McCullum's days as an international wicketkeeper appear over after the New Zealand coach Mike Hesson conceded he was too valuable as a captain and batsman to risk behind the stumps with a long-standing back problem.

Barring one stand-in appearance at Headingley when BJ Watling was injured, McCullum has not kept in Tests since 2010 but had been keen to continue with the role in white-ball cricket after resuming the job in Bangladesh following a break earlier this year in England.

However, being forced home from Bangladesh when the protruding discs in his spine caused him severe pain, and prompted a bout of soul-searching about his future, appears to have helped him make a final decision.

"We're unlikely to use him as a keeper," Hesson said. "He's too valuable a player for us to consider using him as a keeper."

There is rarely a day where McCullum isn't in some discomfort from his back and Hesson added that he may not be able to play every match during the season. "We'd only rest him if his back was at a point where he couldn't play. That could well occur. He's made some good progress. He's always a bit stiff but it doesn't seem to affect his movement too much."

The end of McCullum as wicketkeeper means that Luke Ronchi, who made his New Zealand debut in the one-day series against England earlier this year before playing in the Champions Trophy, is set for a second chance to establish himself in the 50-over side.

Ronchi's initial stint in the team during the England tour saw him struggle as an opener, making 47 runs in six innings, and he was left out of the squad for the Bangladesh series until being summoned as cover, firstly due to Kane Williamson's broken thumb and then the keeping slot opened up again.

He returned to the side in a middle-order role, which he admitted was more comfortable for him, and improved his output with scores of 49 and 23 in the one-day series against Sri Lanka and an unbeaten 34 in the Twenty20.

Ronchi is not the only option for the gloves in the one-day team, which will be named on Thursday in Hamilton. Watling's Test form makes a strong case while Tom Latham, who toured England, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, is another in the frame.

However, Latham's route to a regular spot is hindered by a log-jam at the top of the order. He opened with Anton Devcich in the series against Sri Lanka, where New Zealand fielded an experimental line-up, and made 86 off 68 balls in the second ODI.

But Martin Guptill has recovered from injury and shown form in domestic cricket while the selectors are also keen to get Jesse Ryder back into the international fold ahead of the India series in January. Hamish Rutherford appears to have drifted down the pecking order for ODIs.

Earlier this year Guptill hit back-to-back hundreds against England, including a New Zealand record 189 not out in Southampton but missed the Bangladesh tour due to an ankle injury.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Patrick on December 21, 2013, 4:15 GMT

    The real solution is clear as day in front of their eyes its just that McCullum and Hesson are too stubborn to go back on their word because they would look like idiots. MCCULLUM SHOULD QUIT TESTS! Firstly because his form does not warrant selction as a batter especially with Ryder, Guptill, Flynn all piling on the runs and Anderson looking like a test bowler. Second because he could still keep in ODIs and Twenty20s which last up to 3hours for one innings at most and third his captaincy has not made any difference to the side whatsoever. It is time for Williamson to take over! Too young? What about Mr Graeme Smith hmm? I used to love McCullum but I think it is time for him to quit tests it is only his ego which is clouding his decision too.

  • Sam on December 17, 2013, 10:46 GMT

    Brendon McCullum is a great batsman & it's the best decision that he won't keep wickets from now on.

    Preferred Keeper in ODIs: Luke Ronchi Back up keeper: Tom Latham, BJ Watling

    a) Luke Ronchi has to be the recommended keeper. It was indeed a joke to make him open where he struggled. But he showed his striking power & that he can clear the fences batting in the middle order. In this case, Guptill & Ryder will open. b) Tom Latham has got potential. His 86 against SL in SL was an innings full of class. BJ Watling can also come into consideration after his strong test form & he averages 39+ in List A. But if any of Latham or Watling is in the XI, then he has to be slotted in the opening with Guptill & Ryder needs to bat in the middle order.

    My Squad: 1 Guptill 2 Ryder 3 Williamson 4 R Taylor 5 B McCullum (C) 6 Ronchi (WK) 7 C Anderson 8 Neesham 9 Vettori 10 Southee 11 McClenaghan. 12 N McCullum 13 Latham/Watling 14 Munro 15 Mills.

    More reserves: Boult, Butler, Rutherford, Nicol

  • Prem on December 17, 2013, 6:14 GMT

    Mike Hesson, have you heard of Dhoni who does this day in and day out without the whinging that McCullum and DeVilliers display?

  • Reg on December 17, 2013, 0:13 GMT

    I suppose Hesson has to say that. And to be fair he's silly enough that might even believe it. But what a load of . . . (sorry - family show)! As a New Zealand batsman McCullum is merely an average member of a group of fairly moderate players who's figures are at the moment being flattered by probably the weakest attack the Windies have ever fielded. And as a captain? Can't set a field, can't organise his bowlers, can't judge a review, can't take advice, can't LEAD.

    The current party line seems to be that McCullum is handicapped by a career threatening chronic back injury, and these things can go completely wrong very quickly. So it would be worrying indeed if we really were dependent on his runs and his leadership. Fortunately, of course, it simply isn't true. Just remember: New Zealand's three best efforts on the recent tour to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and our only two wins, happened AFTER McCULLUM HAD LEFT!

  • Varun on December 16, 2013, 23:30 GMT

    At Kiwi Cricket Nut: I think that Neesham is a great find, he's got the potential to be in a much superior class of all rounders than few of the ones we've recently sported( Franklin/Ellis, etc.) If we can fit him in the XI along with Corey, that side is really balanced and looks damn scary. Only issue is you have to leave out a quality seamer in Mills/Boult/Mclenaghan, and the bowling lacks a bit of fire power. I think Neesham's more than a slogger. it was a pleasure watching him patiently try to recover the Blackcaps against SRILANKA in the final ODI. We were in tatters at 40/5, he batted with a level headed approach and adjusted to conditions superbly to put us in a position to sneak a series win until bad light came and we lost on D/L. Hes gotta improve a bowling a bit but Im very impressive with him overall

  • William on December 16, 2013, 22:01 GMT

    Latham is unfortunate because he is an opener and that is where Ryder and guptil will bat so it will be hard for him to take their spots. Ronchi is definitely the guy to replace baz as keeper as he is our best glovemen and will be a great finisher alongside Anderson and Neesham. Latham can take the gloves in the future but he is not a finisher like ronchi and would be better at the top but there is no place for him.

  • Hemant on December 16, 2013, 13:35 GMT

    @Abbas67 -- Agreed, Dhoni and Sanga have done better performing dual duties as WK / key Batsman, and they indeed average more as batsmen. But that is a role Brendon cannot perform given his back problems. Brendon's honesty means someone fitter can do a better job behind the stumps, and let Brendon focus on important roles of captain and an attacking batsman. But your point is a good one -- were Brendon to perform behind the stumps well enough the team could benefit from including a better bat than Luke.

  • Abbas on December 16, 2013, 12:50 GMT

    What is so good in Mccullum ? He is just below average batsman in test & odi, he is good in T20 but not that much that he should leave his keeping. Best example is Dhoni & Sangakkara !

  • Jared on December 16, 2013, 9:39 GMT

    This is good it means McCullum needs to score runs and runs. My XI Guptill, Ryder, Williamson, Taylor B McCullum, Anderson, Bronchi/Latham, N McCullum, Southee, Mills, Mclenaghan

  • jared on December 16, 2013, 9:03 GMT

    i wouldn't use ronchi, i think lathams batting would be more valuable in odi's even if his keeping isn't as sharp, mind you i've seen ronchi make a few mistakes as well, isn't ronchi older than mccullum? he's not the future, latham is and if watling gets injured we have cover developing latham but it works both ways if latham gets injured watling fills in. wingman42 has a pretty good xi but i think you have to fit neesham in there, he's been a fantastic find with the ball and can chip in with some heavy hitting at the death. my odi xi. 1. ryder, 2. guptill, 3. williamson, 4. taylor, 5. anderson, 6. mccullum, 7. latham, 8. neesham, 9. vettori, 10. southee, 11. mclenaghan, 12th mills, of coarse if mccullum could keep mills would fit into the xi and in my opinion would be a perfectly balanced side, not to be sadly.

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