West Indies in New Zealand 2013-14

New Zealand batsmen build home advantage

The home is where the heart is, and it's also where the runs have been for New Zealand this year

Andrew McGlashan

December 15, 2013

Comments: 37 | Text size: A | A

Ross Taylor powers the ball in front of point, New Zealand v West Indies, 2nd Test, Wellington, 1st day, December 11, 2013
New Zealand's batsmen are having a good year at home © AFP
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Ross Taylor's hundred in Wellington was not only the tenth of his career, it was also the tenth of New Zealand's Test year. That makes it their most prolific calendar year for individual hundreds.

Twice before, in 2001 and 2004, New Zealand have scored nine centuries - in 2001, the hundreds came from four fewer matches than will have been played once the Hamilton Test is complete, but 2004 contained only two fewer Tests.

Six of those hundreds have come at home and only one of the away centuries - Dean Brownlie's 109 in Cape Town - have come in the tough series against South Africa and England. There have been plenty of lows, particularly overseas - where they have been bowled out for 45 in Cape Town and 68 at Lord's - to counter the highs but there are signs that New Zealand's batting is starting to gain a more consistent appearance.

The current top seven have all scored hundreds this year and the lower order - right down to Trent Boult at No. 11, who scored a maiden Test fifty in Bangladesh - is chipping in with valuable runs. There is also some pressure being applied to the incumbents from the domestic scene, particularly by Aaron Redmond, who played the first Test as cover for Kane Williamson, and Michael Papps, another of the over-30s brigade, who is having a prolific season.

Replicating their batting success overseas remains the challenge for those in current possession of places - one they will next confront in Tests when they travel to West Indies in the middle of next year where their difficulties against spin will be preyed upon - but piling on the runs at home is a good place to start and can build belief in the batting order. In their five home Tests this year, only once have New Zealand not passed 400 in the first innings.

"Since England last year we've gone about things very consistently and got ourselves in winning positions," Mike Hesson, the coach, said relieved that one had been converted into a win. "To be able to win one so convincing is very pleasing. We try and get over 400 in each Test and put pressure on that way, get ahead in the game and try to hold it."

And they haven't always had the easiest conditions. In both Dunedin and Wellington, they were inserted on green wickets, with the second of those having the potential for trouble when they slipped to 24 for 2 before Taylor was dropped at slip.

"Early on with the bat, when you get inserted on a tough wicket and lose a couple early, we could have been bowled out for 150," Hesson said. "To get over 400 on a surface which kept offering something was vital."

Another fillip for New Zealand is that their imposing first-innings totals have rarely been replicated by the opposition. In each of the last three home Tests, the follow-on has not been saved so it has not just been the case of all the batsmen cashing in.

Although West Indies batted superbly to make 507 in their second innings in Dunedin their other three displays have highlighted, once again, their problems against the swinging ball. When Hesson was asked what the impact of two collapses, such as the ones in Wellington, can be he admitted they can be tough to come back from - and hoped it was not a situation he would have to confront again in the near future.

"I guess there's always a bit of self-doubt, about are you doing the right things; if you have a bad day, you start asking yourselves those questions," he said. "Without being overly confident, we have strung a fair few Tests together where we've got 400 so hopefully we don't have to think about that in the short term."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by 22many on (December 18, 2013, 4:35 GMT)

@ Pardo, There has always been a captain in the team...he has lead from the front for two years now...he even had a brilliant coach believing in him but sadly, some under achievers in positions unknown decided differently...now we continue to have a debate of who should be dropped from the team to bring in those who deserve to be there.

Posted by   on (December 17, 2013, 12:26 GMT)

If McCullum can't keep he needs to open. Getting 35 out of him at 1/2 is better than the same at 5/6. Ryder must come back and with Williamson and Taylor makes a very strong mid-order. Watling at 6, then Anderson. Forget Vettori, regrettably now yesterdays man. It is an interesting proposition that if Ryder/Williamson can slip in say 15 overs can McCullum be squeezed in at 6? That would leave 8-11 to Southee, Sohdi, Boult and Wagner/Bracewell. Doesn't solve our opening issues but Guptill must come back surely.Probably need Fulton at the other end, so how about: Guptill, Fulton, Williamson, Taylor, Ryder, McCullum, Watling, Anderson, Sohdi, Southee, Boult. Doesn't work does it. So I revert to my original position, McCullum needs to open for Fulton with Bracewell/Wagner coming in or else McCullum just goes.

Posted by   on (December 17, 2013, 2:38 GMT)

yep I think those comments confirm it, Rutherford is the one most likely for the chop at the moment

Posted by Lermy on (December 16, 2013, 22:05 GMT)

Anderson has been a surprise with the ball, disappointing with the bat thus far, but I hope they persevere with him. He looks totally at home out there, and has shown glimpses of what he can do with the bat. If he can start delivering runs plus keep performing with the ball, he'll be very handy. If Bracewell can find some sort of form with both, then we have two very good allrounders.

Posted by Snowbadger15 on (December 16, 2013, 21:45 GMT)

with Ryder returning and McCullum not being dropped, Alex Hose's 11 is good because Ryder bowls decent seamers and Anderson looks a better choice than Wagner as third seamer, Alex Hose's team would give us batting right down to 9 with Vettori at 9 and 6 bowling options. Test 11 for India series

Rutherford,McCullum,Williamson, Taylor, Ryder, Anderson, Watling, Neesham, Vettori/Sodhi, Southee, Boult. Neeshams recent form warrants a selection and he would mean our tail would become as strong as it has been for a long time.

Posted by pardo on (December 16, 2013, 21:33 GMT)

Agree with Bishop - Fulton is dull and ugly but when he gets in he gets a decent score - in the absence of a time machine to bring Turner, Wright or Richardson back he's the best of a bad lot. We need him. I take Gagg's point that there isn't another captain making himself obvious so, BMac stays. But if so he has to open (at Rutherford's expense). I don't see a space for him at 6 as I wouldn't want to rely on Williamson/Ryder for more than a total of 5 or 6 overs a day in a test - they'll each have their day once in a while but most of the time they won't really put pressure on opposition batters - so you need a player like Anderson. Likewise, don't muck Williamson up by making him open - England tried it with Root and it didn't work. He stays at 3. Which leaves one spot up for grabs. If Ryder goes to 5, BMac goes to 2 and we accept that we'll be 1 down inside the first half hour more often than not but that once every 6 or so tests he'll come off.

Posted by   on (December 16, 2013, 17:30 GMT)

Fulton is on thin ice 2 out of 3fails against a terrible attack.

Posted by Bishop on (December 16, 2013, 9:03 GMT)

@luke dalgety. You want to drop Fulton because he scores his fifties too slowly??? Seriously? How about dropping Rutherford instead, who invariably throws his wicket away long before he reaches fifty leaving the middle order exposed to a fresh attack with a still newish ball?

I must admit, I doubted Fulton's recall to the test side...in fact reading about it made me want to smash my head repeatedly against my computer keyboard. But you can't argue with results. Since his recall, he has repeatedly blunted the new ball, and then gone on to score more than useful runs. I would have liked to have seen him convert a few more fifties to hundreds, but two tons in nine tests is still pretty good. He scores them ugly, and his technique is questionable, but somehow he finds a way. Personally I think a Richardsonesque old school opener who is happy to be 20 n.o. at lunch is exactly what NZ have been looking for.

Posted by   on (December 16, 2013, 8:30 GMT)

anderson has to stay based on performances, mcculum is not consistent, taylor well we know where he is at, williamson is improving massively, fulton has averaged 40 since returning so unfair to drop him, rutherford i think needs to go back to fc cricket and try to get not out in one innings or more and test himself against vettori nad astle aswell as forming partnerships lower down the order

Posted by kiwicricketnut on (December 16, 2013, 6:26 GMT)

@ juvin liji, nobody doubts mccullums talent, ive said this before and don't want to sound like a broken record but there would be at least 15 batsmen in nz with a better first class record than mccullum, i'd argue that if any one of these guys were given the oppotunities at test level that mccullum has had they would of produced a better record than him. still averaging 35 is ok for nz batsmen but does that mean we settle for mediocrity? as for his captaincy, i don't mind it but he makes some dumb decisions as well, he's certainly not the second best in the world. in all fairness though he won't be dropped but ryder can't be left out, nor should anderson be dropped, most people want to see him shift back to open and lead from the front and i agree, it would be the least disruption to the team but it should be rutherford not fulton who dips out as much as i'd like both gone.

Posted by weasel_zapper on (December 16, 2013, 6:26 GMT)

Hesson cops alot of flack but selection wise he's done ok. Just his coaching ability that is questionable... but it is what it is. At least we're actually picking openers to open at the moment instead of trying to shoehorn in middle order players. We've given 2 guys an extended period (by NZ standards) to try and prove themselves and build a combination.

Ryder in for Anderson would be the most likely move, we would lose a bit with the bowling but with 4 bowlers and Ryder/Williamson i think we would be ok.

Looking at the Indian series if the wickets continue to suit our pace attack Ryder for Sodhi could be an option, would be a bit harsh to a guy who shows alot of promise (same with Anderson i guess) but I just don't see Sodhi able to spin us to victory against India in our conditions. Would make for a very strong batting order too.

@ Unomaas agree with your thoughts re McCullum. 37 as a specialist batsmen is still fair by NZ standards. Only 2 100's 13 50's is poor conversion though

Posted by   on (December 16, 2013, 5:08 GMT)

my 3rd and least likely XI would be

1.Fulton 2. Williamson 3. Taylor 4. Ryder 5. Anderson 6. McCullum 7. Watling 8. Southee 9. Wagner 10. Vettori 11. Boult

I know hes never opened before but i think Williamson has the technique for it. Hes very tight and compact and has the right state of mind to apply himself in tough conditions. Dont get me wrong this is my outside option but it offers the most reward if Williamson could pull it off.

Posted by   on (December 16, 2013, 5:02 GMT)

Another option if we dont want to play with the bowling attack to much (which is valid cause there doing well and we need them to settle).

1. Fulton 2. Papps 3. Williamson 4. Taylor 5. Ryder 6. McCullum 7. Watling 8.Wagner 9. Southee 10. Vettori 11. Boult

*obviously in all of my XI's Sodhi is in for Vettori if unfit. in actual fact i think Vettori is done and wouldn't be to unhappy if they keep developing Sodhi like they have been but just like everyone else id LOVE to see 1 more good season from Dan.

an almost strait swap of Anderson for Ryder would mean McCullum and Watling would all drop one place down the order with Ryder being the 4th seamer.

Posted by   on (December 16, 2013, 4:53 GMT)

1. Fulton 2. Papps 3. Williamson 4. Taylor 5. Ryder 6. McCullum 7. Anderson 8.Watling 9. Southee 10. Vettori 11. Boult

i think the openers need to be tinkered with regardless so to me that a separate issue. i think keep fulton for a bit longer and see if he has success working on his problems with the moving ball, sine his return even with those problems hes averaging 40 something. Rutherford looks really good but is i think a bit underdone i think everyone agrees he needs to work on his mental game and concentration. Papps has done enough to earn another chance even if it is mostly to provide impetus to Rutherford\Fulton to hopefully lift there games.

As far as finding a spot for ryder first option is to bring him in at the expense of the bowling lineup. Wanger hasn't done to much wrong to be dropped but Anderson could make a very good 3rd seamer and ryder could also 'hopefully' bowl some tidy medium pacers. this would also beef up an already strong lower order.

Posted by   on (December 16, 2013, 4:47 GMT)

With Ryder in contention its pretty hard to pick out best XI without unsettling the batting order to much. As always its the 2 opening spots that need attention and with no current in form middle order batsmen being suitable for a shift up the order it make for a few very interesting experimental possibilities.

Posted by BRUTALANALYST on (December 16, 2013, 4:38 GMT)

I wouldn't read to much into scoring 400 consistently v this West Indies attack as it's the worst I've ever seen.

Posted by   on (December 16, 2013, 4:25 GMT)

isn't it funny, the last time we were consistenly getting 400 first innings was the Richardson/fleming era and now that weve got another opener willing to graft the new ball in Fulton were getting 400 again. Of course the know not much, done even less crew will say Fulton should be dropped even though he averages 108 balls per innings since his return and dare I say it his contribution in Bangladesh balls faced wise saved us a lot of embarrassment. these people who say Fulton this, fulton that, have no idea how much harder it is to graft, and against the new ball too, anyone can go and have a lash at the bowling and fulton could too you know if he wasn't dedicated to the cause and being successful this time around. I would like to offer Fulton my congratulations on his comeback and hope it continues for quite sometime yet.

Posted by kiwicricketnut on (December 16, 2013, 3:33 GMT)

the batting is getting better but its still our weakness, especially against spin, the only reason why its our weakness is because you need your 5 best batsmen in the country in the team some would argue 6 but i like having an allrounder in the team and then your keeper who now days has to be a genuine batsman, i would say williamson, taylor, ryder, guptill and latham are the 5 best batsmen in terms of talent, even if guptill has struggled a bit against the red ball hes a better batter than rutherford and fulton and an added bonus of being an exceptional fielder, the more time guptill spends in the team the better he'll get because he's class, rutherford throws his wicket away and fulton can't handle the moving ball, anderson is the allrounder and the exceptional watling as keeper, we have a strong tail but untill the 5 best batters are all playing together batting will be our weakness

Posted by iceaxe on (December 16, 2013, 1:46 GMT)

"Consistent first-innings runs emerging" Interesting!... (LOL)...

Sure, we did well in the Wellington and Dunedin test, but "consistent"?! Wow! Lets hope we (NZ) can pull ourselves up out of the sewer. At least the last two games have shown we can win locally (I'd be seriously worried if we didn't).

Posted by shooting on (December 16, 2013, 1:43 GMT)

Fulton/Rutherford, Ryder, Williamson, Taylor, McCullum(c), Watling (wk), Anderson, Southee, Sodhi/Vettori, Bracewell/Wagner, Boult

Guptil as backup. Hesson will never have the balls to drop McCullum. Rutherford is good but he throws his wicket away to some really bad shots. McCullum does the same too. Watling and Taylor have been the standout batsmen for me, and I can see Williamson doing really well too... Im excited for this summer of cricket.

Posted by   on (December 15, 2013, 21:29 GMT)

i read many post about mcullum nz team with out mccullum u guys are kidding hes the best batsman in the team after taylor and williamson in tests hes the best captain around along with msd ,

Posted by Unomaas on (December 15, 2013, 20:53 GMT)

@Gagg

We all know that McCullum has the talent. I don't think anyone disputes that. Its just his decision making processes are whack! Bazz should take a look at what ABdV is doing and learn when to attack and when to stonewall. Bazz has got that fight fire with fire mentality which while usefull in the limited overs arena, gets him into all sorts of trouble in the test arena.

I think most of us thought that as Bazz got older, he would just naturally learn some wisdom and maturity and his rough edges would be polished. No such luck I'm afraid :(. How I wish Bazz would learn just to leave the damn ball alone if it ain't near his stumps! Whats wrong with Bazz playing an innings like Williamson's? I'm a Saffa and he frustrates me to no end. If you are a New Zealander, you must have steam coming out of your head everytime bazz gets out in one of his stupid ways!

Posted by DJRNZ on (December 15, 2013, 20:48 GMT)

@Unomaas, on that basis should probably shouldn't axe Fulton, I have just never been his biggest fan. All I know is that Ryder has to be in there. The sooner he is a regular in the side the better off the NZ team will be. If McCullum wasn't Captain he could be axed for the Tests but we all know that is not going to happen. Will be interesting to see what happens. I don't want to see someone with tons of potential like Anderson get axed. Will be interesting to see what happens but isn't it good to have this debate! Can't remember the last time we were a bit spoilt for choice in terms of who to include etc. Too often guys are making up the numbers for me.

Posted by wakemeupbeforeyougogo on (December 15, 2013, 20:16 GMT)

Why would you change the side that has so much chemistry just to accommodate Ryder (who turned his back on NZ cricket last year) there's an old saying, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.'

Posted by StevieS on (December 15, 2013, 19:10 GMT)

Unomaas McCullum is a walking wicket no matter where he bats.

Posted by Unomaas on (December 15, 2013, 18:13 GMT)

Since Peter Fulton's resurrection at the NZ top order, he averages 40. FORTY! Is NZ cricket so spoiled for options that it can afford to squander such stability at the top of the order? Richie Richardson (the best ever opener NZ had), has a life time average of 44. Whats up with this talk of axing Fulton? Fulton's job is to blunt the new ball which he does admirably. He's not their to score quickly. If you wanna talk about axing, then rather send Rutherford back to Plunkett shield to cool some of that hotheadedness of his.

Totally agree with Jesse Ryder's inclusion in the team but the only way to accommodate him is to either send McCullum to open or axe McCullum . Bazz as a opener is a walking wicket. We all know it. We've seen it numerous times. But you can't axe McCullum either. 2 captaincy changes in the space of a year will rip the guts out of this NZ team.

Why can't Jesse Ryder open? We all know he has the talent to be a success?

Posted by   on (December 15, 2013, 18:11 GMT)

If Hesson dropped McCullum for Ryder, he'd be committing political suicide within the dressing room, after the whole saga with the captaincy. McCullum, irrespective of performances, has a free card at least for the next year or two. McCullum can't face opening bowlers in tests, he quite simply lacks the application.

The fact that he can't keep makes it hard. Although operating with four full time bowlers and two part timers in the form of Williamson and Ryder (assuming he still bowls?) could work. I think it's doubtful McCullum will stay in the team more than a couple more years, given his body isn't always holding up.

Possible XI in my opinion: Guptill, Rutherford, Ryder, Williamson, Taylor, McCullum, Watling, Southee, Boult, Wagner and Vettori if he's fit, otherwise Sodhi.

I'm sorta hoping McClenaghan can prove himself in the longer forms, because then he could also be in contention, but with an average of 38, it seems unlikely just now.

Posted by DJRNZ on (December 15, 2013, 17:22 GMT)

Get Mark Richardson to mentor Rutherford. He's the only decent opener we have had since John Wright. Rutherford has tons of potential, just needs better shot selection and to work on his temperament. For Indian Tests - 1 Rutherford, 2 McCullum, 3 Williamson, 4 Taylor, 5 Ryder, 6 Anderson, 7 Watling 8 Vetorri / Sodhi, 9 Southee 10 Boult 11 Wagner

Posted by NostroGustro on (December 15, 2013, 17:20 GMT)

I know it won't happen, but straight swap Ryder for McCullum. McCullum isn't a test opener. He isn't a test number 5 either. As pardo eloquently put it, he is a test number 6 bat but without the allrounder component. He is standing in the way of the best team imo.

Posted by   on (December 15, 2013, 16:47 GMT)

Guptill instead of Fulton mccullum to open and Ryder at 5

Posted by   on (December 15, 2013, 15:12 GMT)

Its time west indies cricket board get people who understand the game in charge of the team what has been going on with the west indies team is just too much for too long the hard work of the pass legends are being make a mockery of, the selection panel is the problem they are picking guys with little are no ability to play test cricket and expect to win. Sammy batting are bowling is not first change are good enough for test Gabriel cant pitch the ball on the seam best is not a spear head of test bowling he can be a third are fourth seamer most of the batsmen technique are bad its time to start looking for youngster with the ability and work with them, Christ Gayle 33, chanderpaul 39 its time to move on and start look to the feature they need guys they cant get at least 7 or 8 years out of, my team for touring country's like SA, AUS,END,NEWZ, 1Simmons (wkp), 2Edwards, 3Sarwan (capt), 4 Bravo, 5 Samuel, 6Carter 7rampaul 8Roach, 9Narine, 10Cummins 11caterall, sub continent add a spine

Posted by StevieS on (December 15, 2013, 13:33 GMT)

pardo no it's not, but Williamson is still a few years away and as long as Hesson is coach Taylor won't get the captaincy. Not sure who else could be captain.

Posted by pardo on (December 15, 2013, 12:04 GMT)

McCullum is not a test class top order batsman but I don't really rate Rutherford either TBH - too many scores between 20-42 (7/15) - quality openers don't get in then get out without making a decent score. Opening with Rutherford and BMac would see us 40/2 in the 8th over more often than not. if BMac opens it has to be at Rutherford's expense. There is still a dearth of players who have the patience and ability to perform consistently as openers at test level against quality bowling. A middle order of Williamson, Taylor and Ryder is potentially the best 3,4,5 as a group NZ have ever had - the problem is we need openers who can average 40+ against top attacks or the middle three will never get the chance to fulfil their potential. BMac's natural place in the order is 6 but if he can no longer keep then you're effectively playing a leadership/batting allrounder instead of a batting/bowling allrounder. Is his leadership more valuable than Anderson's bowling?

Posted by   on (December 15, 2013, 11:45 GMT)

McCullum at the top sounds alright actually...If we have Jesse included..then we will have a very strong batting line up, plus the fact that Ryder and Anderson bowl nice medium pacers. I think the sooner we get that team together the better! Although maybe Jeet Raval could have a go just to see if he can cut it at test level..if not drop him out, simple. But Fulton has to go, although he can get pretty good scores and gets a 50 quite often..he is just seen as someone who holds NZ back, he is way past his best and has a very slow striker rate, which in some cases you could say is good because it keeps Rutherford in check, but NZ would be better off getting a quick 50-100 run partnership at the top and would set the tone early!

And what better time to try options against a struggling WI and in prep for the Indians tour of NZ.

Maybe NZ A could be a good start for Raval....just as a tester?

Posted by DJRNZ on (December 15, 2013, 11:04 GMT)

@Gaff, not ideal but I would swap McCullium to the top for Fulton to accommodate Ryder. Fulton just doesn't cut it for me at test level and McCullum does have experience opening. McCullium won't be dropped for Ryder. Would be a pretty decent line up with Rutherford, McCullum, Williamson, Taylor, Ryder, Anderson, Watling ..... Boult and Southee are musts and whoever else is fit / playing well will make up the rest of the team.

Posted by nzcricket174 on (December 15, 2013, 10:42 GMT)

McCullum has to open Jesse Ryder doesn't fit in the team otherwise, and you can't not have him as he is clearly our second best batter after Ross Taylor.

Posted by StevieS on (December 15, 2013, 7:09 GMT)

Not forgetting our second best batsman in Ryder has finally made himself available. Still a problem with the openers, Guptill gets found our by quality bowlers, maybe give Jeet Raval a go. Although if Ryder returns, McCullum may be forced to open again either that or there will be no place in the team for him as Ryder is a far superior batsman.

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Andrew McGlashanClose
Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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