Bracewell challenges New Zealand batsmen
John Bracewell, New Zealand's coach, wants his batsmen to "start living above the line" of averaging above 40 on their tour of England and Scotland and beyond. He is counting on a young side, including the uncapped Aaron Redmond and Daniel Flynn, to flourish if New Zealand are to do well.
"We've got to work above the line, and the line to be successful as an international batsman is 40-plus," Bracewell told NZPA in Christchurch on Tuesday. "We've got to start moving in that direction. We've got to start living above the line."
Four New Zealand batsmen averaged above 40 in their latest Test series, against England earlier this year. Thirteen half-centuries were shared among seven batsmen, but only one - Ross Taylor - made a century.
Redmond and Flynn now have their chance for debut. Redmond, 28, is almost guaranteed a start, as Bracewell has previously confirmed he will be the first-choice opener. 23-year-old Flynn made his ODI and Twenty20 debuts for New Zealand against England earlier this year but has yet to feature in a Test.
Five players will join up with the squad in England on May 1, having been allowed to play in the IPL. Taylor, Daniel Vettori, Brendon McCullum, Jacob Oram and Kyle Mills will arrive in time for the first-class warm-ups against Essex and England A. The first Test, at Lord's as is tradition, is one of three and begins on May 15. They will miss two practice matches: a one-dayer against MCC in Arundel on Sunday and a three-day fixture against Kent which starts on Monday.
However, Bracewell was excited about the experience the IPL offered, denying that it wasn't good preparation leading into a Test series. "It's going to be great for us," he said of the experience the players would gain playing alongside such players as Australia's Ricky Ponting.
"We go from Twenty20 stuff to one-dayers to Test matches at the drop of a hat on a travel-to-play basis now and these guys are our most experienced players. They'll be comfortable with their return to the team and what they've gained from that. It's a landscape we're reasonably used to, but not necessarily at this hype."
Bracewell is excited by "the adventure" of playing in England, and hopes this will fire up his squad. "I loved that bonding culture that you get out of busing around the place," said Bracewell, who toured there three times between 1983 and 1990. "Those sorts of grounds, so steeped in history... It's something that scratches my itch and I hope that it scratches the itch of some of our young players."
New Zealand head to England having lost 2-1 at home in their recent Test series. Their last tour of England, in 2004, resulted in a 3-0 win for the home side.