McMillan questions NZ's World Cup preparations
Craig McMillan, the former New Zealand batsman, has said that New Zealand's preparations for the World Cup on the subcontinent are in disarray.
"There are a lot of question marks over how the side is travelling, the direction it is heading in, and the performances of the players," McMillan told the Dominion Post. "I don't believe the team is stable and I don't believe the selectors know what their best side is yet. I don't think they've got the batting order correct with the best players in their best positions."
New Zealand have had a poor run of form in ODIs in the recent past. They came into the India tour following a 4-0 loss in Bangladesh. They managed to draw the first two Tests against India and lost the third one in Nagpur. However, they have lost the first two games of the ongoing five-match ODI series in India, and have now lost eight straight completed ODIs since beating India by 200 runs in Dambulla in August.
New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori had said the tours of Bangladesh and India would be ideal preparation for the World Cup. McMillan, however, reckoned the tours had "turned out to be anything but, in terms of their performances."
"Confidence has to be low," he said. "It was low after they came back from Bangladesh. Individuals would have taken some heart out of the first two Tests, but they've got to start winning games to get that confidence back. They're running out of time."
The New Zealand batsmen have struggled to get off to a good start in both the ODIs in India so far, losing their first wicket within the first seven overs. Kane Williamson has struggled at No. 3, failing to get past 30 on both occasions, and McMillan said that Ross Taylor should be moved up the order.
"It's important that the top three create a strike-rate and Williamson, to me, is a player who needs some time at the crease to get going. No. 3 is not the right position for him and that showed in the first game where the second batting Powerplay was 0-11 off five.
"In subcontinent conditions you're largely chasing big totals so you need a good start. Taylor is not afraid to hit the ball in the air and the field will be up which allows him to play his natural game."
Another area of concern for New Zealand, according to McMillan, was the No. 6 slot. Grant Elliot and Vettori were tried in that position in the first two ODIs but McMillan said New Zealand needed to look at other options. "Six is really the spot that needs to be sorted out rather quickly; [Jacob] Oram if he's fit, [James] Franklin is in the mix, but I don't think No. 6 suits Elliott's batting style."
New Zealand's bowlers failed to trouble India's batsmen when they defended 258 in Jaipur, with the hosts reaching the target in 43 overs. McMillan, however, believed the key to New Zealand's success in the World Cup would lie with their batsmen. "Batting is what is going to win us games. It's important that New Zealand have a confident, aggressive batting lineup who are confident in their ability and just go out and play their natural game."