New Zealand news December 3, 2010

McMillan questions NZ's World Cup preparations

ESPNcricinfo staff
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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."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on December 4, 2010, 14:16 GMT

    NZ is making unwanted changes in the batting order by sending Williamson at No 3. Taylor is the right player to come at No 3. They have quality all rounders like Franklin,Styris,Elliot,Oram,Williamson,N McCullum and Vettori himself. While a large country like India struggles to find a genuine all rounder,NZ a small island,with it's all rounder resources should use them properly.

  • on December 4, 2010, 13:20 GMT

    @ James, the english spinner is Ian Blackwell; Bracewell is a seamer (and certainly not english, given his relation to John..) Not suggesting we pick Milne now, just that he is a good prospect. Aside from Wagner, and maybe Bennett, not many of those around in the bowling department..

  • timelord24 on December 4, 2010, 11:05 GMT

    i think NZ should stop playing cricket and concentrate only on rugby

  • on December 4, 2010, 11:03 GMT

    @ Richard Beaton Firstly Doug Bracewell is a spinner and he's English, therefore not available for selection. Milne currently is too inaccurate and far too inexperienced, for Indian batsman who are used to facing Milne's ilk, he'd be cannon fodder.

  • on December 4, 2010, 11:01 GMT

    @mahesh: Dravid has been one of the greatest assest to indian team in terms of performances...there should be no one to question about his contribution to ODI team!

  • contractordarshan on December 4, 2010, 10:33 GMT

    New Zealand should bring back Lou Vincent.

  • kiwi_boyz on December 4, 2010, 10:06 GMT

    What the hell is Hopkins doing in the team ??? when the world cup is just round the corner y r v time n again using hopkins whose failed time n again at the international level? average of just around 15 in more than 25 ODIs .... is this wat we want? Y not watling or arent there any young keepers in the domestic scene? give the gloves to b mccullum....it gives space to add another batsman or bowler... elliott or franklin can fit in....

  • IndiaGoats on December 4, 2010, 5:43 GMT

    @Mahesh Thiagarajan: Look at 1999 and 2003 World cups. Rahul Dravid was the highest scorer for India in 1999 (plus highest average). In 2003, he still had the highest average and was one of the better finishers.

  • on December 4, 2010, 5:09 GMT

    Ah! McMillan... we just need you back in the team!!!

  • on December 4, 2010, 1:12 GMT

    @ Soohwan, I think Wagner becomes eligible at the end of the current season. Mills just had an off day but has been our most consistent ODI seamer for some time. Domestically CD has some very promising young seamers like Doug Bracewell and particularly Adam Milne hitting 140's at the age of 19, watch out for them in the HRV cup. XI's by nzcricket174 and 7477 are OK; I would have Franklin in while Oram unfit and How in while Ryder unfit. Hoping How gets over his nerves and shows his quality. McCullum / How / Guptil / Taylor / Williamson / Styris / Franklin / Vettori / McCullum / Mills / Southee or McKay

  • on December 4, 2010, 14:16 GMT

    NZ is making unwanted changes in the batting order by sending Williamson at No 3. Taylor is the right player to come at No 3. They have quality all rounders like Franklin,Styris,Elliot,Oram,Williamson,N McCullum and Vettori himself. While a large country like India struggles to find a genuine all rounder,NZ a small island,with it's all rounder resources should use them properly.

  • on December 4, 2010, 13:20 GMT

    @ James, the english spinner is Ian Blackwell; Bracewell is a seamer (and certainly not english, given his relation to John..) Not suggesting we pick Milne now, just that he is a good prospect. Aside from Wagner, and maybe Bennett, not many of those around in the bowling department..

  • timelord24 on December 4, 2010, 11:05 GMT

    i think NZ should stop playing cricket and concentrate only on rugby

  • on December 4, 2010, 11:03 GMT

    @ Richard Beaton Firstly Doug Bracewell is a spinner and he's English, therefore not available for selection. Milne currently is too inaccurate and far too inexperienced, for Indian batsman who are used to facing Milne's ilk, he'd be cannon fodder.

  • on December 4, 2010, 11:01 GMT

    @mahesh: Dravid has been one of the greatest assest to indian team in terms of performances...there should be no one to question about his contribution to ODI team!

  • contractordarshan on December 4, 2010, 10:33 GMT

    New Zealand should bring back Lou Vincent.

  • kiwi_boyz on December 4, 2010, 10:06 GMT

    What the hell is Hopkins doing in the team ??? when the world cup is just round the corner y r v time n again using hopkins whose failed time n again at the international level? average of just around 15 in more than 25 ODIs .... is this wat we want? Y not watling or arent there any young keepers in the domestic scene? give the gloves to b mccullum....it gives space to add another batsman or bowler... elliott or franklin can fit in....

  • IndiaGoats on December 4, 2010, 5:43 GMT

    @Mahesh Thiagarajan: Look at 1999 and 2003 World cups. Rahul Dravid was the highest scorer for India in 1999 (plus highest average). In 2003, he still had the highest average and was one of the better finishers.

  • on December 4, 2010, 5:09 GMT

    Ah! McMillan... we just need you back in the team!!!

  • on December 4, 2010, 1:12 GMT

    @ Soohwan, I think Wagner becomes eligible at the end of the current season. Mills just had an off day but has been our most consistent ODI seamer for some time. Domestically CD has some very promising young seamers like Doug Bracewell and particularly Adam Milne hitting 140's at the age of 19, watch out for them in the HRV cup. XI's by nzcricket174 and 7477 are OK; I would have Franklin in while Oram unfit and How in while Ryder unfit. Hoping How gets over his nerves and shows his quality. McCullum / How / Guptil / Taylor / Williamson / Styris / Franklin / Vettori / McCullum / Mills / Southee or McKay

  • on December 3, 2010, 23:36 GMT

    not that i have anything against mills and mckay... in fact mills played at the local club i played at as a child... i'd like to see fresh new bowlers come into the squad, Neil Wagner is standing out in the plunket shield this season, at just 24 hes got huge potential and a big future - i know he's from south africa so im not sure on his eligibility so im just assuming he can be selected. i think the batting line up just needs to be consistent for the batsmen to find their form, if they keep changing the players, as well as the order, they have no chance to settle and gain any form before the world cup. i hope the selectors are more clever and creative when the black caps play here against pakistan, we're certainly running out of time, but its not impossible to fix our problems.

  • on December 3, 2010, 20:29 GMT

    McMillan is right that Taylor should be at no3 in the current line up. He can take advantage of the fielding restrictions and the more overs he bats the better. Williamson should move down to no5 where he can come in and work the ball around.

    @ misrt28, I agree it would be great if they'd recall Lou Vincent who is an excellent ODI batsman. Unfortunately, I think they're reluctant after he went to the ICL a few years ago & hasn't played much local cricket since. He's captaining Auckland for the domestic T20 competition though, so maybe he can earn a recall.

  • KAIRAVA on December 3, 2010, 19:27 GMT

    Why are Watling & Diamanti not part of the squad. Both are aggressive batsmen who would have an asset in NZ ODI team.

  • geminianrahul on December 3, 2010, 18:31 GMT

    I support NZ a lot but don't like it when it beat India. The memories are still fresh in my mind when NZ defeated India in the Champions Trophy Final through a brilliant knock from Chris Cairns. And more than Cairns brilliance it was even India's bad fielding that led to their downfall in that match. I don't think it will be repeated in this WC. I hope India goes smooth and wins this WC as this is the last WC for Sachin Tendulkar. He deserves to gift a WC to India or vice-versa as he has been an ardent servant of the game for more than two decades. And coming back to NZ, I hope they clear all their pyschological problems and present a good show today against India and be a good challenge to India and really hope they don't beat them. One sided matches are really boring but I even don't mind if it goes one-sided towards India as we even have England's Ashes to keep me interested. I know that my comments are very biased and selfish but can't help being a crazy Indian cricket supporter.

  • razorhedge on December 3, 2010, 16:05 GMT

    NZ has always produced the some very hardhitting/stylish batsman over the years that never hit their peak (barring astle and mcmillan)... They really need to get a physchologist because talent is abundant but application is NIL.. as an indian who had to suffer through the horrible 90s, it just comes down to the mental aspect

  • rohanbala on December 3, 2010, 11:51 GMT

    The current New Zealand team is probably the weakest to have left its shores. What is basically lacking is consistent batting performances from the few big names in the line up. Taylor seems to play better in IPL than when he dons the kiwi gear. Surprising that the tail enders like Kyle Mills showed his skills in going after the bowling. Why is it most captains have forgotten the concept of pinch hitters? Added to this, the wrong timing of taking the batting power plays, have not helped the cause whatsoever.

  • manasvi_lingam on December 3, 2010, 11:01 GMT

    Why not drop Williamson down the order? And please get McCullum to keep. Ryder, B. McCullum, Guptill, Williamson, Taylor, Styris, Franklin/Oram/Elliott, Vettori, Mills, N. McCullum/McKay, Southee. This is one good lineup which bats all the way down to 11, where Southee can hit some meaty blows as well. And lots and lots of bowling options - Mills, McKay/N. McCullum, Southee, Vettori, Ryder, Styris, Williamson, Franklin/Oram/Elliott. A total of 7 bowling options and N. McCullum at 10. This could be the dark horse if only everyone performs to their potential.

  • on December 3, 2010, 10:48 GMT

    I feel kane will be the leading run scorer for new zealand when he retires frm cricket... This guy has lotta potential..

  • anver777 on December 3, 2010, 10:35 GMT

    NZ team is at their best when they play fearless and attacking cricket.....currently they r playing very negatively without any batting plan, I think NZ must play positively in the initial power play overs & put pressure on the opening bowlers....in the past NZ had some power packed batsmen like Greatbach, Twose, Fleming, Astle, Mcmillan, Cairns, Harris & they all played some entertaining cricket & use to chase big scores specially against Aussies & India those days, but nowadays that instinct is missing from the NZ camp may be the players are inexperienced or not matured enough.....hope at least we can see a thrilling match tomorrow !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • on December 3, 2010, 10:28 GMT

    As An Indian,NZ Can Beat Any Team If All NZ Key Players Work Well As A Group. For Example, If Styris Got 50 In First Game They Might Have Won It. If NZ Want To Achieve In WC , Their Key Players Should Work As A Group.

  • Razor88 on December 3, 2010, 9:46 GMT

    @NZCricket - I quiet agree with you,If McCullum can Keep wickets they have a Lot of Options.NZ cricket is at Crisis,Only one win out of 9 Sub Continent Matches is a Huge Problem considering the fact the World Cup is Going to Be played here.Hope they Can Put a better Show in the Future.So Much is at stake,Kane should be Playing at No.4.We all Know he played better in the Bangla Series its a fact that Bangladesh has a better Spinning Combination than Most Sub - Continent teams these days.Probably he is the best man against the spinners.He should take the Responsibility of rotating the strike in the Middle.I think i have already Mentioned it during the Test series,But here i go again - "Why the heck is franklin sitting out".I think he is the best Allrounder after Dan and Oram :|.With Oram having Fitness issues,its best to have franklin coming in at No.6 or even at no.7 if Dan can move up the order.Its a Pain for us fans to see NZ not putting up a fight.They are THE ODI TEAM,if they Click.

  • on December 3, 2010, 9:36 GMT

    Rahul Dravid ? An asset to ODI team ? We have become world beaters only after dropping the likes of Dravid!!! Dravid was creating,exactly the same problem as Williamson, for India all through his career .. eating off momentum at a crucial no.3 slot .. Just that NZ critics are honest and brave enough to admit it .. our critics just know to sing the praise of the big players even if India kept losing!!!!

  • misrt28 on December 3, 2010, 8:46 GMT

    why not lou vincent? he isnt afraid to attack and have go at the bowling...

  • cricketmaniagola on December 3, 2010, 8:28 GMT

    They r in doldrums, doing nothing, an international cricket side, they lack self belief....D vettori and B Mccullum should take less resposibility, talk less and increase performance and whole team should put in effort .....there top order is problem ever since N Astle ans S Fleming retired....at present in India they should open with Natahn McCullum and J Franklin, followed by Ross taylor, Scott Styris/ Jesse Ryder (if he is in Squad), M Guptill, K Wiiliamson, B. McCullum (WK, must take keepers responsibility, key to balance of side atleast in ODI), D Vettori, K Mills, T Southee and A. McKay....in indian conditions u need to impose your top order upon other team ..if u r to be competitive...

  • 7477 on December 3, 2010, 8:23 GMT

    what he says is true. NZ needs to get back to that era where they used to chase scores over 300 about 3-4 times against the mighty Australians who were at their peak.they had strong hitters like Mcmillan/Cairns/Astle/Oram to hit the big sixers. they lack the application now because they cannot play a settled 11 due to the recurring injury issues they had. Black caps could make it even to the semis in 2011 if they have all players available as their combination would suit the conditions in the sub continent. ideally i would go into the WC with the following pool of players. 1/B.Mccullum 2/J.Ryder 3/M.Guptil 4/R.Taylor 5/S.Styris 6/J.Oram 7/K.Mills 8/D.Vettori 9/N.Mccullum 10/T.Southee 11/A.Mckay. stand byes-1/K.Williamson 2/J.Franklin 3/D.Tuffey 4/G.Hopkins. i reckon they could challenge good sides with aggressive intent in batting with the likes of Mccullum/Ryder/Taylor & Oram and controlled bowling by Vettori/Mills/Mcculum/Oram/Styris in very slow pitches.

  • nzcricket174 on December 3, 2010, 7:56 GMT

    Providing everyone is fit, this is my order. 1/2 B McCullum/Ryder 3/4/5/6 Guptill, Taylor, Styris, Williamson 7/8/9 Oram, Vettori, Mills 10/11 N McCullum, Southee. Just looking at this order there are no weak sides to the batting, but the only problem is the only seamers availabe are Southee, Mills and Oram with Styris only bowling part time.McCullum HAS TO KEEP, because it gives so many more options. You can play 1 more bowler or batsmen, or even an all rounder because of Vettori also being an all rounder.

  • on December 3, 2010, 7:47 GMT

    McMillan is absolutely correct in assessing the situation of NZ. With the present set of mind NZ is going to crash at the WC stage as some other minow teams. Selectors, I think have done their job by selecting talented players. Now, NZ needs a good psychiatrist to counsel the boys to come upto their strengths and play. Sometimes, a break also can make the difference. All the best to Vettori and his boys.

  • on December 3, 2010, 7:16 GMT

    Kane Williamson has got huge potential as we have seen in the recent tests...but when it comes to ODI's he is bit slow to start as McMillan rightly pointed it out.....he seems to be in the genre of Rahul Dravid who was seen a burden in ODI's at the beginning of his carrier but later went on to become an asset...just like that I'm sure Williamson would be an asset for NZ in all the forms of the game in the future....

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  • on December 3, 2010, 7:16 GMT

    Kane Williamson has got huge potential as we have seen in the recent tests...but when it comes to ODI's he is bit slow to start as McMillan rightly pointed it out.....he seems to be in the genre of Rahul Dravid who was seen a burden in ODI's at the beginning of his carrier but later went on to become an asset...just like that I'm sure Williamson would be an asset for NZ in all the forms of the game in the future....

  • on December 3, 2010, 7:47 GMT

    McMillan is absolutely correct in assessing the situation of NZ. With the present set of mind NZ is going to crash at the WC stage as some other minow teams. Selectors, I think have done their job by selecting talented players. Now, NZ needs a good psychiatrist to counsel the boys to come upto their strengths and play. Sometimes, a break also can make the difference. All the best to Vettori and his boys.

  • nzcricket174 on December 3, 2010, 7:56 GMT

    Providing everyone is fit, this is my order. 1/2 B McCullum/Ryder 3/4/5/6 Guptill, Taylor, Styris, Williamson 7/8/9 Oram, Vettori, Mills 10/11 N McCullum, Southee. Just looking at this order there are no weak sides to the batting, but the only problem is the only seamers availabe are Southee, Mills and Oram with Styris only bowling part time.McCullum HAS TO KEEP, because it gives so many more options. You can play 1 more bowler or batsmen, or even an all rounder because of Vettori also being an all rounder.

  • 7477 on December 3, 2010, 8:23 GMT

    what he says is true. NZ needs to get back to that era where they used to chase scores over 300 about 3-4 times against the mighty Australians who were at their peak.they had strong hitters like Mcmillan/Cairns/Astle/Oram to hit the big sixers. they lack the application now because they cannot play a settled 11 due to the recurring injury issues they had. Black caps could make it even to the semis in 2011 if they have all players available as their combination would suit the conditions in the sub continent. ideally i would go into the WC with the following pool of players. 1/B.Mccullum 2/J.Ryder 3/M.Guptil 4/R.Taylor 5/S.Styris 6/J.Oram 7/K.Mills 8/D.Vettori 9/N.Mccullum 10/T.Southee 11/A.Mckay. stand byes-1/K.Williamson 2/J.Franklin 3/D.Tuffey 4/G.Hopkins. i reckon they could challenge good sides with aggressive intent in batting with the likes of Mccullum/Ryder/Taylor & Oram and controlled bowling by Vettori/Mills/Mcculum/Oram/Styris in very slow pitches.

  • cricketmaniagola on December 3, 2010, 8:28 GMT

    They r in doldrums, doing nothing, an international cricket side, they lack self belief....D vettori and B Mccullum should take less resposibility, talk less and increase performance and whole team should put in effort .....there top order is problem ever since N Astle ans S Fleming retired....at present in India they should open with Natahn McCullum and J Franklin, followed by Ross taylor, Scott Styris/ Jesse Ryder (if he is in Squad), M Guptill, K Wiiliamson, B. McCullum (WK, must take keepers responsibility, key to balance of side atleast in ODI), D Vettori, K Mills, T Southee and A. McKay....in indian conditions u need to impose your top order upon other team ..if u r to be competitive...

  • misrt28 on December 3, 2010, 8:46 GMT

    why not lou vincent? he isnt afraid to attack and have go at the bowling...

  • on December 3, 2010, 9:36 GMT

    Rahul Dravid ? An asset to ODI team ? We have become world beaters only after dropping the likes of Dravid!!! Dravid was creating,exactly the same problem as Williamson, for India all through his career .. eating off momentum at a crucial no.3 slot .. Just that NZ critics are honest and brave enough to admit it .. our critics just know to sing the praise of the big players even if India kept losing!!!!

  • Razor88 on December 3, 2010, 9:46 GMT

    @NZCricket - I quiet agree with you,If McCullum can Keep wickets they have a Lot of Options.NZ cricket is at Crisis,Only one win out of 9 Sub Continent Matches is a Huge Problem considering the fact the World Cup is Going to Be played here.Hope they Can Put a better Show in the Future.So Much is at stake,Kane should be Playing at No.4.We all Know he played better in the Bangla Series its a fact that Bangladesh has a better Spinning Combination than Most Sub - Continent teams these days.Probably he is the best man against the spinners.He should take the Responsibility of rotating the strike in the Middle.I think i have already Mentioned it during the Test series,But here i go again - "Why the heck is franklin sitting out".I think he is the best Allrounder after Dan and Oram :|.With Oram having Fitness issues,its best to have franklin coming in at No.6 or even at no.7 if Dan can move up the order.Its a Pain for us fans to see NZ not putting up a fight.They are THE ODI TEAM,if they Click.

  • on December 3, 2010, 10:28 GMT

    As An Indian,NZ Can Beat Any Team If All NZ Key Players Work Well As A Group. For Example, If Styris Got 50 In First Game They Might Have Won It. If NZ Want To Achieve In WC , Their Key Players Should Work As A Group.

  • anver777 on December 3, 2010, 10:35 GMT

    NZ team is at their best when they play fearless and attacking cricket.....currently they r playing very negatively without any batting plan, I think NZ must play positively in the initial power play overs & put pressure on the opening bowlers....in the past NZ had some power packed batsmen like Greatbach, Twose, Fleming, Astle, Mcmillan, Cairns, Harris & they all played some entertaining cricket & use to chase big scores specially against Aussies & India those days, but nowadays that instinct is missing from the NZ camp may be the players are inexperienced or not matured enough.....hope at least we can see a thrilling match tomorrow !!!!!!!!!!!!!!