New Zealand news December 16, 2014

McCullum mulls opener's role for World Cup

ESPNcricinfo staff

Brendon McCullum last opened in an ODI during the 2011 World Cup © ICC

New Zealand's regular captain Brendon McCullum has suggested that he could play as an opener in the 2015 World Cup as the side looks for a settled combination before the tournament in February-March.

In 13 innings this year, New Zealand have tried out four opening pairs with Martin Guptill and Jesse Ryder having played the most games. However, with Ryder out of contention for a World Cup spot, the second opener's slot has seen a few shuffles. James Neesham was tried out during the home series against South Africa and with Guptill injured for the first two ODIs of the ongoing series against Pakistan, New Zealand opened the batting with Anton Devcich and Dean Brownlie. Brownlie was given the axe on Guptill's return though.

McCullum expressed confidence in the New Zealand middle order, which has also contributed to the argument to possibly promote himself.

"We've got a No 3 and No 4 [Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor] who I believe are as good as any No 3 and 4 in the world," McCullum told "Then a guy like Luke Ronchi scoring runs significantly down the order who can close out games and we've got experience and hitters too.

"[Opening] probably suits my game as well, there'll be no stone unturned, we'll definitely be having a go. I also think Guppy [Martin Guptill] and I go well as a combination."

McCullum has opened in 84 ODIs, scoring 2480 runs at 33.06 - better than his career average of 30.05 - and has struck three of his four ODI hundreds in that position. McCullum and Ryder are the third-most successful opening partnership for New Zealand in ODIs - with 1069 runs in 22 innings - and the McCullum-Guptill pair have made 795 runs with an average of 44.16. His last ODI innings as an opener came during the 2011 World Cup and since then he has played in the middle order.

Even as he looked at playing as an opener in ODIs, McCullum said that he will drop down the order to his No. 5 spot for the home Tests against Sri Lanka, which start from December 26 in Christchurch. McCullum had opened the innings in the recent Test series against Pakistan, where he also scored 202 in Sharjah, but insisted that move was to allow the side to play a specialist bowler.

"It's back down to No. 5 for me in this Test series. It was a horses-for-courses option in Sharjah, we needed the extra bowling option over there," he said. "I think you need to have a couple of players in the group who are quite fluid and it's easier to do for the captain, there's a bit more experience and a bit less pressure."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Bill on December 23, 2014, 6:55 GMT

    The only trouble with the little guy up the top is when the pressure comes during an innings and we need someone at the end of the innings who can handle the HUGE pressure that will come during a WC game... it's probbaly all going to come down to Taylor staying in til the job is done. There is no one in our side who handles the middle order chasing with run rate pressure. That's going to be the difference whenever we chase a total. As great as Kane is doing he does not strike me the guys who can score 16-18 runs off a rampant Malinga or a fired up Stetyn in a semi final.. McCullums greatest winning contributions have been helping chase down huge totals against Australian sides coming in down the order. That was a few years ago now but it's proof that he knows how to win..

  • ladlesh on December 19, 2014, 16:13 GMT

    i dont understand why watling is not included in the side ? he is a rock solid player and defensively better than ross taylor or williamson . he has performed almost all the time even so low down the order with the tailenders with the minimum opportunity that he gets. . Newzeland need him for this world cup to give them a solid opening base from where they could launch. which guptill so far has failed too. my team would be 1 latham 2 watling 3 mcullum 4 williamson 5 guptill 6 ross taylor (as an experienced hitter in place of neesham and c anderson) 7 D vettori 8 southee 9 boult 10 mills 11 milne I dont understand why to pick c anderson or neesham just bcaz they can bowl and bat ? in one out of 10 match ? on the basis of couple of previous performance i am sure they would fail on bigger stages and on bigger grounds . we've seen that happen with miller SA has always regreted. job they do can also be done by vettori mills and other bowlers its all the same if you think practically.

  • Anshuman on December 18, 2014, 18:33 GMT

    Devcich should not be included in WC squad. He is totally waste. In the last few ODIs he showed his poor class n techniques...

  • Dummy on December 18, 2014, 11:50 GMT

    What about trent boult???

  • Tom on December 18, 2014, 6:38 GMT

    @Min2000 completely agree with your XI mate, i think hesson will go with a similar one apart from Latham, I think he is a great player and should be opening but if they agreed they would be opening with him against pak, clearly they see him at 5/6 or is just there making up numbers until we get our full strength squad. Milne and Henry's form has been too good to ignore and vettori also, looking good for this world cup hopefully can at least make semi's.

    Looking forward to the match vs aus at eden park!

  • Jon on December 18, 2014, 1:17 GMT

    For me, this team almost picks itself -- the only real tough choice here is who will open with Guptill. Ryder would be my first choice but that's no longer an option. I like Brownlie and I also like Williamson at opener for the ODIs. There's also the option of giving Neesham or Ronchi the job.

    In the end I've gone with Latham because he's solid and I don't believe that bashing in the early overs should be our game plan. New Zealand plays best when we bat relatively normally, retaining wickets so we can charge in the final 10 overs.

    So my World Cup team is as follows:

    1. Guptill 2. Latham 3. Williamson 4. Taylor 5. McCullum 6. Anderson 7. Ronchi 8. Vettori 9. Southee 10. Milne 11. Henry

    Bench: Brownlie, Neesham, N McCullum, Mills, McClenaghan

  • Dummy4 on December 18, 2014, 0:07 GMT

    The team is shaping up nicely. Importantly we all know where we stand with Jesse Ryder and its a shame but he deserves as much sympathy as each and everyone of us is given each day. He had chance after chance and he is mentally just not there as far as playing international cricket. Vettori feels like baggage to me more than say Corey Anderson. This guy Anderson is 24years old and he holds the record for the fastest one day century!! God lord Shahid Afridi lived off his debut for more than a decade. Exaggerating a little but Anderson possesses the same ability. So he will frustrate with inconsistency probably but give the guy his head and let him play! This is where fans and media ruin good players. All the attention gets in their heads. Let them play with confidence their natural game! Some real talent in the side which is great to see.

  • Leo on December 17, 2014, 22:20 GMT

    McCullum opening in ODI cricket will solve all of NZ's problems, guptills form is flourishing just in time for the WC, NZ has the fast bowlers and the middle order to win the WC. both Kevin Pietersen and Jason Gillespie have marked NZ as favourites. 1. McCullum 2. Guptill 3. Williamson 4. Taylor 5. Anderson 6. Latham 7. Ronchi 8. Vettori 9. Southee 10. Milne 11. Henry. That is the best side NZ could go into the WC with, absolutely no weak links there. Brownlie as reserve batsman and McClenghan as reserve seamer. Boult should focus only on Test cricket, that is where he is most effective and with the bowling depth in NZ it is unnecessary to try and convert him to limit overs cricket also.

  • jared on December 17, 2014, 9:58 GMT

    Yep the right man for the job, will take pressure off guptill as well, not that its an excuse for him to muck around, he needs to go after the bowling while the fields up as well, let williamson or taylor play the anchor role, not guptill, he's a dasher so dash he must, not sure who fills the 5 spot though, its too high for anderson and ronchi so latham needs to step up, we shouldn't really have holes to fill this close to the cup but we do and we are running out of time to get it right, good on mccullum for fixing one problem but has created another. My xv for the world cup. 1.b.mccullum 2.guptill 3.williamson 4.taylor 5.latham 6.anderson 7.ronchi 8.vettori 9.southee 10.henry 11.mcclenaghan 12.mills 13.boult 14.n.mccullum 15.munro, munro makes it because we need batting reserves, neesham isn't cutting it as a batter, latham can cover opening and i think munro is the next best middle order bat, him or watling, milne just misses the cut because, well his record tells you why, big risk.

  • Android on December 17, 2014, 9:38 GMT

    would be great if he performs but hes also good at stabilising an innings if nz get in trouble so maybe move ronci up and drop anderson down one

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