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 stuff.co.nz. "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."

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