New Zealand v Australia, 2nd Test, Hamilton March 25, 2010

Green pitch dents Williamson's debut hopes


Kane Williamson's hopes of making a Test debut at his home ground have taken a nosedive after the New Zealand camp was surprised by a green pitch and wet conditions at Seddon Park. The inclusion of James Franklin in the squad is an indication that they are considering an extra seamer and the coach Mark Greatbatch said on Thursday Peter Ingram and Mathew Sinclair were competing for the No. 3 spot.

"[Daryl] Tuffey's injury and also the conditions we were expecting to face at Seddon Park; dry conditions and a dryish wicket, was one of the reasons why we started talking about Kane," Greatbatch said on Radio Sport. "We got to Hamilton yesterday and what we were expecting and what we played on earlier in the season was not what we saw yesterday. At this stage there's quite a lot of grass on the wicket.

"Ingram and Sinclair are vying for that spot at three. It's not easy at the top of the order in Test cricket and we're still looking for that solution. We need someone to stand up and actually perform. Williamson was brought in for the conditions we thought we were going to face. For his selection for this game the conditions will have to be right for him, on the dryish side, and that looks unlikely at the moment. But you never know, come Saturday."

If he was to play, Williamson would likely bat at No. 6 but it now appears that the main two battles in the squad are between Ingram and Sinclair, and between Franklin and Jeetan Patel. Should Sinclair win a place it will be his first Test in two years and he said the indications from Greatbatch had been positive.

"He's given me a quick wink and nod and said there could be a possibility you may well be playing this Test, depending on the wicket and if a batsman breaks down or whatever happens," Sinclair said. "I've had the lucky experience of playing with Mark and being coached by Mark. When he gave me a ring and said 'Skip are you keen to come back' and I said 'Absolutely mate' and away we went.

He adds that positivity to this environment that is quite encouraging. It's a feel-good thing, we're getting out there and working for each other and that's the key. When you want to beat an Australian side you all have to work together and that's something he's really trying to bring into this team and that's been great."

Sinclair spoke as if he was attending a job interview when he faced the press at Seddon Park on Thursday, defending his record and his recall at the age of 34. His relationship with the media has been rather fraught over the years, as the expectations grew following his double-century on Test debut, only for him to struggle to live up to that standard for much of the remainder of his international career.

Criticism of his lack of footwork nagged at him in his younger years but Sinclair has discovered that piling up runs in domestic cricket is the best answer and this summer has scored 778 in the Plunket Shield at 59.84. Starting a family has given him perspective on his in-and-out times in the New Zealand team, although he remains very eager to play for New Zealand.

"It's definitely motivated me in the last two years," Sinclair said of the desire to add to his 32 Test caps. "I like the setup we've got in the camp at the moment, it's got a good fresh feel about it. I guess my performances in the last two seasons have warranted me being here. That's encouraging and hopefully I can take that domestic form into this international environment.

"I put a little bit too much pressure on myself [in the past]. I've changed now; it's amazing when you start having a family, and the sleepless nights, I guess my perspective has changed from when I first started. There's a lot of things that have gone on and I want to leave that in the past. I don't like to dwell on those sort of things, I'm really enjoying my cricket at the moment and the performances have been there to warrant that. I feel like I'm in a good head space."

The New Zealanders trained in drizzly conditions in Hamilton on Thursday in the Seddon Park nets and their team balance will become clearer when the covers come off the pitch. The forecast for the next two days is fine, but whether it will dry the surface out enough for Williamson to come in to contention remains to be seen.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Conrad on March 26, 2010, 9:30 GMT

    If it's going to swing...Franklin at 9 , Southee then Arnel at 11 . Williamson/Patel...either...With Patel in Franklin goes to 8. Can't see room for Martin.Just having him in the batting line up , makes us a batter short every time. Just see how the guy at the other end throws wild shots trying to go for broke as soon as he comes in.It's tragic!.You need an 11 who can potentially hang in there , even for time.I've Chatfield , Morrison,Allot all hold an end up with reasonable defense. Plus ,he's just not bowling the right line consistently enough , and doing too little with the ball.Such a pity McKay is out.

  • michael on March 26, 2010, 7:30 GMT

    i know they are looking at sinclair at 3 but to be honest he should be played at 4 just to give him a little more of a chance to get a score. If they play him at 3 hel b in within the first over with fresh bowlers at 145+ i do not rate his chances in that situation. Team should be 1.Macintosh 2.Watling 3.Taylor 4.Sinclair 5.Guptill 6.Williamson 7.McCullem 8.Vettori 9.Franklin 10.Southee 11.Arnel/Martin. Man we really do need sum openers. If we get rhyder, mills, mckay back team would actually be half decent. 1.Watling 2.Guptill 3.Taylor 4.Sinclair 5.Rhyder 6.Williamson 7.McCullem 8.Vettori 9.Franklin 10.Mills 11. Mckay.-maybe one more bowler i dont know.

  • Ross on March 26, 2010, 4:50 GMT

    I am disheartened NZ cricket continues to cottonwool a cricketer who has already shown great early promise and repeated ability and thirst for runs in Kane Williamson.

    Surely if Williamson has the ability to Capt the U19s he has the ability to bat 6 against Aus in a dead rubber on his home ground? I cant think of a better situation to bring him in. Lets face it his pedigree is such that he should be in the spine of the NZ batting for years to come.

    NZ cricket need to get away from the soft mental approach to the game and teach our young stars to handle pressure from day 1 as teams around the world do. We do not have the depth of talent to continue moulding cricketers at first class level who face lacklustre bowling for 7 years at provincial level and then come into the side and underperform against international bowling lineups.

    Sometimes you need to recognise a great talent and nurture that talent in the right environment. Batting 6 in the test lineup for 2 years is appropriate.

  • Blair on March 26, 2010, 3:53 GMT

    Does anybody else get the feeling that maybe Greatbatch is just playing games by implying the selectors will go with Sinclair, in the hopes of surprising Australia by including Williamson at the last minute? Perhaps that way the Aussies won't have done their research on Williamson (they'll certainly know all about Sinclair and his weaknesses). I'd really hope that could be the case... Either way, Ingram HAS to go, surely!

  • Dre on March 26, 2010, 3:33 GMT

    Well said Octa, best comment I've seen in a while. Vettori is a player who relies more on intellect and guile rather than sharp turn so a green top vs a dry surface won't make much of a difference to him. Kane can be told to contain more so than attack with his spin since the top is green. Then ask the pacers to up their game. Selecting Franklin over Kane just because the pitch should favor pace rather than spin could well back-fire.

  • Hamish on March 26, 2010, 1:14 GMT

    Should be 1. Watling 2. McIntosh 3. Taylor 4. Guptil 5. Williamson 6. Vettori 7. McCullum 8. Franklin 9.Southee 10. Arnel 11. Martin. Have your best batsman at 3. PERIOD, Guppy can move up a spot, don't change Vettori or McCullum as they have performed. And the bowling, well to be honest who cares because they are all as hopeless as each other

  • Ben on March 26, 2010, 0:53 GMT

    Surely Williamson is worth a crack. The series is gone and what better opposition to test yourself than Oz? No point blooding him against Bangas or Windies. NZ cricket should join the Aussie domestic scene, much like union, league and soccer have. Look at NZ soccer, they made the world cup for the 1st time in nearly forever. The OZ Domestic secene is the strongest in the world & NZ would benefit no end from being apart of it. Also when will NZ get rid of Martin? I know he's up there on the overall wickets list but he's lost his pace and movement of earlier years and his utter hopelessness with the bat has surely cost NZ countless chances to save and even win the odd test. With lower order players like McCullum, Vetorri and Tuffey, an 11 who could at least defend for a few overs could prove vital. My NZ 11 from the current crop of players would be 1- McIntosh 2-Watling 3-Taylor 4-Guptil 5-Ryder 6-Williamson 7-Vettori 8-McCullum 9-Tuffey 10-Southee 11-Mackay/Arnel

  • Matthew on March 25, 2010, 23:15 GMT

    OCTA can you please become a seletor. You have it absolutely SPOT ON! Good stuff bro

  • Dummy4 on March 25, 2010, 22:57 GMT

    6 Batters, 1 Keeper, 4 Bowlers.

    How, Vincent, Guptill, Taylor, Watling, Williamson, Ryder, McCullum, Vettori, Southee, Arnel.

    Arnel and Southee to use the new ball, Vettori and Williamson for spin, Ryder as 5th bowler with assistance from Guptil and wherever else can bowl. (I hear McCullum can bowl, shhhh! I didn't tell you that!)

    Ryder's primary role is a bowler here, so it may be wise then to use a different all-rounder and not risk him. Who else is there? Only Mr Franklin...

  • ed on March 25, 2010, 22:49 GMT

    jjoseph you think papps whould be in the team? reeeeeeallllly??? papps is rubbish if you ask me. also, taylor batting at 5? and marshall being in the team? come on man. as for williamson, i am worried that we are gonna rush him into the team and expose him too early. while he shows tremendous talent but are we sure he is ready? as for arguing betwen ingram and sinclair? why bother, whoever you put in is going to fail. too many nz batsmen find success in domestic only to find the step to international is much too big.

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