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May 23, 2014
Mark Craig is the latest New Zealand spinner to be given the chance to make a name for himself in the post Daniel Vettori era and believes he can have an impact in West Indies even though he does not possess a quirky action.
Craig, a 27-year-old offspinner with the undistinguished first-class average of 42.88, benefitted from Jeetan Patel's decision to turn down a chance to tour in favour of his county deal with Warwickshire and there is a strong chance a Test debut will follow when the series begins in Jamaica on June 8.
With West Indies looking to avenge their 2-0 series defeat in New Zealand late last year, and their trump card bowlers against side that can struggle against spin being Shane Shillingford and Sunil Narine, pitches are expected to take turn for the three Tests which creates the possibility of Craig joining forces with legspinner Ish Sodhi who made his debut against Bangladesh last year and has played six Tests.
Craig concedes he does not have the magic of the unorthodox finger spinners around the world - there is no doosra or carrom ball to flummox batsmen - but does not believe that inevitably prevents him from having success at the top level.
"I mean, you look at Graeme Swann, he's been a very successful off spinner and he doesn't throw the ball at all," Craig told the Dominion Post. "He's been a conventional off spinner so I think there's still a place in the game for those guys that don't throw the ball. It just means that you've got to work that little bit harder in terms of deceiving guys in the air and things like that, if you don't have the one that goes the other way.
"I basically just try and give the ball as big a rip as I can and spin the ball big and get a bit of drop on the ball and bring in that bounce and try and catch a glove or go through-the-gate to the righties or lbw or nick off to the lefties."
If Craig's debut does come at Sabina Park it will bring him head-to-head with Chris Gayle in his 100th Test. New Zealand's impressive new-ball attack of Tim Southee and Trent Boult will aim to dispense of Gayle early, but if it does become Craig's job to bowl at him he will relish the challenge.
"I'm not over-awed by bowling to him," Craig said. It's a good opportunity, not for bragging rights, but if I get him out it's going to be pretty exciting. I don't mind getting hit out of the ground every now and then. Then the job's about getting him out."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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