Neesham to be tested as opener in T20s
Jimmy Neesham's profitable run with the bat during New Zealand's Test-series win against West Indies is likely to earn him a promotion to the top order in the upcoming Twenty20s. Neesham, who scored a century and two fifties in the three Tests, was the third-highest run-getter in the series, behind Kane Williamson and Tom Latham.
With New Zealand using the same pool of 15 players for the two T20s in Dominica, Mike Hesson, the New Zealand coach, has said the experiment, if successful, could make it easier to include both Neesham and Corey Anderson in the side's future limited-overs plans. During the World T20, Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson had opened the innings for New Zealand.
''In short form cricket he's batted as high as three and opened before in domestic cricket when he was with Auckland so we know he's got the capabilities," Hesson told Fairfax NZ. "We also know that in our one-day side we've struggled to get both Corey [Anderson] and James into our line-up. We want to see James at the top of the order and see how he goes.
''In a squad of 15 we need a number of guys that can cover that position and we certainly see that he can do that. This is a really good opportunity to see how he goes and there could be some other opportunities leading up to the World Cup."
Unlike Tests, Neesham is yet to make an impact in limited-overs cricket. He has played 11 ODIs and seven T20s but has only faced 154 deliveries in the two formats. The highest he has batted in ODIs is at No. 6 and according to Hesson, he is "certainly excited about doing it and it's something he's certainly got a good skill set for".
''It is something I haven't done a whole lot of in the past but for this team to win games then you want to have guys like Corey in the middle order, who is a massive asset for us with his bowling as well, so I think it is something that might be looked at in the future," Neesham told LiveSPORT Radio. "But at the moment I'm quite happy in the middle order"
Hesson also added that Neesham's promotion as an opener had "nothing to do with Test cricket." In the three Tests, New Zealand's best opening partnership was just 17. Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford, who partnered Tom Latham in the Tests, were both unconvincing.
''The opening spot has been a little bit of trouble for New Zealand over the last couple of years and it is one of those things you are always looking for solution and new ways for going about getting a Test victory, so if that in the future is something that will give our team a better balance then it will be something that will be looked at,'' Neesham said.
New Zealand's series win was their second in the West Indies, and despite it coinciding with the news of Lou Vincent's admission of involvement in fixing and a life ban from the ECB, Neesham said it was a "massive feeling" to win overseas.
"It's slightly disappointing [Vincent's ban]. It's good for the game that that sort of stuff is coming out and there are investigations going on, but obviously the timing wasn't ideal," Neesham said. It's a massive feeling for us to get a Test series win overseas. The only way you can rebuild your credibility is by winning games of cricket."