High praise for Richardson and Walker

Even before the dust of the first defeat by South Africa at Bloemfontein had settled Christopher Doig, the New Zealand Cricket chief executive, was hailing the development of two of the latest New Zealand players, Mark Richardson and Brooke Walker.

Doig, who spent some time with the Black Caps in Kenya, said he had been most impressed with the maturity and wisdom of Mark Richardson, the 29-year-old Otago left-hand batsman who has cemented his place in the top New Zealand squad this year.

"Mark has had a good grounding in our domestic cricket and through the New Zealand 'A' team tour [to England]," said Doig, "and has already shown some of the more senior players the benefits of being determined to stay at the crease, to graft out an innings.

"I think Craig McMillan showed he had learned that with his long second innings at Bloemfontein.

"In the past the New Zealand batsmen have been able to profit from the experience of John Wright, Andrew Jones and Martin Crowe, and now I think Mark Richardson will show the players the benefits of maturity and stability in their batting. Mark gives our Test batsmen some leadership, just as Roger Twose does in the one-dayers."

Even before his gritty play in his first Test, the 23-year-old Walker had impressed Doig with Walker's all-round ability as a leg-spinner, expert field and tenacious batsman.

"Brooke Walker looks like the classic type of cricketer that we are trying to develop," said Doig.

This was especially so because he was leading the new breed of leg-spinners which included Greg Loveridge, Tim Anderson and Aaron Redmond - filling a gap that had existed in New Zealand cricket for many years.