Out-of-form Colin de Grandhomme stares at uncertain NZ future

With better options available, the 35-year-old is likely to be dropped for New Zealand's immediate assignments

Deivarayan Muthu
Is it the end of the line for Colin de Grandhomme?  •  Associated Press

Is it the end of the line for Colin de Grandhomme?  •  Associated Press

Colin de Grandhomme was an unsung stalwart of New Zealand's 2019 World Cup campaign, but his form and fitness have plummeted drastically since. Form-wise, it has never been as poor as in the recent Bangladesh tour, where he scrounged scores of 1, 8, 0, 0 and 9 in the five T20Is. Left-arm fingerspinner Nasum Ahmed alone dismissed de Grandhomme four times while conceding just one run off nine balls to him.
In the series opener, he attempted to slog his way out of trouble, but holed out to deep square-leg - the only fielder in the outfield on the leg side in the powerplay. He was caught at the same position in the second game and was then pinned by a slower offcutter from Mohammad Saifuddin in the third. In the last two games of the series, he was clueless against the turning ball on the grippy Dhaka tracks.
In the absence of a number of regulars, de Grandhomme was given the extra responsibility to bat up the order as the senior-most member in the side, but the returns were disappointing, to say the least.
He didn't have much to do with the ball either, bowling merely 3.4 overs across the five games. He belatedly came to bowl four of those balls after fast bowler Scott Kuggeleijn felt some discomfort in the third match. And on the field, de Grandhomme wasn't too sharp either, dropping a simple catch offered by Liton Das when he was on 0 in the second game. The Bangladesh opener went on to make 33 off 29 balls, setting the tone for their narrow victory.
Former New Zealand wicketkeeper-batter and commentator Ian Smith was critical of de Grandomme's form - or the lack thereof - in the lead-up to the final T20I. "I don't think he's adding anything to the mix, particularly in these conditions," Smith said on a Sky Sports NZ podcast with Mike Hesson. "He doesn't bowl spin, he's not scoring any runs; he's a handy fieldsman we know that, but can I risk him on the fact that he will come off one time out of ten? I don't think so.
"Every now and then, players are not suited to conditions and when they're not playing well enough, you give them a spell [out of the XI]. If I think on that side, I'm probably thinking Colin de Grandhomme is not going to win me a game and that's what you want to do in limited-overs cricket - win you a game. Those scores reflect he's not doing that, so the all-round side of the game is negated by the fact that they don't need his type of bowling in these conditions. I'd leave him out, to be brutally honest."
Hesson reasoned that de Grandhomme was someone who thrived on game-time, which he missed in the last international summer because of an ankle surgery. He did have some game-time with Southern Brave in the inaugural Hundred and got all five matches against Bangladesh, but hasn't been able to break out of the funk yet.
With Daryl Mitchell back in the side for the T20I leg of the Pakistan tour, de Grandhomme could potentially be dropped from the XI in conditions that are unlikely to be too different from those in Bangladesh. In the absence of de Grandhomme, Mitchell became New Zealand's frontline allrounder, alongside Jimmy Neesham, in the past home summer, his vital contributions culminating in a first central contract and a T20 World Cup spot.
So, is there really a way back for de Grandhomme after the ODIs in Pakistan? Probably not in the near future, with New Zealand set to fly out to India after the T20 World Cup. Batters with much tighter techniques have been ruthlessly exposed by R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel in Indian conditions, after all.
It helps New Zealand that they aren't short of all-round options. Mitchell showcased his finishing skills on his first overseas tour in 2019 in Sri Lanka and now left-arm fingerspin-bowling allrounder Rachin Ravindra is slowly bedding into the set-up. Mitchell Santner's Test stocks are weary at the moment, but the team management sees him as a future leader in white-ball cricket. de Grandhomme would still have a role to play on the green pitches in red-ball cricket in New Zealand, but the clock is ticking for the 35-year-old.

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo