Time for Franklin to shine

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT -

James Franklin’s re-emer­gence as a gen­uine in­ter­na­tional bats­man was one of the few bright spots in the New Zealand cricket team’s in­creas­ingly de­press­ing tour of In­dia.

It seems an eon ago, but Franklin was ac­tu­ally flown to In­dia as a re­place­ment for in­jured fast bowler Hamish Ben­nett, which be­mused his sup­port­ers in Welling­ton.

The big left-armer should have been in the team all along, but not as a pace bowler.

As it tran­spired, he hardly bowled in In­dia, but his bat­ting, when he was given an op­por­tu­nity in the fi­nal three one-day­ers, was out­stand­ing. This won’t be news for peo­ple who have fol­lowed his ca­reer closely over the past decade.

Franklin, left-handed and with a strong tech­nique, is a class bats­man and it has taken the New Zealand se­lec­tors a ridicu­lous amount of time to ac­knowl­edge it.

In fact, do they re­alise it yet? Per­haps they thought his bat­ting in In­dia was an aber­ra­tion.

They have tended to pick Franklin as a left-arm pace bowler who can bat a bit. This is the wrong think­ing. He is not hos­tile enough to be a gen­uine quick, and doesn’t move the ball enough to be a men­ace as a swing bowler.

He should be cho­sen as a mid­dle-or­der bats­man who can bowl a few overs of lef­t­arm medium-pace if re­quired, a bat­ting all-rounder in the mould of Nathan As­tle and Scott Styris.

In In­dia, prop­ping up a los­ing ef­fort, Franklin scored 72, 98 and 17, not out each time. The In­dian team was amazed at the power of his hit­ting, but he has long been the biggest hit­ter in the Black Caps.

He does it with tech­nique and tim­ing, as op­posed to the more blud­geon­ing ef­forts of some team-mates.

It’s not too late for Franklin to make a big con­tri­bu­tion to the New Zealand team.

This may sound odd for a player who has ap­peared in 26 tests, 78 one-day in­ter­na­tion- als and 13 Twenty20 in­ter­na­tion­als.

How­ever, he has never re­ally been used prop­erly.

He looks rather boy­ish (though he just turned 30), and at times plays that way.

But there is no deny­ing he is ca­pa­ble of ex­tra­or­di­nary deeds.

He has scored two first­class dou­ble-cen­turies and a test cen­tury. That cen­tury, 122 not out against South Africa in Cape Town, was no gift, ei­ther. It was made against a qual­ity at­tack.

He also has a test hat-trick, and took an­other hat-trick for English county Glouces­ter­shire a few months ago. So he has the abil­ity. He has fought back from in­jury and what he needs now is to be used prop­erly and sup­ported by the se­lec­tors.

He would seem an ideal No 5 or No 6.

It’s quite re­veal­ing, look­ing through his one-day record, to see he has bat­ted as low at No 11 for New Zealand and more of­ten than not has been at No 8 or No 9, which is a ridicu­lous waste of abil­ity.

The na­tional se­lec­tors have tried more than 20 bats­men in var­i­ous or­der for their New Zealand teams over the past three years. It’s time they slowed down the merry-gor­ound and made some sen­si­ble de­ci­sions.

Choos­ing Franklin to bat for them, and then stick­ing with him, would be a good start.

Sib­ling suc­cess: There’s no short­age of belts in the Win­dle fam­ily. From left, mum Bronwyn, Brae­den, Sarahn and dad Karl.

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