Time for Franklin to shine
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.