Brown­lie adds a bit of Aussie steel

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - JOSEPH RO­MANOS

Dig­ging through the wreck­age of the first cricket test, in Bris­bane, it wasn’t easy to find some­thing for a New Zealan­der to feel good about.

The best I can do is fo­cus on Dean Brown­lie, and he’s Aus­tralian any­way.

Brown­lie is a fa­mous name in New Zealand sport. In the 1920s three Brown­lie broth­ers from Hawke’s Bay – Mau­rice, Cyril and Lau­rence – were All Blacks. Mau­rice was per­haps the finest for­ward in the world at that time.

The new Mr Brown­lie is from north of Perth. He played age cricket for Western Aus­tralia and is still a big Aussie Rules fan.

When it be­came ob­vi­ous his cricket was go­ing nowhere in Aus­tralia, he used the fact that his fa­ther, Jim, was born in Christchurch, to have a crack at cricket in New Zealand.

That was in 2009. Two years later he’s ce­ment­ing a place in the New Zealand side.

Brown­lie had scored just two first- class cen­turies when he was whis­tled into the New Zealand team for the test against Zim­babwe a few weeks ago. It was only his 15th first­class match.

It seemed like a re­turn to the bad old days of New Zealand se­lect­ing, when a fight­ing Plun­ket Shield half- cen­tury could earn a bats­man a test spot.

How­ever, Brown­lie fit­ted in im­me­di­ately.

He has a com­pact game and rarely looks ruf­fled. That’s a preq­ui­site for a New Zealand No 6 bats­man be­cause there’s a fair bet he’ll be at the crease all too soon, try­ing to per­form an­other res­cue act – as Brown­lie had to in both in­nings in Bris­bane.

Af­ter be­gin­ning his test ca­reer with 63 against Zim­babwe, Brown­lie raised his level against Aus­tralia, bat­ting more than four hours in the first in­nings for 77 not out and putting on 158 pre­cious runs with Daniel Vet­tori.

In the sec­ond in­nings, when James Pat­tin­son was wreak­ing havoc with the New Zealand top or­der, Brown­lie, 27, was as com­posed as you like and top-scored with 42.

Oc­ca­sion­ally New Zealand fields a test player who proves you don’t have to have been a bril­liant teenager to suc­ceed at test level.

Ewen Chat­field took nearly all his 263 in­ter­na­tional wick­ets af­ter he was 30. An­drew Jones never played test cricket un­til he was about to turn 28. Be­van Cong­don only be­came a world­class bats­man in his 30s.

Per­haps Brown­lie will fit that mould. Let’s hope so. It doesn’t hurt to have a bit of Aussie steel prop­ping up the New Zealand ef­fort.

In­ci­den­tally, the New Zealand test side might soon have a very in­ter­na­tional look to it. Otago left-arm pace­man Neil Wag­ner will soon be qual­i­fied for New Zealand. He’s the bloke who took five Welling­ton wick­ets in one over last sea­son, and his bowl­ing this sea­son has been im­pres­sive.

There are sev­eral South Africans pros­per­ing in provin­cial cricket. Some will be ush­ered into the test side once they’re el­i­gi­ble.

New Zealand has fielded over­seas play­ers be­fore. Sam Guillen, Di­pak Pa­tel, Grant El­liott and oth­ers moved here well into their first- class ca­reers and forced their way into the test side.

But what’s about to hap­pen is an­other step en­tirely. Brown­lie might be one of four or five for­eign­ers in the same New Zealand team.

Given how some of the New Zealand-born play­ers per­formed in Bris­bane, per­haps that will not be a bad thing.

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