The Press

Mc­Cul­lum calls for clar­ity but it’s com­pli­cated

- Mark Geenty Sports · Cricket · England · India · West Indies · Kane Williamson · Indian Premier League · New Zealand · New Zealand Cricket · Australia · Hyderabad · Pakistan · Brendon McCullum · Trent Boult · Gary Stead · Devon Conway · Colin de Grandhomme · Daryl Mitchell · Ross Taylor · Martin Guptill · Tim Seifert · Glenn Phillips · Mark Chapman · Sunrisers Hyderabad · Lachie Ferguson

Back in the Black Caps fold for the first time in four years, Bren­don Mc­Cul­lum wants the se­lec­tors to fi­nally re­veal their strong­est

Twenty20 in­ter­na­tional XI in the coming months.

Se­lec­tion sta­bil­ity and a clear top lineup is pri­or­ity one for the for­mer skip­per as the hosts open their sea­son tomorrow night ranked sixth in the world, with 12 wins from 33 com­pleted T20 in­ter­na­tion­als since Novem­ber 2017. Last sea­son at home, there was a

3-2 se­ries loss to Eng­land and 5-0 to In­dia, three of those de­feats in Su­per Overs.

Com­pared with tests (ranked sec­ond) and ODIs (ranked third) it’s the Black Caps’ most trou­ble­some for­mat, less than a year out from the next T20 World Cup in In­dia af­ter this year’s was post­poned due to Covid-19.

Again, tomorrow night’s three­match se­ries opener against West Indies at Eden Park won’t fea­ture their two best play­ers Kane Wil­liamson and Trent Boult, back from star­ring roles in the In­dian Premier League and be­ing saved for the first test which starts three days af­ter game three.

On the plus side it al­lows coach Gary Stead to un­veil two of New Zealand’s most-dis­cussed crick­eters Devon Con­way and Kyle Jamieson for their T20 de­buts and fur­ther cloud, or clar­ify, the se­lec­tion puz­zle.

As­sum­ing all 16 Black Caps get a run at Eden Park and Bay Oval across this four­day stretch, a to­tal of 26 play­ers will have worn the black

T20 uni­form in the past two years.

‘‘New Zealand Cricket has used T20 as an op­por­tu­nity to blood some guys and freshen up some oth­ers who’ve been on the road for a long pe­riod of time. There’s prob­a­bly not the same con­ti­nu­ity as we’ve seen in other forms,’’ said guest coach Mc­Cul­lum from man­aged iso­la­tion train­ing, when asked about the T20 side.

‘‘I know Steady and Kane and Tim [Southee] and all the coaches and lead­ers will want to im­prove that and with the T20 World Cup not too far away, it’s time to drill down what your best XI is go­ing to be, and start to try and build a squad to be com­pet­i­tive.

‘‘That’s why these games are vi­tal. I’m sure once we get to the end of this sea­son we should have a lot more con­sis­tency with how we view se­lec­tion around the T20 side and what is our best team.’’

For now it’s dif­fi­cult with Wil­liamson and Boult ab­sent and

Colin de Grand­homme out un­til at least Box­ing Day with a bruised bone in his right foot. But, amid 14 home T20s this sea­son, by the time Aus­tralia ar­rive in Fe­bru­ary for their five-match se­ries you’d ex­pect some clar­ity.

The bat­ting or­der pro­vides the most head-scratch­ers, with de Grand­homme hav­ing largely bat­ted No 4 and re­turned sin­gle fig­ure scores in his last five T20 knocks. In tomorrow night’s opener Daryl Mitchell, de Grand­homme’s test re­place­ment, looks likely to fill that No 4 slot with Ross Tay­lor re­main­ing at five and Jimmy Nee­sham at six.

Up top, Martin Gup­till and wick­et­keeper Tim Seifert will likely open, with Con­way or the re­called Glenn Phillips at No 3. The lat­ter two could also put the heat on Gup­till when Wil­liamson re­turns. Colin Munro was over­looked af­ter be­ing granted per­mis­sion to play Aus­tralia’s Big Bash, and it gets tougher in a toporder log­jam, but Mc­Cul­lum is a fan and warns not to write him off.

Sim­i­larly, Mark Chap­man is highly rated and comes in for game three where he’s seen as Tay­lor’s backup at No 5.

Then there’s the ques­tion of where Wil­liamson bats later on.

He was ef­fec­tive at No 4 for Sun­ris­ers Hy­der­abad where he scored 317 runs at 45 and a strike rate of 134. In his last Black Caps T20 in­nings he blasted 95 off 48 balls against In­dia at Hamil­ton, bat­ting in his reg­u­lar No 3 spot.

With a nod to the fu­ture, an XI of Seifert, Phillips, Con­way, Wil­liamson, Chap­man, Mitchell, Nee­sham, Mitchell Sant­ner, Jamieson, Lockie Fer­gu­son and Boult would be an ex­cit­ing one for this ex­per­i­men­tal phase – let’s say against Pak­istan pre-Christ­mas – be­fore big de­ci­sions are re­quired.

 ??  ?? Kyle Jamieson has starred in tests and ODIs; now he’s about to make his T20 in­ter­na­tional de­but.
Kyle Jamieson has starred in tests and ODIs; now he’s about to make his T20 in­ter­na­tional de­but.
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 ?? GETTY IMAGES ?? Daryl Mitchell has a big chance to nail down a reg­u­lar spot in New Zealand’s Twenty20 team when the se­ries against the West Indies be­gins tomorrow night.
GETTY IMAGES Daryl Mitchell has a big chance to nail down a reg­u­lar spot in New Zealand’s Twenty20 team when the se­ries against the West Indies be­gins tomorrow night.
 ??  ?? Bren­don Mc­Cul­lum hopes for more se­lec­tion cer­tainty in the T20 team.
Bren­don Mc­Cul­lum hopes for more se­lec­tion cer­tainty in the T20 team.

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