In­cen­tives as NZ A get taste of In­dia

Weekend Herald - - RUGBY - Cricket David Leg­gat

De­pend­ing on which in­di­vid­ual you’re talk­ing about, there’s a range of in­cen­tives for play­ers in New Zealand’s up­com­ing A tour of In­dia.

The play­ers have a camp in Christchurch to­mor­row and on Mon­day be­fore leav­ing for seven games against In­dia A. The two first- class games are in Visakha­p­at­nam, on the Bay of Ben­gal on In­dia’s west coast, with the five one- day­ers to fol­low at Vi­jayawada, 350km south, and an un­known quan­tity.

A hand­ful of play­ers, prob­a­bly about four, are likely to be added into the se­nior New Zealand squad to be named early next week for a six- game lim­ited- overs visit to In­dia in Oc­to­ber. The in­cen­tive, there­fore, is ob­vi­ous.

For oth­ers who won’t fig­ure in that group, it’s a chance to broaden their ex­pe­ri­ence of con­di­tions in In­dia.

Sev­eral play­ers, notably cap­tain Henry Ni­cholls, fast bowlers Lockie Fer­gu­son and Matt Henry, spin­ner Ish Sodhi and bats­man Colin Munro, have spent time in In­dia be­fore, while coach Shane Bond is an old hand on the sub- con­ti­nent, as both player and in coach­ing roles.

For oth­ers it will be new, and a con­sid­er­able as­sault on the crick­et­ing senses.

Bats­man Ni­cholls, al­ready up to 14 tests, av­er­ag­ing 31.94, in­side his first 18 months, played one of them at Kolkata last year.

“It’s about learn­ing as quickly as you can. The na­ture of con­di­tions there are so dif­fer­ent and some­thing that can be over­whelm­ing,” he said.

Ni­cholls reck­oned one of the big­ger lessons he learned was the im­por­tance of un­der­stand­ing, then stick­ing to game plans.

“That was the big­gest thing, trust­ing your game,” he said.

Ni­cholls made his maiden test hun­dred against South Africa in Welling­ton last sum­mer, a fine 118, and at 25 shapes as a key fig­ure on the A trip.

He ad­mit­ted the prospect of be­ing added to the se­nior squad should be a car­rot for his play­ers, even if those de­ci­sions has al­ready been made by the na­tional se­lec­tors.

If it has been, it sug­gests a closed shop. For ex­am­ple, there are three wick­et­keep­ers on the trip, Auck­land’s open­ing bats­man Glenn Phillips, Welling­ton’s mid­dle or­der man Tom Blun­dell and North­ern Districts’ Tim Seifert. At least one seems cer­tain to be added to the se­nior squad.

Ni­cholls ac­knowl­edged there is a bal­anc­ing act of sorts there if all are to be given a de­cent chance.

Be­ing in a bat­tle for the na­tional Henry Ni­cholls ( c), Todd As­tle, Matt Henry ( Can­ter­bury), Tom Blun­dell ( Welling­ton), Glenn Phillips, Lockie Fer­gu­son, Colin Munro, Sean So­lia, Jeet Raval ( Auck­land), Scott Kuggeleijn, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi ( North­ern Districts), Seth Rance, Ge­orge Worker, Will Young, Tom Bruce ( Cen­tral Districts). Raval will be re­placed by Phillips for the one- day matches. side isn’t an equal op­por­tu­ni­ties busi­ness, how­ever.

The player who catches the eye early on is likely to get most chances on tour to push their claims.

“It’s nice to have three qual­ity keep­ers and a guy like [ wick­et­keep­ing coach] Mar­tyn Croy there.

“It will be a re­ally good ex­pe­ri­ence to see how dif­fer­ent it is, not just the wicket, but con­di­tions.

“I know [ test keeper] BJ Watling talked about how tough he found it there, es­pe­cially in test matches. There’ll be a lit­tle bit of com­pe­ti­tion to push them­selves.”

Hav­ing all five one- day­ers in one place i s also a bonus in Ni­cholls’ mind. It takes out the is­sue of travel and should help fo­cus the play­ers on the busi­ness at hand in the mid­dle.

Cap­tain Henry Ni­cholls

Pic­ture / Photosport

Cap­tain Henry Ni­cholls is look­ing to learn from the tour of In­dia.

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