Jimmy Neesham sets his sights on top order
Jimmy Neesham is on trial to open the batting for New Zealand at the World Cup, and says he'd be open to doing the job in test cricket if required.
New Zealand coach Mike Hesson confirmed today that Neesham, one of the stars of their 2-1 test series win in the West Indies, would open in the tour-ending Twenty20 internationals in Dominica on Sunday and Monday.
Neesham has been a revelation in test cricket in the No 6-8 bracket, where he's scored 448 runs at 64 in four matches, including two centuries.
The left-hander's imperious knock of 51 off 67 balls in the second innings at Bridgetown helped turn the deciding test New Zealand's way.
With incumbent one-day opener Jesse Ryder currently not being considered due to disciplinary issues, Neesham is seen as a viable option in 50-over cricket ahead of the big show in New Zealand and Australia in February-March.
''In short form cricket he's batted as high as three and opened before in domestic cricket when he was with Auckland so we know he's got the capabilities. We also know that in our one-day side we've struggled to get both Corey [Anderson] and James into our lineup. We want to see James at the top of the order and see how he goes,'' Hesson said from Dominica.
''In a squad of 15 we need a number of guys that can cover that position and we certainly see that he can do that. This is a really good opportunity to see how he goes and there could be some other opportunities leading up to the World Cup.
''He's certainly excited about doing it and it's something he's certainly got a good skill set for.''
Asked if Neesham's shift would potentially be extended to test cricket, Hesson said: ''Nothing to do with test cricket, no.''
Earlier in an interview on LiveSPORT Radio, Neesham revealed there had been ongoing discussions about converting him to an opener. He did not elaborate on whether the approach came from Hesson or captain Brendon McCullum.
The opening partner for Tom Latham in New Zealand's next test series against Pakistan in November remains up in the air after Peter Fulton was dropped and Hamish Rutherford's struggles continued in the Caribbean.
''It is something I haven't done a whole lot of in the past but for this team to win games then you want to have guys like Corey in the middle order, who is a massive asset for us with his bowling as well, so I think it is something that might be looked at in the future. But at the moment I'm quite happy in the middle order," Neesham said.
And would that extend to test cricket?
''The opening spot has been a little bit of trouble for New Zealand over the last couple of years and it is one of those things you are always looking for solution and new ways for going about getting a test victory, so if that in the future is something that will give our team a better balance then it will be something that will be looked at.''
New Zealand will use their 15-man test squad for the T20 internationals, with player of the series Kane Williamson likely to partner Neesham at the top, Hesson said.