Wellington duo drop ball in Caps tour quest

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 05:00 16/11/2011
Andy McKay and Jeetan Patel
SLIPPING AWAY: Wellington Firebirds Andy McKay and Jeetan Patel have seen their Black Caps chances fade as other perform better.

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Not only did they suffer at Kane Williamson's hands, but Wellington coach Jamie Siddons fears Andy McKay and Jeetan Patel's Australian tour chances may have nose-dived too.

Williamson claimed Northern Districts' highest individual innings, 252 not out yesterday, as they cruised to 540-6 in reply to Wellington's first innings of 162 on day two of the Plunket Shield match at Lincoln.

To add insult, the 14-man Australia tour squad is scheduled to be named by coach John Wright today and McKay and Patel face going from Zimbabwe tourists to missing out altogether.

Left-arm quick McKay, struck down by a stomach upset in the leadup to New Zealand's 34-run test win in Bulawayo, took 1-137 off 30 overs. Patel, meanwhile, wheeled down 41 overs of offspin and claimed Daniel Vettori's wicket at a cost of 118 runs.

"McKay was probably underdone with little bowling over in Zimbabwe. There was no turn for Jeets, he bowled 40 overs of reasonable areas and didn't get anything to turn," said Siddons, who feared few of his players' names would be read out.

"It [yesterday] hasn't done them any good, put it that way.

"They needed to take wickets; John Wright and [bowling coach] Damien Wright were there today. Looking at figures of none-for and one-for for plenty off quite a few overs, there were plenty of opportunities to take wickets and make a statement."

Wellington face a huge task to save the match, with ND potentially batting on today and Williamson, having already passed Daniel Flynn's ND record 241, eyeing three figures after his maiden first-class double-century.

"It was one of the better innings I've seen for a long time, really solid and didn't look like giving it up at any stage," Siddons said. "Batting-wise, he's technically a little better than our guys at this stage.

"But we've got eight guys who have played for the Black Caps and the big boys need to step up, that's what we've been telling them and they know that."

The New Zealand XI for the first test in Brisbane, starting on December 1, appears straightforward. Tim Southee will share the new ball with Chris Martin after mesmerising Wellington to the tune of 7-37 on Monday. And, assuming he's given the medical panel's stamp of approval after a calf injury, Jesse Ryder will be back at No5.

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It's the backup cast that provides the head-scratchers. McKay and ND left-armer Trent Boult appear to be duelling for one spot. On recent form, Boult gets the nod. Two spinners are almost unheard of at Brisbane or Hobart (the venue for the second test starting December 9), so Patel may be surplus.

Then it comes down to balance.

John Wright was in Rangiora watching Canterbury play Auckland for the past two days, possibly looking at swing bowler Kyle Mills, who was in the Zimbabwe test squad before suffering a groin injury. However, he was also expensive yesterday (1-113 off 21).

James Franklin could be considered as all-round cover. For the backup batsman's slot, Rob Nicol, fresh from a century last week, could shade BJ Watling.

Also at Lincoln, half-centuries from Kruger van Wyk and Ben Smith guided Central Districts to 277 and a 70-run first-innings lead over Otago.

At Rangiora, test No6 Dean Brownlie smashed 171 and Andy Ellis 97 not out off 70 balls before Canterbury declared at 491-7.

Unbeaten centuries from Martin Guptill and Colin de Grandhomme left Auckland 282-5 in reply.

HOW THEY LINE UP

Likely New Zealand test XI: Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor (c), Jesse Ryder, Dean Brownlie, Reece Young, Daniel Vettori, Tim Southee, Doug Bracewell, Chris Martin. Possible extras: Rob Nicol, Trent Boult, Kyle Mills

- The Dominion Post

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