Ins and outs of the Black Caps oddity

Last updated 23:54 07/12/2008

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It's an odd team. Chris Martin dropped when he is running into form, Aaron Redmond passed over after getting within touching distance of a century against Australia at Adelaide.

Let's first deal with Martin. He was rushed back for the Aussie series, bowled his heart out, dismissed six specialist batsmen and then got a thick ear because the world champion's lower order wagged a couple of times and his tank was empty.

Martin turns this 34 this week, and this will hit him hard. New Zealand play only four tests at home this summer - two against the West Indies and two against India in March - and the best he can hope for now is the latter two.

Martin has been replaced by Mark Gillespie, who turned in a fiery display in the practice nets in Adelaide before the second test but of the current selectors none was there to witness it. Gillespie took eight wickets for Wellington against Northern Districts at the Basin Reserve last week, by all accounts bowling well in the second innings.

Gillespie will thunder in, hunt the head and swing it when he pitches it up, but one hopes the selectors realise he won't offer them the consistency that Martin provides throughout a full day.

Redmond has been a mixed bag and is certainly guilty of walking to middle in Adelaide in both innings and leaving his brain in the dressing room.

A funny story emerged in Adelaide, after the noted slowcoach took the long handle to offspinner Nathan Hauritz on the first morning to such an extent that he went to lunch unbeaten on 65.

When he returned to the pavilion for a drink and a light salad, Redmond went to his corner, turned to his teammates and said: "I don't know who that was out there batting, but it certainly wasn't me."

Redmond was dismissed to reckless shots in both innings in Adelaide but to drop him was a tad unfair. Granted, selectors Glenn Turner and John Wright know what it takes for openers to succeed but hopefully they also realise the cupboard is bare.

They have moved to Auckland's Tim McIntosh, a 29-year-old left-hander who has a reputation among his peers for playing across his pad early in his innings. If McIntosh fails we return to Matthew Bell; if Bell fails we return to Redmond.

One wonders if the limited Redmond warranted a couple of tests at home against a run-of-the-mill test side such as the West Indies after starting his career with seven tests on the road in the contrasting conditions of England, Bangladesh and Australia.

There were some promising signs from the new regime of New Zealand cricket at the weekend. Turner asked fellow selector Dion Nash to break the news of Martin's axing in person and Turner himself was not playing games with the media.

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In recent times there has been no openness, but Turner said serious thought was being given to switching the roles of Jesse Ryder and Daniel Flynn. Ryder is loose for a No3, Flynn is compact and making a good early impression in the middle order.

At the risk of being laughed at, James Franklin deserves serious consideration for a promotion ahead of Jacob Oram in the batting order.

Oram will bat No6 in Dunedin, Franklin "No8 or No9" depending on the generosity of Vettori.

Oram was all at sea against pace in England and needs to prove that was a minor hiccup in an otherwise strong test career that has brought 1667 at 37.04 including five mighty hundreds.

Franklin's test record is decidedly inferior (505 runs at 21.95) but he is an emerging star with the bat as his scores of 69, 219 and 160 not out for Wellington in recent days suggest.

Franklin is assured against pace, a good judge of line and has a nice range of shots.

It's not a bad team to tackle the West Indies, but it's an odd one.

 

- © Fairfax NZ News

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