Life is never dull around the New Zealand cricket team.
New coach Andy Moles wasted no time making a significant batting change yesterday by switching the roles of rookie batsmen Daniel Flynn and Jesse Ryder for the first test against the West Indies, starting in Dunedin on Thursday.
Later in the day there was a farewell for long-serving manager Lindsay Crocker, his position lost in a shakeup that has all the support second-guessing their futures.
Crocker's job has gone to former rowing boss Craig Ross, while Moles has slipped into the batting role previously occupied by Mark O'Neill, and little-known Australian Shane Jurgensen appears to have leapfrogged former Wellington coach Vaughan Johnson as the bowling coach.
Moles' first day at the helm didn't go exactly to plan with rain in Dunedin forcing the players to train indoors but the new coach had already made up his mind that the more compact Flynn is a better option at first drop than the free-scoring Ryder.
"Flynny will go to No 3, we just think his skill set is best suited to seeing off the new ball," Moles said.
"We all know that we have a really strong middle and lower order and that Jesse is a destructive player and exposing him to the ball a little bit later given the way he plays will be more dangerous."
Both players looked the part in Australia without making a sizeable score and Ryder, having previously said he preferred No 3, now feels as though No 5 might be the right place long term.
"It's pretty good, it's where I see myself batting," Ryder said. "I felt I had to pull my game back a little bit [at No 3] so batting at No 5 will give me the chance to express myself a bit.
"The bonus is the ball won't be doing as much and I'll be able to get out there and play some shots."
Ryder said he was disappointed by his lack of runs in Australia (70 at 17.50) but said his confidence had not been knocked.
"The first test was real frustrating. I was able to get in and I was seeing the ball quite well and not to go on was disappointing."
The most controversial aspect of the team naming was the inclusion of aggressive Wellington fast bowler Mark Gillespie over Chris Martin.
Gillespie is jumping out of his skin after virtually three months of travelling through Bangladesh and Australia without getting a game.
He left the Australia tour early to play for Wellington against Northern Districts and responded with an eight-wicket haul.
Gillespie is backing himself to perform well at the University Oval despite a lack of overs.
"All I could do when I left the side in Adelaide was to go and play for Wellington and that was all I thought about."
Gillespie said he is relaxed at carrying the mantle of pace spearhead against a West Indian batting lineup containing the world class trio of Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
"It is a job I have been successful at for Wellington and it is my preferred bowling position, so I'm looking forward to it."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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