No-one likes to look a mug and Jamie Siddons was worried about starting to resemble one.
Ever since Scott Kuggeleijn came to town, from Hamilton, Siddons has told anyone who'd listen that the kid had real ability.
Still only 20, the fast bowler and tailend batsman hadn't done a lot to justify his coach's praise. But he did on Thursday, smashing an unbeaten 142 to ease Wellington to a seven-wicket win over Plunket Shield leaders Central Districts.
Sent in as nightwatchman, on Wednesday, Kuggeleijn had the honour of hitting the winning runs, midway through the following afternoon.
"In the morning I talked to him about still being there at the end and not leaving it to anyone," Siddons said.
"I thought he was capable of something special because I've seen enough of him to know he's going to be a special cricketer, so it was just a matter of when that came. I thought it would come with the ball, before the bat, though.
"He averaged nine before that innings and 44 with the ball. I keep talking him up, but his record's not that great yet."
But Siddons is convinced it will be, and soon. "Absolutely; it's plain and simple," he said.
"You could even be talking about him for a World Cup in my opinion, Twenty20 World Cup for sure and maybe the one-day World Cup in a few years."
The next Twenty20 World Cup is in Bangladesh in 2014, before New Zealand and Australia co-host the 50-over version the following year. Siddons is adamant Kuggeleijn's skillset demands that he's soon in the Black Caps selection mix.
"They're wanting someone that has it all - he's got it all."
While Kuggeleijn is, potentially, contemplating a bright future, things are bleaker for fellow fast bowler Mark Gillespie. The 33-year-old had already endured a few painful months, first by virtue of badly injuring an ankle and then when New Zealand Cricket didn't name him on their contract list, despite some sensational bowling in the home test series against South Africa.
Having returned to full fitness, Gillespie's 18 Plunket Shield wickets for the Firebirds couldn't get him a spot in New Zealand's test team to tour South Africa, but he was called into the Twenty20 squad when Adam Milne withdrew with an Achilles problem.
No sooner had Gillespie received the good news, than he was out himself after suffering a side strain that will sideline him for more than a month.
"He's devastated," Siddons said. "He was upset about the contract and he was upset about not being selected in the test team and now he gets his opportunity and this happens.
"He's had a really tough year. I feel for him and I hope he can come out of it on the right side and knuckles down and comes back for us in the latter part of the season.
"I said it last year, no-one wants to face him in domestic cricket. He bowls the heaviest ball in the comp and has experience behind him, so he's just got to want it enough and have a bit of luck go his way."
Without Gillespie, and James Franklin, who has flown to Africa with the Twenty20 team, Siddons has summoned Harry Boam and Michael Pollard into his squad to meet Northern Districts at Karori Park. Neither looks like playing, with Dane Hutchinson set to come into the playing XI, having been 12th man against CD.
Kuggeleijn and Chris Woakes both have slight niggles, but Siddons expects them to be right by Monday.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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