Papps puts his hand up for Black Caps

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 28/02/2013
Michael Papps
CRAIG SIMCOX/ Fairfax NZ
IMPRESSIVE FORM: If the Black Caps need an opener, they could do a lot worse than look at Michael Papps.

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If the national selectors ever want a specialist to open the batting, then Michael Papps is available.

Converting guys from elsewhere in the order has been a familiar theme over the years, with Peter Fulton and Tom Latham the latest batsmen in the Black Caps squad to have done the bulk of their batting further down.

Papps, fresh off his match-winning 168 not out in Wellington's 50-over victory over Otago on Tuesday, wasn't about to bag his former Canterbury team-mates. But he is left bemused by the odd team naming.

"Maybe people get picked in some of those teams for the experience. I don't know exactly what the selection criteria is to be honest," Papps said ahead of Wellington's 50-over clash with Central Districts at the Basin Reserve today.

"At the end of the day the best players will get selected, so hopefully if I'm scoring runs, and if there's a need for someone in my position, hopefully I'll be getting looked at."

Although it's hard not to think that he might need to start batting at No 5 first, like Latham has been for Canterbury.

"There does seem to be a bit of a trend to try and convert guys into openers. I don't know the thought behind that," said 33-year-old Papps.

"It really is a specialist position and the mental side as much as anything is the key to it. You'd like to think that if openers are getting selected that that's what they do day-in-day-out and that that's their primary role.

"Like I said, it's not so much the technical side of it. It's the mental side of getting your head round facing the new ball and having to get straight out there after a long fielding session or what have you.

"So, yeah, that's obviously something I've done for a number of years and I feel that's one of the skills you need to be successful at opening the batting."

Papps hasn't played a test match since 2007, while a lot of people remember his last one-day international back in 2005 when he was sconned by Australia's Brett Lee and retired hurt.

What tends to be forgotten is that Papps averages 51.75 in that form of cricket, which compares pretty well with the 29.33 incumbent ODI opener B J Watling is going at.

Papps scored 241 runs at 30.12 in Wellington's Twenty20 campaign, after starting with two ducks, to go with the 810 runs he compiled in the Plunket Shield.

Chances are he'd need to double those figures to get back into the international frame, even if worse players have come and gone since Papps last donned a black cap.

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It's winning games for Wellington that Papps has to content himself with these day, which he did magnificently on Tuesday.

"If we're being honest with ourselves we obviously weren't happy with how we'd bowled and fielded and Otago probably got a few too many.

"Although you're always going to go out there and give it a good crack, I don't think you're ever thinking ‘this is nailed on and we're going to chase this down'."

Doing so, and by six wickets to boot, has boosted the team's belief in their batting no end.

- The Dominion Post

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