OPINION: The next Cricket World Cup is just over a year away, but the elements of the New Zealand team to take on the world's best are beginning to fall into place.
The knot is already beginning to unravel in the Black Caps' current series against the West Indies - and Mitchell McClenaghan is starting to pen his name into the final 15 for the tournament.
I've been really impressed with McClenaghan since he made his debut for the Black Caps. Forty wickets in 15 one-dayers is a good record in anyone's book.
Sure he took five wickets at Eden Park during the week, but what I enjoyed in Auckland was seeing him with a bit of pace back.
He seemed to drop a few kilometres in speed on the last couple of tours, but I saw him back in the late 130s and early 140s at Eden Park.
He's still swinging it, and I love that aggressive approach. He can be a bit wild, but you take 5 for 50 every game ahead of 1 for 30. That's what I expect from McClenaghan.
You combine that type of player with a veteran like Kyle Mills and you've got a great one-two punch as far as the seam attack goes.
By the end of the Indian one-day series, New Zealand will want to know who at least 13 of the World Cup squad will be.
Pencil in McClenaghan, Mills and Tim Southee for your seamers already - and Adam Milne should be in the mix. I believe the Black Caps should have selected Milne in Auckland - and he should be playing today in Napier.
It was a hard, fast deck up there and during the Windies chase of New Zealand's pretty poor total, you could see that we needed another out-and-out seamer to rattle the tourists.
We all know Southee will be that man when he's fit - but it was a little bit of an opportunity lost.
The likes of all-rounders James Neesham and Corey Anderson will improve with more games and the bowling weapons they do possess will begin to reveal themselves, but right now we probably don't need both players' batting power.
It's another good deck down here in Napier for the quicks, and Milne could flourish, given the chance today. If he misses out again, the Black Caps could wait too long to give him a chance.
If they don't play him and lose, well, then they are 2-0 down in the series and it's too late to experiment.
It might seem harsh to leave Neesham out after just one game, but you are trying to find combinations and I think that Milne deserves an opportunity before New Zealand are behind the eight-ball.
Sure, he hasn't had the best experiences in internationals so far, but he has bowled solidly in the domestic scene so far this summer and showed some promise in Sri Lanka in November on some low, slow decks that were tough to bowl on.
As far as Jesse Ryder goes, I'm not too worried about what happened in Auckland. The public want to see him do well - we all do.
When Ryder is batting well, New Zealand are undoubtedly a better one-day team. That ball he got out on in Auckland would have usually been smacked through the covers.
Instead, his weight was just back a little too far and Darren Bravo took a fantastic catch. That happens in cricket. Ryder just has to forget about it and look forward today in Napier - that was just a little blip at Eden Park.
He's got his place in the team for the whole series against the Windies. There's no doubt about that - he just needs to relax and enjoy his game. Getting that opening combination with Martin Guptill right ahead of the World Cup, that ultimate goal, is crucial.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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