Cairns: Opportunity lost in Hamilton ODI flop

CHRIS CAIRNS
Last updated 06:03 12/01/2014

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OPINION: Chris Cairns says the Black Caps still do not have their one-day bowling mix right.

Given how many frontliners are missing from the West Indies, I am not sure what New Zealand can expect to gain from the Twenty20 series.

I wrote this column ahead of last night's opener at Eden Park but I will be disappointed if New Zealand didn't win. In fact, my view has been that we should come away victors in both matches.

But first let me sign off on a disappointing last ODI for New Zealand in Hamilton that cost a series victory. Ultimately a squared series actually flattered the touring side and Brendon McCullum's decision to chase was the catalyst for the loss. I heard the logic that chasing in Hamilton is historically the way to go but chasing as New Zealand did in this match was akin to giving a side first use of bowling on a green seamer.

New Zealand had dictated the entire pace of the third and fourth ODIs. Back-to-back wins have been a rarity for this group so McCullum would have been wise to have kept the status quo and provided the Windies with their own version of groundhog day. Pile on runs and agony and walk away with a 3-1 series scoreline but by playing three games in exactly the same manner. Bat well and then restrict.

By giving the Windies first use of brilliant conditions it sparked them in to action. It's a good lesson for McCullum. When captaining you must consider form and history but you must also never give the opposition a chance to resurrect themselves.

There is a conundrum within the bowling group also as Kyle Mills bowling first change does not work. He is not a death bowler, never has been. But he is extremely skilful with a new white ball.

It seems the Kiwi think tank is not quite sure on the dynamic of who to play as their three frontline bowlers. Mitchell McClenaghan, Mills and Tim Southee have to be rotated.

Adam Milne is being kept in the squad but I don't believe there is confidence to use him. Sure he bowls fast but he is two years away yet. Jimmy Neesham would be my choice and I believe he can turn in to an excellent third seamer.

New Zealand only had two death options in McClenaghan and Southee in Hamilton because Corey Anderson does not have the confidence and is doing some things wrong technically in his action to be consistent.

In Neesham there should be significant investment. NZ Cricket should have him play a full season of county cricket on the proviso the county he plays for opens the bowling with him. He can then bat at six and begin to ply his trade and learn through quantity of matches.

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Defeat can often swallow you as a professional but in Hamilton I felt there were some good lessons learnt but we will have to wait until the Indian ODIs to see if the lessons have provided growth.

Lastly, Dan Vettori has secured a head coaching role in the IPL which speaks volumes for his standing and respect in the game.

New Zealand, however, must get an indication from him now as to whether he is available for the 2015 World Cup.

I hope he chooses to play.

- Sunday Star Times

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