Status quo is good news for Black Caps

SIMON DOULL
Last updated 05:00 24/10/2010
Mark Greatbatch
Getty Images
STATUS QUO: Mark Greatbatch.

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OPINION: New Zealand Cricket has been sensible in not pushing the panic button with their initial reaction to the debacle in Bangladesh.

It was good to see coach Mark Greatbatch and skipper Dan Vettori front up to some tough questions for the NZC board and it was just as good to see them walk away holding on to their jobs.

It's too close to next year's World Cup to be making major changes to the team's management structure.

Let's not forget it was less than a year ago that we were going through the turmoil of Andy Moles' removal as Black Caps coach.

These guys have dug themselves a hole that they need to climb out of – that's the responsibility that has been placed on them now.

What I would suggest is that the pair could do with a little bit of help in the coaching department.

I would like to see someone such as former England coach Duncan Fletcher or South African batsman Kepler Wessels brought in to help. It could be something that may eventuate from the formation of the new committee charged with reviewing the systems – especially if the struggles continue in the series in India.

The batting department needs the most attention and someone such as Wessels with his tough attitude and technical abilities could help.

Of course, we have John Wright in our system already but there seems to be a real reluctance to get him involved. Whether that's down to personalities, I'm not sure. But it is a shame.

The struggle on the slow wickets was disappointing but so was our inability to play spin, given that our batsmen get regular net time against the best left-armer in the business in their skipper. This needs to be rectified swiftly.

It seemed to me we saw the first signs of strain on Vettori with his batting and captaincy, and he wasn't helped by the lack of performance by his senior players.

It just looks like the set-up could do with a little bit of additional help.

The four losses in Bangladesh were massively disappointing. We've got a decent record as a limited overs side. It's become our bread and butter and to see the Black Caps slide from near the top of the ladder to No 7 in the space of a few months is embarrassing.

Our focus needs to stay on the World Cup. There are just 11 one-dayers left before that crucial tournament on the sub-continent.

It's time we settled on our top ODI line-up and stuck with it through good and bad over summer to give them the chance to tune up.

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There would be some changes to the side that lost to Bangladesh in my preferred ODI line-up – Jesse Ryder, Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Scott Styris, Brendon McCullum, Dan Vettori, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Andy McKay and Hamish Bennett, with Grant Elliott and Daryl Tuffey as cover.

That means the return of the Guptill to the top of the order and the fighting qualities of Styris that were so sorely missed in the middle order.

That's still a very promising side and certainly one I wouldn't write off despite what has just happened.

We have to get over this. It's not going to be easy with the next destination being India. Talking about jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire!

Today the focus goes on the test side, with a 15-man squad being named to travel to top-ranked India next week for three tests. The ODI side will follow that with five matches at the end of November.

So India is probably the worst possible place to be heading when you are down and out. But that's the challenge.

The test squad will be different. Specialist opener Tim McIntosh should be back, along with Guptill, who has been scoring runs for New Zealand A. Gareth Hopkins will get the specialist wicketkeeping duties and speedsters Brent Arnel and Chris Martin will be back in the mix of the pace department.

Who should be Vettori's back-up spinner? I think Kane Williamson has the potential to do the job and I'm sure it's something we will see investigated as time goes on. By leaving out a specialist spinner such as Jeetan Patel or Nathan McCullum would allow the selectors some extra cover for their batting and allrounder stocks by including someone such as Elliott.

Simon Doull is a former Black Cap

- Sunday News

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