Cairns: With right balance NZ can win World Cup

CHRIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 29/12/2013
Mike Hesson
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DECISION TIME: Black Caps coach Mike Hesson but implement a clear strategy.

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OPINION: I used to find it quite amusing when the bowling group had fingers pointed at it after the failings of the batting group.

The Boxing Day ODI produced such a reaction when a substandard performance from the New Zealand batters meant the bowlers had to take 10 wickets to win the match.

In striving for this there will always be consequence as you must produce wicket-taking deliveries. I think the bowlers, and in particular Mitchell McClenaghan, were superb in getting New Zealand close but the batters will know they need to produce more and no doubt Napier will provide the platform for this today.

With Jesse Ryder back, Martin Guptill in and Kyle Mills and McClenaghan replacing the successful duo of Trent Boult and Time Southee, I have thought about how the New Zealand team for the opening game of the 2015 Cricket World Cup may shape up.

It's 14 months away but there are only about a dozen ODIs left before we play Sri Lanka in Christchurch.

Being this far out, Mike Hesson and Bruce Edgar, the men charged with shaping the team, will have the majority of personnel in place but they must commit as soon as possible to allow combinations and strategy to evolve.

Guptill and Ryder are a formidable opening combination and potentially world class. Where I would change the order is to have Brendon McCullum at three and put Kane Williamson down to five.

The reason is that with this top three, any bowling attack in the game is going to have apprehension as all are capable of match-winning knocks and taking the game from you, quickly.

Ross Taylor at four to anchor and control the innings and the team's best bat and then Williamson's skill to tick the middle part of the innings over against spin, gives good balance to the power at the top.

With McCullum not keeping, it means that Corey Anderson, Colin Munro and Jimmy Neesham are vying for two spots at six and seven. I would love to see all three play as this young group are without doubt some of the game's most explosive talent, though Munro may be the unlucky one to miss out.

Luke Ronchi is in at eight and I find him quite a conundrum. BJ Watling is on the outer but an excellent cricketer, though his strike rate at 50-over cricket is too slow. On the other hand, Ronchi's is too quick. So the question has to be asked is it easier to up Watling's or bring down Ronchi's?

Ronchi is the winner here as he must look to have an 85-90 strike rate. Currently he is too aggressive and thus reckless. He needs to be more in control of his options and this will increase his consistency.

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Daniel Vettori at nine - and the sooner he is back, the better for everyone. Ten is Southee and eleven McClenaghan.

The four to make up the rest of the squad are Tom Latham (covering top order and keeping), James Franklin, Nathan McCullum and Mills. Experience off the bench is critical as there will be injuries and perhaps a form slump from someone during the tournament.

So that's my squad and it's a team that has impact and match winners and is a definite semifinal contender.

If McCullum could don the gloves and Munro comes in for Ronchi then I believe that is a World Cup- winning combination as the balance and depth is frightening and has experience along with youthful passion.

Lastly a quick word on the retirement of Jaques Kallis. He was a formidable opponent whose record puts him among the greats, where he rightfully belongs.

- Sunday Star Times

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