Can limited-overs cricket help a test match opener?
The answer is a definite "yes".
In the case of incumbents Tim McIntosh and Jamie How, it can help in markedly different ways.
How needs confidence. He also needs to make technical adjustments but if he does not maintain his place in the test team via some ODI form, we may never see the benefit of those changes in tests.
He has had a bad test run of late and it looks like the weight of the world is in on his shoulders when he comes out to bat.
His most productive recent test innings was his last one, a half century at Napier when the scenario was similar to that of a challenging ODI run chase.
It was an innings that gave him no other option than to play positively. ODI cricket provides that same mindset. In test cricket, How looks too preoccupied with technique and as a consequence he looks static at the crease. He becomes heavy-handed and lunges at the ball, which has caused technical difficulties when trying to play straight.
It's unlikely he will have time to sort out his technical issues during the one-dayers but with a little success he may sort out a few mental issues. Confidence against international bowling may have an effect on his test technique by softening his hands through reduced anxiety.
Both How and McIntosh will be aware that their scoring areas will differ between test and ODI play and the fear is that should McIntosh play State Shield it will affect his test technique.
It will not, it will only help him.
McIntosh needs to hold a place in the Aces State Shield team, something he has failed to do and his test status simply should not provide for special treatment. However, with Auckland struggling he may get a run and that will only help him.
McIntosh is old enough and knows his game well enough that 50-over play is unlikely to alter his test technique. What it will do is allow him to explore and develop other scoring options.
If he is pigeon-holed to the longer forms it may cause an over-emphasis on defence leading to a very destructive and negative mentality - something that shortened this writer's career by two years.
While the West Indies attack is reasonable, it is a little looser than other nations' attacks. I fear McIntosh may stall against more accurate attacks and be stifled out. A little one-day play may allow him to develop pressure-easing rotational skills.
Right now, McIntosh is playing well and a break could do damage. Club cricket does not help your test game and mentally he would be far better off being involved in the State Shield.
McIntosh does not need confidence right now, he should have plenty of that but he can get better as a test player. One-day cricket will not loosen him up but it may just make him a more efficient player.