Mark Richardson is a former Black Cap and current columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Mark Richardson: Time to be bold - Black Caps can eke draw

Mark Richardson believes the Black Caps will not lose the test series. Photo / AP
Mark Richardson believes the Black Caps will not lose the test series. Photo / AP

It's a lot easier nowadays to criticise the Black Caps. More people tend to nod in approval to what you say than staunchly defend our cricket team and, let's face it, the team tend to provide plenty of critical ammunition.

So, at the risk of being ridiculed, I'm going to blow their tyres up just a little.

I believe the Black Caps will not lose the test series. I'm not saying they will win the series because I'm never confident they have enough firepower to bowl a reasonable team out twice in conditions that don't suit medium pace seam bowling.

What I base this prediction on is a belief that they should score enough runs not to lose.

I know the batting was quite average during the limited overs part of the tour but the need to score fast runs is now over and I'm hoping that will lessen the threat of chief destroyer in the ODIs, Sunil Narine.

It's difficult and highly risky to score off bowling when you have no idea which way it is going to turn. However, it's a lot easier to formulate a successful defensive technique against such mystery. Question is: Will our players have the defensive wherewithal to formulate such plans?

Keeping Narine out will not guarantee big runs but the West Indies hold no terrors elsewhere and the rest of the attack will leak runs at a sufficient rate to keep our rather impatient top order mentality under control.

Now to bowling them out. If I was going to be more courageous and predict a New Zealand win, then I would say Daniel Vettori is the key. The wickets in the West Indies appear to be offering plenty of spin.

Vettori doesn't spin the ball much but he should get just enough. Combine that with his guile and the West Indian penchant for big shots and he will be more of a threat than he has in the recent past.

Neil Wagner must play. He has proven himself to be a wicket-taker. He's not express but he is aggressive. Vettori, Doug Bracewell and Chris Martin will keep things tight and he can just run in, in conditions that won't suit, and be aggressive.

I'd also love to see Tarun Nethula play. If the conditions are going to spin, then carrying a legspinner and not playing him is a sin in my book.

But how to find room for him?

Not five batsmen, five bowlers and a wicketkeeper vs six batsmen and four bowlers dilemma again, please!

But with Wagner and Nethula both likely to cough up runs in pursuit of wickets, then I'm afraid Daniel Vettori might have to bat at six again.

- Herald on Sunday

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Mark Richardson is a former Black Cap and current columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Mark Hunter Richardson represented New Zealand in 38 Tests from 2000-2004 racking up an impressive 2,776 runs with an average of 44.7. The former Black Cap began his cricketing career as a left-arm spinner but soon realised that his talents lay with the bat. The transition from ball to bat was seamless and Richardson soon made his international debut against Zimbabwe at the age of 29. Known as a stalwart opener, Richardson’s intelligent style of hard-grind batting came at the perfect time for New Zealand cricket and provided much-needed stability for the Black Caps. Apart from being an excellent opening batsman, Mark Richardson was well-known among fans and team mates for his humorous off-pitch antics and friendly interactions with the famous Beige Brigade, with whom he formed a strong relationship. An excellent cricketer with a personable quality, Richardson once remarked that his retiring first-class average was only different to that of Sir Donald Bradman by a decimal point. Mark Richardson retired from all forms of the game in 2004 and continues to write an insightful, thought-provoking column for the New Zealand Herald.

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