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Andrew Alderson: Series warrants the best


The proliferation of new caps in the New Zealand-South Africa Twenty20 series raises the issue of using international sport as a mere development tool.

No international sport should be used for development or as a mechanism to trot out lines about 'rebuilding'. Both sides seem to be pressing the development button this series, diluting the spectacle .

South Africa's eight-wicket win with 47 balls to spare in the opening T20 international, having dismissed a series of flailing New Zealand batsmen was exhibit A.

New Zealand has five players in their 15-man squad - Corey Anderson (22), Derek de Boorder (27), Mitchell McClenaghan (26), Colin Munro (25) and Jimmy Neesham (22) - who had not played international cricket before the tour. South Africa had four - Henry Davids, Quinton de Kock, Chris Morris and Aaron Phangiso.

Such promising players deserve to showcase their talents but normally those opportunities are reserved for Emerging Players, Invitational XI or Prime Minister's XI fixtures on tours - not matches with international caps.

The relative inexperience is highlighted by the lack of test caps in each T20 squad.

New Zealand has 161 - Brendon McCullum, James Franklin and Martin Guptill account for 128 (80 per cent). South Africa has 124 - Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn account for 105 (85 per cent).

The selections prove T20 and test skills are now largely treated as different subsets. Only six of New Zealand's 15 test players are also in the T20 squad - there are five South Africans across both. Perhaps a relevant comparison is the gulf in credibility and prestige between playing test rugby for the All Blacks or the recently re-named All Blacks Sevens. It seems there are now Black Caps and black caps.

Selectors know they can bring players into such teams at will while others wait at home. Kane Williamson, BJ Watling and Daniel Flynn are getting valuable first-class matches before the test series while Tim Southee and Jacob Oram awaited the birth of children. Southee is now out of the series with injury.

Nothing is perceived to be lost because it's 'just another T20 series'. One-dayers were similarly maligned for years.

The situation also raises the question of T20's relevance as an international format.

Perhaps it might adopt a predominantly club/franchise model, much like football and rugby, with specific windows for internationals.

Alternatively, international T20 cricket could become a specific genre which also plays a global series like sevens.

- Herald on Sunday

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Covers sport across NZME's print, digital and radio brands.

Andrew writes and broadcasts on cricket and the Olympic disciplines for NZME's print, digital, video and radio platforms. His most recent project followed New Zealand sportspeople competing in Europe during the 2015 northern summer. He has attended four cricket World Cups, three Olympics and regularly works as a correspondent overseas.

Read more by Andrew Alderson

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