Mark Richardson: Power-play basket needs filling

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At first I thought, 'where the heck did that come from and with what rationale?'. But, on further consideration, the selection of Brendon Diamanti does make perfect sense.

The question will be, however: Is he good enough to have success at international level?

Ask anyone involved with Black Caps management and decision-making right now and they will say one area of concern has been the ability to bowl at the death or bowl death-style overs when the situation requires it. These days, that style is required earlier in an innings too.

I have postulated that, for the Black Caps to become a really great ODI side, they must minimise the damage opposition batsmen do during power plays taken late.

These may be short periods of play but are crucial - and need careful attention and planning. As the one-day game becomes more specialised and formulaic, then so too must the players. Diamanti could be the specialist power player.

He has shown an ability to bowl yorkers and slower balls in his time for Central Districts. If he has been selected for the Black Caps under instructions to further hone those skills, that excites me as it shows thinking designed to stay ahead of the game.

While the fluid and unpredictable nature of cricket requires players to be relatively flexible in approach, the time is soon coming when the weighting on traditional play versus specialised play will reverse - seeing skills tailored to specific areas of the 50-over game.

Players will spend far more time and even spend their total practice time working on things like yorkers, slower balls, hitting yorkers and slower balls, ramping bouncers, various sweeps and the like. The basics of the game are changing and a player's basics now may vary from player to player.

Diamanti's provincial record does not scream 'pick me'. Sixty-one wickets at 28 from 48 matches with an economy rate of 4 and half an over is not bad - but imagine these sorts of figures from a bowler who spends most of his time bowling when the slog's on.

This is not the case just yet with Diamanti but the time is coming when you must analyse a player's record with the specific role they play in mind.

The time will come when a bowler with an economy rate of six is quite acceptable if they are the player who specialises in minimizing damage and power play bowling.

Batting strike rates v averages already account for roles within a team but they too may become more and more dramatic in variance.

The problem with picking specialists is that you put your eggs in one basket and, if they don't get the job done, you are left a little short.

But let's face it - right now the Black Caps don't really have any death-bowling and late-order, power-play eggs to put in the basket.

- Herald on Sunday

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