Cricket: Heads will roll in new contract list

By Dylan Cleaver

After the insipid exit from the World Twenty20 championships Andy Moles' honeymoon period is officially over.

His job, at least for the next 12 months, is safe but the same cannot be said of all of last year's 20 contracted players.

The 2009-10 list is due to be released within the next seven days and it will see the biggest personnel shake-up since the contract system was put in place.

The selectors, led by Glenn Turner, would have been hoping the Twenty20 tournament would have clarified a few final selections but all New Zealand's dismal performance did was muddy the waters.

Did Peter McGlashan do enough to unseat Gareth Hopkins as the No 2 keeper in the country? Probably not, and he might find he's even slipped behind Auckland's Reece Young and Canterbury's Kruger van Wyk in the process.

Has Ian Butler done enough to win a contract? Probably.

Will Shane Bond walk right back into a contract? The criterion is to project the value the player will bring to New Zealand in the next 12 months so logic would say yes, but it still might be a bridge too far for those at NZC disappointed he left for the Indian Cricket League.

Have we seen the last of Scott Styris? Given that he just scraped onto the list last year he would have to be odds on to miss out altogether, which would effectively shut the door on his international career.

So all the scrutiny will go on the fringe players in the next seven days but that should not exempt the coaches from taking some heat for what was an awful display in England. B

eating Scotland (though they did a good job of trying to lose) and Ireland does not mask the fact New Zealand played without spark, with few innovations, and appeared to lose their way in their batting at the death every time they came up against a bowler who showed a bit of skill.

Granted, Twenty20 can magnify faults more than other formats but the core skills remain and the middle-order batting, in particular, was rancid.

Worse, they still haven't seemed to get their heads around the very simple concept that if you play Brendon McCullum as a specialist batsman, you throw away the significant advantage of having a world-class keeper-batsman. It's brainless. And if he's not fit enough to keep, then he shouldn't be fielding in high-impact positions as he did throughout the tournament.

It might not have been a holiday in Corsica but New Zealand still had a heavenly buildup, working through their games on the plush estate of John Paul Getty.

You would have thought the summer idyll would have had them hitting the ground running at The Oval. Instead they dished up seven overs of tripe and had to thank Jesse Ryder and McCullum for bailing them out.

They failed to chase down a modest South African target, beat Ireland and then crashed dreadfully to Pakistan and Sri Lanka, two teams New Zealand seem incapable of figuring out.

Heads will roll, but are they the right ones?

PREDICTED CONTRACT LIST

1. Daniel Vettori: New Zealand's captain also happens to be their best bowler and, too often, their best batsman. A shoo-in for No 1.

2. Brendon McCullum: One of the best keeper-batsmen in the world so once and for all let's abandon this nonsense of not playing him as a keeper.

3. Ross Taylor: Will play all three forms of the game and has a great pair of hands.

4. Jesse Ryder: If he stays level-headed, could well be the most valuable cricketer New Zealand has produced in a long time.

5. Jacob Oram: By default only. An injury-plagued Oram looks a shadow of his former self but deserves one more year to regain his touch with the bat.

6. Iain O'Brien: Will get a huge jump after a great last 12 months but are cracks starting to appear in his short-format game?

7. Martin Guptill: Will cap off a meteoric rise with a retainer close to six figures. Is one of the few batsmen adept at all three forms of the game.

8. James Franklin: Some work to do before convincing that he is an allrounder, let alone a test No 6.

9. Kyle Mills: Will likely take a drop after his test status came into question.

10. Chris Martin: Hard to believe the selectors actually thought there were better test new-ball bowlers out there.

11. Tim Southee: Probably fortunate to be this high and needs to start showing that the promise will materialise.

12. Jeetan Patel: the second-best spinner in the country should figure highly in Sri Lankan tour plans.

13. Shane Bond: If he's available he's in... right?

14. Daniel Flynn: Like fellow ND team-mate, has got to start turning the promise into something more tangible.

15. Grant Elliott: The glue in the one-day unit would like another opportunity at test level but it's unlikely to happen.

16. Ian Butler: Looked the pick of the seamers at the World T20.

17. Aaron Redmond: Has gone from unlikely to likely in the space of a few Irish overs. Is a realistic option in all three forms.

18. Tim McIntosh: struggled badly against India but has to be given the tour to Sri Lanka at least.

19. Nathan McCullum: Will most likely get an opportunity in ODIs as well as T20 this year.

20. Neil Broom: The jury is still well and truly out but his role in one of the most difficult in short-form cricket.

NOTABLES

* Scott Styris: the sun might have set.

* Jamie How: needs a year at first-class level to regain touch.

* Kane Williamson: a year too early for contract.

* Peter Fulton: has not done enough.

* Gareth Hopkins: Could sneak in if Bond not picked.

- Herald on Sunday

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