Cricket: CD players remain in Black Caps mix

By Anendra Singh

New Zealand Cricket are not ignoring Central Districts Stags but simply making good decisions, according to national convenor of selectors Kim Littlejohn.

"It's purely a case of being patient and CD will be rewarded," Littlejohn says.

Several Devon Hotel-sponsored Stags are on the fringe of selection despite CD setting the pace in the first-class Plunket Shield competition with two rounds to play.

Batsman Ross Taylor and opening seamer Doug Bracewell are the only players in the test squad.

Others such as wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk, leg spinner Tarun Nethula and speed merchant Adam Milne were part of the equation but NZ Cricket's numerical processor has chewed them up and spat them back to the domestic scene.

Among those who have caught the public eye is CD batsman Carl Cachopa.

"I think he's in time for the NZ A programme," Littlejohn says of the "robust" plans for a second-tier New Zealand team agenda, thanks to an injection of capital from the International Cricket Council (ICC) to help boost the Black Caps' status in the world pecking order.

While Cachopa has had a memorable and consistent year, it's imperative he maintains that standard for a couple of seasons.

"When players like him make that transition they'll have a better chance of performing."

Littlejohn feels in New Zealand there's a tendency to push players into the Black Caps squad too early.

"They get beaten up and it takes two years to get them back to where they were."

The NZ A programme, he feels, will provide the ideal platform for aspiring players to test their mettle in the subcontinent as the Black Caps prepare to tour there in the next three years.

Matches against Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka are in the pipeline to 2015.

"Putting my accountant's hat on, I'd say the New Zealand dollar will go further in the subcontinent to give us more bang for our buck," he says, revealing director of cricket John Buchanan is in the middle of negotiations with the ICC this week.

Tours to Europe and South Africa, he contends, will hit NZ Cricket's pockets much harder.

Besides, Littlejohn says it'll be a great opportunity for New Zealand's budding bowlers and batsmen to learn to play that aspect of the game from the best in the world.

"Tarun's very much in the mix as well," he says of Nethula, who toured with the Black Caps to West Indies and India but lost his continuity and, consequently, confidence with minimal game time.

"He's returned from an injury [shoulder] and is bowling really well so he needs to continue to perform because his opportunity will come as he's the best leg spinner in New Zealand."

With the Black Caps seldom employing two tweakers in the country, it often comes down to whether coach Mike Hesson wants a leggie, offie or simply a left-armer in his mix.

"I can tell you Tarun's name comes up regularly."

An injury-plagued Daniel Vettori, in the twilight years of his playing career, is unavailable while hot-again-cold-again Jeetan Patel is likely to be dropped after the recent forgettable tour of South Africa.

That has prompted suggestions of promoting short-form spinner Nathan McCullum to the test arena.

Littlejohn sees the wicketkeeping position a bigger challenge.

The calibre and quality of players such as BJ Watling, Van Wyk, Luke Ronchi and Derek de Boorder excite him.

"We need to work out who'll work well in which format of the game and stick with them.

"Mike Hesson's got to decide that but for now BJ is the incumbent and McCullum is doing it in the short form."

Watling has had a stellar stint with the bat but it's open to debate if he's the best gloveman behind the stumps.

With the Black Caps building a stable of about 10 fast bowlers, Littlejohn says Milne, who missed the South African tour with an ankle injury, remains in the equation.

"He's got back on the park as a batsman in a Hawke Cup match but we're hoping he'll be back bowling."

CD coach Alan Hunt says Milne is recovering well and is on track to begin the domestic one-day Ford Trophy campaign later this month.

A "little way off" in the scheme of things are injured CD seamers Bevan Small and Ben Wheeler and batsman and former New Zealand under-19 captain Will Young.

Both teams

The Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags and Canterbury Wizards squads for their four-day Plunket Shield match at Mainpower Oval, Rangiora, from today:

CD STAGS: Kieran Noema-Barnett (c), Roald Badenhorst, Doug Bracewell, Carl Cachopa, Jamie How, Andrew Lamb, Andrew Mathieson, Tarun Nethula, Ajaz Patel, Jeet Raval, Mathew Sinclair, Kruger van Wyk.

Coach: Alan Hunt. Assistant coach: Lance Hamilton.

CANTERBURY: George Worker, Peter Fulton (c), Shannan Stewart, Dean Brownlie, Tom Latham (wk), Todd Astle, Brent Findlay, Ryan McCone, Matt McEwan, Tim Johnston, Ben McCord, Henry Nicholls.

Coach: Gary Stead.


- Hawkes Bay Today

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