Cricket: CD Stag resolute to justify test recall

By Anendra Singh

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Doug Bracewell can create scuff marks to make life difficult for left-hand batsmen facing spinners. Photo/File
Doug Bracewell can create scuff marks to make life difficult for left-hand batsmen facing spinners. Photo/File

Some segments of the media wrote him off but Doug Bracewell didn't despair.

"I don't really read all that stuff. People in the media bag you, write negative stuff but I back myself and my ability 100 per cent," the Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags allrounder said after Black Caps coach Mike Hesson named him in the test squad to play two tests against India from early next month.

Bracewell learned of his re-selection on Saturday afternoon, not long after helping spearhead CD to their maiden victory of the season in a three-wicket Plunket Shield win over Northern Districts Knights at McLean Park, Napier.

The 23-year-old Sharpies Golfing Range Taradale premier club player made his intentions clear at the weekend with an unbeaten 77 in the first dig and five wickets from two innings.

"My intention is to get back into the playing XI," Bracewell said, attributing his return to form with time spent in the CD camp.

After New Zealand's 2-0 test victory over an anaemic West Indies this summer, fellow seamers Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner have established themselves in the equation.

"The team's winning so all I have to do is put in big performances for CD," Bracewell said.

However, India, despite struggling to find traction on bouncy and pacey wickets here, will be a different kettle of fish for the Brendon McCullum-captained Black Caps.

With deafening calls for seaming, green-tinged wickets, the prudent will always back players of Bracewell's pedigree.

The Stag has the ability to hit the deck hard to extract movement that India's elite batsmen are likely to find problematic despite a fruitful tour of South Africa before arriving here.

With the Black Caps regime wisely opting to persevere with young legspinner Ish Sodhi for the future, it makes sense to opt for two right-armers to create scuff marks outside the offstump of the left-hand batsmen for the ND tweaker to find traction.

With three left-armers in Boult, Corey Anderson and Wagner, the latter is likely to miss out on pitches offering greenish tops.

Anderson, despite his heroics with the willow, remains a serious test consideration with his ability to offer stifling deliveries in the mould of Gavin Larsen of the yesteryear.

While he took some spanking in the drawn ODI in Auckland on Saturday night, the fact remains he needs to be exposed more to hone his skills in every format of the game to become the country's next genuine allrounder.

Besides, Anderson the batsmen also needs to treat every ball as an event in the test arena to become the world-class player he can be.

Bracewell says India are a good side but playing away from their comfort zone at home means New Zealand are in an ideal position to take advantage.

"We have to be smart with how we bowl because most of the areas are small for the Indians who are boundary hitters - so we can't give them bad balls."

He hasn't changed his technique much since finding himself in the wilderness of the test arena.

"I'm just pretty hungry for runs and wickets," says the allrounder who won backing from ex-international and TV commentator Simon Doull last month before the first rain-interrupted test against the Windies in Dunedin.

Doull also felt CD batsman Ross Taylor should reassume the mantle of captaincy if McCullum's back is still an issue although the incumbent's biggest concern will be his loss of batting form in his favoured white-ball format to date.

Complicating that is Taylor's wife expecting their second child during the duration of the two tests, which has prompted Hesson to have ex-CD rep Jesse Ryder on standby.

Ryder indicated in Hastings, before the first ODI this month, he was itching to get back into test mode.

While happy with certain aspects of his bowling, Bracewell felt there was room to improve.

"I just have to keep doing the job, just keep taking wickets and scoring runs and forget about all the other things that are out of my control."

Bracewell took "on the chin" his non-selection against the Windies.

"The test side is doing well so you can see why they didn't change the squad.

"Personally I want to be playing so it's out of my control," he said, adding his focus was on the Stags' revival as they prepare to host the Wellington Firebirds from Thursday at McLean Park, in the seventh round of the four-day shield match.

The Delhi Daredevils IPL recruit fell out of Hesson's Black Caps equation in March last year after he cut his foot on a broken beer bottle while cleaning up following a party at his Napier home.

In November, he was back in the CD dog box (12th man) for partying in Hamilton with Otago Volts players celebrating their T20 win over ND the night before CD's game against the hosts.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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