Mark Richardson is a former Black Cap and current columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Mark Richardson: Finding opener and No 6 is Black Caps' priority

Martin  Guptill can get the runs but had a disappointing Champions Trophy. Photo / AP
Martin Guptill can get the runs but had a disappointing Champions Trophy. Photo / AP

The Champions Trophy campaign promised so much but came to a limp end. If this was an indicator of our ODI team as they build towards the World Cup, it once again pointed the finger of doubt squarely at our batsmen.

We know Martin Guptill can be outstanding - he was against England - but we also know he can't get runs all the time. He had a disappointing Champions Trophy, but he could just as likely have an outstanding World Cup.

So you need the bloke at the other end to front every so often and, sadly, Luke Ronchi did not. If there is one thing Ronchi, and Hamish Rutherford for that matter, have shown is that selection for the Black Caps must be based around results at the provincial level in the form of the game a player is being selected for.

Kane Williamson is the goods, plain and simple. In Williamson we have a cricketer with an exceptional cricket brain and an understanding of batsmanship. He had a very good Champions Trophy and showcased his all-round ability.

Williamson is the platform which this ODI batting team must be built around from now on.

Ross Taylor is Ross Taylor. There is not much else to say, really. He did not have a good tournament but I sense he is getting over his post-captaincy issues and will be key come World Cup time.

Find another opener and the top order is looking good. This is where I feel the time has come to promote young Tom Latham. He has a quality all-round game of accumulation and power and has too much promise for him to be allowed to stagnate on the sidelines.

Brendon McCullum was a disappointment with the bat in England and once again reinforced to me that he is the catalyst of the team's overall performance. He is the player that adds the X-factor that gets them across the line. He's the player who gets the quick 80 to get them to 320 or the guy who gets them to the finish line when the run chase looks unlikely.

He did not do that and in my eyes that was one of the crucial missing links in the campaign.

Position six is vital in a one day innings and New Zealand had no six. He's the man who recovers an innings or accelerates the start the top order has given him. It is a difficult position.

We may have seen the back of James Franklin but who replaces him? If Ronchi is to be persevered with, then this could be his role. I know Latham could do this role too.

The answer could be to commit to Rutherford as an opener and hope he can make a go of it, leaving Ronchi, BJ Watling and Latham fighting for that spot. Corey Anderson could be an option here too but I like him at seven.

- Herald on Sunday

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Mark Richardson is a former Black Cap and current columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Mark Hunter Richardson represented New Zealand in 38 Tests from 2000-2004 racking up an impressive 2,776 runs with an average of 44.7. The former Black Cap began his cricketing career as a left-arm spinner but soon realised that his talents lay with the bat. The transition from ball to bat was seamless and Richardson soon made his international debut against Zimbabwe at the age of 29. Known as a stalwart opener, Richardson’s intelligent style of hard-grind batting came at the perfect time for New Zealand cricket and provided much-needed stability for the Black Caps. Apart from being an excellent opening batsman, Mark Richardson was well-known among fans and team mates for his humorous off-pitch antics and friendly interactions with the famous Beige Brigade, with whom he formed a strong relationship. An excellent cricketer with a personable quality, Richardson once remarked that his retiring first-class average was only different to that of Sir Donald Bradman by a decimal point. Mark Richardson retired from all forms of the game in 2004 and continues to write an insightful, thought-provoking column for the New Zealand Herald.

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