Dylan Cleaver: Pair sacrificed for a stronger middle order

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You have to feel a little for Peter Fulton and James Marshall.

While the likes of Daniel Flynn and Jesse Ryder get the chance to establish middle order positions in benign conditions against the weakest side currently playing test cricket, they will be left to ponder a tour to England that, in Fulton's case, never got off the ground and which crashed and burned for Marshall.

Still, you can't blame the selectors.

A middle order containing Fulton and Marshall is not going to frighten anybody, whereas one that contains Ryder, Ross Taylor, Flynn, Brendon McCullum and Jacob Oram might ... one day ... maybe?

However, a middle order of Ponting, Kallis, Hussey and Chanderpaul would probably struggle from time to time if they're exposed early often enough.

With Aaron Redmond chosen again to partner Jamie How against the new ball, New Zealand is no closer to solving that festering boil of a problem.

Redmond, despite a horror return in the test series against England (54 runs at an average of 9), had to be given another chance - not least to try to save face for the selector who deemed him international quality despite a so-so first-class record.

The problem is that any runs Redmond accrues on the Subcontinent will be suffixed with - "although it was only against Bangladesh".

Redmond's problems seemed to be an inability to cope with quick, swing bowling, something he will face a bit of as a test opener, though not against Bangladesh.

Speaking of openers, it will do How, whose record (559 runs at 26.6) still flatters to deceive, no harm to get that pesky maiden century out of the way.

That will help dispel the feeling he is that rare thing: a better starter than a finisher.

The inclusion of Ryder for both forms of the game is meritorious on many levels.

His first-class record is much better than his limited overs stats, so he is equipped to play for the long haul; he offers another left-hand bat and sound technique (though he might not want to play quite so square through the offside against the red ball) near the top of the order; he can provide those dobbly, partnership-breaking overs that Scott Styris use to offer.

But the best reason for his inclusion is what it means on a personal level.

It means those who have been monitoring his progress since Ryder's version of toilet training went so wrong are confident he is on the right track.

It means he is conquering his demons with the help of his "support crew" that he talks about. "It's been a long time coming. It was up to them [the selectors] to give me another chance and I'm just happy they did," Ryder said on Friday.

It means this phenomenal talent is not going to be lost to New Zealand cricket. We should all see the benefit of that over the next decade when he and Taylor could provide the most exciting No 3-4 combination in world cricket.

Perhaps the one other point worthy of discussion is the on-again relationship between Chris Martin and one-day cricket. Martin was mortified to be left out of the squad that beat England. "It's not one I saw coming," he said at the time.

This comeback of sorts was one he might not have seen coming either but James Franklin's continuing injury woes have probably given him another opportunity.

The two-test, three-ODI series starts on October 9.

- Herald on Sunday

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