Dylan Cleaver: Duo all present and too correct for perfect balance

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Something just didn't feel right about that batting line-up New Zealand sent out into the grey Christchurch evening.

Granted, a rain-shortened match - 50 overs down to 28 after a four-hour rain delay - always tends to skew things and amplify flaws but coach Andy Moles needs to address the balance in the middle order.

The problem is at No 3 and No 5, spots occupied last night by Jamie How and Daniel Flynn respectively.

Apart from the fact they stand on different sides of the bat, their styles are too similar.

They are essentially correct batsmen, even taking into account How's technical struggles this summer. They are orthodox in their approach so, as long as you have bowlers that can stick to plans they are easier to set a field to than, say, a Ross Taylor who can hoick a good length ball on off stump over midwicket as readily as he can punch it through the covers.

There is nothing wrong with orthodoxy per se, in fact it is sometimes an under-rated commodity in limited overs cricket, but having them so close in the order appeals as a luxury, especially when you consider Grant Elliott, not a renowned 'hitter' comes in at No 7, as he was in Christchurch.

It is nice to have one guy in the top order who you can have your dashers working around, but two?

When those guys see a lot of strike, as How did during the middle overs, it puts a lot of pressure on the Ryders and Taylors to clear the ropes.

When Flynn replaced How at the crease it delayed the entry of big-hitting Jacob Oram from the 15th over to the 17th. Given that Oram likes a few sighters before he blasts off, leaving him at No 6 did not make sense.

You suspect that, ideally, How would open in one-day cricket but the left-right opening partnership of Jesse Ryder and Brendon McCullum has proved so dynamic it would be counterproductive to split them.

The harsh fact might be that there just is not enough room for both How and Flynn. On the evidence so far Flynn - despite his 'special project' status - would have to be the one to make room.

How averages a handy 35.76 from his 30 ODIs at the OK-and-nothing-more strike rate of 70.4. Flynn has struggled adjusting to ODIs and has scored just 123 runs in 13 matches (10 innings) at an unacceptable strike rate of 55.4. His record in the State Shield is better, but a long way short of outstanding.

He's a good player with a long future in the national side but it would not do him any harm to concentrate on test cricket for the time being and learning to play limited-overs cricket on the next rung down.

- Herald on Sunday

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