Cricket: Boult's selection not out of the blue

By Dylan Cleaver

Trent Boult. Photo / APN
Trent Boult. Photo / APN

New Zealand have a masterplan for taking on Australia at the Gabba later this month: watch what England did last season and copy it.

New Zealand yesterday named their 13-man squad for the two-test tour of Australia, though a space was left for an extra bowler if required.

It contains few surprises, with only Jeetan Patel missing from the team that beat Zimbabwe recently.

"We were keen to show consistency in selection for the tour of Australia and retain the nucleus of the side that performed well against Zimbabwe," selection manager Kim Littlejohn said.

Coach John Wright has looked on at Australia's struggles in South Africa with interest, but believes it was the Ashes that provided the best blueprint for success in Australian conditions.

"England provided a really good example of how to bowl to them last year and the batting of Alastair Cook was exemplary," Wright said.

"He was very patient and played very straight. England provided in some ways a template of how to play best against Australia."

Cook, England's barnacle-like left-handed opener, scored 766 runs in seven innings to anchor England's first series win in Australia for 24 years. His was an uncomplicated approach, which fits well with Wright's philosophy on test cricket.

"We know we have to bat four sessions and we have to take 20 wickets," he said.

New Zealand at least have batsmen headed to Australia in vintage form. Martin Guptill scored an unbeaten 195 for Auckland yesterday, while Kane Williamson was left undefeated on 284 when Northern Districts declared against Wellington. Dean Brownlie is also fresh off a big century.

"That's vindicated our decision to stay back here and play first-class cricket because not all those batsmen would have got the opportunity to bat for the length of time they have," Wright said. "It's good to see some of the newer members of the side getting big runs."

Balancing the good news was Brendon McCullum's failure for Otago, though his test form since converting to opener has been outstanding.

More worrying is Jesse Ryder's continuing struggles with form and fitness. He notched a double failure for Wellington and has failed to nudge past 22 in his past five test innings.

BJ Watling must be on a short leash too, keeping his place in the squad despite looking a little lost during his brief test career.

He will stay back to play for ND against Otago in the third round of the Plunket Shield before joining the squad during their warm-up match against Australia 'A'.

ND left-armer Trent Boult won the nod for the fourth seamer's role ahead of Andy McKay and Graeme Aldridge. He will join Chris Martin, Doug Bracewell and the returning Tim Southee.

"He's the player that has really stood out in the first two games," Wright said. "His efforts have given him the opportunity. A left-armer is always handy [and] he does swing the ball.

"That's something we'd like to exploit. The conditions in Brisbane sometimes suit swing bowling. It does give you a bit of balance."

"We're only taking four [seamers] at this stage but we may well call for another one. It gives the players who're in the frame for selection another game back here."

Those in the frame mentioned by Wright were Aldridge, McKay, Kyle Mills, Brent Arnel and Michael Bates.

New Zealand are likely to play three seamers in the test, with Daniel Vettori able to play the stock bowler's role.

Australia, on the other hand, could try to blast New Zealand out by unleashing their latest quick bowling prodigy, Pat Cummins.

"I've heard that he's pretty quick," Wright said.

"That will be interesting because we have a feeling they might look to expose us to a lot of pace. We're going to have to stand up and we're going to have to be brave."

Tour team

Ross Taylor (c), Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Dean Brownlie, Martin Guptill, Chris Martin, Brendon McCullum, Jesse Ryder, Tim Southee, Daniel Vettori, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson, Reece Young.

Tour schedule

* v Australia A, Brisbane (Allan Border Field), Nov 24-27
* v Australia, Brisbane (Gabba), Dec 1-5
* v Australia, Hobart, Dec 9-13.

- NZ Herald

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