Cricket: Franklin backing his experience

By Daniel Richardson

James Franklin. Photo / Getty Images
James Franklin. Photo / Getty Images

Following an unconventional build-up, James Franklin will call on his vast playing experience to guide him through New Zealand's first test against India in Hyderabad this week.

Franklin has been in and out of the New Zealand test side since making his debut against Pakistan in March, 2001, where he batted in the lower order and bowled first change with his left-arm seamers.

This time around he is likely to bat at No 6 in New Zealand's two-test affair with the Indians and provide an option as a fourth seamer.

He hasn't played a first-class game since he turned out for Wellington in March, and his recent cricket has been a heavy diet of Twenty20 hit-outs including a stint with the Mumbai Indians in the IPL and a spell with English county side Essex.

Considering his lead-in to this test series has been spent playing the most contrasting format to the five-day game, Franklin said if he was selected he would channel his extensive playing background.

"Over the last 10 years I'd like to think I've gained a hell of a lot more experience as a player and particularly in all sorts of conditions," he said.

"So, over the past few years, particularly in first-class cricket I've managed to build up a pretty good record and even though my chances in the test arena have been few and far between I feel as though my game's in pretty good shape.

"If I can get myself in a good mental state before this first test starting on Thursday - and that develops through training over the past few days and then carries on for the next couple - then if I get selected, I'd like to think that I can contribute in a significant way for New Zealand."

Given Franklin's inclusion in the 15-strong squad - he hasn't played a test since January last year - and his impressive record during the IPL with Mumbai on Indian tracks he is likely to be in New Zealand's playing XI on Thursday (NZT).

New Zealand skipper Ross Taylor confirmed earlier in the week that Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill will open the batting, but the rest of the lineup remains unclear.

Daniel Flynn has opened in two of New Zealand's past three tests, but the decision to elevate McCullum from No 3 to the opening pair could see Flynn dropped completely or shuffled down to No 5, with Kane Williamson moving to first drop.

Leg-spinner Tarun Nethula appears likely to make his test debut, given the absence of regular tweaker Daniel Vettori who is out with a groin injury.

Franklin's inclusion to bat at No 6 and bowl as a fourth seamer would give new coach Mike Hesson more room to move with his lineup rather than play the four seamers Chris Martin, Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Doug Bracewell, as that leaves the team light on batting.

Franklin believed he could make an impact with both bat and ball in the test. Despite India having a star-studded line-up, including Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni, the Wellingtonian said New Zealand shouldn't be overawed.

"You can't get too fazed by that or else you're going to lose before you even step over the line to play the game. So we've just got to boil it down to one-on-one contests, batsman versus bowler and look to compete in that first session on day one and that's all you can do.

"We can't look too far ahead to days four and five. We've got to keep it as simple as we can."

- APNZ

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