Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Cricket: Spin tops shortlist

When New Zealand Cricket appoints a new national bowling coach, consideration must be given to how they deal with spin bowling across all forms of the game.

Candidates will no doubt be adept in the finer points of wrist position, bowling load charts and reverse swing for pace bowlers, but there needs to be an emphasis on spin's role in the modern game.

The New Zealand team could benefit from having a regular - if not permanent - spin bowling coach. It can be argued this might further clutter the support staff, adding another voice to a cacophony when money could be better invested.

However, New Zealand are vulnerable when facing most opposition when they rip their fingers or wrists over the ball.

And they must also developing a spinning successor to Daniel Vettori.

A specific spin coach might help Vettori extend his test career by finding more turn, particularly in the second innings.

Candidates might also identify ways in which promising spinners like Central Districts' Tarun Nethula, Canterbury's Todd Astle or possibly New Zealand under-19 and Auckland leg-spinner Ish Sodhi can make successful transitions to international cricket for a sustained period.

Primarily, the problems taking guard to spin are something for the recently-appointed Bob Carter to lie awake at night worrying about with "batting coach" in his list of responsibilities. Yet Carter and the players might see value in a back-up voice that offers specifics as to what a spin bowler thinks when delivering to New Zealand batsmen.

New Zealand needs to address the dramas endured against West Indies' Sunil Narine and Narsingh Deonarine and India's Pragyan Ojha and Ravi Ashwin in recent months. In the Caribbean, 18 of the 40 wickets fell to spin; in India the figure was 31 out of 40.

The theme is not about to change, with four of the International Cricket Council's 10 members based on the sub-continent. New Zealand also looks set to face some of the world's best spinners over the coming months with Sri Lanka (Rangana Herath), South Africa (Imran Tahir) and England (Graeme Swann) on the agenda.

New Zealand have dipped into this mode of thinking before but the success was difficult to gauge. Former Pakistan off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq joined the team on a 12-month contract from August 2009. Recognised as the pioneer of the doosra, he initially tried to help the New Zealanders find a solution to playing Muttiah Muralitharan in Sri Lanka. It proved tricky, especially with Herath backing up Muralitharan's might.

The New Zealanders struggled later that summer against Pakistan's Danish Kaneria but had few problems against the spin of Bangladesh or Australia's Nathan Hauritz. The appointment of Saqlain on a consultancy basis seemed a progressive move at the time; a similar move might be worth investigation.

Bond interest

The Herald on Sunday can confirm Shane Bond has applied to be New Zealand men's bowling coach. The former pace bowler, who took 87 wickets at 22.09 apiece in 18 tests, has worked with a number of New Zealand bowlers with Central Districts. He heads off on Thursday with the New Zealand women's team in their quest to win the women's Twenty20 World Cup, which runs alongside the men's.

- Herald on Sunday

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