Cricket: Plenty of changes needed to get cricket on track

By David Leggat

Whatever happens in the next few weeks should not disguise the mess they have got themselves into.

It wasn't so long ago that New Zealand made a trip to Bangladesh and got spanked.

They lost four ODIs and the fifth was washed out. Tails were firmly between legs after that little excursion to a so-called minnow nation.

Okay, it was 50-over cricket. Even so, those who made that trip should remember it.

New Zealand's next test assignment is back to Dhaka and Chittagong in October. Before then, they have three ODIs against England, starting at Lord's tonight with the Champions Trophy in England, which is a minimum three more games in the same form and ... nothing.

Plenty of time to reflect on just how badly the batsmen have performed in England.

Whatever happens in the next few weeks should not disguise the mess they have got themselves into. As it is New Zealand's winter, it's not as if coach Mike Hesson and his fellow selector, Kim Littlejohn, have a plethora of cricket activities with which to make assessments on players to take to Bangladesh.

This leaves the bowlers aside for now. Broadly speaking they've had a good three months.

Tim Southee has grown in stature; ditto Trent Boult. Neil Wagner has been a yeoman performer with a heart the size of an ox. Doug Bracewell, you have to believe, will come good. Spin is for another day.

The batting is a different story. You can throw the same old names about for consideration to freshen the order, but they'll have no chance to catch the eye before October.

So, what to do for Bangladesh, where the conditions will be as dissimilar to England as could be found anywhere in the cricket landscape.

Both Martin Guptill and Dean Brownlie were out of their depth against the offspin of Graeme Swann. It's not so much that Swann is as fine an exponent of the art as will be found anywhere. It's that those batsmen didn't give themselves a chance.

Long before they're out of short pants youngsters learn to push forward with bat and pad together to form a wall through which the ball cannot pass.

Those batsmen's first innings dismissals at Leeds suggested they'd forgotten the lessons, if they'd learnt them in the first place.

Guptill's quandary is that he can't survive in the middle order without being able to play spin. He's made one score over 20 in his last 10 innings. He's a clean striker and the limited-overs game is his strength.

Brownlie - without a 40 in his last eight innings - likes bounce and pace in the pitch. Neither will be entirely at home in Dhaka. Before then, they need to get into intensive care against the spinning ball. They must examine their techniques and work their socks off.

Further up, Fulton deserves persevering with, which is not a universally popular view. Certainly he was out of his depth in England, but three tests ago he was lording it over the same bowlers at Eden Park. A one-off? Maybe, but he warrants another opportunity in a vastly different environment.

Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, captain Brendon McCullum and wicketkeeper BJ Watling will stay, although none of the first three really did their talents full justice in England.

An option which should seriously be considered is introducing wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi to bat at No 7, lift Watling a place, thereby putting some heat on the higher-ups in the order. But the selectors seem wedded to Watling as the gloveman.

Most likely there'll be little change for Bangladesh, who have lost their last five homes tests by a pile, and suffered a 335-run flogging by, ahem, Zimbabwe in Harare last month. However to go there assuming it's a soft chance to regroup, recharge and regather form could be a serious mistake.

By the time the West Indies arrive at the end of November there'll be more scope for change, unless things have improved. It is a depressing situation.

- NZ Herald

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