Cricket: All eyes on young speedster

By David Leggat

Adam Milne has been the talk of New Zealand cricket for the last week. Photo / Getty
Adam Milne has been the talk of New Zealand cricket for the last week. Photo / Getty

Since whistling the ball past West Indies bats at Eden Park five days ago, Adam Milne has been the talk of New Zealand cricket.

The debate on whether to rush him into the test team to play India has generated almost as much heat as the 21-year-old from Palmerston North rustled up on the park on Saturday.

New Zealand don't have a strong belief in thrusting young players into the test team, certainly nothing to compare with, say, Pakistan and other subcontinental countries where an attitude of ``if he's good enough, he's old enough'' applies.

Sure, Dan Vettori, Martin Crowe, Ken Rutherford, Tim Southee and, from earlier generations, Martin Donnelly, John Beck, Vic Pollard, Graeme Vivian and Brendon Bracewell, were given their first cap before turning 20. But they were exceptions.

Milne made his T20 debut at 18 against Pakistan in 2010. It wasn't a success, but last Saturday, as he clicked over 150km/h, it offered exciting possibilities.

The ODI squad to face India will be named today. There's no question Milne will be in. How well he performs may have a bearing on his test chances, but the odds are that he won't be pushed too far too quickly.

"Yeah, I was pretty stoked with it,'' Milne said of his sizzling display at Eden Park. "I guess I was pretty happy to see some fast balls in there, but it's not everything, I guess.''

Milne reckons he has bowled faster at other times in his still fledgling career, ``but it feels pretty good at the moment''.

He feels more comfortable in the national team setup than in his early days. He knows he needs to have decent control allied to his pace - "if you bowl in the wrong areas it's going to go the distance''.

He has no regrets at being thrust in early. Before Saturday, Milne had taken just two wickets in 10 limited-overs internationals, but lessons have been learned.

"I know it didn't come off for me, but it helped me a lot in producing what I've become today and hopefully what I will become in the future.''

Milne is eyeing 160km/h, but acknowledges exactly how fast he can go is "the million-dollar question''.

West Indies captain Dwayne Bravo echoed the remarks of India's captain, MS Dhoni, when asked about facing someone capable of exceeding 150km/h. "It's something we're used to,'' Bravo said. "It's good to see another young fast bowler in world cricket. ... In this format pace doesn't really matter, it's more skill, so let's see how he goes [today].''

NZ v West Indies, 2nd T20, Wellington, 7pm

New Zealand: (from) Brendon McCullum (c), Martin Guptill, Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor, Colin Munro, Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi, Nathan McCullum, Jimmy Neesham, Tim Southee, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne.

West Indies: (from) Dwayne Bravo (c), Johnson Charles, Lendl Simmons, Andre Fletcher, Kieran Powell, Narsingh Deonarine, Chadwick Walton, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Samuel Badree, Nikita Miller, Jason Holder, Tino Best.

Pitch/forecast: Sunny and 19C. The pitch at the Cake Tin hasn't been kind to T20 batsmen. The highest total in five internationals there is 162 for eight in the first innings eight years ago. So bowlers should take encouragement from that.

Key players:

New Zealand: Martin Guptill. Adam Milne may be all the rage, but Guptill likes the Cake Tin. His last two innings there in T20 internationals have been 78 not out and 59.

West Indies: This is getting a touch repetitious, but it has to be the skipper. Bravo is the class act in this side. He's the pick of the bowlers and if he fires with the bat, as he did in the Hamilton ODI, he could be the catalyst for a rousing tour finale.

Statistic: This will be New Zealand's sixth T20 at the Cake Tin, and they're chasing their third win. It's the West Indies' second visit to the ground, after their final-ball, five-wicket loss five years ago.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n6 at 15 Jul 2014 02:48:51 Processing Time: 4739ms