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Cricket: A few tweaks could make all the difference

The West Indies yesterday levelled the series with New Zealand with a 10-wicket win. Andrew Alderson suggests drastic change would be counter-productive but some subtle positional and personnel alterations are worth considering.

BJ Watling has been tenacious. Photo / AP
BJ Watling has been tenacious. Photo / AP

1. Move BJ Watling to No 6.

Captain Brendon McCullum said it best, speaking about Watling's 66 not out at No 6 in Trinidad. "He's fast becoming my favourite cricketer with his strength of character and fighting qualities. The guy never complains, gets on with the job after keeping for 100-something overs [137.1 with no byes] then bats for close to seven hours to try to save a test. He's done it on numerous occasions and is becoming a strong leader in the group through his actions."

Perhaps Watling should be seeing more of the innings rather than coaxing the tail along from No 7.

2. Reinstate Neil Wagner

Wagner is a renowned toiler- he took 11 wickets at 24.54 in the two home tests against India and six wickets at 10.50 from 18.1 overs in the two Jamaican XI practice matches. Kensington Oval is not renowned for being particularly spin-friendly which means

3. A choice might be needed between Ish Sodhi and Mark Craig

Craig was man-of-the-match in Jamaica, then produced a record partnership of 99 against the West Indies for the ninth-wicket with Watling. Craig's 67 from 167 balls was the fifth longest test innings by a No 10 by deliveries faced. Sodhi had the best New Zealand match figures of four for 117 in Trinidad but conceded more than 5.5 runs an over. Craig took none for 128 from 32 overs.

4. Hamish Rutherford or Peter Fulton?

With Tom Latham secure, whoever is picked probably has a last shot at test redemption, otherwise it's back to the Plunket Shield for at least a season.

5. Jimmy Neesham or Corey Anderson?

Neesham should continue after superlative batting with centuries in his first two tests before Trinidad. However, his bowling offered little at Queen's Park Oval with one for 68 from 15 overs. Two wickets at 89 from 46 overs in three tests suggests the medium pacers could do better.

- Herald on Sunday

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