Cricket: Positive philosophy for Black Caps despite tough assignment

By David Leggat

Colin Munro. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Colin Munro. Photo / Jason Oxenham

National selector Gavin Larsen today put a different spin on what's shaping as a tough assignment for New Zealand at next month's world T20 in India.

New Zealand are in group two alongside hosts India, Pakistan, Australia and, most likely, Bangladesh, as qualifiers from one of two preliminary pools.

Conditions loom as among the more challenging aspects of the event, Nagpur, Mohali and Kolkata not exactly being peas in a pod with Eden Park and the Basin Reserve.

However Larsen, while acknowledging the difficulties ahead, has a positive philosophy.

"The teams we play will look at us with a degree of trepidation," former international medium pacer Larsen said yesterday.

"You look at someone like Colin Munro, who has exploded on the scene through T20s. He'll be presented with different conditions, and that will be challenging for him over there.

But he's signalled to the world what he's capable of."

The New Zealand squad has been chosen both on the evidence of five T20s against Sri Lanka and Pakistan, of which they won four, and the selectors, Larsen and national coach Mike Hesson's, thinking on the required balance.

Munro is a case in point of a player who made an unarguable case for inclusion in those games.

His run of 36 (26 balls), 50 not out (14) and 56 (27) in successive innings meant not only he was a lock for selection but also appeals as a player who could be a serious match changer.

There is no bolter but the closest to a 'B' pick is Canterbury left-hander Henry Nicholls, and scarcely he fits that bill.

Nicholls is uncapped at T20 international level, but got a gig with the Sydney Thunder late in their march to the Big Bash League title recently, and he's played seven ODIs this summer.

He is seen very much as a face of the future and so got the slot which might otherwise have gone to Tom Latham.

Nicholls is the backup wicketkeeper to Luke Ronchi. He's no stranger to it, having done the job against Sri Lanka A last October and in his younger years.

"We're confident he could perform a role for us," Larsen said. "Just as important, he covers the top and middle order for us, he's a versatile sort of player, who has a full range of strokes."

Ish Sodhi won the third spinners' spot, alongside Mitch Santner and veteran Nathan McCullum, who will be on his last lap with the national side before retirement.

An unlucky player? Seamer Matt Henry, who has had a strong summer. His problem was only four fast-medium specialists were wanted, with allrounder Corey Anderson the backup.

Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Adam Milne and Mitch McClenaghan provided a range of skills to, in the selectors' minds, cover all eventualities.

"When we looked at what they could offer in opening, middle stages and death bowling, Matt was very unfortunate," Larsen said.

Three players, Southee, McClenaghan and Ross Taylor, are recovering from a range of injuries. All should be good to go well before departing for India.

NZ world T20 squad

Kane Williamson (c), Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Grant Elliott, Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi, Mitch Santner, Ish Sodhi, Nathan McCullum, Adam Milne, Tim Southee, Mitch McClenaghan, Trent Boult.

NZ pool play schedule

March 15: v India, Nagpur
March 17: v Australia, Dharamsala
March 22: v Pakistan, Mohali
March 26: v qualifier (likely Bangladesh), Kolkata

- NZ Herald

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