David Leggat: Willingness to scratch below surface sees selection panel earn an A for attitude

Black Caps coach Mike Hesson. Photo / Photosport
Black Caps coach Mike Hesson. Photo / Photosport

A big pat for the New Zealand cricket selectors for the A side they've chosen to play Pakistan in Nelson next weekend.

Too often, A teams are a blend of players already in the national team and needing matchplay or wanting to stay active ahead of a series, or tour.

Fringe contenders have been overlooked in those situations and you're left with a feeling of a wasted opportunity.

But with this one, coach Mike Hesson and selection convenor Gavin Larsen have got it about right. They were helped, in a sense, by the fact New Zealand have just returned from a mauling in India.

Some can do with a break. Even so, several are returning to Plunket Shield action this weekend in the third round.

The concept of an A team - which is of course a B team, but A sounds better - is to give the players pushing for elevation a chance to test themselves, and show the selectors they can do a job against international opponents.

A glance at the batting group named for Saxton Oval shows the selectors have just about ticked every box.

In a rough batting order, Jeet Raval, Dean Brownlie, Will Young, Henry Nicholls and Bharat Popli represent those knocking on the door.

All deserve a chance or, in Nicholls' case, an opportunity to restate his credentials.

Northern Districts' Brownlie, a test century-maker in Cape Town in 2013 during a 14-test run, averages 40.76 in first-class cricket, with 12 centuries.

Auckland's Raval appears next opening cab in line, having been taken to Africa in September-October, but oddly left out of the Indian tour. He's 28, and averages 43.5, with 14 first-class tons.

Young is 23 and averages 41.16 but has made only two hundreds to go with 21 fifties, and needs more centuries. But he is a talent and is leading Central Districts this season.

Nicholls already has seven tests and a clutch of one-dayers behind him, is 24 and averaging 36.47 in first-class play.

Popli is 26, and coming off a great last season for ND, when he hit 1149 Shield runs at 67.58. On average, he passes 50 every third innings.

Todd Astle gets another chance, having taken wickets and made a big century for Canterbury already this season. He's an example of picking a player when in form, as is Colin de Grandhomme, coming off his match-winning unbeaten 144 for Auckland against Otago this week.

Now all the selectors need is to have their selections vindicated.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 24 Feb 2017 09:48:45 Processing Time: 559ms