David Leggat: Selectors bang on with sparkling newbies

NZ opening batsman Jeet Raval. Photo / Andrew Cornaga
NZ opening batsman Jeet Raval. Photo / Andrew Cornaga

Selectors cop plenty of flak, often deserved, but equally often over the top. So it's time to congratulate New Zealand's selectors Gavin Larsen and Mike Hesson for being bang on with their winning combination for the first test against Pakistan.

There were two new caps. Opener Jeet Raval's debut had been hinted at for some time. He made a hugely encouraging job of it in testing conditions against quality seamers, for a double of 55 and 36 not out. He looked organised and composed and had the distinction of hitting the winning runs yesterday into the bargain.

His Auckland chum Colin de Grandhomme snared six for 41, New Zealand's best ever test bowling debut performance, in Pakistan's first innings. The conditions suited his medium pace seamers and he was right on the money.

"They were fantastic," captain Kane Williamson said.

"Colin was the perfect bowler for the conditions. Jeet came in and looked like he'd been there for years."

Both players have been around the domestic cricket scene for years. Maybe there's a message there: don't necessarily look for the next bright youngster coming through; cast an eye instead on those who have done their time around the circuit.

Neither player looked overawed; Raval snapped up three catches in Pakistan's first innings.

Add in that he would have been aware before he took guard that the player he'd replaced, Martin Guptill, had bounced the Northern Districts attack around Mt Maunganui's Bay Oval for 151 in an immediate response to being axed. No pressure.

The pair will have days when things don't go their way. They've been around long enough to know that. It's the game.

But when that happens, they'll always have the last week to reflect on as evidence that they can most certainly foot it in test cricket.

- NZ Herald

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