Cricket: Five reasons for the Black Caps to be optimistic against Australia

By David Leggat

The Black Caps celebrate with the Chappell-Hadlee trophy earlier in the year. Photo / Getty
The Black Caps celebrate with the Chappell-Hadlee trophy earlier in the year. Photo / Getty

New Zealand's last ODI in Australia went pear-shaped about 31 minutes after the toss.

The World Cup final early last year was a damp squib in New Zealand eyes after the events which led up to it.

Take that game aside and the last time New Zealand played ODI cricket against Australia over there was in early 2009. The series was drawn 2-2 with the decider washed out with New Zealand needing 33 off six overs, with Martin Guptill (right) and Brendan Diamanti (remember him) set and charging.

New Zealand hold the Chappell Hadlee Trophy, courtesy of their 2-1 victory in New Zealand last summer. So it's time to be optimistic about New Zealand's chances next week. Here's five reasons from David Leggat about why we should think positively about New Zealand's prospects...

Depth of hitters

Depending on the make-up New Zealand go with in each game, they should have decent depth to their hitting potential. Think of Guptill, Colin Munro, Colin de Grandhomme and Jimmy Neesham for starters. All are capable of clearing the fence. Batting coach Craig McMillan made the point this week that the players will be encouraged to free the arms from the outset in the nets to help change the mindset. These four won't need any encouragement. And New Zealand should bat deep no matter who they pick. They're stacked with allrounders.

The skipper

The amount of cricket on the international circuit these days means Kane Williamson is learning fast on the job. His run production remains essential for New Zealand. He sits fifth on the ODI batting rankings and his record so far suggests he's developing nicely. A strong series from Williamson will do no end of good for prospects; conversely a poor rubber ... Australia tend to put a sharp focus on visiting captains, so he'll need a strong mind, too.

The Big Man

Colin de Grandhomme shapes as something of an unknown quantity for Australia. They've never faced him, most likely never heard of him, and as they don't take much notice of New Zealand at the best of times, may only be vaguely aware he made a significant impact in the Pakistan series. He's a tidy seamer, is used to bowling at the death, has a rocket arm from the deep and hits as big a ball as anyone in New Zealand. Half an hour of de Grandhomme at the crease can be a game changer.

Fielding impressively

These days it should be a given. If you don't field sharply as a unit, you won't win many matches. Teams who don't slide in the deep, or use a relay fielder for example, are becoming rare. New Zealand have quick movers in the circle and good arms from the deep. There are few weak links in this area. They'll need that because Australia tend to be as slick as any teams going around.

Excitement factor

Coach Mike Hesson acknowledged this week New Zealand aren't particularly experienced, but they are exciting. We'll see. But certainly there are enough players who can bring that quality to the table. Think Colin Munro slapping his 14-ball 50 against Pakistan last summer; Guptill's big, and rapid white-ball innings; the ability of Trent Boult and Tim Southee to swing the ball early, and under lights.

- NZ Herald

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