Covers sport across NZME's print, digital and radio brands.

Cricket: Tom Bruce ready to have a blast with Black Caps

Tom Bruce playing for the CD Stags. Photo / Photosport
Tom Bruce playing for the CD Stags. Photo / Photosport

Tom Bruce went mainstream on January 30 last year.

It was the Ford Trophy final at Pukekura Park, and Central Districts had decided to bat against Canterbury.

Bruce strode to the wicket with the Stags 281 for three in the 43rd over. With 43 balls left he could have worked the ball around and built on was already heading towards a competitive total.

Instead he swung the bat like a lumberjack who was late for supper. His channelling of world champion woodchopper Jason Wynyard saw seven sixes heaved into the upper tiers of the postage stamp ground. He finished on 71 from 23 balls and CD had an unassailable 405 for six.

The innings saw Bruce touted as a bolter for March's World T20. He wasn't, but had made his mark on the cricketing map.

Bruce's performances in other formats have also been prolific. He averages 46.51 after 21 first-class matches and 38.92 with a strike rate of 156 from 18 T20 outings.

His international call-up to the latter format seemed imminent.

In the McDonald's Super Smash Bruce sits sixth on the strike rate charts for those to score over 100 runs. His figure of 171.51 sits behind Colin De Grandhomme (222.63), Ross Taylor (178.02), Mitchell Santner (173.23), Jimmy Neesham (172.58) and Mahela Jayawardene (172.19). He clears the rope regularly; his 15 sixes are second to the 17 of Jayawardene and Hamish Rutherford this season.

"Tom's a consistent power hitter, and his craftsmanship and gamesmanship has gone to another level this season," selector Gavin Larsen said.

Bruce appears equally comfortable blasting through the off or legside. He looks a doppelganger for John R Reid in archive footage, with massive arms to match.

Playing for New Zealand will end the 25-year-old's pursuit of a career with Scotland, the birthplace of his father.

Bruce played for Scotland A in June, scoring 70 and 1, but never appeared for the national side coached by former New Zealand representative Grant Bradburn.

If he had, the decision would not have affected any immediate Black Caps aspirations.

Under the International Cricket Council eligibility rules there is no stand down period for players who represent an associate nation before a test-playing side.

Bruce sought advice from some experienced Central Districts counsel in the build-up to his debut.

"I had a good chat with Mahela [Jayawardene] and Ross [Taylor]. They said I'd been picked for a reason, and to play my natural game.

"The last few days have been surreal. I've had a couple of seasons on the domestic circuit but I feel like I've been around a while and played enough cricket to take my game to the next level."

Bruce was farewelled by Stags teammates at Auckland airport on New Year's Day as they prepare to play the Super Smash finals as top qualifier.

"It's a Catch-22. I found it tough to walk away, but making your debut is also a big occasion."

He's also hoping support arrives from his base in Stratford.

"It's a small town and it's special to represent them and the Taranaki region. I'm hopeful a few of the club guys will come over in full voice."

Left-armer Ben Wheeler is also in line to make his T20 international debut with Trent Boult rested. He's already played six ODIs, the last against South Africa in August 2015.

"His ability to swing the ball at a decent clip can trouble any batsmen, as he's shown in domestic cricket this season," Larsen said.

Napier hosts the opening Twenty20 tomorrow with the series shifting to Mount Maunganui for matches on January 6 and 8.

- 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
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 29 May 2017 22:32:55 Processing Time: 593ms