New Zealand Players

New Zealand Players

Post by Geoff Bethel » Sat, 12 Apr 1997 04:00:00

Subject: [Player profile] Blair Pocock

One of those players who, whilst certainly possessing the temperament to make a
test class opener, nevertheless struggles at times - even when making runs.
Whether it's just a lack of confidence or whether he's basically just a good
provincial player playing above himself, time will tell. The important thing
is that the selectors have faith in him, and he himself has improved his play
after a confidence-shaking start and a run of injuries. Essentially a front foot
player, he is usually defensively strong on the stumps and on his legs, but
has problems with the one a bit short on the off stump which he is prone to
spear into the slip cordon. Since he is always looking to leave these, and
since he hasn't a wide range of shots anyway, he is a slow scorer. Most of his
runs come with pushes and drives into the "vee," and from deflections on the
leg side.
   He first made the test side on the Australian tour of 1993/4, making a
promising***of his first test, but then failing consistently both in
Australia and also against Wasim and Waqar at home later in the season. He
went to England in 1994 but played only one test. After this he faded from the
scene for some time with a shoulder injury. Recalled in 1996, he was unable
to take his place in the side for Pakistan, but was pronounced fit for the
home series against England and Sri Lanka. In those 4 tests he made three slow
50s - always when others around him were failing - and, at last, showed signs
of establishing himself. Surprisingly good against spin for an opener he
certainly has a chance of making a regular test player. As of 1997, he had
not been selected for a limited overs international.

Subject: [Player profile] Bryan young

A self-made player. Started out as a keeper-batsman for his province, and won
his first caps for NZ at ODI level in that role, but with only moderate success.
Gave up the gloves to concentrate on batting - in particular working on his
back foot play. He went on the tour of Australia in 1993/4, hardly scored
a run, but was required for the 3rd test as an opener because of injury.
Playing two innings of excellent timing, he was an immediate, though unlikely,
success and he retained his place for the visit of Pakistan later in that
summer. It was in the 3rd test of that series with Waqar and Wasim in full cry
that Young made his first test 100. He batted a long time with Shane Thomson -
winning the game for NZ after first seeing off the new ball and later battling
through that middle stage of the innings during which a number of quick wickets
fell to prodigious reverse swing.
    He looked to have both the temperament and the scoring potential to make a
class test opener, but certain technical weaknesses were nevertheless evident.
He played defensively mostly off the back foot, but squaring up too often on
the crease to fullish deliveries. He could also be caught behind through not
getting quite in line on the off side. Against this, he could treat the
shortish ball outside the off stump with absolute contempt, scoring boundaries
off the back foot in the arc between 3rd man and extra cover at will with
perfect timing. In contrast, his leg side yield was meagre, preferring to just
work it around the corner for the single.
   Despite that test 100, even at provincial level he developed an unwanted
reputation for a "comfort-zone" in the 40-60 range. Although he played
predictably and consistently, that, plus his lack of aggression at the top of
the order at ODI level, caused him to lose his test spot during the 1995/6
season under Glenn Turner. Initially not required by Steve Rixon for the tour
to Pakistan in 1996, he gained a reprieve when Blair Pocock was unable to take
his place on that tour. Young was able to re-establish himself and he went on
to make a huge unbeaten 267 at home to Sri Lanka in 1997. Still very much the
same basic player (over 100 of that 267 were scored squarish on the off side),
he has almost eliminated the caught-on-the-crease bowled/lbw and has developed
his front foot stroke play, particularly against spin which he now plays quite
well. A mature test player now, he still needs to develop his one-day play
so that the innings gets off to a good start in the first 15 overs.
   Even when struggling he was always worth his place in the side against others
of similar ability because his catching at 2nd slip is absolutely outstanding.
He is one of those who makes it look so easy.

Subject: [Player profile]. Daniel Vettori

New Zealand has a long history of selecting the occasional bowler right out
of left field. Always the player has fizzled out as quickly as he came into
the side. On the evidence of his first four test matches in 1997, Daniel
Vettori has a great chance of breaking with the second part of that tradition.
18 wickets averaging in the mid 20s, and being the eventual match winner with
nine in the second test against Sri Lanka is a start, to say the least,
considerably ahead of expectations. He was selected against a background of
just two first class games and a handful of Shell Cup games, but of strong play
in age group representative cricket. So he was well known to the selectors who
regarded him as the best spinner in NZ - even at 18. He is an attacking
bowler, quickish through the air, giving it a bit of work, and getting some
turn, but lacking the variety that those of greater years have developed. He
has a reputation for "hitting the splice" and it was this as much as anything
which impressed England in the warm-up game he played against them. He bowled
quite nicely against them in the tests at Wellington and Christchurch but,
despite a marathon effort in terms of overs bowled and taking four top-order
wickets, he wasn't quite able to go the whole way and win the game for us in
that 2nd innings at Christchurch.
    Wisely the selectors left him out of the ODI squad against England, stating
that they saw him as an attacking bowler and that he would be back for the Sri
Lanka test series. He was however selected in the Sri Lanka ODI series, perhaps
unwisely, and he played the day-nighter at Christchurch during which he could
not control the dew-sodden ball, bowling just two inaccurate overs.
    He started off at no.11 in the batting order in his first test, but he
soon got up to no.8. He opens for his club side in Hamilton.
    Next season will be interesting. As of 1997, he was a very mature 18 year
old and he must surely have a great chance of a long career ahead of him. If
he does, he will be a certainty to be regarded as New Zealand's best ever
spinner.

Subject: [Player profile]. Matt Horne

A very stylish middle-order front foot "left-elbow" player. In the past he
has been plagued by inconsistency, and this was not helped by the selection
policy of his former province, Auckland. In 1996/7 he moved to Otago where he
was reasonably assured of a spot at 1st class level. Coming on by leaps and
bounds, he was selected in lower level representative teams and did well
against England for an NZA XI. This earned him a spot in the 3rd test against
the same opposition, and he was pretty close to making a 50 on debut. Early on
in that innings we all new he had taken a knock on the hand but what we did not
know was that he had suffered a break. Furthermore, after treatment, he came
out and batted in the second innings too. In the later 1997 series against
Sri Lanka he made his first test 50, and overall he almost always got a start
without going on with it.
     So his courage, committment, and ability are not in doubt. Whether he is
really suited to the no.3 spot is doubtful but, at the time of his selection,
it was a weak spot in the side and he was basically the only volunteer.
Perhaps another of those players that should look to restrict his scoring to
the "vee" at test level, particularly before getting set - he most definitely
has the ability to do that. Whether or not he has the temperament to go with
it is still in some doubt. If he can consolidate his place in his second
season it will stiffen up the side's batting immeasurably.

Subject: [Player profile]. Andrew Penn

Young Central Districts fast medium swing bowler selected in the test and
ODI squads against Sri Lanka in 1997 when Geoff Allott was unavailable
through injury. Apart from his prodigious away swing - and at provincial level
he can bowl an over at a time without the batsman making contact - the main
characteristic he has shown to date is a never-say-die spirit. Never was this
more amply demonstrated than during a televised Shell Cup game when his side
were dead and buried at 8 down with heaps to make at 10+ per over against a
(on paper) much superior Canterbury. Prior to that game he had hardly scored a
run at Shell Cup but put on 50+ of a match winning stand with Greg Loveridge.
He did not make the playing XI against Sri Lanka for the tests or for the
first two ODIs, but got a run in the last, bowling without much distinction.
It is still very early days, and good development from him in 1997/8 would
finally provide much needed cover for Simon Doull.

Subject: [Player profile]. Heath Davis

One of those people who was able to come back strongly from highly visible
major technique problems. A tearaway *** whose chief attribute was to get
the ball from A to B as quickly as possible notwithstanding any other
consideration, he was selected for the tour of England in 1994. It was well
known that he had problems overstepping and with his accuracy, much of this
being due to faulty technique at delivery with his head falling away badly. He
was required for one test on that tour, sent his first delivery for 4 wides,
snared an early wicket, and ended up with just that one for plenty. He did not
play for NZ again for nearly three years.
   In the intervening years he worked on his problems, but it was a long while
before we saw any real improvement at provincial level. He was still taking
wickets, had a good strike rate, but had not solved his rhythm problems. He
came under the wing of Dennis Lillee and Dayle Hadlee at the cricket academy
and started bowling well for Wellington in 1996/7, although at a slightly
reduced pace. He was selected for the NZA side against England in 1997, and
then for the 3rd test of that series. The three tests he played in 1996/7 have
shown that he has overcome his problems, although it is quite noticeable that
he lapses when he tries to bowl that yard or two too quickly. Not at all a
*** of the ball, his chief weapons are bounce and hostility, a little bit
of seam, and, quite remarkably, his ability to keep at the batsman. For much
of the series against Sri Lanka in 1997 he had both a heel and a knee problem
which saw him limping. It was remarkable that he could bowl at all, let alone
as well as he did, and such a gutsy performance, as well as being an
inspiration to his team, helped to elevate him to cult status with the general
public.
   He was also selected for ODI play in 1997 and he did well in all games, very
well in some. This in a season when his province was still sufficiently unsure
of him to omit him from all Shell Cup (one-day) play.