The Ultimate Current XI

Not on my watch...

Not on my watch...

Tonight’s match in Adelaide (man we must be low-rating to be playing on a Tuesday!) looms ominously over the Black Caps. While we’re 2-1 up in the series and gave the Australians an almighty fright with only 10 1/2 men in Sydney, there’s something about giving Ponting’s team a glimmer of light that bothers me immensely.

A friend emailed me today wracked by similar ill-feeling, but also suggested we post an ultimate currently-playing Black Caps XI, then allow for readers to respond. So that’s what we’re doing.

Under normal circumstances, you’d think that barring a couple of contentious decisions you’d go with the current side, but these are not normal circumstances. The premature retirements of the Bracewell era and the enforced divisions of IPL/ICL debacle have scattered a generation of cricketers to the four winds, and injuries have done for the rest.

Our criteria for selection is that a player must be currently active, ie playing the game professionally, and we’re picking them on a combination of form and pedigree. They don’t have to be in the nick of their lives, but should be in reasonable shape at least. Here, then, is my wishlist XI:

1. Jesse Ryder (currently: out of side through shoulder injury)

We were relishing watching Jesse take on the Australians. He has the right temperement and game to be a sensation over there, and I can imagine the crowd swinging in behind him too, recognisjng one of their own in his impressive frame. Would walk (or maybe stumble, depending on the time of day) into this team.

2. Nathan Astle (Last played for the inaccurately-named Mumbai Champs in the ICL late 2008)

OK so he’s not in the form of his life, but when did Nath ever let us down? He might be 37, but Shane Warne’s 39 and he’d b a shoo-in for any side in the world. Astle’s exquisite pacing and structure would be a great foil to Ryder’s aggression, and would ensure the tempo remained without getting too bananas about it.

3. Ross Taylor (in the current side)

More accustomed to batting a spot lower, Taylor’s magnificent recent form sees him elevated a spot to first drop. His confidence and natural hitting would gel nicely with Ryder or Astle, and would stop the sense of doldrums we have in the current side from seeping in the way they can with Fulton hanging around.

4. Stephen Fleming (currently retired from international cricket, just turned out for Wellington in Twenty20)

Averages an impressive 45.72 batting at four against Australia, and a batsman who could come in when the shine was off the ball and Bracken was out of the attack and have a merry old time. OK, so he’s not going to score a match-winning ton, but the sight of Flem walking purposefully to the crease warms any red-blooded NZ cricket fan’s heart.

5. Grant Elliott (in the current side)

The best batsmen in our last two games, and a guy you now feel good watching walk in when we’re in trouble. If we were three down for 50-odd and needed a rescue package he’d be my guy, but he seems versatile enough to hit out if the game required it. Hard to say no to the pigdog here, particularly for his miserly bowling, but you can’t deny Elliott his spot after that century.

6. Jacob Oram (currently, interminably, injured)

I’ve heard people say that Oram should be dispensed with, that he’s a distraction to the side, and I’ve some sympathy to their position. His inability to remain fit, and the agonies we go through each time he falls make him tough to champion. But his best late-order innings are some of cleanest hitting I’ve ever seen, plus his wicket-to-wicket bowling is more than useful. And if we need 90 off 60 there’s no man I’d rather see in black. Or teal. Or beige or whatever.

7. Brendon McCullum (in the current side)

Actually, maybe no man save this one. I’d been getting a little sore with McCullum, but the sheer bravery he exhibited on Sunday night turned me round. Batting at seven he brings a tremendous power to our lower-order, and while he might relish opening he serves the team best here, so that’s where he plays.

8. Daniel Vettori (in the current side)

He might not take a vast number of wickets, but the lack of runs he goes for mean that those hitting out elsewhere can be attributed to him too. His ten overs invariably alter the complexion of the match, and his batting at the death too is integral to our battling spirit. Would retain the captaincy too. I like his style.

9. Kyle Mills (in he current side)

He’s not ranked fifth in the ODI bowling charts for nothing, and if he were paired with another disciplined quick like the one below we’d have one of the best opening combinations in world cricket. After a sorry beginning to his career he’s become a handy death bowler, and consistently takes the wickets of the better opposition batsmen too.

10. Shane Bond (Currently playing domestic cricket for Canterbury)

On his day, the best bowler in the world. Not many New Zealanders you can say that about, but if you look at the records for ODIs they tell a tragic story. Fourth best career average in history and second-best career strike rate, with Mendis ahead each category and on recent evidence likely to fall. Bond is still bowling well domestically, but if there’s one NZer that terrifies the Australians it’s him.

11. Tim Southee (in the current side)

The most marginal selection of the lot, but he squeaks in based on his having the equal best figures of any New Zealander in Sydney, and the feeling that this kid is a keeper. Just based on the cool way he’s kept himself together in some trying situations and hasn’t let the elevation get to him I’d have him in my side. If only in a desperate attempt to keep the average age under 30.

So that’s my line-up, based on instinct and sentiment as much as anything else. I get the feeling if they walked out onto the Adelaide Oval in five minutes time they’d absolutely smash the Aussies, out of raw hunger as much as anything else. Sad not to find a spot for Pigdog or Harry, both stalwarts of the game, and Chris Cairns and Macca seem a little removed from the game now (though the same could be said of Astle; I just couldn’t bring myself to leave him out). But please post your own XIs, with justifications or without, in the comments.

– Duncan



Filed under Cricket, Reminiscing

7 responses to “The Ultimate Current XI

  1. good team but i think astle would be too long in the tooth. i might keep guptill there cos he can field good too. i might also deny elliot his spot despite his astounding figures just cos i can and give it up to styris. in another year i would get kane williamson in at five. also i like obrien in the team and would have him equal with southee but would go with southee cos hes young and fast and will only get better.

    mccullum didn’t look like mccullum today. i think that moles is really getting him to ‘take responsibility’ and its weighing too heavily on him. with the extra batsmen i think we have been too conservative.

    oz could well cruise to this target. hope not.

  2. Duncan

    Astle’s defo too long in the tooth, but I’m an Astle tragic, as they say in Australia, as long as dude can hold a bat I couldn’t keep him out of my team. I can’t believe I’m keeping Styris out either, but you can’t drop a dude after a century. And he looked good today until he holed out.
    Agree about McCullum, there’s definitely something different about him at the moment. I hate myself for saying this, but I feel like he needs to go and play some comedy cricket in India and rediscover the fun and love in the game to get out of this fugue. It’s on Taylor now. The commentary team are right for once, 260 minimum, 270-280 to really be able to attack ’em. We’ll see.

  3. surely this won’t be enough, we do have a bit of momentum but i give nz a 35% chance. maybe 37.5.

  4. Tim

    Good idea for a post – as much as i’d like to i can’t really argue with it either. i’d still like to find a way to get Flynn in but can’t see where – maybe instead of Astle –

    On last nights game:

    Taylor – again showed why he’ll be the best batsman in the world one day.

    Result – although we probably didn’t deserve to win we still could have had Cummings taken that catch. fuck.

    Umpiring – truely awfull. i really hate blaming umpires for bad results (although i do it all the time) but last night took me back to the back old “Harper” days – some of those LB decisions were unforgivable.

    Elliot – one of our best bowlers and did look good when he was in – i’m converted.

  5. Dunc – temperament, batsman, the cleanest hitting. The current side. Joke.
    McCullum to open if he can bat with at least one arm.
    Yep, Styris over Southee thanks.
    Hey, safe travels! Think the Breakers will get a home playoff?

  6. Duncan

    @Tim: Man I must’ve done a good job if you can’t find a hole. Yeah this new BS with having home umpires is a MASSIVE backward step. And why have referrals in tests but not ODIs? Surely the pyjama party should be the testing ground for such things rather than the big man’s game? If that’d been in place this series woulda looked pretty different I feel. Maybe same results, but batsmen find form and lose it through such scenarios. Cumming’s missed catch was terrible. I feel like we should only select new guys now, the old ones (Cumming, Sinclair) invariably look shit when they come in, and a new guy seems to always have a great debut. Translation: I’m about throwing Diamante in for Cumming in tomorrow.
    @ Richard: Yeah I guess Styris over Southee, but dangerous to go in with only two bowlers of any real pace right?
    Breakers look shot to me. Taipans (it is the Taipans we’ve got right?) always go well against us too. I feel like this season may’ve already evaporated. But then Manly hardly impressed heading into the playoffs either, from memory, and they did OK. So we’ll see. Bruton, Penney, Rickerts, Ronaldson and Jones need to step the f*** up. With support from Forman and hopefully not too much court time for Boucher and Henare we might have a shot at recapturing that pre-christmas form.

  7. totally agree about dimanti. give him a go!he dosent seem too much of a risk compared to say boult. if his bowling dosent come off then elliot seems to be bowling well enough to take up the slack plus he is supposed to be a hitter down the order. why the hell is he going home for the 20/20 as well? seems a bit mystifying why he was selected. not used in the warm up game and now he goes without having (presumably) done anything.

    i like the other 20/20 selections by the way and would like n.mccullum to be given a shot ahead of patel in the future for one dayers. he offers so much more in the batting and his bowling probably on a par.

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