McCullum keen to redress World Cup failures

New Zealand seem to have settled on their batting order after much experimentation during the home summer, and Brendon McCullum has said he’s thrilled to be opening again. It’s the position from which he has won all his Man-of-the-Match awards, and the one from which he hopes to erase the blot of two poor World Cups, where he has squeezed out only 152 runs in 10 innings.

“The previous two World Cups I played down the order (where) you’ve got reasonably limited opportunities to create an impact,” McCullum said at the end of a three-hour training session at the renovated MA Chidambaram stadium. “That’s why I’m absolutely determined to play a role at the top of the order. Coming to India the best time to bat is when the ball is new.”

New Zealand had pushed McCullum down the order for a few one-dayers against Pakistan last month, before restoring him back to the opener’s slot towards the end of the series. “I think the whole process of our order and who is going to bat where and those sorts of things came from our selectors and now we have arrived in India and are pretty settled about what our line-ups going to be,” McCullum said. “I’ve had four years of batting at the top of the order now, those two World Cups were rehearsals as well, it’s all set up for this, and I will focus on trying to play some influential innings throughout the tournament.”

The New Zealand top five for the World Cup is likely to be McCullum, Martin Guptill, Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor and James Franklin. That means their current batsman with the most success in World Cups – Scott Styris, who has accumulated 767 runs at an average of nearly 70 – will come in as low as No. 6.

“I’m probably no different from everyone else in the team, we’ll always like to bat as high as possible,” Styris said. “As it stands, I’m batting six, which obviously for me isn’t ideal, I would like to bat higher, but (that’s what) John Wright and Dan Vettori want of me right now, so it’s a role that I’m trying to do well, because it’s around the second Powerplay closing out the innings.”

One of the reasons for New Zealand’s woeful run in one-dayers over the past year has been the brittle batting, but they have had encouraging signs in the past two matches, with Ryder’s whirlwind century in the final game against Pakistan and Martin Guptill’s 130 in Saturday’s tune-up against Ireland powering the side to 300-plus totals. Styris said those scores were the result of new coach John Wright’s input. “John’s batting expertise has been the major thing that he has brought to the side so far. He’s been great for the batters in the side because he’s given them some clarity about how to go about their innings. We’ve got some tremendous strikers of the ball who are still learning how to build an innings since they are very young.”

New Zealand fans will hope Wright’s expertise and the re-jigged batting order spurs their side into reprising their familiar feat of beating expectations in big events.


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