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New Zealand cricket and revival of ‘abundance of all-rounders’ option

(From left) Nathan McCullum and Corey Anderson will be important parts of New Zealand's challenge against top-flight teams © Getty Images
(From left) Nathan McCullum and Corey Anderson will be important parts of New Zealand’s challenge against top-flight teams © Getty Images

Corey Anderson came to the fore with the fastest One-Day International ton. But Anderson is just one of the many all-rounders rising in the New Zealand set-up. Abhijit Banare looks at the benefits for the Kiwis in their campaigns ahead.

 

It took a blazing 36-ball century from Corey Anderson to make the world sit up and notice the potential of the all-rounder. A brief review of New Zealand’s performance in the past few series could indicate that Anderson is not the only shining armour for New Zealand. There are plenty of Andersons who may not have made a sparkling presence yet, but have played the little cameos to boost the team’s fortunes.

Colin Munro, James Neesham, Anderson, Kane Williamson and Grant Elliott are among the new set of players who have boosted New Zealand across formats. Most of these players were impressive against Bangladesh. Munro scored an 85, Neesham batted well in Sri Lanka in the final ODI, picked a four-for in Bangladesh. Williamson has been around for a while. Their numbers aren’t mind boggling, but there is enough for the team to progress ahead with the bits-and-pieces players firing collectively. And then there is the most experienced in the team in this department, Nathan McCullum. Though he hasn’t been a great batsman but he sure can hold on to his wicket along with the effective spin option he provides.

By this time, those following cricket since the late 90s might have already related the formidable pack of all-rounders that New Zealand boasted of. Nathan Astle (if you consider his occasional bowling), Chris Cairns, Scott Styris, Jacob Oram, Chris Harris were part of the fine set of resources available for New Zealand who could rally their team to victories. The present set-up is following in their footsteps. One cannot pick up averages and career records of these old set of all-rounders and compare with the present. However, in terms of skill and talent, there isn’t much to differ about.  In fact, Elliott had replaced Oram after his injury and retirement.

What does it do for New Zealand’s future?

The kind of players New Zealand have now is perfect for them in the shortest version of the game. With the next T20 World Cup nearing, they will be the team to watch out for. And not to forget, these all-rounders aren’t the ones to hang around with the bat. Neesham, Munro are adept at taking the aerial route. This year, the Kiwis have a lot to look forward to by giving these set of players an extended run. And by the time we reach 2015, here will be a team hosting the World Cup at home, and turning out to be a serious contender. The results haven’t been great for the Kiwis in 2013, but the past year was just the start. Their success will be measured in the limited overs against much better teams starting with India this January. Languishing in the latter half of the ICC Rankings, the Kiws were being termed as no match to the ODI Champions. But Anderson’s ton has just cautioned the winds from considering them as walkover at home.

While we speak of a talented all-round unit bolstering New Zealand in the limited overs side, the same can be a huge liability when it comes to the longest format unless the players adapt themselves effectively. Anderson has a ton in Tests as well. When we couple the potential of these all-rounders with a formidable pace bowling attack, and the full-time spin options of Daniel Vettori and Ish Sodhi (both of whom are good with the bat), there is some serious thinking for top-ranked teams.

It will be interesting to see how this team shapes up in 2014 after starting on a high.

(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)

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