Last week, we started off our selection process for picking The Roar’s greatest Ashes XI. With about 1000 votes lodged on the initial poll, it’s now time to finalise the team.
Michael Clarke may not be keen on a March Chappell-Hadlee series, but this is a chance for the Black Caps to make a statement.
Coming off a horror Test tour of Australia, this is a chance for the team – and certain individuals – to show their true ability and rehabilitate some reputations severally dented.
The normally reliable axis of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor barely fired a shot in December and January. Once again, they will be relied upon to score the bulk of the runs.
Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls are an opening pair who offer a good balance of aggression and control respectively, who should offer a good platform. A key against India were these starts – a far cry from the Tests against Australia.
From a bowling perspective, Trent Boult was underdone in the sole match he played against the Aussies and Lockie Ferguson lasted 11 overs in the first Test.
Ferguson may not be sighted unless changes are required or forced, as along with an in-form Boult and the wily Tim Southee, Kyle Jamieson has gone from outside the squad to being virtually a first-choice player.
With a 6 foot 8 inch frame, the find of the season gains steep bounce that is unique to the normal swing bowlers the Kiwis normally play. He caused India all sorts of problems, and while Australia will be used to their own pitches, there aren’t many who release the ball from such a height.
There is high likelihood Mitchell Santner will be included in the XI, after he was found wanting during the Tests, struggling to build any pressure. ODI cricket however is a different beast, and the 28-year-old has proved successful around the world.
It would be quite the form reversal to see Santner excelling during the series, but it would not be a surprise.
Michael Clarke might see this as a token series, but it’s unlikely New Zealand agree – and, based on the results in South Africa, the Aussies won’t be treating it as such either.