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Anderson and Neesham need to step up

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Corey_Anderson_James_Neesham_New_Zealand_CricketThe complaint that New Zealand are perennially the ‘dark horses’ of World Cricket, particularly in the ODI format, is as common as an American cribbing about the Trump administration.

But, that said, could the feeling of Kiwis being the ‘underdogs’ be getting exacerbated by Cricket’s misappropriation of their talent?

If it’s true, considering that despite having both considerable bowling and batting talents, New Zealand, who haven’t quite ravaged an assault as big as making to the 2015 ICC World Cup finals, are lacking somewhere, majorly?

New Zealand seem to be a bit unfair to Kane Williamson, constantly leaving upon his shoulders the task of scoring most of their runs.

Are they not?

Don’t believe it? Here’s a fact.

At present, New Zealand’s fluent right-handed captain sits just 919 runs shy of, arguably, the second-best batsman in his side- Martin Guptill; their most experienced campaigner in the current ODI set up.

Guptill debuted in ODIs in 2009 but began pummeling bowlers in a fashion akin to Nathan Astle in 2010. Williamson emerged in 2010 but demonstrated that beautiful stroke-playing was as alive as it was in David Gower’s time. Together, the two have contributed over 10,000 ODI runs thus far.

Furthermore, theirs are redoubtable stats that push the case for warranting might to their talents- courtesy 62 half-centuries and 21 hundreds being collected by the two.

So where are the Kiwis falling short?

The answer lies with the rest of their batsmen.

For someone who’s not exactly a skilled bat and isn’t getting any younger at 36, Luke Ronchi- with 4 fifties and 1 ODI hundred from 67 innings - has contributed to the team’s collection of runs. And still contributes. Days before, Starc and Hastings’ Australia got proof in Ronchi’s 65.

This is when he happens to be a keeper-batsman.

With Latham, clearly lacking experience if not the flair- currently not finding a constant place perhaps due to Ronchi’s form- there’s little doubt over where Kane’s side is lacking ability.

The answer sits with their all-rounders- Corey Anderson and Jimmy Neesham.

Both New Zealand’s cricketers, big on flair as well as firepower, stoked headlines for possessing twin talents that gave them a presence in the Kiwi line-up during the twilight months of Brendon McCullum in international cricket.

Corey Anderson is the big hitting leftie and medium pace bowler who found his own place under the sun when he sent Windies flying on one of their most fateful New Year beginnings in 2014 in his 47-ball 131. A world record then, the 26-year-old grabbed the world’s attention further by lighting up the IPL in 2014, as he enabled Mumbai to leapfrog Rajasthan into the playoffs with his unbeaten 44-ball 95.

Not only those 6 sixes but his reassuring body language offered evidence of Anderson’s form and importance. Was he the answer to New Zealand’s woes in their search for a genuine all rounder?

Not now perhaps.

Here’s how the Anderson has been faring of late.

Apart from taking 3/55 and scoring 10 against England on June 6, his recent outings reveal the following:

With batting and bowling performances of 8, 50 not out & 0 for 39, 13, and 24 & 0 for 37, Anderson’s gone quiet when Kane Williamson would like him to press the active button.

Furthermore, in an important Tri- Series featuring Ireland and Bangladesh, Anderson showed some form, in contrast to his current state, managing a special 2 for 15 from 4 four overs against the hosts.

That was May, but what about now?

The current form of another mighty talented all rounder from New Zealand - Jimmy Neesham- is surprisingly underwhelming. At least, according to Neesham’s own lofty standards.

For someone who can do a bit of both quite well, fundamentally, it should serve well to have a bloke as honest and talented as Neesham. But not only are his right-arm medium pacers lacking in bite, but they hardly offer meager hope of strengthening New Zealand’s bowling attack. His mighty-left handed strokes too have plummeted to an ebb of lows that reveal recent scores only as impressive as an 18 against England, 6 against Australia and, if not for that unbeaten 46 against India in a dead rubber practice game, don’t inspire much confidence in the bowling department either, where Neesham’s been leaking runs like a hole in a sailboat.

One of New Zealand’s most expensive bowlers in the Ireland/Bangladesh tri-series was Neesham. He has otherwise collected 34 wickets from 40 ODIs, with best figures of 4/42, in addition to scoring nearly 800 ODI runs- is lacking in form, and perhaps- confidence.

Could Williamson guide Jimmy to realize the value of his recent best in ODI cricket – that fancy 57 off 47 against India, that came at the back of scores like 10, 6 and, 3?

How good would that be for the Kiwis, if they are to expand their wings as the Champions Trophy now reaches the crescendo of its excitement?

Furthermore, if Corey Anderson, the knight to Williamson’s king, can derive inspiration from the understated brilliance of his 1100 ODI runs and 60 wickets from just 48 ODI games, including his finding a place early in record-books, on the trail of someone like an AB (who bettered the record for fastest ODI century)- one would think New Zealand would fancy their chances?

Would they not?

Then, one reckons, a Williamson, along with Guptill could engineer runs as effectively as bludgeon bowling attacks, of which there’s hardly a doubt.

And if New Zealand could make that happen, considering Cricket doesn’t function on whims and fancies, the Kiwis’ would make the bird a better attacker than some somnolent underdog perhaps.

 

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