Friday, May 27, 2016
Updated: Sunday, December 23, 2007
Bangladesh in New Zealand: Preview - New Zealand

Andrew Mclean
It was just over three years ago when New Zealand clinched a 2-0 result in its first-ever Test tour of Bangladesh, with a second crushing victory in what was the last Test played at M.A Aziz Stadium, Chittagong.

Remarkably, despite the average age of the Tigers back then in October 2004 being just 22, only three players remain from that match for the ODI series: Javed Omar, Aftab Ahmed (who debuted as an 18-year old in that series) and Mohammad Ashraful.

Primarily through retirement, New Zealand’s survivors are only marginally better. Both opener Mark Richardson and middle-order batsman Nathan Astle have called time on their careers, while Hamish Marshall and Paul Wiseman now base themselves in England. James Franklin, who took just the second hat-trick of New Zealand Test history at Dhaka, is currently sidelined with injury, while Mathew Sinclair is a non-regular Black Cap these days.

Still there are Stephen Fleming (less the captaincy), Scott Styris, Jacob Oram, Brendon McCullum and Daniel Vettori, while both Chris Martin and Kyle Mills were squad members in 2004. So one would think, with so much experience, victory in the coming one-day and Test series at home against Bangladesh should be a fait accompli for New Zealand but, just as the during the previous encounter New Zealand was trying to work out who should go in first, the opening question remains horribly unresolved.
Kiwis will be desperate for a face lift against Bangladesh

Kiwis will be desperate for a face lift against Bangladesh © AFP

Sinclair was thrown into the opening role in Bangladesh and held that position for the following Test series in Australia. However, he has hardly played since. Bizarrely, after Sinclair’s good run of form in recent one-dayers and with the Test openers Michael Papps and Craig Cumming struggling in the Tests in South Africa, Sinclair could well end up at the top-of-the-order again.

Also vying for that spot is Jamie How who, like Sinclair, found top form against South Africa in the one-day matches. How’s previous Test performances hardly inspire confidence but nor do those of anyone else. Which brings me back to Richardson for it was he who slammed the standard of Bangladesh’s performance in the 2004 series.

His rationale was that facing Bangladesh offered him little preparation for facing Glenn McGrath & Co. It was somewhat ironic then that after a woeful series in Australia, Richardson gave the game away. It could be equally argued that he did not pose much of a challenge for McGrath.

What New Zealand desperately needs right now is continuity of performance, particularly with home-and-away series against England kicking off in February.

One player who appears to have been given every chance to cement his position is Ross Taylor after some spectacular but intermittent success over the past 12 months. Taylor is as natural as they come and has a sound temperament to compliment his flair. His is likely to bat at No 5 in both the one-dayers and Tests.

The bowling attack is unlikely to throw up many surprises with Vettori and Oram secure in the all-rounder spots and Mills, Martin and Mark Gillespie the probable pace attack in the absence of once-more injured Shane Bond. Gillespie is a relative newcomer but has shown himself to be quick by New Zealand standards.

One thing that will assist the Bangladesh Tigers is the unseasonally good weather in New Zealand this spring and early summer which should translate into better-than-usual wickets. And after struggling in the green-top conditions they faced last time in December 2001, that is sure to come as good news.