Sunday, October 18, 2009

Vettori keen to push McCullum down the order

New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori has said Brendon McCullum will continue as an opener for the ODI series against Pakistan because Jesse Ryder's absence due to injury meant the opening line-up was already a little shaky. However Vettori said he was keen to push McCullum down the order in future in order to exploit the batting Powerplay.

"The way the game is going [with batting Powerplays], it has become more important to have a guy down the order who can finish your innings off," Vettori was quoted as saying in the Herald on Sunday. "We've fallen over a few times recently in the late stages so that's maybe an option for later in the summer but, at the moment, Brendon's got the opportunity to open against Pakistan."

Vettori said McCullum was keen to play as an opener since it gave him more opportunities to score and win games for New Zealand. "He sees opening as the opportunity to win games for your team 10 out of every 10 times you bat, whereas when you're batting down the order you don't get that many opportunities," Vettori said. "The other thing is that if you look at his record as an opener, it is pretty good. Where the criticism is, that he hasn't turned enough of his starts into centuries and really big scores."

McCullum has averaged 33.20, with one hundred and nine half-centuries, in the 57 matches he has opened for New Zealand.

Vettori, who now holds selection powers along with his captaincy, said there was plenty of debate when picking the squad to play Pakistan in Abu Dhabi next month. "I guess the first thing I've got to point out is that I was just one of four guys on the panel.There was plenty of debate about whether we went with six batsmen or look to fill the position with another allrounder and I was part of the discussions. In that case you've got to remove your personality, or ego, from the argument, but at the same time recognise that my view on it needed to be heard."

Vettori said New Zealand would wait on Ryder's availability for home Test series against Pakistan that follows the ODIs to fill the gap left by Jacob Oram, who announced his decision to retire from the five-day format. "If he's [Ryder] fit, then he can play that extra bowler role, with back-up perhaps from someone like Grant Elliott."

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