Join me on this journey as I try to waltz down a treacherous path, dabbling in thoughts about a distant World T20 while the ODI World Cup offers a map that I don't fully trust. The T20I series between Aotearoa (we tend to refer to New Zealand as Aotearoa a whole lot more than a token gesture for a series here, series there) and India got underway with a lovely display of T20 cricket from the kiwis.
Tim Seifert flexed, whacking 84 off 43 to set up the innings and the key factor in bumping the Blackcaps total up past 200 (219/6) was all the other batsmen apart from Colin de Grandhomme had strike-rates over 130. De Grandhomme only faced 4 balls, which was the perfect scenario given that the lad is seeing his stocks plummet into the depths of Lake Taupo.
As was repeated numerous times in commentary, Seifert is a talented young lad having excelled in both hockey and cricket. Based purely on the eye test, Seifert oozes class one would assume that he was that annoying bugger back in high school who was simply the mantis and destined to do some nice sporting fings one day. The ball pings off his bat, he's solid in defence and trusts his game to access boundaries all around the park.
What hasn't been said about Seifert this summer as he dipped his toes into ODI cricket vs Sri Lanka, was that he averaged 50.21 in Plunket Shield last summer. Seifert was 3rd in runs and while there has been plenty of buzz about Will Young (4th in runs), Seifert was one of three batsmen to score over 700 Plunket Shield runs last season. The other two are the grizzliest of grizzly veterans in Michael Papps and Greg Hay.
That is to say that Seifert's a great batting prospect. Keep an open mind about his potential as he's far from a T20 hitter. If Plunket Shield was televised, or if more tuned into Domestic Cricket Daily, kiwis may come to understand how and why First Class cricket is the only format in which Seifert averages over 25; by some margin as he averages 37.81.
Another weird note: most of Colin Munro’s boundaries came from miss-hits, while Seifert hit most of his clean. Keep that in mind as we move throughout the series.
The niggly thing here, with regards to Seifert and his World Cup hopes, also applies to Tim Southee who came back with a slick performance to help the Blackcaps dismiss India for 139. Seifert is starting to build a nice case for World T20 selection next year, but the World Cup is the big fish right now and it's tricky to suggest that he or Southee (3w @ 4.25rpo) earned some World Cup churs via this T20I.
Lockie Ferguson continued his solid work of the summer (2w @ 5.50rpo), while Mitchell Santner (2w @ 6rpo) and Ish Sodhi (2 @ 8.66rpo) played their roles as well. For Scott Kuggeleijn and Daryl Mitchell, I'm not overly fussed about their work in terms of ODI potential just yet. I lay all that down because I'm placing little value in the work of the Blackcaps spinners throughout this T20 series, based on the hefty difference between spin bowling in the two formats and this leaves Southee as the most interesting bowler for World Cup ponderings.
Nothing from this T20I changed my thoughts about Southee; I still want him in my World Cup 1st 11. Southee looked refreshed and I this kinda reinforced my belief that he was rested as opposed to dropped for the ODI series, which isn't all that important right now. The thingy about Southee's bowling in this T20I was that he picked up some wickets bowling at his perfect pace (mid-130's km/h) and this is a whole lot easier to do when you're only bowling 4ov, especially after you've been chillin' like a villain for a week or so.
What Southee does in this T20I series will be noteworthy, yet this again highlights the dangers of comparing T20 and ODI cricket. For Southee, my gut still says we need him in a World Cup over in England with *Kookaburra* balls (my bad, still relevant though as Southee will be using a familiar ball in favourable conditions) and T20I form will need to be hugely crap to have an impact on this.
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Peace and love 27.