Among the mayhem of the last few days, the third Test between Aotearoa's Blackcaps and Bangladesh was understandably called off. Even without the fact that our guests were caught up in the mess, playing at Hagley Oval would have been reasonably impossible at that time and as we all know, the Bangladesh touring party did find themselves in the middle of the nightmare.
Consider for a moment that Aotearoa was involved in a situation in Pakistan, back in 2002. Pakistan has had a few other instances, however the number of deaths in the bomb attack outside the kiwis hotel in Pakistan combined with the number of deaths from when Sri Lanka's bus was attacked in Pakistan, is fewer than the number of deaths and to be honest - fucked up nature of the Christchurch attacks.
Pakistan struggles to host international cricket, directly related to these attacks and safety concerns. A few nations have toured Pakistan without any issue since, although United Arab Emirates is now the home of international cricket for Pakistan. Regardless of how you feel, or the nuances of my comparison, it is a weird exercise to ponder the safety concerns of playing international cricket in Pakistan and what has just happened in Aotearoa. Ponder whether Aotearoa should host international cricket and what security measures need to be put in place - just ponder it.
Central Districts Stags batsman Will Young was set to make his Blackcaps Test debut, coming in for Kane Williamson. Young will now have to wait a wee bit longer and today I'm going to dive into why Young was selected as the next-up Test batsman, along with crunching some numbers from Williamson and Ross Taylor; both of whom hit scores of 200 in this series.
There is an important distinction to make with Young, even though many thought he was a contender to open the batting for the ODI team and that is that Young is the best #3/4 in Aotearoa apart from Williamson and Taylor. It's one thing to bring in someone to open the batting, or move Henry Nicholls up to open and bring in an all-rounder lower in the order, these spots that Williamson and Taylor fill though, feel a bit more prestigious.
Especially in the Test team. Only the very best batsman should be called upon to replace Williamson or Taylor. This is amplified given how settled the Test team is and my ideal scenario is to keep everyone in the roles they already have, allowing to ease someone like Young in. Sure, if Nicholls was absent at #5, then Young could slot in there as part of that easing in process.
Like no other batsman in Aotearoa, Young genuinely deserved to take Williamson's spot. Young has averaged over 40 in all but two of his eight First-Class summers and those two 'mediocre' summers were his first and third seasons. Since then, Young has averaged over 50 twice and all of this has come with Young being just 26-years-old.
When Young made his Plunket Shield debut, he was playing alongside Mathew Sinclair and came up against an Auckland Aces bowling attack of Chris Martin, Mitchell McClenaghan, Colin Munro, Daryl Tuffey, Bruce Martin and the Papatoetoe legend Bhupinder Singh. Young had scores of 22 and then, most notably he hit 32 off 32 balls to help the Stags grab a victory in chasing down 340. Young wasn't the top-scorer in that innings (Jamie How, Carl Cachopa, Sinclair and Kieran Noeama-Barnett all scored more), however Young was the only batsman with a strike-rate over 70 ... let alone 100.
Take a look at these recent Plunket Shield run-scoring rankings and you'll find Young's name near the top of all of them. Perhaps more interesting is that Young isn't just consistently among the best batsmen of the Plunket Shield, he's the only younger lad to be there every season. It's a pool of OG veteran domestic cricketers across these seasons, yet there's Young commanding respect...
I feel like Young's selection was worthy of this salute not only because he was chosen to come in for Williamson; Young has been doing this for years. Many threw up Young's work in the Aotearoa 'A' cricket from the summer as reason why he slid into the Blackcaps mix and that's true. The fact that we have a guy who is 26yrs and has averaged over 40 in six of his eight First-Class seasons is probably more compelling though.
Now for a quick Taylor vs Williamson comparison. Williamson hit 200* in the first Test, Taylor then snuck in 200 in the second Test and I've done some stuff on Taylor's brilliance across all formats, so here's a brief little dosage of Test cricket stat love for our legends...
Averages since January 1st 2017
Taylor: 46.78 (46.71 career).
Williamson: 71 (53.38).
Averages in Aotearoa since Jan 1st 2017
Career Average in Aotearoa
Career Average outside Aotearoa
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Peace and love 27.