When New Zealand arrived home from South Africa last
month, Mitchell McClenaghan had every right to feel pretty good
The strongly built fast bowler had fully justified his call
up for both limited-overs series. He took four wickets in the
three twenty/20s which started the tour, and his four for 20
off 10 overs at Paarl was the standout turn in a 2-1 ODI
series win, which provided the other bookend to a trip of
which the less said about the middle five-day leg the better.
McClenaghan (26) has pace and bounce and relished his first
opportunity with the national side.
Now he gets to mark out his run up in a home international
for the first time, on his home turf too. The three hip
surgeries he endured in quick succession a few seasons ago
would have put off a less determined spirit. Life could be a
lot worse for the Auckland left-armer.
''There's always room for improvement,'' he said.
''I want to make my mark on New Zealand cricket. I don't want
to be a one-tour wonder.''
The ODI series win put smiles back on faces which spent much
of the test leg in South Africa looking like the turkey
seeing December roll over on the calendar.
McClenaghan was not needed in the heavy test defeats, which
might have been a good miss. That said ...
''I'm not the kind of guy who's going to let myself get down.
If I'm coming off a bad series I'd still be in the same frame
''You can't go into any cricket game with any negative
thoughts in your head. Even if you get hit during a game, be
positive the next ball. That's not going to change.''
He leads an interesting life. An occasional model and
television extra, as well as having a bachelor of commerce
degree in marketing and accounting, McClenaghan is a relative
rarity in New Zealand cricket, able to push beyond 140kmh.
Right now his pace is good and he feels the ball is ''coming
out'' nicely, pronouncing himself ''pretty excited with where
things are at''.
He knows more than one plan will be needed against inventive
England batsmen and particularly tonight on a ground with
distinctive, and peculiar cricket dimensions.
McClenaghan agreed there is scope for both teams to bowl
shorter more often than they might normally do to encourage
batsmen hitting square to the longer boundaries rather than
to the short, straight fences.
''These England guys move around the crease quite a bit so
it's about making sure I've got strong plans, and having two
or three plans so I've got back-ups.
''A lot of the guys are feeling pretty confident about areas
we can bowl to them, but it's going to be quite tough on Eden
Park. You've got to be smart.''
And McClenaghan has learnt the margins for error in T20 are
''In one-day cricket you can get away with a bit more. In T20
you can bowl incredibly well and still go for 40.
''It's really about limiting your mistakes and executing your
plan. If you bowl a ball well, it's out of your control if
they hit a good shot.''
New Zealand lost Grant Elliott and Ian Butler from its squad
of 13 yesterday due to minor injuries, but both should be fit
for Hamilton on Tuesday. Allrounder Jimmy Neesham has been
called into the reduced 12.
Captain Brendon McCullum confirmed Hamish Rutherford will
open on debut with Martin Guptill, and has been given free
rein to go hard at the new ball. Ross Taylor will be at No 4
on his return, and both brother Nathan and left-armer Ronnie
Hira will play tonight. Short boundaries do not necessarily
mitigate against playing both spinners, he said.
''I think spin's actually done pretty well here and that's
mainly because you've still got two larger boundaries square.
''There are still get-out options for spinners. In New
Zealand, opposition teams can sometimes look to attack those
spinners too much because of the short boundaries and you get
opportunities to take wickets.''
He believes New Zealand's limited-overs success in South
Africa ''should be the norm''.
''That's the expectation I have of this group, that we win
this T20 and one-day series.''
New Zealand v England
Eden Park, 7pm tonight
New Zealand (from): Brendon McCullum (c), Martin
Guptill, Hamish Rutherford, Ross Taylor, James Franklin,
Colin Munro, Andrew Ellis, Nathan McCullum, Jimmy Neesham,
Ronnie Hira, Trent Boult, Mitchell McClenaghan.
England (from): Stuart Broad (c), Michael Lumb, Alex
Hales, Luke Wright, Eion Morgan, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler,
Joe Root, Samit Patel, James Tredwell, Chris Woakes, Steven
Finn, Jade Dernbach, James Harris.