Decision time looms for NZ selectors

New Zealand's Ross Taylor walks off after being dismissed against Australia during game one of...
New Zealand's Ross Taylor walks off after being dismissed against Australia during game one of the Twenty20 series in Sydney on Saturday night. Photo Getty
Decision time looms for New Zealand's selectors this week, with the memory of the 13-match unbeaten run this summer fast disappearing in the rear view mirror.

They've now lost their last three T20 internationals, including a bad dumping from Australia in the opening game of the tri-series in Sydney at the weekend.

The squad for the start of the home games in the tri-series is expected to be named on Thursday. The next match is against England in Wellington next Tuesday.

So here's the dilemma: do selectors Gavin Larsen and Mike Hesson stick with what they have, and those they have backed, or cast about for players to hopefully improve the group?

The selectors are known to like offering loyalty towards their players, although the dumping of fast-rising wicketkeeper-batsman Glenn Phillips ahead of the Pakistan series decider at Mount Maunganui on January 28 shows they can deliver a punch or two when they feel necessary.

Six players have been freed to play in tomorrow's penultimate round of the Ford Trophy - legspinner Ish Sodhi (Northern Districts), wicketkeeper Tom Blundell (Wellington), batsman Tom Bruce, seamer Seth Rance and left-armer Ben Wheeler (Central Districts) and Otago's Anaru Kitchen.

Otago host ND in Dunedin, Wellington play CD in the capital while Canterbury play Auckland in Christchurch.

It's not a like-for-like situation - 50 vs 20-over cricket - but at least keeps those players in work. It also means a pile of players, broadly speaking the senior members, have time off until the Wellington clash against England.

The likes of captain Kane Williamson, senior seamers Tim Southee and Trent Boult, openers Martin Guptill and Colin Munro, middle order batsmen Ross Taylor and Colin de Grandhomme, and spin bowling allrounder Mitchell Santner are probably getting a nine-day break.

The squad will assemble in Wellington on Saturday which clearly rules them out of Sunday's final round robin Ford Trophy games.

The selectors won't particularly care, but the last three results against Pakistan - who improved remarkably at the fag end of their tour - and Australia adds grist to the mill for those who maintain New Zealand aren't as good as they're cracked up to be at the shorter forms. Their argument goes that put them up against strong opponents and they are as vulnerable as anyone and the early-season run of success was largely down to weak opposition.

Rightly or wrongly, the Sydney night out will have strengthened that view.

New Zealand were really poor, and never got out of the blocks; Australia will be suitably buoyed; England are good anyway. Right now, what price an England-Australia final at Eden Park on February 21? A cracker for the neutrals.

The squad will assemble in Wellington on Saturday which clearly rules them out of Sunday's final round robin Ford Trophy games.

One change which must happen is taking a more nimble approach with de Grandhomme. The one saving grace in Sydney, the Auckland power-hitter can't again bat as low as No7, especially in a situation such as that which unfolded in Sydney.

If the argument runs that he's most damaging in the last four or five overs, surely with his boundary-clearing talents he's potentially even more valuable getting seven or eight overs to work with.

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