The first time New Zealand played international cricket at home before New Year was in 1992. The first (and only) time it was played in November was in 2009. Today New Zealand played an ODI, against a top nation, in October.
The event itself was a huge hit. Bay Park looked the part, it was an even ODI, and the guy who dunked the ball in the beer at the end of last season seemed to be absent.
This was the first of 17 ODIs as a build-up to the World Cup and Taylor, Williamson, Southee and McClenaghan were absent.
So what to read into today’s rusty match?
- Trent Boult. Forget the batting. ODI sides are not built around having strong batting at number 11. And, to an extent, forget the bowling at the top of the innings. Boult has become a very good new ball bowler, so that success was not unexpected. But the way he came back for his later spells, including in the batting PowerPlay showed that he is a genuine World Cup squad prospect.
- Luke Ronchi gets a lot of flak around the traps. Last season against India he developed some credibility as a slog shot specialist finisher. Today he showed he has more than that.
- The top order remains the missing link in the jigsaw. The Neesham experiment is necessary as a way of squeezing a sixth bowling option into the team. It has to be persevered with, but there are probably bigger issues at the other end.
- Great to see Vettori back. If it is head-to-head between him and Nathan McCullum for a solitary spinning spot in the World Cup squad, then this is going to be a fascinating battle. Nothing to separate them today.
- One final thing on Vettori though. There are few doubts about his reintroduction as a bowler. But trying a sweep shot second ball with so many overs to spare shows how a break from the game has many symptoms.
We have another 16 of these to pick the bones apart. And it’s the 21st October.