During yesterday’s WC game between New Zealand and Bangladesh, commentator Simon Doull made a salient point regarding the selection of Jimmy Neeshan vs the non-selection of Ish Sodhi. He suggested that NZ were playing it safe by not picking Sodhi, a leg-break bowler that can be expensive, but who has a habit of picking up wickets. I agree with his sentiment to a point, but I wonder if some of the allrounders in this tournament are struggling because of a lack of clarity around their roles.
Here are two examples:
1. Carlos Brathwaite (West Indies)
The Windies are blessed with an abundance of raw talent, and Carlos is one of a number of electric fast bowling allrounders in the current squad. However, unlike Jason Holder and Andre Russell, Brathwaite’s individual skills wouldn’t command him a place in the side on their own currently. Holder and Russell could make the side as specialist batsmen or specialist bowlers, such is their all-round ability. Carlos is being used as a bits and pieces player who bowls a few innocuous overs, and is an afterthought in the batting order down at 8. For mine he has the potential to be a good international batsman, but currently is not up to international standard as a bowler. His spell released the pressure on Australia today and allowed then back in the game, whilst with the bat he looked a little unsure as to how he was supposed to play. I don’t think he should hold a place in the current West Indies XI. His spot should go to a specialist. I’d either strengthen the batting with the inclusion of Darren Bravo, or unleash the beast Shannon Gabriel to bolster the pace attack.
2. Jimmy Neesham (New Zealand)
Neesh needs to be told in no uncertain terms that he is a specialist batsman in this team, and to play with the responsibility of a top order player. He should only ever be utilized as a bowler if absolutely necessary. He doesn’t have the pace of Ferguson or Henry, move the ball like Henry or Boult, or have the metronomic accuracy (and golden arm) of ‘Dutchie’ de Grandhomme. He is cannon-fodder on most occasions at this level. Just like with Brathwaite, it was his spell that released the pressure on the Bangladesh batsmen. He could be vital to NZs chances in this World Cup if he steps up in his number 6 role. He shouldn’t be given the license that de Grandhomme has to see-ball, hit-ball – he is a better batsman than that. He can decimate an attack on his day, but he needs to take more responsibility for the state of the game. If NZ really wants to bring Ish Sodhi in to the side, then Jimmy is the most likely candidate to make way. Bit that would really weaken their lower-middle order.