Gillespie could be answer in India
07 September 2006
By JONATHAN MILLMOW
Plans for life after Shane Bond or, more to the point, life when he is on the operating table might become clearer today with the naming of the New Zealand one-day cricket squad for next month's Champions Trophy in India.
Bond is fit to tour but the selectors might be tempted to include Wellington tearaway Mark Gillespie alongside him as the search begins for another out and out strike bowler.
Bond is as brittle as he is brilliant and with Ian Butler's days at the bowling crease over it leaves only Gillespie on the domestic scene as an out and out wicket taker.
The 26-year-old from the North City club in Tawa has his rough edges but his 43 wickets for the Firebirds last summer â€“ bettered only five times in Wellington history â€“ is a statistic hard to ignore.
Gillespie lacks the natural pace of Bond or Butler but he has their attacking instincts. Delivering maidens is not what excites him, more knocking off the batsman's head or alternatively his off bail.
Gillespie is no overnight find. He impressed in his debut season in 1999-2000 and not just because he wanted to run in from some way down Adelaide Rd. He spent the next few seasons bedding in his career before cashing in over the past two summers.
His star burned brightest last season when he destroyed batting lineups around the country with 43 wickets at 23.16, 14 more scalps than the next most successful bowler, Michael Mason.
Gillespie carried that form over to New Zealand A's rain-affected winter tour to Darwin. Against Australia A he knocked over Phil Jacques, Brad Haddin and Mark Cosgrove in a three-over opening burst and a fortnight later took 5-35 against India A.
The New Zealand A management team came home impressed with his ability to swing the new ball both ways and find the blockhole at the death and the only factor that might count against him today is timing.
The Champions Trophy â€“ or mini-World Cup as it is commonly referred to â€“ is not a tournament for the faint-hearted and to make life that little bit harder it will be played on low, slow turning pitches.
For all that, Gillespie's credentials would still appear superior to Andre Adams, the Auckland and Essex bowling allrounder who the selectors have turned to at every opportunity but rarely got anything back in return.
New Zealand were none the clearer on the extent of Scott Styris' back injury last night, though manager Lindsay Crocker suggested they were likely to name him in the squad with the tournament still over four weeks away.
The tournament begins in Jaipur on October 15, with New Zealand's opening match a day later against South Africa in Mumbai.
The only other area of debate will be over the last batting spot. Central Districts dasher Ross Taylor plays spin well and has the world at his feet but it would not surprise if conservatism ruled and Peter Fulton was picked.
New Zealand squad (possible): Stephen Fleming (captain), Lou Vincent, Nathan Astle, Scott Styris, Peter Fulton, Hamish Marshall, Jacob Oram, Brendon McCullum, Daniel Vettori, James Franklin, Shane Bond, Jeetan Patel, Kyle Mills, Mark Gillespie.