NZ Shake Off The Cobwebs

New Zealand kicked off their tour of Southern Africa with two matches against Namibia at Windhoek over the weekend. As expected the results of both matches were wins to New Zealand, but the batting effort of the Namibians in the first game gave the visitors a bit of a fright and some rather embarrassing memories for some of the bowlers.

The Black Caps batted first in the first of the two matches and, thanks largely to a career-best one day score of 116 from opener Craig Cumming, amassed a formidable 330 for six from their 50 overs. Also in the runs were the Marshall twins, Hamish scoring 58 and James 36, and wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum, who quickly hit himself to 31 not out.

330 is certainly a score to be happy with for the team’s first effort in several months, but signs of rustiness were clearly evident in New Zealand’s bowling effort. Thanks to some very good early bowling from James Franklin and Shane Bond, Namibia found themselves five wickets down with only 75 runs on the board, but they then made a remarkable recovery to reach 301. The bowlers who found themselves on the receiving end of this onslaught were Chris Martin (72 runs came from his seven overs, would the one wicket he claimed ease the pain of being hit for ten an over by Namibia?) Kyle Mills (77 from his nine overs with two wickets) and Daniel Vettori (80 from his ten, also with two wickets). But the news isn’t all horrifically embarrassing for New Zealand’s bowlers. Franklin took 3/46 from nine overs, and Shane Bond finished with 2/20, and the even more pleasing thing about that was that he got through ten overs trouble-free.

The second match was a familiar situation for Namibian bowlers, with New Zealand again scoring at in excess of six an over, finishing with 326/5. McCullum was the top scorer on this occasion with 84 not out coming from a remarkable 48 balls, and Nathan Astle showed some promising signs of form in making 73 not out from 52 deliveries.

With the memory of Namibia, and primarily the lower order, taking 301 off them in the previous game still hanging over their shoulders, the New Zealanders took the field to defend their total. Again they struck several early blows and Namibia found themselves with a slightly above desirable number of wickets down for an inadequate amount of runs at 76/6. But this time the lower order revival they would have been hoping for a repeat of didn’t occur and they were dismissed for 178 in a bowling effort that went much more to plan than that of the first game. Vettori finished with much less grimace-inducing figures of 3/24 from eight overs, Bond again bowled with no sign of back problems and returned with 2/16 from five, and Chris Martin redeemed himself with 2/26 from his five.

The New Zealanders now head across the continent to Zimbabwe, where they will face a yet to be decided opponent in a one-day practise match at Harare on Thursday before the first test begins at the same venue on Sunday.

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