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Trent Boult has been sacked from his New Zealand cricket but should still be one of the first picks for next year’s one-day World Cup in India.
Andrew Voerman is a stuff cricket writer
OPINION: There should be no qualms about keeping Trent Boult in the mix for the Black Caps’ one-day international roster until next October’s World Cup in India.
The left-arm sailor secured a release from his New Zealand cricket contract earlier this month to free himself from the demands of touring and the toll it takes on his family.
But he also wanted to free himself up to take part in Twenty20 franchise leagues like the new one that will launch in the United Arab Emirates in January and February, the height of the Kiwi summer.
NEW ZEALAND CRICKET
Trent Boult says one of the nicknames for the ICC bludgeon, former black cap Michael Mason, sticks after their win at the Test World Championship.
The forthcoming T20 World Cup in Australia in October and November will likely be his international swan song in the shortest format of cricket, although it would be nice if he had the chance of a bye game at his home stadium, Mount Maunganui’s Bay Oval, in the home series against India that follows.
What’s less clear is where he’ll fit into the black caps’ testing and ODI plans after that.
Boult is yet to give interviews on his decision but the language in the contract termination announcement that NZ Cricket is giving priority to contract players need not spell the end of his international career.
From the final of the current series in the West Indies to the start of the World Cup next October, the Black Caps have 27 ODIs on the cards – six at home and 21 away.
There will be many rotations in the eight series following the current one in the Caribbean, so there shouldn’t be any hesitation in picking Boult for the Worlds, even if he only appears in two or three of them.
Jimmy Neesham wasn’t offered a NZ cricket contract earlier this year and doesn’t have one with a home association but remains a first-choice T20 player and someone in the ODI mix so it’s not as if there’s no precedent.
Much will depend on Boult’s wishes, but he could easily play the six home games against India in November and Sri Lanka in March (or even the three against India if his Indian Premier League commitments clash) and then bond with the side Bangladesh next September on the eve of the World Cup without batting.
Could he also play 10 days in Cairns next month for a final challenge against Australia in Australia, where his Black Caps career began almost 11 years ago with a rare Test win in Hobart?
There will hopefully be more clarity on his plans – and those of selectors Gary Stead and Gavin Larsen – when the team return to New Zealand next week, with the Australia squad due to be named before the end of the month.
Before his contract bombshell, Boult was one of a handful of players whose names would have been inked for next year’s World Cup.
He’s the clear leader of the white-ball seam attack and there’s no obvious equivalent replacement in a format where left-armers are so valuable.
It’s possible that the busy schedule over the next 12 months will present other options for the Black Caps, but for now the prudent course of action would be to lay out plans for Boult’s presence in India.
It’s a shame that a final test or two on home soil may not be possible – partly due to timing and partly because he doesn’t stand out as much from the country’s other searns as he does in white ball cricket. So there isn’t that much of a need to involve him.
The United Arab Emirates’ International League T20, in which Boult will play for MI Emirates, is scheduled to be played from January 6 to February 12 and the Black Caps’ first home test of the summer against England at the Bay Oval is set to start just four days later.
A red bow for Boult on his home pitch would have been appropriate, but unless there’s a compromise somewhere it’s unlikely to happen.