TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
CALLING them the ‘secret seven’ would be a bit much. Besides, Enid Blyton’s lawyers might sue for copyright infringement.
But the fact is the New Zealand squad that arrives in SA on Tuesday to play two T20s and three one-day internationals are without seven of players who donned the silver fern during the World Cup.
None of Brendon McCullum, Trent Boult, Kyle Mills, Daniel Vettori, Cory Anderson, Tim Southee and Ross Taylor are in SA because they are being rested, are injured or have retired.
They have, of course, been replaced – by people like George Worker. Who? And Ben Wheeler. Who?
Worker came into the squad when the originally selected Mitchell Santner – who? – broke his thumb. He made his international debut in a one-off T20 against Zimbabwe in Harare on Sunday. The left-hander batted at No. 3 and scored 62 off 38 balls.
Unsurprisingly given those numbers Worker enjoys the aggression New Zealand have added to their game in the shorter formats, noticeably so at the World Cup.
“That just helps me fit in to the the team,” Worker said of the Kiwis’ new, improved approach. “Coming in (to the squad) I was really comfortable, and everyone made it an environment where I could go out there and express the way I play.
“The brand of cricket New Zealand have been trying to play over the last while has helped me be at ease on my debut.”
Worker can bowl a bit of slow left-arm in a pinch. He went to the same school as Jacob Oram, Palmerston North Boys – where he captained the first XI – was in New Zealand’s under-19 squad, and almost played for Scotland in 2012 in county cricket’s 40-over competition. However, that quirk in his career was ironed out when New Zealand Cricket included him in their intake for the national winter development programme.
If Worker plays in the second ODI in Potchefstroom on August 23, the crowd should go easy on him: he will celebrate his 26th birthday that day.
Wheeler, a left-arm paceman, has taken five wickets in his four ODIs and taken or shared the new ball in three of them. He took 3/25 in a 35-over game the New Zealanders played against North West in Pretoria on July 28.
The other replacements will ring bells in SA memories. Allrounders Doug Bracewell and Jimmy Neesham are among them, as is big hitter Colin Munro.