Neesham ‘can be a real weapon for us at the top’, says Brendon McCullum

"He has got the game to succeed at the top of the order in the short version of cricket"

“He has got the game to succeed at the top of the order in the short version of cricket”

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum has announced that all-rounder James Neesham “can be a real weapon for us” as an opening batsman.

Neesham was promoted to the top of the batting order for the two-match Twenty20 series against the West Indies following his stellar performance in the Test series. Neesham scored 278 runs at an average of 46.33, which included one century and two half-centuries.

“One of the real positives out of this is being able to give guys who may not have had some of the opportunities they are going to get otherwise,” McCullum said. “Jimmy Neesham at the top, I am excited to see how he goes. He has got the game to succeed at the top of the order in the short version of cricket. I don’t want to see him focus on that in Test cricket because he has made a great start in the role he is in but short version I think he can be a real weapon for us at the top and allows us to balance our attack nicely as well and get both allrounders into the line-up.”

McCullum also noted that leg-spinner Ish Sodhi will make his Twenty20 International debut.

“Ish Sodhi will make his debut tomorrow and the wicket looks like it should favour his sort of bowling so hopefully he will perform well and we will continue to build the depths and strengths of our short-version team,” he said. “I must admit it is a little bit hard to refocus somewhat on two T20 games at the end of the tour but we have some high standards that we try and live by and this will be a good test of whether we can remain consistent with our traits and characteristics that we want to be known for in a different format in a challenging situation.

“We will wait and see. You never really know. In T20 you can prepare as well as you possibly can and things don’t go your way so with a bit of luck I think we have got the team that can win these next two games.”

Even though the West Indies have decided to rest flamboyant opening batsman Chris Gayle for the Twenty20 series, McCullum called on his team not to take the hosts lightly.

“[The are a] Very good team, even without Chris Gayle in their ranks,” he said. “The guys opening the batting are two proven T20 players so they have got a lot of power throughout their batting line-up… Sunil Narine leading their attack with the mystery he brings as well as Samuel Badree.

“They are a formidable team and they are going to be a tough proposition for us but even though we haven’t got some of our better T20 players here, a lot of our guys have played a lot of domestic T20 cricket so hopefully we feel well and are able to finish the tour on a high note.”

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