New Zealand vs Sri Lanka
Blackcaps newcomer Peter McGlashan is enthusiastic about his forthcoming debut against Sri Lanka in The National Bank International Twenty20 at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium.
But tonight's Twenty20 clash with Sri Lanka at Wellington's Westpac Stadium is really all about the future and preparing for the World Cup in the Caribbean in a few months time.
"They're not the hit and giggles they used to be - they've got a real purpose," New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming said of the two abbreviated matches against one of their rivals for glory in the West Indies.
Although purists sees the twenty over-a-side slogs as frivolous entertainment, the games in Wellington then in Eden Park on Boxing Day still form an integral part of New Zealand's Cup planning.
Other than help fine-tune their batsmen's power hitting, the games serve as an ideal opportunity to both rest frontline players and blood candidates for the 15-man Cup squad.
To that end Daniel Vettori, who has a history of back ailments, is in cotton wool until next week's one-day series, Brendon McCullum has an opportunity to open the batting for the first time since 2002 and Peter McGlashan has a chance to prove himself an able deputy behind the stumps.
Fast medium bowler Mark Gillespie, a spectator during last month's Champions Trophy should also get a chance to show his proficiency as a "death" bowler while Shane Bond will only be used sparingly - after four overs tonight he will be replaced by Michael Mason in Auckland.
"It's more succession planning than anything," Fleming said. "If we lose a couple of key players approaching the World Cup the message from the selectors is we want to be as well planned and prepared as possible.
"Introducing new players, competition among those back-up players and players pressing for places is very important at this stage." Other than Vettori, Jacob Oram (hamstring), Kyle Mills (knee) and Scott Styris (back) are also missing, in the latter's case possibly long term.
"We've got some players missing and some players who have had a taste of international cricket, some have had none. It's a good way to start a one-day campaign by playing a shorter form of the game."
Meanwhile, for what it's worth Fleming has an edge in experience over his counterpart Mahela Jayawardene when it comes to the intricacies of the fast-moving spectacle.
New Zealand has only played three Twenty20 games, starting with their light hearted resurrection of the 1980s beige uniform against Australia at Eden Park in February last year.
But Fleming has the advantage of captaining Nottinghamshire on the English county circuit. "There are specifics I've picked up during my time at Notts and it's a form of the game we're keen to get right - it has its own World Cup in South Africa next year."
Sri Lanka only made their international Twenty20 debut on a tour of England this year and Jayawardene admits it was a baffling experience. "It was quite tough as captain, things were happening quite fast and you have to think two overs ahead.
"All I remember is screaming my head off for guys to change (between overs) quickly. The rules and time limits were quite new to me."
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