‘Brendon flies by the seat of his pants; Kane is methodical’

It was not going to be easy for New Zealand, Simon Doull feels, to transition to Kane Williamson's leadership following the retirement of Brendon McCullum.

As a medium-fast bowler for New Zealand, Doull took 98 Test wickets, but these days he is a commentator, and a familiar presence on Indian TV from his work at the IPL every year.   -  Shreedutta Chidananda

There was never any doubt that this was going to be a high-scoring Champions Trophy. In the first week, all completed games have seen tall totals, with little assistance for bowlers from the conditions. The ball has not swung, spun or seamed much.

Simon Doull cannot decide if this run-fest is a good thing or a bad one. As a medium-fast bowler for New Zealand, Doull took 98 Test wickets, but these days he is a commentator, and a familiar presence on Indian TV from his work at the IPL every year.

"The change was always going to be huge. They're two completely different characters. Brendon flies by the seat of his pants; he is an outrageous cricketer, an outrageous talent. Kane is very methodical, very thoughtful about the game, he's what we'd call a 'cricket nuffie', a guy who doesn't stop thinking about the game.”

"As a bowler in the day that I played, I wouldn't like it. As a commentator now, I probably don't mind it so much," he laughs. "What we've seen around the world and even in India with the great drainage systems is that people are finding it hard to get water into the pitches, to hold moisture in the pitches, to grow the grass and get seam movement out of them. We've seen that in England quite a bit of late. That certainly doesn't help. At tournaments like the Champions Trophy and the World Cup, people want to see runs."

It is a tough time to be a bowler, Doull agrees. "Pace bowlers are just going to have to get something out of these surfaces, try and swing the ball a little bit, maybe go cross seam which we saw Australia do, and see if they get some reverse swing towards the back end. It's about a little bit of innovation and some patience."

Doull has seen a great deal of India's pace bowlers at this year's IPL. He understands the conundrum Virat Kohli faces in having to drop at least one of the four, but is in agreement with the decision to choose Bhuvneshwar Kumar ahead of Mohammed Shami.

"There are two guarantees for me, Umesh Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah. Yadav because of his pace, and if the ball is going to reverse later on, he exploits it best. But you can still swing (conventional) the ball, and that's why I'd go with Bhuvy. They are nice decisions to have to make. Because you still have Shami, who is very very good, as back-up, and provides good slower balls and yorkers towards the end. What you might lack a little bit at the death if you play Bhuvy, you pick up at the front."

Doull's own team, New Zealand, has a decent pack of fast bowlers but it is the lack of a world-class spinner that worriers the 47-year-old. "We're trying to find one in Santner. He's a very good all-rounder but he's not a world-class spinner. Will he be in time? Maybe. The problem with our guys is that they don't play enough domestic cricket. Santner needs a season of four-day cricket, bowling 35-40 overs in a game for five games in a row, and learning the art of bowling. We just don't get time for that because they're always playing international cricket."

It was not going to be easy for New Zealand, Doull admits, to transition to Kane Williamson's leadership following the retirement of Brendon McCullum. "The change was always going to be huge. They're two completely different characters. Brendon flies by the seat of his pants; he is an outrageous cricketer, an outrageous talent. Kane is very methodical, very thoughtful about the game, he's what we'd call a 'cricket nuffie', a guy who doesn't stop thinking about the game. Brendon just played it by instinct; he was brilliantly talented at it and still is. The transition has been very different. I don't think we're any worse. We're still a good side."

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