Henry Rounce: Blackcaps' Cricket World Cup 'Colin Conundrum'

Colin de Grandhomme hit out for New Zealand
Colin de Grandhomme hits out for New Zealand. Photo credit: Photosport

OPINION: Kane... present.

Ross... here. Trent... lovely.

Tim... down the back. Martin... yep.

Mitchell.. there you are.

Colin. Colin… Colin?

Often missing, but crucial when found, the two contrasting Colins could shape the Blackcaps' chances at the Cricket World Cup.

They're a couple of the most unglamorous names on the New Zealand roll-call and while they share the same moniker, Colin Munro and Colin de Grandhomme are a world apart.

Munro's style is a dystopian movie - he crashes and crunches his way through the streets, barreling this way and that, using his bat like a giant, swollen bulldozer.

Everyone is against him. As his bat thumps the ground, he eyes up the ball like it's a tiring piece of prey in a David Attenborough documentary.

Even his bowling, which is gentle medium pace at best, is ramped up and doused with kerosene. A chunky runup, harking back to the days when he once opened the attack, makes way to a flurry of variations - slow balls and cutters, and deliveries that grip and bounce and wobble, like they've been dragged through a cheese grater.

Colin Munro hits out for New Zealand
Colin Munro hits out for New Zealand. Photo credit: Photosport

De Grandhomme is similarly destructive, but with a different demeanour. He often looks bemused after dispatching a delivery over cow corner for six.

It's like he's been dropped into an alien world, picked up a bat and looked on in amazement, as his arms are pulled into positions that pick boundaries like a veteran seasonal worker.

He's just as confused about his bowling. The ball nibbles and sways off the pitch, and catches the batsman by surprise.

De Grandhomme's left celebrating a wicket with a slightly guilty smile - as if he's walked into a dairy for a pie and ended up scoring a free Powerade as well.

But while both Colin's have the same game-changing - and game-winning - ability, they are notoriously inconsistent.

They play shots that cause fans to slam their laptops shut in a fit of rage - so brilliant in one moment, so exasperating in another. They're equal parts a cafe producing a superb panini on the first visit, before giving you a bout of gastro next time.

And that's why neither is assured of a starting spot at the World Cup.

Munro endured a trying summer, averaging less than 25 runs in ODIs. He hasn't scored a century in 51 matches and was dumped out of the side recently, as coach Gary Stead surprisingly threw Henry Nicholls into the fold.

While the traditional left-hander acquitted himself well, promoting a middle order batsman, who found such a rich vein of form lower in the order, was a puzzling move. It screamed of desperation just months out from the biggest tournament on the calendar.

Stead has a big job working out
how he can use them to get a fire
going, without getting his hands burnt

For Munro, it showed how little faith the selectors had that he could hit his way back into form.

The 32-year old's ball-striking ability means he could be used as a floating option for the Blackcaps. They might cross their fingers and hope he comes off at the top of the order, or move him down to set off some late fireworks.

De Grandhomme had established himself as the county's premier all-rounder, although this was in part due to the lack of competition for the role. Jimmy Neesham's renaissance, complete with the lush moustache and locks, has changed things.

Neesham averaged a tick over 40 runs across the home summer, as well as chiming in with 10 wickets.

By contrast, De Grandhomme hit a form slump. He averaged 14.40 runs in a five-match series against England and 1.50 and 7 in three-match series against Pakistan and India.

Neither player has a great record historically. De Grandhomme has strolled into 28 ODIs, coming out on top of 12 of them, with a winning percentage of 42.8.

Munro is only slightly better, albeit with a much bigger sample size. He's played 51 ODIs - victorious in 29, with a winning percentage of 56.8.

Both Munro and De Grandhomme have limited one-day international cricket experience in the UK. Munro's played just once, finishing with a duck when batting at five in 2013, while De Grandhomme's never made an appearance.

Colin de Grandhomme hits out for New Zealand
Colin de Grandhomme & Colin Munro. Photo credit: Photosport

The mercurial pair could play every game at the tournament - or they could be left on the sidelines. Stead has a big job working out how he can use them to get a fire going, without getting his hands burnt.

Saying Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and Trent Boult will be important is as obvious as making sure you don't bowl a no-ball.

But their contributions can be boosted by the support around them. Think of Adam Milne, Grant Elliott and Corey Anderson at the 2015 World Cup.

Munro and De Grandhomme aren't waltzing into the tournament off the back of a sunny summer or an incandescent IPL.

But for all their inconsistencies and frustrations, they're also the type of players who can turn up and turn it on.

Matchwinners are hard to come by. The Blackcaps are blessed with two of them.

Munro and De Grandhomme may be viewed as anti-heroes, but their cricket ability, if harnessed correctly, can decide how far the Blackcaps go in the tournament.

Henry Rounce is a Newshub sports reporter. Join us at 10pm Saturday for live updates of the Blackcaps' 2019 Cricket World Cup opener against Sri Lanka.

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