Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Matt Henry signs as T20 specialist

The name of Matt Henry may not have been high on most people's list, when thoughts turned to our T20 specialist for this year. Most were, to be fair, thinking of a top order 'biffer', or perhaps someone, moving into fantasy land, like Mitchell Starc or Trent Boult.

Yet Henry is one of those 'under the radar' cricketers, a player not yet established as a member of the New Zealand side but who has proved a popular overseas signing in the IPL, playing for Chennai and being signed up by Kings XI Punjab for this year's competition.

At 25 he is still some way from his peak, but bowls in the steady top 80s in the speed stakes and is both a handy batsman (with an impressive strike rate of 166) and an excellent fielder. His career has been interrupted by injury and he has suffered the perennial problem of the young fast bowler in a stress fracture to the back.

Jimmy Neesham had the same issue, but recovered well to perform creditably for us last summer and it is hoped that Henry does the same. Last year he played for Worcestershire, where he did OK without pulling up any trees. He will, I am sure, have learned from that spell, as he will from his forthcoming IPL stint.

Crucially John Wright, the man tasked with dragging our T20 skills up by the bootlaces, rates him highly and it would appear that part of our strategy this year is to have two fast bowlers and two leggies bowling, as Matt Critchley will surely play in a tournament where he enjoyed success last year. Shiv Thakor is another fine bowler in the format and we will, I think, also see Ben Cotton and Alex Hughes in the line-up for T20, both with proven records in the format.

I can't fault the logic of the signing and if our international trio can take down a top order, sides rarely recover from 15-3 to win games. There may be a question mark over our batting, but I can see potential in a line-up that I will offer for comment another day. Certainly, the presence of a top order hitter is no guarantee of success. Even Martin Guptill fails on occasion and the engagement of Loots Bosman was only a qualified success; that of Tillakaratne Dilshan a dismal failure.

Henry has been in good form of late, taking plenty of wickets in domestic cricket, swinging the ball and bowling fast and full. While his path to the national side is blocked by the talented Trent Boult and Tim Southee, a good spell in the IPL, followed by a solid county stint, will keep him at the forefront of the selectors' minds.

A solid signing then and perhaps a player who might just catch opponents by surprise - as well as impressing both New Zealand selectors and Derbyshire supporters.

 We'll see what he can do in due course. Have a look at this taster below, showing his domestic wickets from a couple of winters back.


Anonymous said...

I genuinely didn't see this type of signing. I thought perhaps a Kiwi might be a strong possibility but I figured would be an opener or a batting all-rounder. However, fingers crossed he works out. He certainly has talent and we look like we might have finishers in Smit and Wilson now at say 5 and 6 in t20. The bowling looks good. Very good in fact it's just the concern for me who opens. And where does Thakor bat in t20. Perhaps Reeece will open with Wood or MacDonell. Thakor at 3. Wayne at 4. Smith and Wilson. Then maybe an Alex Hughes at 7. Then 4 bowlers. Critchley. Henry. Viljeon. Tahir. Interested too see your thoughts soon Peakfan like you hinted. Exciting times ahead. Doesn't look like the most dynamic of top orders for t20 but if the plan is the keep the other team low by our strong bowling then maybe we can get over the line more than previous years.

David Woolley said...

Could be a shrewd signing Peakfan. Although I have to say, i'm still a little worried by our batting.
I sincerely hope JW adopts Englands 'gung ho' approach, and without, shall we say, a specialist 'biffer', we go for a decent tempo from the first ball.
I can see the team for the first T20 being something like this. Reece, Hughes, Thakor, Madsen, Henry, Tahir or Mendis, Wilson, Smit, Critchley, Viljoen and possibly Cork. Although i'm sure by the time the T20 comes around we will be able to judge the current form of players better.
Personally, I wouldn't mind if we went with even more of the youngsters, just let them play with freedom.

Paul said...

We have made some excellent signings this winter but have to say I'm slightly disappointed with this. I'm not knocking Henry who should be useful but it's batsmen who can clear the ropes who win t20 matches and quite frankly we don't have enough of them.
We seem to have turned full circle from last year when we had strong hitting batsmen but a weak bowling line up.
You yourself Peakfan have said you would prefer an opener or all rounder so are you a little disappointed as well ?

Peakfan said...

I will reply in a blog tomoro Paul and tell you the side I would like to see.
Sorry, time ran out on me today...