Could the Black Caps Run a Four Man Pace Battery?

blackcapspaceattack

With the Black Caps to begin their South Africa leg of their tour of Africa with the first Test on 19 AUG, attention turns to the composition of the team ahead of the main challenge of this tour.

Three of the positions in the batting order are as certain as they have ever been. There is no doubt about Tom Latham opening, about Kane Williamson at 3 and Ross Taylor at 4.

With the bowlers there is no doubt about Tim Southee and Trent Boult, and the middle order is certain to feature both Mitchell Santner and wicketkeeper BJ Watling.

Regarding the second opener’s position, Martin Guptill probably did enough to retain his incumbency as an opener, and is therefore expected to start over Jeet Raval. The 27-year old Raval, who is yet to play a Test, has a first-class average of 44 and is probably the strongest first-class opener yet to play Test cricket since Mark Richardson.

Henry Nicholls will probably continue to bat at 5, with New Zealand unlikely to put Luke Ronchi in the position. Nicholls might have the most tenuous claim to a place in the team, but the Black Caps management seem willing to give him a decent run in the side because he is only 24.

Regarding the bowling options, New Zealand might find itself in a good position to gamble on a four man pace battery, on account of that the spin doesn’t look threatening enough to help take 20 South African wickets.

Ish Sodhi took eight wickets at 25 on the Zimbabwe leg of the tour but was far from convincing. Although he occasionally bowled a dangerous ball, he put down a haul of full tosses and long hops that even Zimbabwe’s batsmen could easily put away. His economy rate of 3.29, compared to Mitchell Santner’s 2.15, is evidence that he does not yet have the control to tie down an end.

Santner, for his part, seems to be improving as a bowler. His economy rate reflects that his bowling was tight against Zimbabwe, rarely straying away from an off stump line, even if the spin was gentle.

Given that Santner will almost certainly be chosen for his all-round value, and that Martin Guptill has shown himself capable of tidy spin bowling should the need arise, it may be that Sodhi is deemed to have very little value to the team for the South Africa leg.

Neil Wagner has become indispensable as the Black Caps’ third seamer. His Test bowling average has come down to 30.43, which is lower than that of Tim Southee. Wagner also has the quality of being able to pose a threat with the old ball, which gives him value in the same conditions that Southee and Boult are less dangerous in.

This leaves a fourth seamer spot open for either Matt Henry or Doug Bracewell. This column believes that Bracewell is unlikely to possess the application to develop much further as either a bowler or a batsman, and that neither is true of Henry. Although Henry is yet to impress in his four Test career, he has 51 ODI wickets at a world-class average of 22.17, and so his potential appears much higher.

If Guptill is capable of bowling in the case we need two spinners, and if Santner is capable of bowling a large number of tidy overs as he did against Zimbabwe, the best team choice for the Black Caps might be to drop Sodhi and go with a four man pace attack.

This would give us a Black Caps side of:

1. Martin Guptill (6)
2. Tom Latham
3. Kane Williamson (c)
4. Ross Taylor
5. Henry Nicholls
6. Mitchell Santner (5)
7. BJ Watling (wk)
8. Matt Henry (3)
9. Neil Wagner (4)
10. Trent Boult (1)
11. Tim Southee (2)

– DAN McGLASHAN

Our Mental Health System is a Disgrace Because We Want it to be Cheap

canterburyhospital

The title of this article is the truth, whether it’s admitted or not. The mental health system of New Zealand is the way it is as it’s a cheap short-term solution that we voted for because, as a people, we love cheap short-term solutions.

There’s simply no way around the basic equation. People don’t work for free. If you don’t want to pay people to take care of the mentally ill, then cheaper ways have to be found. Currently our system works like this: if you report with a problem, you’re given sedatives until you stop complaining. Everything else, like spending time with an actual person who can help you solve your problems, is off the table because it’s too expensive.

The average national per capita funding for mental health services in New Zealand is $243 per year. This amounts to probably one hour with a psychiatrist (and associated clerical duties), per New Zealander, per year. Because of this tight funding, mental health care has to be denied to as many people as possible unless absolutely necessary.

I was once told that I was capable of taking 30mg of Olanzapine per night (a dosage which caused me to sleep for 12 hours a day), of working full-time and of completing a Ph.D., all at the same time. The sort of clown that can tell a mental health patient something this stupid is the sort of person that gets hired by a system trying to do everything on the cheap, because if you pay poor wages you get the dregs of the labour market.

Other ways of saving money include a policy of treating everyone who needs an invalid’s benefit as if they were malingering, lying, thieving scum first, and then maybe later as a fellow human being in need of help. Presumably the logic is that by treating everyone who comes to the mental health services as a probable benefit fraudster, many people with marginal cases are discouraged from seeking further help, which saves money.

If the mental health services are cut far enough, savings will be achieved when the most desperate kill themselves. Don’t think for a moment that this calculation is too cold-blooded for the Government – it isn’t. Every 25-year old mentally ill beneficiary that kills themselves saves the country about half a million in benefits over the course of their lives.

Consider that a study sponsored by the Academy of Finland found that “Well-developed community mental-health services are associated with lower suicide rates than are services oriented towards inpatient treatment provision” – in other words, paying to do mental health properly, rather than just putting an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, results in fewer people killing themselves.

This article from February describes how mental health services are being cut in Canterbury due to a lack of funding. If one takes into account that suicide is the second most common way for young people to die in New Zealand, it becomes apparent that recent efforts to save money by cutting mental health funding results directly in deaths by suicide.

Maybe New Zealand, as a nation, does not wish for anything else, as New Zealanders consistently vote for a political party that has a policy of underfunding mental health services.

Our mental health system may be a disgrace, but it’s one that we want to be a disgrace because it’s cheaper that way.