With the World T20 in India seven months away, teams are ramping up the number of T20 matches they play. New Zealand are on a limited overs tour of Southern Africa, starting first in Zimbabwe, and after that moving on to South Africa. After taking the ODI series in Zimbabwe, a single T20i against the same team precedes by two against South Africa.
With Brendon McCullum, Tim Southee and Trent Boult all skipping the tour and Ross Taylor ruled out through injury, there’s room for fringe players to step up, and with Mitchell Santner injured as well, a space opened up for a left-arm spinning all-rounder and 25-year-old George Worker was called up for his first taste of the international game.
Despite having been around the First-class arena for nearly eight years, he only averages 24, so he don’t expect to see him around the Test team any time soon. His limited overs records show more promise, so it was odd that despite usually opening in the format for Central Districts, he was pushed down to three, with Williamson moved up to open.
That decision worked on Williamson’s side, with the Kane train getting off to a rollicking start before derailing for 20. That brought the left-handed Worker to the crease. He struggled to get going early on, not scoring off his first seven balls, twice missing out on pull shots off the bowling of Chibhabha.
With a slightly crouched stance and low grip on the bat, he has a preference for the leg side which may have worked against him in First-class cricket. Indeed, his first ten balls included just one shot into the off side. Against the spinners and medium pacers he liked to sweep and slog-sweep and hit the odd pick up shot off his legs.
Some of it may have been a function of the bowlers trying to bowl straight, but even when he got balls on off stump he often tried to work them into the on-side. With that leg-side bias, Graeme Cremer’s leg-spin just fell in his arc, and the first ball he faced against the bowler was hoisted over long-on.
After he settled into his innings, he began to expand his game, despite his clear leg-side bias, he also cut well behind point and eased into a few workmanlike drives, and he continued to pepper the leg-side boundary, bringing up his fifty with a six driven over long-on.
Not content with sixes, he even managed a seven, running a suicidal third on a lofted cover drive, with the certain run out thrown away by Chakabva the keeper as he shied at the stumps, and with it four overthrows.
With the spinners and Utseya’s slow medium dominating the middle overs, he wasn’t overly tested against pace and it was spin which got him in the end, charging down the track to be bowled by Sean WIlliams for 62 off 38 balls.
Unlike Santner whose place in for in the squad he took, Worker is more of a batting all-rounder than a bowling one, and he didn’t get a chance to bowl as New Zealand ran through Zimbabwe’s batting. Still, based on his batting alone, it was an impressive start, capped with a man of the match award, but against fairly limited bowling. Harder tests are yet to come, starting with South Africa next Friday.