cricket:image:1413785 [900x506]
cricket:image:1413785 [900x506] (Credit: Getty Images)

Cruz breaks slump with 3 hits Jones cruises as Pirates beat Brewers 4-2 to end 6-game skid

Tim Robinson, the newest member of New Zealand's T20I squad, has a pretty simple outlook when it comes to the format. "I love hitting sixes," he said, something that started in the backyard as a kid and has now carried him to the brink of an international debut against Pakistan.

Robinson only has 20 domestic T20 matches under his belt but, until injury struck, was putting together an impressive Super Smash earlier this year. In the opening match of the season against Otago he plundered 139 off 64 balls with 10 sixes, the second-highest score in the tournament's history, and later on struck 86 off 56 against Canterbury before his tournament was cut short.

Still, it was enough to leave him on the radar of the selectors and, with nine players unavailable for the Pakistan trip due to the IPL, along with Will Young (county) and Tim Latham (paternity) not considered, Robinson was one of those to benefit. But the call from selector Sam Wells was still a lot to take in.

"I was actually stuttering away trying to hold a conversation, but I was struggling a little bit," he told reporters. "I couldn't believe it and to be honest it hasn't quite sunk in yet. It's hard to put those kinds of things into words. Something I've dreamed off since I was a kid, trying to hit sixes in the back yard but for it to all come to fruition is pretty amazing and just really excited.

"I love hitting sixes and trying to entertain people and to be honest it's addictive when you get one out of the middle and it goes a mile. I took a lot of confidence out of that [century] but this is a completely different challenge and I'm excited to get over there and have a real crack."

Robinson added he would be going into the tour "with an open mind" and was thrilled that the trip would be led by his Wellington team-mate Michael Bracewell.

"He's been a fantastic role model for me," he said. "We help each other on and see who can hit the ball furthest. He's a fantastic guy and fills me with comfort that I'm going over with him."

Bracewell himself reflected on a lengthy journey back from injury after suffering a ruptured achilles playing in the T20 Blast for Worcestershire last year. He returned to action in January during the Super Smash and last month claimed a career-best 8 for 41 in the Plunket Shield, two days before being told he would captain New Zealand.

"It's been a slow grind, a lot of days here at the Basin working hard on all the little things," he said. "It probably feels fast for people who haven't lived that journey but for me it's been a bit of a slow grind.

"It's huge to firstly be picked again the another huge honour to be selected as captain. I had a golden sort of three days: got that eight-for at the Basin, a hole-in-one the next day and third thing was the call from Steady about the captaincy. Three days I'll never forget.

"It's a little bit sweeter when you've had a bit of time on the sidelines to reflect and grow that hunger even more to be back out there."

The five matches in Pakistan will play a key part in firming up the small number of uncertain spots in New Zealand's T20 World Cup squad and Bracewell, who offers middle-order power with the bat and his offspin, will be a strong contender but he wasn't looking too far ahead.

"There's obviously some exciting things coming up throughout the rest of the year but the job at hand is taking on Pakistan in their own conditions," he said. "That's certainly what we'll be focusing on. Obviously you have those thoughts of where you'd like to be but the only way you get to where you want to go is focusing on what's in front of you."