Twose puts himself first

Philip Barton speaks to the Devon-born batsman aiming to be the cream of the Kiwis
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The Independent Online
ROGER TWOSE has played at every grade of English representative cricket bar one. The 27-year-old left hander, born in Torquay, captained West of England Under-16s, had a Minor Counties season with Devon, played for Somerset Second XI when he was 16 and was a member of the Warwickshire side who swept all before them in 1994. On Wednesday, in the opening match of the World Cup, he will play his first match involving England. He will not, however be playing for the country of his birth, but for New Zealand.

Twose played six consecutive seasons of first-class cricket in New Zealand before completing the registration requirements in April 1995. Even so, his performances for Warwickshire in the Antipodean winters were such that he wasthought unlucky not to get a place on an England A tour.

Indeed, Twose has exactly the attributes that would endear him to the present England chairman, Ray Illingworth: tenacity; concentration; competitive ferocity; and the ability to sell his wicket dearly.

He also has a surfeit of self- confidence. When Brian Lara arrived at Edgbaston he left a note on Lara's locker saying "Welcome to the second best left hander at Warwickshire", when asked just before his debut Test innings against India what was the essence of Warwickshire's success, he replied: "Me".

"I think I come across at times as arrogant and over confident," he agreed. "But I believe in my talent and my ability. That's not to say that I am any more talented than a lot of players in county cricket. But I make the best use of what talent I have got. My confidence has come through achieving at school, second XI and at county level. I have got fifties and hundreds at each level and hopefully I can do it in Tests."

So far this prediction has been all but fulfilled. He scored two fifties against Pakistan and was six short of a century against Zimbabwe. In his five Tests he is averaging 51.33. Twose had no hesitation in accepting New Zealand's offer: "My parents have now emigrated to New Zealand and my girlfriend is a New Zealander too," he explained. "Once I had qualified I had decided to call it a day in county cricket whether I was selected or not."

While Twose has been opening in Test matches he has slipped down the order in one-day internationals to make way for more fluent strokemakers. He will also have a part to play as a bowler, although his gentle medium pacers are clearly the subject of some mirth among his team-mates. Glenn Turner, the New Zealand manager, said: "Roger will be the first to tell you that he is a jack of all trades. As a bowler we call him the Boston Stangler but we will use him if the circumstances are right."

But the newcomer has other skills that endear him to his new compatriots: "Roger now knows how to do the haka better than any of us," Turner commented. "He is a limited batsman but he plays well within those limitations."

Twose's expectations are limitless, however, and the New Zealand team may rest assured that they have one player who fully expects to take five wickets, score a brisk century and hit the winning boundary in the final.

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