For someone whose foray into international cricket was as a heavy-hitting batsman who could bowl some handy fast-medium seaming deliveries, Colin de Grandhomme’s performance in his Test debut on Friday came as something of a surprise.
The Aucklander exploited the bowler-friendly conditions at Hagley Oval in Christchurch to produce the best bowling performance by a New Zealander on debut as he helped skittle Pakistan for 133 in their first innings.
His six for 41 eclipsed the six for 155 that leg spinner Alex Moir achieved against England in Christchurch in 1951. It was also the eighth time a New Zealander had taken a five-wicket haul on Test debut.
“I’m always keen to bowl (but) … I was expecting to score more runs than take wickets,” de Grandhomme told reporters in Christchurch.
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“I just tried to put it in the areas I wanted to bowl … except a bit fuller … and they managed to do their bit so it’s all good.”
Selected as the team’s all-rounder ahead of incumbent Jimmy Neesham, his Test debut has been a long time coming.
Born in Zimbabwe, de Grandhomme emigrated to New Zealand in 2006 and developed a reputation as an aggressive top order batsman in limited overs cricket that saw him flicker on the minds of the national selectors in development sides.
He finally earned an international call-up in 2012 when he was named in New Zealand’s Twenty20 side for a clash against his country of birth.
Unfortunately his only contribution was to be standing at the other end when Martin Guptill hit the winning runs in the seven-wicket victory and he finished nought not out and did not face a ball.
He featured in just three other Twenty20 internationals — where he scored a total of 13 runs — and the solitary one-dayer against South Africa, where he scored 36 and bowled one over for nine runs.
He remained outside an international recall but was still on the periphery and involved in New Zealand ‘A’ tours and kept producing timely performances with the bat in domestic cricket.
This season he scored a rapid 144 not out in a first class match to lead Auckland to a two-wicket win against Otago, which along with his superior bowling returns, ultimately may have swayed the selection in his favour.
Having waited so long for a debut, de Grandhomme said he was just thankful to finally earn his first Test cap at the age of 30.
“Obviously I wanted Test cricket, that’s the ultimate,” he said. “Cricket being cricket, you go through your career and think you’re going to quit.
“But then somehow you get the mojo and get back into it.”