Pick spin and win, says McCullum

South Africa's ace spinner has proven the turning ball can be a force despite the batsmen-friendly pitches in England

The fast and true nature of batting surfaces in the Champions Trophy suggests teams should be playing less pace not more, according to former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum.

And Imran Tahir's stunning player-of-the-match performance against Sri Lanka underlined why McCullum believes England and Australia got their opening match selections wrong.

Tahir turns tide with awesome spell

Australia did not plump for the highly-anticipated 'Big Four' all-out pace quartet of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and James Pattinson in their tournament opener against New Zealand.

And tournament hosts England caused a stir when they dropped their leading ODI wicket-taker since the 2015 World Cup, the leg-spinner Adil Rashid, in favour of seamer Jake Ball for their match against Bangladesh.

Quick Single: Ex-players question Rashid omission

South Africa bucked that trend against Sri Lanka with Tahir. The world's No.2 ranked ODI bowler is a fixture in the South Africa ODI XI and took his place after recovering from a hamstring injury picked up running drinks as 12th man.

He duly rewarded the Proteas with a stunning spell of bowling that saw him claim 4-27 as well as a direct hit run out.

ABdV magic in the field puts spell on Sri Lanka

Although England secured the win and the Australia-New Zealand match was a washout, McCullum said both sides missed a trick that could hurt them if they persist with pace in the later stages.

The former Kiwi captain said the lack of assistance the tournament surfaces had offered to pace bowlers meant spin would be ever more important.

"To me the most noticeable thing so far is the wickets are outstanding for batting," McCullum said on commentary during the South Africa-Sri Lanka match.

"The first thing you look at is the balance of your team in my opinion. And I truly think when the wickets are so good for batting, you probably don’t need as much batting resource.

"So far we've seen two teams leave out wicket-taking spinners. I'd like to see the introduction of those wicket-taking spinners, maybe look to drop a batsman or a fast bowling allrounder and try and bring that wicket-taking option into play."

Travis Head bowled four overs of off-spin for Australia, with the other 41 in New Zealand's innings supplied by pace. His overs cost a tidy 22 runs, as captain Steve Smith again opted not to use Glenn Maxwell.

The Aussie allrounder remains willing and ready to bowl should he be called upon, while former Australia batsman Mike Hussey has called for an unchanged XI in Monday's match against Bangladesh.

Champions Trophy 2017 Guide

Squads: Every Champions Trophy nation


1 JuneEngland beat Bangladesh by eight wickets

2 JuneNew Zealand v Australia, No Result

3 JuneSri Lanka lost to South Africa by 96 runs

4 JuneIndia v Pakistan, Edgbaston (D)

5 JuneAustralia v Bangladesh, The Oval (D/N)

6 JuneEngland v New Zealand, Cardiff (D)

7 JunePakistan v South Africa, Edgbaston (D/N)

8 JuneIndia v Sri Lanka, The Oval (D)

9 JuneNew Zealand v Bangladesh, Cardiff (D)

10 JuneEngland v Australia, Edgbaston (D)

11 JuneIndia v South Africa, The Oval (D)

12 JuneSri Lanka v Pakistan, Cardiff (D)

14 JuneFirst semi-final (A1 v B2), Cardiff (D)

15 JuneSecond semi-final (A2 v B1), Edgbaston (D)

18 JuneFinal, The Oval (D)

19 June – Reserve day (D)

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