Boult and Taylor lead New Zealand Cricket World Cup hopes
Runners-up four years ago, New Zealand return to the Cricket World Cup as the fourth best team in the world according to the ICC ODI Rankings.
They have certainly enjoyed some impressive results in the intervening period, but defeats to India and England highlight the difference between themselves and the top teams.
Led by fit-again Kane Williamson, the Black Caps’ squad is coming of age with the likes of Martin Guptill, Colin Munro and Trent Boult boasting stacks of experience.
The first team to name their World Cup squad, other notable players include Ross Taylor – whose recent form with the bat has propelled him to third in the ICC ODI Rankings.
It means Taylor is the leading non-Indian batsman in ODI cricket at present, while Boult is second in the bowling rankings behind Jasprit Bumrah.
On their day, they are capable of big results but consistently producing has always been their issue. Take the ICC Champions Trophy two years ago, for example, when New Zealand crashed out without winning a game.
It was, admittedly, a rare blip – only India and England have beaten the Black Caps in series since. Indeed, the combined force of Pakistan, the Champions Trophy winners, West Indies, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have won just one of New Zealand’s other 16 ODIs since then.
This is a team very capable of reaching the semi-finals on their day, but they will need their key players firing consistently in order to get there.
Key player: Ross Taylor
Aged 35, Ross Taylor is arguably in the best form of his cricketing career. His last innings for New Zealand was a double-century in the Hamilton test against Bangladesh; in ODIs, he is third in the world rankings.
Since the start of 2018, Taylor has scored eight 50s and three centuries in 21 ODI innings. That includes his highest ODI score of 181* against England, as well as his 137 against Sri Lanka – his 20th ODI hundred.
Taylor has been New Zealand’s top run scorer in four of their six ODI series since the start of last year and has backed himself to add to his 20 tons.
Given the potential for fireworks at the top of the New Zealand order, and with Kane Williamson at three, it is a dispiriting sight for opposition teams to then see Taylor walking to the middle.
Quick between the wickets, fluent with bat in hand – and capable of scoring all around the wicket – Taylor is one of the finest batsmen of his generation.
He sometimes slips under the radar in an era of big-hitting global superstars, but there will be nobody under-estimating the Kiwis’ all-time top ODI run scorer at the World Cup.
Others to watch
Four years ago, in Wellington, Martin Guptill lit up the hosts’ World Cup quarter-final with the West Indies by smashing 24 fours and 11 sixes on his way to 237 not out.
And, if his back-to-back centuries in the series win against Bangladesh are anything to go by, he has returned to top form just in time for this year’s tournament.
He endured a frustrating stint at the IPL – only playing Sunrisers Hyderabad’s final three games – but his explosive ability at the top of the order is not in doubt.
Guptill goes into the World Cup with 16 ODI hundreds to his name and 34 half-centuries in the format, helping him to 6,440 runs and an average of 43.51.
The 32-year-old has never really lived up to expectations in test cricket, but his white-ball hitting remains some of the best in the world.
Joint leading wicket-taker at the last World Cup, Trent Boult has gone from strength to strength since and sits second in the ODI bowling rankings.
Still not quite 30, Boult has taken 147 wickets in 79 one-day internationals, including five five-wicket hauls.
One of his more recent bowling masterclasses saw him lead the way as New Zealand bowled India out for 92 – the only game of the five-match series the Kiwis won.
On average, Boult takes four or more wickets in an ODI innings once every eight matches – so the stats suggest we can look forward to at least one more in the group stage.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson is back from injury and ready to lead his team into the Cricket World Cup.
The best measure of Williamson’s ability – as a captain and as a batsman – was arguably last year’s Indian Premier League, where he led Sunrisers Hyderabad after David Warner’s ban.
Williamson won the orange cap as top run-scorer in the tournament, and helped Sunrisers to the final. His classy strokeplay is a reminder one-day cricket is not just about the big shots.
A natural leader, the 28-year-old scored his 37th ODI half-century in the series win against Bangladesh – and, post-injury, was back to his best towards the end of this year’s IPL too
New Zealand squad for ICC Cricket World Cup 2019
|Kane Williamson (c)||28||Batsman|
|Tim Southee||30||Bowler (RMF)|
|Trent Boult||29||Bowler (LFM)|
|Colin de Grandhomme||32||All-rounder (RFM)|
|Lockie Ferguson||27||Bowler (RF)|
|Matt Henry||27||Bowler (RFM)|
|James Neesham||28||All-rounder (RM)|
|Mitchell Santner||27||All-rounder (SLA)|
|Ish Sodhi||26||Bowler (LS)|
June 13 – New Zealand vs India (Trent Bridge, Nottingham)
While it would be unfair to their opponents to suggest New Zealand have an easy start to the World Cup, they do play three of the four lowest-ranked teams in their opening fixtures.
If they come through those with three wins, therefore, the match against India at Trent Bridge will be a key one – New Zealand’s first fixture against a fellow top-four nation.
A win in that game, and the Black Caps could be well on course for a semi-final place.
New Zealand Cricket World Cup 2019 fixtures
|June 1||Sri Lanka||Sophia Gardens, Cardiff|
|June 5 (D/N)||Bangladesh||The Oval, London|
|June 8 (D/N)||Afghanistan||County Ground, Taunton|
|June 13||India||Trent Bridge, Nottingham|
|June 19||South Africa||Edgbaston, Birmingham|
|June 22 (D/N)||West Indies||Old Trafford, Manchester|
|June 26||Pakistan||Edgbaston, Birmingham|
|June 29 (D/N)||Australia||Lords, London|
|July 3||England||Riverside, Chester-le-Street|
Happy to avoid
Only one of the teams not going to the World Cup has beaten New Zealand, with Zimbabwe’s most recent victory against them coming right at the start of this four-year cycle.
Fresh from reaching the World Cup final and beating England in their next away series, New Zealand were brought back down to earth with a bump when Craig Ervine smashed an unbeaten 140 in Harare.
New Zealand had posted 303/4 but lost by seven wickets – though, in fairness, it was to prove their only defeat of the tour as they hit back to win the series 2-1.
New Zealand sit fourth in the ICC ODI Rankings and are in generally good form ahead of the World Cup – whitewashes of West Indies, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in recent series point to that.
In between the latter two, however, New Zealand were beaten heavily by India – bowled out cheaply in four of their five matches despite Ross Taylor’s good form. They did have one moment of joy, though – Trent Boult taking 5-21 as they bowled India out for 92 in the fourth ODI and won inside 15 overs.
They geared up for the World Cup with a series of fixtures against their Antipodean neighbours, winning one and losing two against Australia.
Sat fourth in the world rankings, New Zealand should be targeting a semi-final place. To pip the likes of Australia to the last four, however, they need more consistency – and a couple of big results to go their way.
Kane Williamson’s side might otherwise just miss out.