Cricket World Cup 2019: Analyzing New Zealand's squad
- Kane Williamson will lead an experienced team in the hopes of winning a maiden World Cup
The Black Caps announced their 15 players for the 2019 Cricket World Cup, as follows:
Kane Williamson (capt), Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), Colin Munro, Tom Blundell (wk), Jimmy Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, and Trent Boult.
It is an experienced squad, with Ross Taylor slated to appear at his fourth World Cup, Kane Williamson, Martin Guptill, and Tim Southee appearing at their third, and Trent Boult and Tom Latham appearing at their second.
Tom Blundell is selected as the backup wicketkeeper to Latham, with Tim Seifert ruled out of consideration due to injury. Blundell is also the only uncapped player in the squad and is only in line to play should something happen to Latham.
Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls are the designating opening batsmen for New Zealand, with Guptill finding form during the Bangladesh ODI series with two centuries and Nicholls scoring his maiden ODI century against Sri Lanka earlier in the season.
Colin Munro was initially promoted to open alongside Guptill in the hope that he would provide an explosive start to the innings in the vein of former captain Brendon McCullum, but inconsistent performances have forced him to cede his spot to Nicholls. He travels with the team as the designated backup batsman and offers a bowling option with his medium pace.
Ross Taylor is currently in what can be described as the form of his life, averaging 63.47 in the last five years and recently overtaking Stephen Fleming to become New Zealand's all-time leading run-scorer in ODI cricket. His runs will prove crucial in the middle order alongside those of Williamson, with Latham, Neesham and de Grandhomme largely untested in pressure situations.
Jimmy Neesham is the main batting allrounder, having impressed during the Sri Lanka ODI series. Mitchell Santner, having successfully recovered from knee surgery, is the lead spinner and will be ably supported by wrist spinner Ish Sodhi.
The pace bowling attack is led by Trent Boult, with support from Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, and Tim Southee. Southee appears to be the one to miss out from the playing XI, having been in poor form since the last World Cup but offers plenty in experience and leadership (though not officially designated, he has often stood in as captain whenever Williamson missed out). Lockie Ferguson appears to be the wild card, offering high pace and control during the death overs.
New Zealand's biggest concerns would be the dependence on Williamson and Taylor to provide the bulk of the runs, something they will look to avoid with Guptill and Nicholls at the top of the order.
A weakness against spin in the middle overs was ruthlessly seized upon by India's wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, but Latham's presence in the middle order and capability to bat against spin offsets that. A lack of swinging conditions may affect New Zealand's bowling, but the pace of Henry and Ferguson and the control of Santner ensure that opposing teams are often batting against wicket-taking options.
Predicted finish: Semi-finals at least.