ICC World Cup team profile: Kane’s return a big plus for New Zealand

The loss by ‘barest of margins’ in 2019 final must be still rankling the Black Caps

Kane Williamson (photo: Getty Images)
Kane Williamson (photo: Getty Images)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

The heartbreak of the 2019 World Cup final must have rankled them for long, but New Zealand will once again try to get rid of their nearly men’s tag in the upcoming edition. And you can only write off Kane Williamson’s men at your own peril. 

A look at their record in white ball cricket will underline their consistency with New Zealand having made the semi-finals six times and back-to-back finals in the last two editions – having lost both of them. The last one to England, by the ‘barest of margins’ of boundary count, must have been shattering but then the Kiwis took it on their chin with dignity. Their only major success in a major white ball ICC championship was when they won the erstwhile Mini World Cup in 2000.   

The news of their talismanic captain Kane Williamson being cleared for the World Cup after the serious knee injury must have been music to the ears of head coach Gary Stead. The importance of having Williamson in what would be his fourth World Cup (along with senior paceman Tim Southee) need not be over-emphasised, despite the fact that he has last played a one-dayer in January and any competitive cricket in the IPL in April. 

‘’In professional sport, you are not the only person who gets injured. I had a good time in England while recovering from the injury and rehab and look forward to joining the squad,’’ said Williamson, who was the Player of the Tournament in the last World Cup with 578 runs. The Kiwis will get a feel of the conditions when they take on Pakistan in the first round of warm-up matches in Hyderabad on Friday. 

There is also a finger injury worry about Southee,  who will be missing Friday’s closed door game but is expected to join the squad on Saturday. There are at least nine players in the current crop of Kiwis who have a great deal of experience of the Indian conditions thanks to the IPL, something which will come handy over the next eight weeks. 

Williamson will be supported by his deputy Tom Latham along with Devon Conway, Glenn Phillips, Will Young, Daryl Mitchell, and Mark Chapman. Latham, Conway, and Phillips all keep wickets and will add balance to the side. 

The pace attack of Boult, Southee, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson  looks formidable even in the absence of Adam Milne, who is suffering from a hamstring injury. Allrounders include seamer Jimmy Neesham and spinners Mitchell Santner and Rachin Ravindra. Mitchell and Chapman can also fill in. Santner is expected to lead the spin attack along with Ish Sodhi 

Incidentally, Boult has forfeited the central contract, something which indicates his plans to focus on franchise cricket in near future. However, the board has decided to fall back on the left-arm pace spearhead’s skillsets and experience for a demanding campaign as this.    

New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Latham (vc & wk), Devon Conway (wk), Glenn Phillips (wk), Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Mitchell Santner, Jimmy Neesham, Daryl Mitchell, Will Young, Mark Chapman, Rachin Ravindra, Lockie Ferguson, Ish Sodhi, Matt Henry. 

Best performance: Runners-up: 2015, 2019

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Published: 28 Sep 2023, 1:30 PM