Five Reasons Why New Zealand Can Win The World Cup
Plenty of teams are in contention to win next year's Cricket World Cup, and here Bimal Mirwani gives his view on why New Zealand should definitely be in the running.
Dale Steyn says they are 'dark horses' but if it all comes together, could this be the year that New Zealand finally shed that tag of being perennial semi-finalists?
1. Tim Southee and Trent Boult
Tim Southee and Trent Boult have become quite the lethal pair as of late. This was the case when they were representing the Northern Knights in the recent Champions League Twenty20 in India. Southee and Boult almost seemed like two high school bullies, whereby none of the batsmen were able to stand up to them and face the swing and bouncer barrage that came their way.
Southee and Boult actually looked very comfortable throughout their time in the tournament, which came as quite a shock to many people since India is renowned for its spin-friendly pitches. However, the scary part about that is if Southee and Boult have the ability to drastically swing the ball on spin-friendly pitches, then what are they capable of when playing in New Zealand and Australia, where the pitches are much more pace-friendly?
Furthermore, it helps that Southee bowls right-handed and Boult left-handed since batsmen will constantly be under pressure due to the left-hand right-hand combination. If Southee and Boult make a habit of striking early and regularly during the World Cup, they will prove to be quite a formidable combination for New Zealand.
2. Jesse Ryder
Jesse Ryder has undergone quite a spectacular transformation over the past few months as he has gone from being an aggressive opening batsman to an all-rounder. This transformation took place during the recently concluded English county season, where he represented Essex.
During his time with Essex, Ryder scored 1,196 runs, which includes two centuries and eight half-centuries, and took 51 wickets, which includes five five-wicket hauls, in all three formats. That, in my opinion, is an incredible record for a man who, only recently, was known as a big-hitting opening batsman.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum has already said that he will not compromise the team dynamic for Ryder. However, McCullum is definitely missing out on a player who has proven that he can be a major asset to the Black Caps with both the bat and ball. Since his time with Essex,
Ryder has also kept out of trouble and seems to be solely focused on reviving his international career. With the 2015 World Cup just over four months away, Ryder needs to start representing New Zealand in the last couple of ODI matches they have left since he can bond with the players and understand how the team has changed during his absence.
Honestly speaking, if New Zealand were to use Ryder wisely during the 2015 World Cup, they will not only have a dangerous batsman, but a deceptive bowler as well. Ryder looks like a man on a mission at the moment and if McCullum plays his cards right, New Zealand's chances of winning their first World Cup will continue to skyrocket.
3. Daniel Vettori
Despite not having played much cricket over the past year or so, veteran all-rounder Daniel Vettori is still a legend in New Zealand. Every Black Cap fan will want to see the left-arm spinner troubling batsmen and making their stay at the crease an absolute nightmare.
Vettori recently played in an ODI against South Africa and gave away 41 runs off 10 overs. Most people would think that this is not good enough from a master of the game. But, what those people don't realise is the fact that Vettori has battled through so many career-threatening injuries, it is a miracle he is still able to play at such a high level.
Vettori himself recently admitted that he was finding it tough to bowl ten overs, but, in my opinion, giving away 41 runs against a South African team that boasts players like Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis is a pretty damn good achievement for someone who has recovered from back and Achilles injuries.
If Vettori can perform like he used to in the past during the World Cup, New Zealand's chances of winning the tournament will definitely increase. Vettori has all the talent in the world and, even though he will be 36 when the World Cup gets underway, it would be a huge mistake for the other nations to underestimate him. In actual fact, Vettori is almost like Sylvester Stallone in the Rocky franchise.
Despite having gone through so much pain and torment over the last year, he has continued to get up time and time again instead of throwing in the towel and hanging up his boots for good.
4. Brendon McCullum
Even though New Zealand lost 2-0 in their recent ODI series against South Africa, there is no denying that captain Brendon McCullum has transformed the Blackcaps into something quite special.
A perfect example of this transformation was seen during their home series against India. During that series, McCullum led by example as he became the first New Zealand cricketer to score a triple-century in Test history.
During that two-Test series, he also scored a double-century as well and subsequently ended up averaging 133.75 by the time the series had finished. While he failed to have the same kind of impact during the five-match ODI series, New Zealand still won 4-0 against the reigning World Cup champions.
If McCullum can lead New Zealand to a convincing 4-0 victory over the current World Cup champions, then the possibilities are endless when it comes to what he can achieve during the upcoming World Cup.
In addition to his superb captaincy, McCullum is also renowned for his fireworks with the bat. While he showcased that during the Test series against India, he has to start having more of an impact and making larger contributions in ODIs. If he starts doing this, New Zealand fans will definitely have a reason to cheer during the World Cup.
5. Home advantage
One other reason why New Zealand can win the 2015 World Cup is simply down to the fact that they will be playing on home soil. Not only will they have the fans in their corner, but they will also be extremely familiar with the weather and pitch conditions at every ground in New Zealand being used during the tournament.
Vettori made an interesting point about the World Cup only being held in New Zealand on one previous occasion, which was in 1992. With the World Cup finally returning to the country after more than 20 years, fans will be eager to see their side lift the coveted trophy.
However, in order for them to do that, New Zealand have to break their habit of getting defeated in the semi-finals. The Black Caps have reached the semi-finals six times, but have failed to go on and play in the final even once. However, with the way they have been playing as of late, there is definitely a chance that their dream of tasting World Cup glory in front of their home fans can become a reality.
Playing on home soil means so much to many of the New Zealand players, but Vettori summed it up the best, saying: "It’s a huge incentive for most of the guys in the team. It’s great for the guys at the start of their careers to play a World Cup in New Zealand. There’s only been one before and the guys remember it from 1992.
"They saw how much it affected the country and how well the team performed at the time. It meant so much to so many people and we’re definitely hoping to replicate that."
© Cricket World 2014