ICC Cricket World Cup - New Zealand SWOT Analysis - Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat
Over the years, New Zealand have been the most understated team at almost every ICC event.
Not many would remember but they are the joint highest team to have played the most number of semi-finals. The team has been a part of seven semi-finals which is the same as three-time World Cup winners Australia.
Under the leadership of Brendon McCullum, the Kiwis ended as the runners up in the 2015 World Cup and raise the bar each time in ICC events. Apart from Kane Williamson taking over the reins of captaincy from Brendon McCullum, the core of the team from 2015 is pretty much intact.
Kane Williamson's style of captaincy might be very different from his predecessor McCullum but he has been successful in carrying forward the good work done by McCullum.
Williamson is undoubtedly one of the best batsmen in the world and has been performing consistently over the years. He provides New Zealand's middle order with solidity and is the the glue which binds the team.
However, if there is one player which has beaten Williamson in terms of consistency over the last couple of years, it is teammate Ross Taylor. Taylor has gone to another level in the last three years and boasts of an average of 60.50, 91.29 and 74.13 in 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively, slamming five tons and 15 half-centuries in this period. This will probably be the last World Cup for Taylor and he would keep no stone unturned in coming up with his 'A' game.
Despite a string of low scores, the selectors have entrusted their faith in Colin Munro. As things stand, Munro is not expected to be a part of the first XI and Henry Nicholls is likely to open the batting along with Martin Guptill.
However, if either of these falls out of form or is injured, Munro will take his place at the top of the order. It can be a struggle for the team in that case as the left-hander has been awfully out of touch and has hardly been able to put together scores in double digits.
Similarly, all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme's form with the bat is a sign of worry for the team. Grandhomme was preferred over Doug Bracewell in the 15-member squad as he has ability to swing the ball first up if the overhead conditions favour and can also contain runs in the middle overs. However, de Grandhomme has played a shot too many in recent times and has paid the price for it. If CDG is part of the playing XI, the team might miss the consistent late impetus that they would require.
Following Tim Seifert's finger injury at the last minute before the squad being announced, Tom Blundell was the wild card entry in the New Zealand World Cup squad. Blundell is a wicketkeeper-batsman who came into national reckoning after making his List A debut back in 2013. The 29-year-old has effected 41 dismissals in his List A career till now. The keeper has represented New Zealand in two Tests and three T20Is but is yet to make his ODI debut.
Having scored 763 runs at an average of 23.81 in the domestic 50-over format, Blundell's numbers do not stand out as striking but the selectors must have seen something in the guy to give him a chance straightaway in the World Cup. It will be a great opportunity for Blundell to grab his opportunity with both hands if and when called upon to do so.
With left-arm swing bowler Trent Boult already in good rhythm, Lockie Ferguson adds another dimension to the New Zealand bowling line up with his genuine pace. Ferguson has grown as a player in the last year and has acquired the ability to bowl an array of bouncers and yorkers consistently. If he can sustain his fitness and pace through the tournament, he would be a great wicket-taking option for the Kiwis.
New Zealand had been going well in the ODIs but lost momentum at a very crucial stage, losing their home series 1-4 to India. Although they bounced back in the T20Is, their ODI pasting would have made a big dent on their confidence.
What will be in New Zealand's favour though is that their first three matches will be against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and the Kiwis would get a chance to ease their way into the tournament.
Squad: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor
© Cricket World