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Black Caps building for the Cricket World Cup

Brendon McCullum, a leader. (AFP PHOTO / MARTY MELVILLE)
Roar Pro
24th December, 2014
11

For most long-suffering Black Caps supporters the only consistent part of the team has been their inconsistency.

With the World Cup just around the corner, however, the team is starting to form into a competitive and well-balanced unit. Their 3-2 series victory over an equally impressive Pakistan team has only helped heighten expectations.

The key for the Black Caps has been depth in the batting and bowling, something that hasn’t always been there. As a result the challenge for the selectors is unusual in that they only have 15 spots to fill, which means at least two or three players will be very unlucky to miss out.

In terms of the team and in particular the batting, the Black Caps have some truly world-class players.

With Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor ranked ninth and 11th respectively and Brendan McCullum who could be opening or batting at five, they have a very solid batting order. The biggest issue is outside these three, with Martin Guptill very inconsistent and Corey Anderson and Jimmy Neesham having lost their form.

Importantly, the lower order can also be expected to contribute, with Luke Ronchi, Daniel Vettori and Nathan McCullum well known for closing out an innings.

The challenge for the selectors over the upcoming series against Sri Lanka is to settle on an opening batsman to join Guptill, either Brendan McCullum or one of Anton Devicich or Dean Brownlie. If McCullum goes to the top of the order they need to ensure the balance of the team isn’t adversely affected. As it stands now it looks like McCullum will open and Tom Latham will bat in the middle order.

On the bowling front the challenge is to select between Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne, Matt Henry and Kyle Mills. With Tim Southee and Trent Boult assured of selection – despite Boult only having played 10 ODI games – the next few games will decide who will miss out.

On balance it could be expected that three will be selected and each has pros and cons.

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McClenaghan takes wickets but is expensive, Milne is fast but can go for plenty, Henry is promising but is inexperienced at the highest level, and Mills is consistent and proven, but he is turning 36 during the tournament and has struggled with injury.

In the most recent tour, Henry was probably the most impressive, collecting his first five-wicket bag and has just made the decision harder for selectors. The other aspect is that none of the four adds much with the bat, which can be important in a tight game, particularly with not wanting to have too long a tail.

The World Cup 15-man squad is scheduled to be announced in early January, so very little can be done between now and then, but it should be a highly competitive team.