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Analysis of the Blackcaps heading into this year's ICC World Cup

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18th February, 2019
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The New Zealand men’s cricket team a.k.a., the Blackcaps, reached the final of the previous edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup.

The Blackcaps have reached the World Cup semi-finals on a record six occasions, yet, they have never won the World Cup.

New Zealand have had the highest run scorers in three World Cups with Glenn Turner in 1975, Martin Crowe in 1992 and Martin Guptill in 2015, all being the leading run scorers for the respective tournaments.

The only major ICC event the Blackcaps have won is the ICC Knockout Trophy in 2000, which was held in Kenya. NZ, largely in part to a magnificent ton from Chris Cairns, won the event, defeating India by four wickets with two balls to spare.

New Zealand’s overall World Cup record includes 48 wins, 30 losses from a total of 79 World Cup games with one game having No Result. The Blackcaps have been knocked out of the World Cup a record six times at the semi-final stages (1975, 1979, 1992, 1999, 2007 and 2011), two times at the group stage (1983 and 1987) and one apiece at the quarter-final (1996) and the Super Six stage (2003).

Under the captaincy of star batsman Kane Williamson, New Zealand will be one of the main competitors at the event. Currently, the Blackcaps are ranked third in current the ICC ODI rankings, behind World Cup favourites, hosts, England and cricketing powerhouse, India.

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For the current World Cup, they have a new coach, with former Canterbury coach, Gary Stead, who took over from Mike Hesson last year. The Blackcaps campaign begins on the third of June, 2019, when they take on Sri Lanka at the Sophia Gardens.

Since the last World Cup, New Zealand has played 82 ODIs, winning 48, losing 31 and three No Results. Out of the matches played since the 2015 World Cup, New Zealand has won 36 matches at home and only ten away with two being at neutral venues.

The away record of the Blackcaps has been a bit suspect with the Blackcaps only winning ten games and losing 16 games away from home. Also, the Blackcaps have only won two ODI series away from home since the last World Cup, which is a bit of a concern, considering this year’s World Cup will be held in England and Wales.

Corey Anderson New Zealand cricket

New Zealand’s Corey Anderson bats against India. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)

The 15-man squad for the World Cup campaign will be announced right after the current ODI series vs Bangladesh. Certain players are lock-ins, barring injuries for the major showpiece, including, Kane Williamson, Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, and Trent Boult.

The two positions that may be a bit of a concern for the Blackcaps heading into the World Cup are the wicket-keeping position and who will open the batting with Martin Guptill.

The other opening slot is not 100 per cent certain with the flamboyant, Colin Munro, failing to rack up consistent scores. Young Canterbury Wizards batsman and rising star, Henry Nicholls is one option for the opening slot, along with Tim Seifert or even Tom Latham.

There are discussions surrounding a selection of a possible young ‘bolter’ for the World Cup, in the form of Central Districts right-hand batsman, Will Young, being selected for the major showpiece.

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Will Young has been touted by many former Blackcaps as a future Blackcap. The wicket-keeping position is also a major concern for the Blackcaps with Tom Latham, Tim Seifert, Glenn Phillips and possibly, though highly unlikely, Henry Nicholls the possible options for the Blackcaps.

Here is look at who the key batsman and bowlers will be for the Blackcaps at the World Cup this year and also, who are the two players to keep an eye on.

Key batsmen
Ross Taylor
: One of New Zealand’s greatest batsman, Ross Taylor has been one of the major performers in the ODI format for the Blackcaps since the last World Cup.

He is currently ranked third in the ICC ODI batting rankings, Taylor is only behind Indian superstars Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma in terms of batting averages since the 2015 World Cup.

He has the most 100s for New Zealand in the country’s ODI history with 20 tons and has 46 half centuries. New Zealand has won 13 of the 20 matches where Ross Taylor has scored an ODI ton. Taylor also has scored the most runs for a batsman batting at no.4 in ODI history.

He has played at three previous World Cups and starred in NZ’s 2011 World Cup campaign, with 324 runs to his name. He will look to improve on his previous World Cup performance, where Taylor struggled to get past 50.

Taylor, who is 34 years of age, could potentially be playing his last World Cup. He would want to go out a winner. As of this moment, Taylor is just 51 runs behind Stephen Fleming on NZ’s all-time highest ODI run-scorers list.

Ross Taylor of New Zealand plays a shot

Ross Taylor and New Zealand. (Photo by Kerry Marshall/Getty Images)

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Kane Williamson
One of the top batsmen in the world in all formats, and considered by many to be the nation’s greatest in the near future, Williamson has evolved immensely since debuting against India in 2010.

In recent times, his form has been a bit shaky, but the star batsman from Tauranga averages 45.36 with 11 tons and 37 half centuries. Williamson will play a big role in the team’s performance, with the tactics and the batting.

He is also a useful part-time off-spinner with of 4/22. From the 11 tons that he has scored until date, Williamson has scored seven of them away from home. Also, New Zealand has won seven times when Williamson has scored a ton and lost His current ranking is 11.

Martin Guptill
Statistically speaking, Martin Guptill has one of the best ODI records as an opener in recent times. until date, Guptill has scored 16 ODI centuries and New Zealand has won 81 per cent of the matches where Guptill has scored a ton. They have lost only once when Guptill has scored a ton. He averages 43.10 in ODIs and has 35 half centuries. His current ODI ranking is 19 with 683 points (as of 16th February 2019).

Martin Guptill

New Zealand’s Martin Guptill (Ross Setford/SNPA via AP)

Key bowlers
Trent Boult

Equal leading wicket-taker in the last World Cup with, the man of the tournament, Mitchell Starc, Trent Boult is the main weapon for the Blackcaps bowling department heading into the World Cup. He is currently ranked third in the ICC ODI bowling rankings with 732 points.

He has 144 wickets from 77 matches at an average of 24.64 with five wicket-hauls to his name. Boult will be looking to replicate similar form to what he displayed in the 2015 World Cup.

Tim Southee
Southee, despite being out of form since the last World Cup, would be a key figure for the Blackcaps World Cup aspirations. In English conditions, where conditions and pitches do traditionally suit swing bowlers like Tim Southee.

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He has the second best bowling figures in World Cup history with an amazing 7/33 against England at Wellington in the 2015 World Cup. His World Cup record is impressive. In the 2011 World Cup, Southee picked up 18 wickets at an impressive average of 17.33.

Matt Henry
The Canterburian paceman has a good ODI record. His stats read, 42 matches, 77 wickets at an average of 26.16. Henry has experience in English conditions playing for Kent in the County season.

He will be vying for a starting place in the ODI team with Trent Boult, Tim Southee, and Lockie Ferguson.

Players to watch out for
Jimmy Neesham

Jimmy Neesham is a player with serious potential. Over the years, he has dealt with numerous injuries as well as form issues. Neesham has been in and out of the Blackcaps squad since making his debut back in 2013 against South Africa.

The 28-year-old has found some form in the domestic circuit, which has ultimately helped him in getting back in the New Zealand ODI squad. The move to the Wellington Firebirds from the Otago Volts has done wonders for Neesham.

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He recently hit 34 runs off a Thisara Perera over in an ODI. Ever since his return early this year, Neesham has played seven games, scoring 167 runs, with an average of 83.50 and a high score of 64 at a strike rate well over 100. Neesham’s bowling stats are equally as impressive, with Neesham picking up ten wickets in seven games at a bowling average of 20.50.

Lockie Ferguson
The express pace bowler from Auckland is one bowler to look out for. He can bowl at 150 km/h when he is in full flow. With express pace comes an ever-improving record. So far, Ferguson has played 26 ODIs, picking up 46 wickets at an average of 27.39.

According to Stats Guru, Ferguson picked up 25 wickets at an average of 20.48 in ten ODIs with a strike rate of 22.80 for the 2018/2019 season. With stats like that, the Auckland speedster is one player to keep an eye on.

New Zealand seems to have most departments covered and are capable of winning the coveted trophy. The question for every Blackcap supporter is, can they win the World Cup this time around? Only time will tell.