Australia are set for a Twenty20 tour of New Zealand at the same time the Test team is meant to be redeeming itself in South Africa from the ill-fated 2018 series.
Ahhhh New Zealand. Everyone loves them. The nice blokes of world cricket, they always go under the radar in big tournaments and end up overachieving.
Although they haven’t won a trophy to back up their success this century, they’re still a quality one-day outfit and will continue to be a class one day side for years to come.
Opening the batting will be Stephen Fleming and Martin Guptill. Fleming was a class opener for the Blackcaps and a solid captain for New Zealand. Opening the batting most times, he’d give his teams strong starts most times.
His partner in Martin Guptill is New Zealand’s best ODI opener of all time – with an average a shade under 43 and a high strike rate. When on song, Guptill is a tough nut to crack. Played a blinder of an innings in the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup quarter-final, smashing 237 against the West Indies in Wellington.
My accumulator at first drop is none other than Kane Williamson. A world-class batsman, he’s got shots all over the ground and has two shots to the same delivery. Since Brendon McCullum’s retirement in 2016, Williamson has led New Zealand very well. Leading the Blackcaps in the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, Williamson was outstanding with the bat as New Zealand finished runners up in the tournament.
At number four is New Zealand’s best ODI batsman of all time in Ross Taylor. An aggressive player, Taylor is a match-winner teams crave for in their XIs. Quality player against both pace and spin, Ross Taylor has bailed New Zealand out of trouble many times with his match-winning innings. His 181 against England in 2018 at Dunedin remains one of the finest ODI knocks I have seen.
At number five is my keeper and captain in Brendon McCullum. Had it not been for Fleming’s feats at the top of the order, I’d have McCullum opening with Guptill. But he’s still a destructive player who can cause havoc in the middle-order. After a few years of mediocrity, McCullum brought back pride in the Blackcaps jersey with his ultra-aggressive captaincy that would ultimately lead to New Zealand making their first World Cup final.
My number six is the cult hero in Grant Elliott. Debuting in 2008, he scored an impressive century at the SCG in February 2009. Recalled in 2013 after a three-year hiatus, Elliott was a vital cog for New Zealand under Brendon McCullum.
Elliott would find gaps and keep the scoreboard ticking before teeing off in the death overs. And how can I forget that innings against his birth nation in South Africa in the World Cup semi-final? I can still remember hearing Eden Park go nuts on TV after Elliott hit Dale Steyn over midwicket for six to seal New Zealand a spot in the World Cup Final. He bowled handy medium-pace to keep things tight in the middle-overs.
My all-rounder and finisher is Jacob Oram. An underrated all-rounder, Oram played many cameos for New Zealand down the order. His medium-pacers were deadly accurate and won matches for New Zealand with bat and ball – while his hands were pretty safe in the air. I think New Zealand fans nowadays tend to forget his match-winning performance in the 2011 World Cup quarter-finals against South Africa – taking four wickets and two catches as the Blackcaps defended 221.
My frontline spinner is none other than Daniel Vettori. Tidy left-arm orthodox spinners that were deadly accurate. Vettori’s ability to adapt to different surfaces is what stood him apart from other New Zealand spinners – leading him to be New Zealand leading ODI wicket-taker with 305 ODI scalps.
My first new ball bowler is Kyle Mills. The second-highest ODI wicket-taker for New Zealand, Mills was a threat with the new ball. His ability to swing the ball both ways is what made him a successful bowler. Although he didn’t play in any of the games, Mills was an integral part in New Zealand’s ODI fortunes changing under McCullum.
To partner Mills with the new ball is the left-arm swing bowler from Rotorua in Trent Boult. He’s just an aesthetically pleasing bowler to watch. With a bowling average of 25.29 and 164 ODI scalps, Boult played a crucial role in New Zealand’s runs to the 2015 and 2019 World Cup finals.
Although this is about the ODI XI, I can still remember the crowd going wild last year at the MCG when Boult bowled Joe Burns for a duck. A world-class bowler who’ll go down as one of New Zealand’s greats.
At number eleven and first-change bowler is the one and only Shane Bond. To average less than 21 with the ball, bowl express pace and have a low economy is freakish. It’s a massive shame that injuries hampered Bond’s career, but he still did take 147 ODI wickets in 82 games.
In the end, this is how the New Zealand XI shapes up.
1. Stephen Fleming
2. Martin Guptill
3. Kane Williamson
4. Ross Taylor
5. Brendon McCullum (captain and wicketkeeper)
6. Grant Elliott
7. Jacob Oram
8. Daniel Vettori
9. Kyle Mills
10. Trent Boult
11. Shane Bond