New Zealand Cricket: Black Caps' 2011 Cricket World Cup Preview
With the 2011 Cricket World Cup looming, the Black Caps have just lost their last series 3-2 against Pakistan on home soil.
They were hoping to end the Pakistan series with no players under injury clouds, but with niggles to Jacob Oram, Jesse Ryder and Daniel Vettori, they'll be resting up for a few days before they fly out on Tuesday for the World Cup.
Black Caps' World Cup Squad
The 15-man squad has brought some surprises.
Daniel Vettori (Captain)
Hamish Bennett, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Jamie How, Brendon McCullum, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Jacob Oram, Jesse Ryder, Tim Southee, Scott Styris, Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson, Luke Woodcock
The inclusion of Jamie How as the back-up wicket keeper to Brendon McCullum has surprised most, if not all New Zealanders, as no one has heard How being associated with wicket keeping. Peter McGlashan would have been a better option.
Jacob Oram was also a surprise inclusion, as he has only played a few games in the past few months and he is in bad form with the bat.
Even though How and Oram both have experience, they haven't been impressive amongst the national side in the past couple of years.
Luke Woodcock is the third spinner behind Vettori and N. McCullum. He made his debut during the series against Pakistan, and has only played two ODIs. I thought Jeetan Petal might have been a better choice as the third spinner as he has experience, even though he hasn't been in too good of form as of late.
The Black Caps' bowling attack has never looked as strong since Shane Bond retired. They lack the ultimate pace bowler opening the bowling.
Vettori and Nathan McCullum are sure certainties as the spinners in the side, whilst Luke Woodcock will be picked on a game by game basis, depending on the conditions of the pitch.
Tim Southee's form with the ball has been good as a right arm medium fast bowler. He would surely be a certainty in the playing 11, especially because he can be handy with the bat, scoring runs quickly down the order.
Kyle Mill and Hamish Bennett will be two players that will be assessed on a game by game basis to see who the conditions suit most.
Jimmy Franklin and Scott Styris will chip in with the ball as well being handy all-rounders in the team, having good records for New Zealand.
Batting Order Finally Sorted
The batting order has always been a problem with the openers always getting out with not many runs on the board, leaving the middle order to get the runs.
However, as of last Saturday winning by 53 runs against Pakistan in their last ODI and a century to Jesse Ryder seems to have put the rotation policy to bed.
The order seems to be sorted with Brendan McCullum and Guptill opening up the innings, Ryder in at three and Taylor coming in at four.
If NZ want to make big scores during the tournament, at least one of the above will need to make a big score.
How and Oram don't really need to be in the line-up if Styris, Franklin and the in-form Nathan McCullum are in the starting 11, unless there is an injury.
2011 Cricket World Cup Matches
The Black Caps play warm-up matches against Ireland and India. Winning against India would be a major boost going into the World Cup, if they were to beat them on home soil.
Their proper matches of the tournament in Group A are against Kenya, Zimbabwe and Canada which they should win fairly comfortably, but there are such things as major upsets in big tournaments. Also in Group A, the Black Caps have challenging games against Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, who they always seem to have trouble against.
Hopefully they can carry on their form into the World Cup the way they finished their last ODI against Pakistan.