It shows clarity in the thought process of the Kiwis, who have also shown continuity by picking seven players from the team that represented them in the 2015 edition.
“One of the strengths of New Zealand cricket is continuity. We have take hat off to the players themselves. We had a large core who have been performing consistently. Our key bowlers have stayed pretty healthy. Consistency, maturity and the group getting to know each other and their roles has been very important,” former New Zealand all-rounder Dion Nash told CricketNext on Wednesday.
“Coming into a tournament like this, those things can make a good squad. You don’t need worry about opposition or the conditions if you have a settled and a well-balanced squad,” he added.
Most of the 15-member squad picked themselves apart from young wicketkeeper batsman Tom Blundell. There was also debate over the two spinners Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi.
“I think it is a pretty song squad. I don’t think there were any bolters or major surprises. I like the bowling line-up in particular keeping UK in mind,” Nash felt.
There was a battle in the mind of Kiwi selectors Gary Stead and Gavin Larsen on their choice of leg-spinners Sodhi and Todd Astle, with the latter missing out.
“Sodhi has had a few good games, he’s not as consistent as we would all like him to be but he is still the more experienced of the two. Santner is good all-round cricketer but the selectors are thinking that the pace attack could be the team’s mainstay, depending on the conditions. In T20 cricket, spin bowlers have a bigger say but in 50-over games, batsmen have little bit longer and they can play spin on its merits,” the 47-year-old from Auckland said.
Asked why New Zealand have decided to announce their squad so early, Nash said, “I guess the only thing I can think of is that there is no benefit in waiting. The summer’s cricket has already come to an end in New Zealand and there’s more cricket to influence selection. Some are playing overseas and IPL and I don’t think they would be taking that into consideration. It’s important to keep the group together, knowing who they are and start focusing on the World Cup.”
Nash, who turned out in 32 Tests and 81 ODIs for New Zealand in a career spanning a decade between 1992 and 2002, didn’t feel the selection of Blundell is a surprise considering the fact that he is a genuine wicketkeeper.
“Blundell is more of a wicketkeeper first and foremost. He can hit the ball well but being wicketkeeper is important because selectors feel there might be some catches behind the wicket and it’s important to have a good back-up keeper,” Nash said.
“The interesting thing for us will be who will open the batting. (Colin) Munro is under a little bit of pressure and don’t think his batting is suited to the UK conditions. So he might be moving around a little bit, although if he gets going he is very dangerous. For us more than the 15, the playing XI will be interesting, bringing balance of who plays where,” Nash said suggesting that Henry Nicholls might be partnering Martin Guptill at the top in place of Munro.
Nash, who represented New Zealand in two World Cups in 1996 and 1999 while making the semis of the latter, felt the key to success in the World Cup is having ‘belief’.
“The first key is to have the belief that you can win, as a group it has to be very real. You got to be on a mission to win it. In the two World Cups I have been involved in, if we had gone to the second one (1999 World Cup) a year later, as a group we would have been in a great position to have pushed on and been in the final.
“It was a year early in the squad’s development and we didn’t quite have the belief but still managed to reach the semifinal, losing in the match to Pakistan. Again we never really pushed them and actually we could have. Timing is as important as belief,” the former New Zealand captain said.
“Second part is getting into a bit of rhythm and flow. It can come from one win against a key nation like to us in 1999 it came after we beat Australia in Cardiff. We told ourselves that we can go all the way if we can beat Australia. Getting on a roll early is important,” he added.
Finally, asked about his favourites for the World Cup title, Nash said, “England at home are always tough, Australia have a point to prove, can’t count them out. India and New Zealand are strong, but Pakistan and West Indies could upset a lot of teams. I have never seen a World Cup in recent memory where I genuinely think that five or six teams can win it. It will all get down to which team will head down to the World Cup with the right mental attitude to win."
First Published: April 3, 2019, 12:25 PM IST