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Uncapped Blundell Only Surprise as New Zealand Name Experienced World Cup Squad

Cricketnext Staff |April 3, 2019, 12:29 PM IST
Uncapped Blundell Only Surprise as New Zealand Name Experienced World Cup Squad

New Zealand opted for experience in a 15-man squad named Wednesday for this year's cricket World Cup, with rookie Tom Blundell's inclusion as back-up wicketkeeper the only real surprise.

The Blacks Caps hope to shed their tag as valiant losers and claim the title after exiting in the semi-finals six times and suffering a heavy defeat to Australia in their only appearance in the final four years ago.

Coach Gary Stead said the Kane Williamson-led Black Caps had repeatedly proved itself at the top level and he was confident the consistency would shine through at the tournament in England and Wales.

"We've got a squad here of 15 players that we think can give us a really, really good chance of going far into the tournament," he said.

"If we play close to our potential, then hopefully we can do New Zealand proud."

Cricket World Cup/Twitter Cricket World Cup/Twitter

Wellington keeper Blundell was selected after Tim Siefert, the regular back-up to first-choice gloveman Tom Latham, broke his finger in a domestic match last month.

While Blundell, who has two Test caps, will likely make his one-day international debut at the tournament, his role will be marginal if Latham stays fit.

Mitchell Santner will be the New Zealander's primary spinner, with Ish Sodhi edging Todd Astle to claim the second slow bowling position.

The pace attack comprises Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry, while Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme add all-round options.

Henry Nicholls is set to open the batting with veteran Martin Guptill after displacing Colin Munro at the top of the order, although Munro will make the trip as batting cover.

Williamson and Ross Taylor, in his fourth World Cup campaign, complete a battle-hardened batting line up.

Williamson, Taylor and Guptill have collectively amassed 526 ODI appearances between them.

Guptill and Taylor have not confirmed their post-tournament plans but will most likely be looking to exit cricket's biggest stage on a high.

The Black Caps will open their campaign against Sri Lanka in Cardiff on June 1.

Squad announced with a difference

Black Caps/Twitter Black Caps/Twitter

The squad was not announced via a press conference or a press release, as is usually the case across the sport. New Zealand Cricket added a human touch to the announcement, naming the squad at the Tai Tapu School in Christchurch, the alma mater of Henry Nicholls.

Nicholls is set to make his World Cup debut, and was present at the special 'assembly' along with Matt Henry, Tom Latham and Ross Taylor. School children welcomed them with a special 'Haka', before the squad was announced.

"I haven't been here for 15 years and it is pretty cool that today is the day I do return. It's great to see some of my old teachers here. They had a big influence on not only my cricket career but also on me as a person. I'm really proud," said Nicholls.

Ross Taylor said he was looking forward to playing his fourth World Cup.

"It is a pretty exciting time to be going to my fourth [World Cup] and going to Henry's [Nicholls] first," he said. "Just goes to show what could happen with a bit of hard work and determination. Exciting times for the whole team and also the country. Couldn't think of a better place to come to a nice country school here.

"Coming from a small country school, you do get opportunities, but at the same time you have to step up. If you come from a small place, you can succeed like myself and Henry and the other boys, that you can achieve what you want regardless of where you come from."

Squad: Kane Williamson (capt), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor

(With inputs from AFP)

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2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3663 105
5 Australia 2640 98
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2 India 5990 122
3 New Zealand 4121 114
4 South Africa 4647 111
5 Australia 4805 109
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2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 Australia 5471 261
5 India 7273 260
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