Cricket World Cup Diary Day 9
Best > Rest
I was very pleased and relieved to wake up this morning and watch Gary Stead’s press conference and hear him say they expect their players, if fit, to play every match at the Cricket World Cup. Essentially, this means they don’t want to rest and rotate in and out of their match day team.
It doesn’t mean the likes of injured pair Henry Nicholls and Tim Southee won’t come back in when they are fit (which Stead also shed more light on overnight – Nicholls has indeed recovered enough from his hamstring injury to be picked to play Afghanistan overnight, while Southee is still a game away due to his calf problem).
It simply means they want to gather momentum with the team they think is the best XI to take the park. I think I differ to them in the makeup of that XI, but I’ve had my say on that in previous diaries, so I’ll leave that be for now. What I am very satisfied with, is this approach.
2015 proves it
In New Zealand’s hair-raising run to the 2015 final under Mike Hesson and Brendon McCullum, they took the exact same stance. Play their best team at every opportunity.
They were only forced into one change all tournament and that was through injury. In my mind, there’s no doubt that consistency of having the best XI playing frequently helped them build throughout the six weeks of the event and was a key in getting them to their first ever final.
Let’s be honest, with conditioning and fitness focused on so heavily in this day and age, players have no problem backing up when the games are spaced out as much as they are at the World Cup.
Weather could be more of an issue than Afghanistan
Speaking of consistency, momentum and confidence, they should be able to ramp that up further, should a game go ahead in Taunton overnight.
It’s been raining there over the last couple of days and the match against Afghanistan might be hampered by some weather, but a result should still be no problem.
It should also be no problem either for the Black Caps. Look, Afghanistan is an improving team, much better than anyone seems to think and they may push some others, possibly even get a win, during the World Cup.
But I can’t see them beating New Zealand.
These teams have only ever played each other once before in what proved to be a comfortable six-wicket win for the Black Caps when they were trying to boost their net run-rate at the last World Cup. It should be a similar result again in conditions that New Zealand will like.
That would make the Black Caps’ record three-from-three and on a good path towards the semi-finals. And I believe consistency in selecting their best team will give them the best chance of making the final four.
A positive step from Stead and his selection team.