New Zealand have become the first team to announce the squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, with many of the core side who played in the 2015 World Cup featuring for the 2019 edition as well. However, there has been some minor changes in the side which is currently ranked No.3 in the ICC ODI team rankings. Ish Sodhi is the second spinner in the side along with Mitchell Santner, meaning there was no place for Todd Astle, the legspinner. However, the surprise inclusion was Tom Blundell, who will be the back-up wicketkeeper for Tom Latham, meaning there was no place for Tim Seifert. Seifert had an impressive Twenty20 series against India, smashing 84 and 43 as New Zealand won the three-match series 2-1. However, Seifert suffered a broken finger and it was reported in several New Zealand media outlets that the youngster might not be included in the squad. Blundell, on the other hand, has played two Tests and three Twenty20 Internationals and he made a century on Test debut against West Indies in Wellington in 2017. However, the 28-year-old has not played an ODI.
The rest of the squad remains strong, with Kane Williamson, currently on the sidelines in the Indian Premier League due to a shoulder injury, all set to lead the side in England. Martin Guptill and Colin Munro form a formidable opening pair. In the 2015 World Cup, Guptill created history by smashing 237, the second-highest individual score in ODIs during the quarterfinal against West Indies in Wellington.
Ross Taylor and Henry Nicholls form a strong middle order while the lower middle order will be banking on Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme, two batting all-rounders to deliver the knock-out blow. The bowling unit will be headed by Tim Southee and Trent Boult and they will get back-up in the form of Lockie Ferguson, currently playing with Kolkata Knight Riders in the 2019 IPL. Santner and Sodhi will be the spinners while the back-up pacer will be Matt Henry.
Southee had a superb 2015 World Cup and his most memorable moment was his haul of 7/33 against England, which is the best bowling figures by a New Zealand bowler in ODIs while Trent Boult ended the 2015 World Cup as the joint-highest wicket-taker with Mitchell Starc. Speaking about the selection of the team, New Zealand head coach Gary Stead said it was a tough decision to make.
“This has come about over the last four years. It's not just about the what's happened the last one or two months. We’ve got a squad that we think will give us a really, really good chance to go far in the tournament,” Stead said. New Zealand will begin their World Cup 2019 campaign against Sri Lanka n June 1 at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff.
New Zealand World Cup squad
Kane Williamson, Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, Tom Blundell, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Jimmy Neesham, Ish Sodhi, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult.