New Zealand World Cup profile: Historic overachievers seek glory after 2015 heartbreak

Ashish Peter 26/05/2019
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The Blackcaps are gunning for a maiden World Cup crown.

New Zealand’s last ICC World Cup appearance ended in heartbreak with the Blackcaps going down to arch-rivals Australia in the final of the 2015 edition at Melbourne.

That missed opportunity to land a maiden World Cup title for New Zealand will still be on the minds of Kane Williamson and his men as they arrive in England for the global showpiece.

Despite their sparse population and relatively small size compared to some of the heavyweights like India and Australia, the Kiwis have historically punched above their weight when it comes to multi-team ICC tournaments such as the World Cup and the Champions Trophy.

In 11 previous World Cup appearances, the Blackcaps have managed to reach the semi-finals on as many as six occasions with a runner-up finish in 2015 being their best showing yet.

New Zealand come into the World Cup as the No4 ranked team in ODI cricket after what has been a mixed 2019 for them so far. They started the year with a 1-4 reversal at the hands of India but seem to have found their groove back with a 3-0 whitewash of Bangladesh.

Promisingly, Trent Boult and Co ripped through India on English turf at The Oval in their first warm-up game on Saturday.

Here, we take a closer look at how the Kiwis are shaping up ahead of the World Cup.

Record: Semi-finals 1975, 1979, 1992, 1999, 2007 and 2011

Squad: Kane Williamson (captain), 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.

Strength: In skipper Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and Martin Guptill, the Kiwis have a solid spine in the batting department with plenty of years of experience. The three batsmen are all ranked in the top 11 ODI batsmen currently.

Weakness: A vulnerability against wrist-spin was evident in their 1-4 series defeat to India with Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal running rings around their batsmen. All major teams have a quality wrist-spinner in their ranks and that weakness will need to be addressed promptly.

Ross Taylor has been in sensational form over the last two years.

Ross Taylor has been in sensational form over the last two years.

One to watch: Stalwart Ross Taylor is going through the most prolific period of his career with a batting average of nearly 53 since the turn of 2017. The right-hander will be keen to make up a disappointing individual campaign in 2015 in what could be his final World Cup.

Surprise package: All-rounder James Neesham will be keen to continue his resurgence after recovering from injury troubles which saw him fail to play a single ODI in 2018.

Prediction: Semi-final

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England cricket legends: From the exemplary Graham Gooch to the exciting Jos Buttler

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Jos Buttler

With the Cricket World Cup 2019 about to get underway, we take a trip down memory lane and look at some of the iconic players to have defined their eras and earned the title of legends in their country.

As we build up to the tournament, we celebrate the legends of past and take a look at the current flag-bearers.

Here, we have picked four players from England who have left their mark on the history books.

Click here for Australia, Pakistan, India and West Indies.

Graham Gooch [1975-1995]

One of the best to never win the World Cup, Graham Gooch was an absolute run machine during his prime. Known mainly for his prolificacy with the bat in tests, Gooch also boasted an enviable record in the World Cup.

He was the leading run-getter in the 1987 edition in which a Mike Gatting-led England performed consistently before perishing against Australia in the finals.

Gooch then took over the captaincy for the next edition and led the Englishmen to a second consecutive final. But Pakistan terminated his hopes of laying hands on the prestigious piece of silverware.

Throughout his career spanning 27 years (including first-class cricket), Gooch amassed 67,057 runs. He is also the second highest run-getter for England in tests, despite sitting out for three of his 20-year long international campaign due to a ban.

GrahamGoochWorldCup (1)

1987 World Cup stats

Batting

Matches: 8

Innings: 8

Runs: 471

Average: 58.87

Highest: 115

50s/100s: 3/1

Iconic World Cup innings: 115 v India (Semi-final, 1987)

Gooch and Gatting teamed up to take England from 79/2 to a respectable total of 254 runs. He smashed 115 runs to help his team power through to the finals after a dominating performance against the defending champions.

The innings consisting of 11 boundaries against a top-notch bowling attack is considered one of the best in English World Cup history.

Alec Stewart [1989-2003]

One of the deadliest wicket-keeping batsmen in history, Alex Stewart was the lone warriors in a withering England squad in the 1990s.

Stewart is known for his longevity at the top of the batting order. He was productive in both the longer and shorter formats of the game and performed superbly.

His skill with the bat should take nothing away from the fact that he was excellent behind the stumps. Steward was a dependable keeper who recorded 451 international dismissals.

Unfortunately for him, his career coincided with one of the lowest points in English cricket. Stewart was the captain for the 1999 World Cup when they failed to get past the group stage.

AlecStewartWorldCup (1)

ODI stats

Matches: 170

Innings: 162

Runs: 4677

Average: 31.6

Highest: 116

50s/100s: 28/4

Iconic World Cup innings: 88 against Sri Lanka

Great innings for England at the World Cup during this period were rare. However, Stewart deserves credit for his 88 against Sri Lanka in the team’s first game in the 1999 World Cup.

The performance was in vain as they failed to get past the group stage but it’s worth noting that it was Stewart’s first World Cup game as England captain and he led them to victory against the defending champions.

Kevin Pietersen [2004-2014]

With a tattoo-laden arm, a cheeky smile and an air of confidence – Kevin Pietersen surely knew how to establish himself as the centre of attention. But then, his bat usually justified all of it.

The lanky batsman burst onto the scene in the mid-2000s due to his destructive use of the willow married with great consistency.

Pietersen holds the record for the being the fastest to reach 2000 ODI runs and is behind only Sir Donald Bradman in terms of aggregate runs in the first 25 games.

At his peak, Pietersen was arguably the best batsman of England’s modern era. But the team failed him when it mattered most. He was their saving grace in the 2007 World Cup and ensured that they were not embarrassed like in the two preceding editions.

Pietersen was also extremely explosive in the shortest format of the game and was the Man of the Tournament in the 2010 T20 World Cup, the only ICC trophy in England’s cabinet.

His career was short-lived as multiple run-ins with the board forced him to call quits at the age of just 33.

KevinPietersen2011WC (1)

2007 World Cup stats

Matches: 9

Innings: 9

Runs: 444

Average: 55.50

Highest: 104

50s/100s: 3/2

Iconic World Cup innings: 100 v West Indies (Brian Lara farewell game)

On paper, it was a dead rubber game, with both West Indies and England out of the race for a spot in the semi-final. But for the Windies, it was more than just a game as it was time to bid adieu to Brian Lara, an icon of the sport.

Tasked to chase down a massive total of 300 runs, Pietersen turned up to spoil Lara’s party and hog the limelight. He scored a century in a thriller which England won with one ball to spare.

Although they failed to progress to the semis, this will remain an iconic World Cup game for Pietersen. With his supreme talent and confidence, Pietersen managed to make that game all about him.

Jos Buttler (2012-present)

England are definitely the team to beat this World Cup and Jos Buttler – yet another wicket-keeping batsman on the list – is one of the biggest reasons why.

The hard-hitting Buttler has been part of the core of English cricket ever since they were humiliated at the 2015 World Cup.

Unfortunately for him, he began peaking only after the tournament and failed to provide anything spectacular in his maiden World Cup.

But the astute batsman and will be the player to watch this time, as he looks to help England to their first-ever success at the global showpiece.

ODI STATS

Matches: 130

Innings: 108

Runs: 3531

Average: 41.54

Highest: 150

50s/100s: 18/8

Iconic World Cup innings

Buttler is yet to display an iconic World Cup performance, having only been involved in England’s 2015 group-stage disaster thus far.

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Cricket World Cup 2019: Anxious wait for England after Mark Wood sustains foot injury

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Mark Wood

Mark Wood faced a nervous night pondering his World Cup fate after injury forced him out of England’s warm-up defeat against Australia.

The paceman abandoned his run-up mid-way through his first spell at the Ageas Bowl and left the field feeling pain in his left foot.

Wood’s history of ankle problems immediately raised concerns and, although he ran towards the pavilion rather than limping, he never re-emerged and was instead sent to a nearby hospital for scans.

Captain Eoin Morgan made the same journey just 24 hours earlier and was ultimately diagnosed with a small fracture in his left index finger.

That ruled him out of the 12-run loss but he expects to be passed fit for the curtain-raiser against South Africa next Thursday.

Wood would love to be given similarly positive news but though he appeared to be in good spirits as he returned to the team hotel, which forms part of Hampshire’s stadium complex, the outlook was uncertain on Saturday evening.

Jos Buttler, deputising for Morgan as skipper, said: “We’ll see how it turns out in the morning. It can be a worry for him.

“He’s worked really hard and it’s something he’s battled a bit which is a frustration for him. He puts in all the work, the medical staff are great with him, and I’m sure he’s in the best hands.

“We hope for the best for him.”

This was only Wood’s second appearance of the season, with an output totalling just 13.1 overs, thin workload for somebody heading into an intensive 10-team competition featuring games every few days.

England’s management were careful to manage his burden for Durham due to doubts over his ankle and keen to preserve a player who has the express pace to be the quickest bowler at the tournament.

He is a dangerous enough asset to earn the benefit of any marginal calls on his availability, but England have long been aware they may need to send for replacements over the course of a lengthy competition.

“Unfortunately in professional sport things like this happen,” acknowledged Buttler.

“Around a World Cup everything is heightened because you want everyone to be fit and firing. We’ll go through the six weeks and we’ll have niggles in our team but so will other teams. It’s just the nature of the game.

“It’s always a bit of a worry because you want everyone to sail through the tournament 100 per cent fit but that’s not the nature of how things are going to happen.”

David Willey stands by having been the last seamer to miss out on the final cut of 15, but England would much prefer Wood to get the all clear.

There were no real concerns over Liam Dawson, the Hampshire spinner suffering a painful blow while backing up the stumps and subsequently being removed from the batting line-up.

“Liam could have batted if it had been a World Cup game, it’s just a cut on his finger, but as they are warm-ups you can play it safe,” Buttler said.

“We want these guys fit and available for the first game of the World Cup.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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