CWC 2015: Kiwis are very hard to crack. Cricketers are even harder

Trent Boult screams for an appeal (photo: ICC)
Trent Boult screams for an appeal (photo: ICC)

After just two matches, it is abundantly clear why everyone’s talking New Zealand in this World Cup.

They’re consistent, they’re like glue that doesn’t pull apart, and it’s extremely hard for most opposing teams to breakthrough the top six. However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing.

Scratchy and patchy might best describe the Kiwis road back to confidence. Household names now were just little specs in 2013. The biggest winning margin was 86 runs, whereas in 2014, they had four wins bigger than 50 runs or five wickets – a testament to the hard work the squad made to get back to an ultra-competitive level.

Now though, they have confidence. They have style, and they’re incredibly well adjusted for the world cup at home. After two matches at the World Cup, we’ve seen enough to make what could be considered an informed statement about where New Zealand cricket is headed.

Their batting order runs quite deep

New Zealand v Scotland - 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup
Kane Williamson against Scotland (photo: Getty Images)

Kane Williamson is the first person most will mention now. He has scored three one-day international centuries since the start of the summer, and 848 runs in 13 matches, stamping himself as one of New Zealand’s most aggressive players. He is not the only reason why New Zealand are so highly touted to go all the way at this World Cup.

Against Sri Lanka, Brendon McCullum made it obvious he was here to play with 65. It harks back to the consistency the Kiwis are able to put together throughout the order.

Martin Guptill is one batsman who, while solid in his career and form, may stand “out” of the limelight during the tournament. His contributions continue to be an asset to New Zealand, especially at the top of the order. His 49 from 62 against Sri Lanka was a very good effort, but his footwork on the crease had him undone.

Are Southee and Boult the most destructive opening bowlers?

Scotland had zero answer to the salvo the right-arm Southee and left-arm Boult fired down early on Tuesday. Boult’s greatest ability is to get the ball swinging both ways, and he’s taken four wickets in New Zealand’s opening two matches.

Using his pace to full effect, Southee’s tandem partnership with Boult, especially with a new ball at each end, becomes more dangerous on wickets that look to skid on a bit.

Facing Sri Lanka, it was a case of being hit by experienced batsmen. Days later, against the Scots, the impact dropped after Matt Machan and Richie Berrington decided to take Southee to the boundary. New Zealand need to see the weaknesses in chasing small targets so as not to cross this obstacle again.

Scotland game not indicative of New Zealand’s overall game

Cricket folklore tells the tale of small targets – regardless of whom you’re facing – are the hardest to achieve. As Scotland captain Preston Mommsen stated after the game, pressure in cricket creates chances against anybody.

I think the game showed that New Zealand’s batters were vulnerable if you’re able to keep them under pressure consistently.

At the same time, chasing a small total might have been a little bit tricky for them. It might have changed the way their natural game usually would be.”

Such is the confidence of the World Cup co-hosts, and Mommsen pointed this out, that the flurry of wickets in the middle order was their downfall to Scotland, Having seen the target, and wanting to chase it down in quick time gave way to rash strokes and a little bit of momentum to the visitors.

Next game against England won’t be easy either

Despite what was quite a convincing loss for England against Australia, it wasn’t all panic stations either. James Taylor, unfortunately stranded on 98 not out, played a brilliant, composed innings where the Australians just couldn’t get through his defences.

Boult and Southee (assuming picked at the time) will be bowling with a slightly older ball to Taylor when he comes in at number six. Advantage Taylor, for the swinging brand new ball will have largely been negated by the openers.

Steven Finn, who took 5/71 against the green and gold, is also another one to look out for. All bowlers seemed to have worked well on the New Zealand pitches, especially the hosts.

New Zealand, if they bat first, barely look like they’ll be beaten. There is far too many contributions across the board for England to get a look in. Eoin Morgan needs a kickstart too, after a scratchy six balls against the Australians.

Final word

New Zealand have expectations placed on them every game they play. The more they win, the further they’re expected to go. Against England, it looks like another good win – but with their foot on the accelerator, it must stay there. It cannot let the pedal release.


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