The 12th edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup gets underway in England from 30 May 2019. The grand cricket carnival will go on until 14 July 2019. The deadline set by the ICC for all the teams to announce their final squad is 23 April 2019.
Thus, all the selectors have a daunting task to put the best side possible. However, New Zealand announced their team well ahead of the deadlines. The Kiwis were the first to announce their World Cup squad of the participating nations.
The side looks well balanced with experienced players and relative newcomers. As we all know, regular skipper Kane Williamson will lead the Blackcaps. Will the exceptional Kiwi batsman lead them to their first World Cup glory? We have to wait for a while to see that.
Let's look at five key players who are extremely important to their chances.
#5 James Neesham
James Neesham did not find a place in the 2015 World Cup squad. The New Zealand all-rounder narrowly missed the opportunity to represent his nation on the biggest stage at home as Grant Elliot got a place ahead of him.
Neesham had some opportunities in the ODI team during the next two years. However, a dip in form led him to be dropped after the 2017 Champions Trophy. During that time period, he even contemplated retirement.
However, fortunes turned for him in the Ford Trophy 2018/19. Neesham scored 503 runs in 11 innings for Wellington and earned a place in the International squad against Sri Lanka. He made headlines in the first match marking his grandiose comeback to form.
In an over of Thisara Perera, Neesham scored 34 runs and went to finish the innings with 47 runs from just 13 balls. The sensational form of the all-rounder could become a crucial factor in the World Cup as his quick-fire knocks and smart bowling will give the team balance.
#4 Trent Boult
The current era in cricket is arguably a batsman dominated one. The impact made by T20 cricket has taught the skill of scoring runs at impossible strike rates to most batsmen. Thus, a quality bowler is a must for almost every World Cup side.
New Zealand had picked quality spinners but one of their pace bowlers would be a key bowler for them. Trent Boult, their highest wicket-taker in the 2015 World Cup will have a lot of confidence to repeat the same this year.
With 22 wickets to his name, Boult is the joint highest wicket-taker along with Mitchell Star in the previous World Cup. His uncanny pace and clever variations would be hard to pick in the English conditions especially during death overs.
Boult repeating his 2015 heroics would be a huge boost for the New Zealand bowling department. If he can use his experience and bowl at his best, it will give the Kiwis a great chance at lifting the World Cup for the first time.
#3 Ross Taylor
Ross Taylor is the most experienced player in the New Zealand World Cup squad. The 35-year-old might announce his retirement shortly after the tournament. If that's the case then we can surely expect Taylor to give it all in England this summer.
Taylor is the first New Zealander to reach 20 centuries in ODI as well as in any format of the game. He didn't do anything exceptional in the 2015 World Cup but did get some useful runs. However, he will look to make amends for a poor tournament last time around.
In 2011 World Cup, Ross Taylor was the highest run scorer for New Zealand with 324 runs in 6 innings. As of now, the veteran batsman is the highest ODI run scorer among the active New Zealand players.
Thus, it is evident that he has the capacity to score maximum runs for them in the tournament. The last thing the opponents would want is consistent batting performances from Taylor as he could guide them all the way to their first World Cup win.
#2 Martin Guptill
Martin Guptill scored the most runs for the New Zealand team in the 2015 World Cup. Who will ever forget his double century against West Indies in the Quarter-final? He was in form ferocious against most bowlers in the tournament.
With 547 runs in 9 innings at an average of 68.37, Guptill played a crucial part in the most successful World Cup campaign for the Blackcaps. He was also the highest run scorer in the whole tournament and a key reasons why New Zealand went so close to winning the World cup. If Guptill repeats his 2015 heroics, there is no reason to believe why New Zealand cannot go one step ahead last time.
Guptill is the second highest ODI run scorer among the active New Zealand batsmen. Thus, the Kiwis will be depending heavily on him to contribute and give them a good start to their innings.
#1 Kane Williamson
It is a well-known fact that captaincy plays a major role in a team's success. In that case, Kane Williamson's decisions in crucial situations could be the deciding factor for the team's maiden World Cup triumph.
This is the first ODI World Cup for Kane Williamson as a captain. However, as a batsman, he has featured in the two previous World Cup Those experiences would be helpful for him especially the 2015 World Cup experience; where the team finished as runner-ups.
Apart from being one of the best captains in the World Cup, Williamson also is the backbone of their batting department. He is an expert in handling spin and extremely good against pace. The 28-year-old's temperament and techniques would pay rich dividends for the side.
Williamson's record of more than 5000 runs in just 139 innings is an impeccable achievement and make him the third highest run scorer among the active New Zealand batsmen. Undoubtedly, he would play the anchor role for them in the middle order and hold the key to the teams cause along with Ross Taylor.