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Why Black Caps didn't play T20 World Cup warm-up matches

Will Toogood,
Publish Date
Wed, 12 Jun 2024, 12:29pm

Why Black Caps didn't play T20 World Cup warm-up matches

Will Toogood,
Publish Date
Wed, 12 Jun 2024, 12:29pm

After the Black Caps’ T20 World Cup opening capitulation against Afghanistan, with New Zealand looking off the pace in an 84-run defeat in Guyana, the team’s lack of warm-up matches ahead of the tournament has been questioned.  

Kane Williamson’s side crumbled to their fourth-lowest T20 total, backing up a subpar effort with the ball and with an especially off-colour performance in the field. It seemed indicative of a side lacking international-level preparation.  

In all three areas, the Kiwis were outclassed and coach Gary Stead said the logistics of players being overseas in the Indian Premier League (IPL) meant their scheduled warm-up matches couldn’t go ahead.  

“Logistics made it very difficult. Our original warm-ups were down when our players weren’t in the country here [the West Indies] so that made it hard.”  

He said New Zealand had appealed to tournament organisers to arrange later matches but that appeal was denied and that they knew they were running the risk of heading into the tournament without warm-ups.  

“We tried to get later warm-up games but that was denied by the competition officials here, they deemed that it wasn’t possible.  

“We have to run that risk, we knew that a couple of months ago. Ideally, yeah, it would have been great but it didn’t fit in to the players getting here in time.”  

The tournament started on June 2 and the Black Caps first match was on June 8, meaning there could have been a small window for the New Zealand side to get a hit out while the tournament was underway. Afghanistan played two warm-ups before their opening encounter against Uganda, as well as a series against Ireland in March.  

By contrast, the bulk of the Black Caps squad’s most recent T20s before the World Cup was against Australia in February as most missed the series against Pakistan in April, again due to the IPL.  

The result saw a number of players take the field against Afghanistan with very little recent cricket play under their belt. Notably, that included Devon Conway, who hadn’t played any cricket since the end of February after suffering a broken thumb against Australia.  

Despite an impressive showing at the ODI World Cup last year, batter Rachin Ravindra wasn’t named in the side to open the T20 edition and Stead said that was in part due to him getting matches “more at the start of the IPL”.  

“Rachin played a number of games more at the start of the IPL, I think got a number of little cameos without really kicking on as well.”  

Ravindra played 10 out of 14 round-robin matches in the 2024 IPL season, scoring 222 runs with a high score of 61.  

In comparison, Glenn Phillips, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry and Devon Conway did not take the field at all for their respective IPL sides in 2024, yet were named in the lineup to face Afghanistan.  

Stead said that despite the opening loss to Afghanistan, with the top four batters making just 22 runs between them, he would not be hitting the panic button on his batting lineup.  

“I think it would be a mistake that if we, after one game, you throw everything that you’ve had out of the window as well. So I think for us, Rachin is no doubt, he’s a fine player. I think he could fit into a number of different positions in our order but to do that you have to leave people out as well, so it’s working out what you think is that right balance.”  

The Black Caps coach said that while he sees Ravindra’s role at the top of the order it may be more likely that he is used in the middle of the innings.  

“I think [his best role] it’s probably more at the top of the order and he then provides you with spin options as well, but part of our preparation with Rachin was understanding that that might not be the position that he ultimately he is in.”  

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