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Black Caps worryingly underdone for T20 World Cup, but family comes first

Alex Powell,
Publish Date
Tue, 4 Jun 2024, 12:27pm
Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images

Black Caps worryingly underdone for T20 World Cup, but family comes first

Alex Powell,
Publish Date
Tue, 4 Jun 2024, 12:27pm

The Black Caps’ limited preparation for this year’s Twenty20 World Cup has been far from ideal, but it’s been a sacrifice coach Gary Stead has been happy to make.  

Given the nature of cricket in 2024, where players must delicately balance commitments to club as well as country, the Black Caps’ squad have only assembled together in the last few days.  

Of New Zealand’s 15-man squad for the tournament in the Caribbean, nine have come from the Indian Premier League (IPL), which itself only finished six days before the start of this year’s World Cup. 

While no Black Caps took part in that IPL finale, players like Trent Boult and Glenn Phillips did see their sides run deep into the playoffs. 

As a result, Stead and selectors have opted to allow those players - including the likes of captain Kane Williamson - time at home with their families, rather than rushing to the Caribbean to prepare for the tournament. 

And with New Zealand perhaps more vulnerable to the pull of franchise cricket than other nations, allowing players personal time over preparation is a trade-off Stead and co. were happy to make. 

“It’s been the way of the world for a while now, with different leagues,” he said. “I don’t think anyone here raised eyebrows too much at it. 

“It’s getting that balance right between getting ready to play in our first match, and also trying to get guys some time at home to be with their family and reconnect with them. 

“Some of these guys have been in the IPL for two and a half months. It’s taxing, whether you’re playing or not. 

“It can be a long time away from home.” 

However, that lack of preparation could impact New Zealand when they begin their tournament against Afghanistan next weekend. 

Of the nine players who took part in the IPL, only Trent Boult, Daryl Mitchell and Rachin Ravindra played 10 or more times. 

Rachin Ravindra for the Chennai Super Kings. Photo / APRachin Ravindra for the Chennai Super Kings. Photo / AP 

Despite his Sunrisers Hyderabad side reaching the final, Phillips didn’t take the field once, while Kane Williamson played just twice. 

Both Devon Conway and Finn Allen are coming back from respective thumb and back injuries, and haven’t played since February. 

And of the makeshift 15-man squad that travelled to Pakistan for a five-match T20 series in April, just four have been selected for this year’s World Cup. 

Not to mention the logistical challenges of travelling from New Zealand to Guyana, where the Black Caps will begin their tournament. 

If the Black Caps can take pride in anything, it’s their record of consistently overperforming on the biggest stage. 

However, all four of their opponents - West Indies, Afghanistan, Uganda and Papua New Guinea - have played a warm-up match. Afghanistan in particular will have played twice before facing New Zealand, who won’t have had any match practice at all. 

At its simplest, the Black Caps are going in cold. 

But for Stead, the experience within the group - including from assistant coach Luke Ronchi, who enjoyed stints in the Caribbean Premier League - should count for something. 

“You don’t always get ‘ideal’ when people are coming from all over the world,” Stead professed. 

“I think one of the things we have found here is jetlag probably hits you a bit hard, with the flight paths and flight routes we’re on to get here. 

“I know a number of people have been up in the middle of the night, which isn’t great for your preparation all the time. 

“Thankfully we’ve got enough time leading in, being the 14th game of the tournament, that guys can sort that out. 

“Ideally, it would have been great. But we balanced that with trying to get guys home to see their loved ones after being in the IPL.” 

Alex Powell is an online sports editor for the NZ Herald. He has been a sports journalist since 2016, and previously worked for both Newshub and 1News. 

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