ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022, New Zealand squad analysis: Inexperience in top order minor worry for New Zealand; Squad well-balanced overall
With less than a month to go for ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 which is all set to take place in Australia from October 16, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) declared their 15-member squad for the world event recently.
The runners up of the last T20 World Cup in 2021 held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) lost to Australia in the final at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. In their last away three-match T20I series against West Indies, the Blackcaps blew away the home side by a margin of 2-1.
Allen, Bracewell earn spots as Guptill gets seventh T20 World Cup
New Zealand Cricket (NZC) has tried to retain almost their same squad from the last T20 World Cup. The Blackcaps have omitted Kyle Jamieson, Todd Astle and Tim Seifert from the squad as Finn Allen, Michael Bracewell and Lockie Ferguson earnt call ups.
The two players who recently declined a central contract – Jimmy Neesham and Trent Boult - find a place in the squad that will be led by Kane Williamson. Martin Guptill is set to become the first New Zealand player to appear in seven men’s T20 World Cups.
“It is always a special time announcing a World Cup squad and I’d like to congratulate the 15 players selected today,” New Zealand head coach Gary Stead expressed following the announcement. “It is great to have this tournament so soon after last year’s event in which we played some really good cricket but couldn’t get over the line in the end.”
New Zealand Squad for ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022
Kane Williamson (C), Martin Guptill, Finn Allen, Devon Conway (wk), Glenn Philips, Mark Chapman, Daryl Mitchell, James Neesham, Michael Bracewell, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson, Adam Milne
Let’s scan all the three departments of the squad that seems to be looking a bit weak at the top.
Inexperienced top order with the exception of Williamson & Guptill
It has now become a simple theory for every side to begin well in an aggressive manner in the powerplay to lay down a good platform and New Zealand do have some players who could help their side in this direction. Martin Guptill who is well set to take part in his seventh T20 World Cup, has played 121 T20I games scoring 3497 runs at a strike rate of 135.81 with 20 half-centuries and a couple of centuries.
In last year’s T20 World Cup, Daryl Mitchell partnered with Guptill at the opening slot and did a decent job, collecting 208 runs in seven innings at a strike rate of 140.54. If New Zealand push the all-rounder into the middle order, then they could easily bring Finn Allen at the opening position who in his short career of 13 T20Is has smashed at a strike rate of 169.54 or Devon Conway who has 708 T20I runs in 23 games at a strike rate of 138.28. With Devon Conway, New Zealand can maintain left-right combination at the top.
Kane Williamson who is going through a rough phase of his career can do the job of holding one end up, if wickets fall early while wicketkeeper batter Glenn Philips who has 964 T20I runs in 44 games at a strike rate of 141.76, can bring a new dimension at number four. The Hong Kong born Mark Chapman too can be a good option if there is an injury issue in the middle of the tournament.
The only concern for New Zealand in this top order is lack of experience. Leaving out Guptill and Williamson, the other batters haven’t played a lot of T20I games for New Zealand which could backfire in crunch situations. Going back to the final of ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2015, New Zealand looked scared after losing their captain Brendon McCullum in the very first over, and the history pages could be turned back for what transpired after.
Neesham, Mitchell and Santner build up a powerful middle order
The middle order looks to be in safer hands with the inclusion of James Neesham, Mitchell Santner and Daryl Mitchell. The best thing about this department for New Zealand is that all these three players are strong in different ways which helps the side to strike a good balance.
Neesham played some important knocks in the last T20 World Cup; his 27 runs in just 11 balls with three sixes and one boundary against England in the first semi-final promoted New Zealand to the finals. Mitchell, in that same game, displayed his temperament as his masterclass unbeaten knock of 72 in just 47 balls, with four maximums and the same number of boundaries, was ab instrumental part of Kiwi victory.
Mitchell Santner too is another great player to have at number seven who can hit the ball hard and out of the park and his experience of playing various T20 leagues around the world too will help the Blackcaps. Santner’s decent bowling in the powerplay and middle overs can help his team to dry up the runs.
Michael Bracewell who in his eight T20Is has smacked at a strike rate of 206.98 can be good backup option.
Boult, Sodhi will lead balanced bowling department
The bowling section of New Zealand looks to be well balanced with the skill of swing from left-arm pacer Trent Boult and right-arm pacer Tim Southee, while there is some sheer pace from Lockie Ferguson, besides the leg-spin of Ish Sodhi.
Trent Boult who was the third highest wicket-taker in the last T20 World Cup, with 13 scalps in just seven games at an average of 13.31, was one of the main reasons for New Zealand’s success. With this edition being held in the pace-friendly conditions of Australia, Boult will fancy his chances. In the recent ODI series against Australia in Australia, Boult picked up 10 wickets in just three games.
Ish Sodhi too was excellent in the last T20 World Cup with nine wickets in just seven games and he can use the big boundaries of Australia on those tiring pitches during the back end of the tournament in the best possible way.
The lightning pace of Lockie Ferguson will be such an advantage for New Zealand, while Adam Milne is expected to be their backup option.
Looking at all three departments of New Zealand’s squad, there shouldn’t be any doubt about their qualification for the semi-final or even beyond. But inexperience in the top order could well be a factor which might prevent a challenge in winning those crunch situations in a high profile tournament.
Before going into the T20 World Cup, New Zealand will take part in a home T20I tri-series which will see Pakistan and Bangladesh as the other two sides. New Zealand’s first game in that series will be against Pakistan on October 8 at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch.
New Zealand will kick off their World Cup campaign against their Trans-Tasman rivals, Australia on October 22 at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in Sydney.