The most notable thing to come out of the Blackcaps three-game series vs Australia with regards to the World Cup, now appears to be Tom Latham's mangled finger. Will Young scored some runs, although he won't be anywhere near the World Cup and we already know that he's a prodigious talent. Luckily Tom Blundell scored some runs as well.
Blundell's runs are now a whole lot more notable, because the chances of him playing in this World Cup went from 10 percent to 40 percent via Latham's injury. With scores of 77, 13* and 11 in the three games, Blundell showed some promise and interestingly batted #4/5 - not further down the order. Don't worry folks, the weird vibes are still very much present though as Blundell was the wicket-keeper in just one of those three games.
The injury to Latham opens up a few wrinkles to explore, yet I'm of the belief that Latham will be all good come World Cup time. That Latham's now suffered a finger injury, after Tim Seifert suffered a hand injury which appeared to rule him out of World Cup contention and thus open the door to someone who wasn't part of any Blackcaps ODI cricket over the summer in Blundell. Our ol' mate Mr Larsen then suggested that Seifert (and BJ Watling) would be on standby, which makes you wonder how Seifert could miss out on World Cup selection due to injury and then be on standby for the World Cup.
My issue, as always revolves around the complete lack of planning and preparation for a major tournament. I don't care who is selected, as long as there is a logical and concise process worked through to A) select a player and then B) put them in the best position to succeed. As I explored here, there has been none of this with regards to the wicket-keeping situation and the prospect of Blundell making his ODI debut in the first World Cup game vs Sri Lanka is bonkers; Blundell could have very easily played ODI cricket over the summer.
Take that and I again throw up the fact that Australia played their entire World Cup squad in the three game series vs a group of fringe Blackcaps. Then, take a geeze at what is happening in and around England where England are playing Pakistan, Ireland are hosting Bangladesh and West Indies, while Sri Lanka are playing Scotland and Afghanistan will have series vs Scotland and Ireland in the bag.
That means that England, Pakistan, Bangladesh, West Indies, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka are engaged in series prior to the official World Cup warm up fixtures. Australia just rolled out their World Cup squad for three games, giving them suitable preparation before going to England. India had an immense ODI schedule over our summer and are incredibly settled, while South Africa aren't overly busy right now.
To put it simply; the majority of the World Cup teams are playing as much cricket as possible prior to World Cup warm up games, while the Blackcaps are doing the opposite. More alarming, or perhaps amplifying the concern is that the Blackcaps have an abundance of selection questions to answer and if you were to quiz your homies about the 1st 11, you'd get a range of answers.
We don't know the best bowling attack. We don't know whether Mitchell Santner or Ish Sodhi should play as the spinner, maybe two spinners? Are we sure Tim Southee will lead the attack? Wait, so who is going to open the batting?
You know the drill by now. The Blackcaps are perhaps the most notable team that hasn't settled on a playing 11 or identity for this World Cup, in similar fashion to the Champions Trophy which started this idea of the absence of any logical Blackcaps preparation. The team with the least certainty around their cricket for a World Cup, is playing the least cricket prior to the World Cup.
Hence, I'm not overly confident of the Blackcaps chances of World Cup success. Of course all these little confusing moves from the decision makers could be masterful, although that feels doubtful considering the past 24 months. When was the last time the Blackcaps played ODI cricket in England? The Champions Trophy and while the trend has been to get series in England, to suss out conditions and styles of play, NZC and the Blackcaps are being as hipster-y as possible.
Latham's injury feels like an omen, especially considering it's happened to the wicket-keeper given the wicket-keeping shambles and then Seifert suffering a similar injury. With or without Latham, the Blackcaps are undercooked and at this point, we don't really know what is cooking.
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Peace and love 27.