2019 Cricket World Cup: Blackaps Warm Up Extravaganza

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Two warm up games down, two rather different results and it wouldn't be a Blackcaps ODI situation without two different opening combinations. Warm up games are niggly and rather annoying as teams are playing with inflated playing groups, with everyone passing time before things get serious, however there are a few slithers of insight to suss out from the win over India and loss to West Indies.

The bowlers did well vs India then the bowlers were crap vs West Indies. Trent Boult took 4w in either game and while his comrades were getting spanked to all parts by the West Indian batsmen, Boult was the best kiwi bowler from than game with his 4w @ 5.35po. Given the team's two extremes and Boult maintaining his status-quo, this only reinforces how crucial Boult is to the Blackcaps and as Tim Southee didn't play vs West Indies, Boult is genuinely the big hope with the ball.

The Blackcaps are good in Aotearoa because more often than not, the ball is doing something in terms of nibble and swing. When the ball was doing stuff vs India, the bowlers looked good and then the opposite. This plays into an extremely unpredictable Blackcaps vibe as one day the may catch favourable conditions and the next game may see them concede 421 in an innings.

Kane Williamson went back to back with scores of 67 and 85, Ross Taylor hit a 71 vs India and Tom Blundell hit 106 (119.10sr) as a slow start turned the batting innings vs West Indies into a whack whack fest. Ish Sodhi's batting stocks may have increase a bit, with his 39 vs WI @ 243.75sr.

Tom Latham didn't play either game, meaning that Blundell was the wicket-keeper in both games. This will flow into the incredible situation at the top of the innings, because Blundell batted #6 vs India with Colin Munro opening and then Blundell bumped up to #5 when Nicholls opened vs WI. Keep in mind that inflated squads were used, so batting spots are tough to judge when everyone was given a hit and giggle.

Blundell showed some nice hitting vs WI with 8 fours, 5 sixes and if he's required while Latham is still out injured, there are signs that Blundell could do a job. Whether Blundell has the craft for the middle overs at ODI level, or World Cup level and even hitting boundaries on such a stage is the question, however some nice signs were shown.

That Munro played vs India and then Nicholls replaced him to open with Martin Guptill is such a weird situation ahead of a World Cup. Munro appeared to not take his opportunity vs India with 4 off 3, then Nicholls had 15 off 17 vs WI and that translates to; Munro not taking his chance, Nicholls not taking his chance and we still don't know what the best opening duo is.

The implications further down the order are what decide this matter for me as I have zero trust in giving greater responsibility to the likes of Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner and to a lesser extent Jimmy Neesham. Having Henry Nicholls in the middle order feels far more solid, even with Blundell there than bumping the bowling all-rounders up a spot to cover Nicholls moving up to open.

That means Munro opening and at this stage, given the widespread disregard for planning and preparation, I'm happy to ride with Munro. That's how I'm feeling, however I also reckon that the Blackcaps may have more faith in their bowling all-rounders than Munro opening. Either way, we shouldn't be in this position but we are.

We are also no wiser as to how Tim Southee may contribute. One warm up game, on the back of his questionable form over the past 12 months and the simple fact that we don't know if Southee makes the strongest 11, let alone how he performs reflects the muddled nature of the Blackcaps.

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