2019 Cricket World Cup: Blackcaps Chilin'

In the grand scheme of things, assuming Aoteaoa's Blackcaps can pick up enough wins from the games they do end up playing, rain at this World Cup in England is exactly what the kiwis need. After their game vs India was rubbed out due to rain, the Blackcaps walked away without conceding any damage and tucking a point under their arm as they stroll into their next encounter vs South Africa.

Of course, the preference is to play and that's especially the case when dealing with so many uncertainties in team selection like the Blackcaps currently are. Rain and juicy English conditions though, play into the main strength of Aotearoa with their seam bowling and if presented with two routes at the start of the World Cup where one has less rain, dry conditions to bring spinners into play and the other offers typical English drizzle; Aotearoa wants the latter.

Aotearoa's three seamers who led all wicket-takers at one point in the past week, have now been scattered further down the leading bowler rankings. The top-four is currently Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Mohammad Amir and Jofra Archer, then Lockie Ferguson in 5th, with Matt Henry in 8th and Jimmy Neesham 9th. Obviously that's via a lack of game time, but the low key point here is that seamers are still dominating with only two spinners in the group of 14 bowlers who have 6+ wickets so far.

Those two spinners are leggies Imran Tahir from South Africa and Yuzvendra Chahal from India. This could be rolled into a yarn about why Aotearoa should give Ish Sodhi a crack and while Adil Rashid hasn't fired for England yet, England have recently opted for a five seamer (Woakes, Archer, Plunkett, Wood, Stokes) and a leggy bowling attack, with Joe Root's offies also an option. I see similarities between England and Aotearoa in this regard, with Mitchell Santner the Blackcaps version of Moeen Ali as a finger spinner who can bat, then Sodhi and Rashid as the attacking leggies.

Whether England persists with that as their leading bowling attack will largely depend on conditions and form, yet the seed of attacking intent is present. There is a clear difference in vibes between England and Aotearoa as Aotearoa aren't as aggressive, sticking with the more reliable work of Santner and their seamers.

I go down this tangent because I'm intrigued as to how these seam-friendly conditions may influence Blackcaps team selection. If the ball is moving around, then it would be crazy to leave Tim Southee on the sidelines and we are nearing the point, if not at the point where leaving Southee and Henry Nicholls on the sideline this late into the World Cup with a tough stretch of games, would be niggly. Either get the in vs South Africa, or continue with the 1st 11 idea.

Sodhi's the odd man out of that trio, because his selection depends on the mentality of the Blackcaps decision-makers. It's either aggressive or cautious in the selection/non-selection of Sodhi, while selecting Southee or Nicholls won't have such an impact on the scheme of the Blackcaps.

Southee's selection could come at the expense of Matt Henry, however I'd lean towards Southee coming in for Colin de Grandhomme and stacking the bowling attack with weapons. The weird thing here is that Nicholls could come in for de Grandhomme as well and this obviously depends on whether the batting or bowling needs to be bolstered.

All of this is what made the game vs India so interesting in the lead up as I was tuned in to sussing out the mindset of the Blackcaps. The first three games didn't do anything to clarify that mindset and the ability of the kiwis to control the majority of those first three games, perhaps covered over the true identity or style of the Blackcaps. I compare this to the whole short-pitched bowling situation, which works in the group stage against certain teams but as you progress through the World Cup, coming up against better batsmen and more importantly batsmen who are thoroughly prepared, then bowlers have to look for other tricks.

This Blackcaps team is currently in the metaphorical short-bowling stage and haven't been required to show themselves and their genuine threat. We didn't get the chance to see the tricks the Blackcaps have vs India and now we wait for a game vs South Africa in which the Blackcaps will keep the status-quo, go full attack mode or head down a more conservative path.

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Peace and love 27.