The odd thing about that World Cup campaign from the Blackcaps is that their steady as she goes style of cricket (not gonna use the word ‘brand’, sorry) took them in three wild directions. First off they won their first five completed games, sitting atop the table looking down as the fixture list had smiled upon them. A couple sketchy wins in there but that only showed how useful this lot are in a tight contest. But then they lost to Pakistan and the three-game losing streak commenced. Next thing they were barely scraping into the semis on net run rate with hardly any international commentators giving them a chance in the knockouts. Then came a brilliant semi-final win and an inconceivably agonising final double-tie which saw England lift the trophy on boundary countback.
Well, if boundary countback was gonna be an issue then no surprises that we struggled there, considering that only three teams hit fewer boundaries than the Blackcaps throughout the entire tournament and they were: Sri Lanka (played three fewer games), South Africa (played two fewer games), and Afghanistan (played one fewer game and was only a single boundary behind our tally). Not really our strong point, to be fair. We also hit the third fewest sixes in the tournament.
But despite that we had the Player of the Tournament leading the way with 578 runs. Kane Williamson was fourth in overall runs behind Rohit Sharma (648), David Warner (647… haha, guts bro!), and Shakib Al Hasan (606)… but his captaincy and general good-buggerness got him a sneaky consolation prize – in fairness Shakib shoulda won POTT for his all-round stunning cricket but okay, not complaining. Williamson’s 771 deliveries faced were the most of any player for any team… which also means his strike-rate was the lowest of any of the top 24 run scorers at CWC19. But he ground out the runs his team needed, mate. Leading the way and giving his bowlers something to defend.
Back to back centuries in victories against South Africa and West Indies proved perfectly timed innings and his 67 against India in the semi-final was crucial towards the win. Also bagged 79 not out against Bangladesh. Rohit Sharma scored five hundreds at this tournament but Williamson still had a better average – only Shakib’s of 86.57 was better than Williamson’s 82.57 (from one innings more) in the end. We already knew what a special cricketer this bloke was but now the world knows too, once and for all.
Following comfortably behind was Ross Taylor. It wasn’t a tournament where Rossco got to cash in and with zero not outs his average was made to suffer. But a look at his innings list showed a consistent performer who rarely let his team down amidst a sketchy top order: 82 (BAN), 48 (AFG), 1 (SA), 69 (WI), 3 (PAK), 30 (AUS), 28 (ENG), 74 (IND) & 15 (ENG). Keep in mind that he got a rotten call in the final against England too. Only twice did he fail to get a start and he passed fifty three times. 350 runs exactly at 38.88 average. He and Williamson were also involved in two century partnerships as our greatest ever ODI batting duo did what they do so well.
It’d be an understatement to say that the Blackcaps didn’t have their best showing with the bat at this tournament. We were a bowling side first and foremost – the only batsmen to average better than their career averages at the World Cup were: Kane Williamson, Jimmy Neesham, and… Colin Munro. Yup old mate Colin’s 25.00 was a slight improvement on his regular rate (although by less than a run). That problem began with the openers as Guptill and Munro put on an unbeaten 137 for a ten-wicket win against Sri Lanka first up … and then neither passed fifty again… or even got close. Those numbers are bad enough already for a tournament where the top three scored the bulk of the runs for most teams but when you take out the Sri Lanka game then we’re looking at something that’ll give you nightmares…
Colin Munro: 5 INNS | 67 RUNS | 13.40 AVE | 82.71 SR | 24 HS
Martin Guptill: 9 INNS | 113 RUNS | 12.55 AVE | 66.47 SR | 35 HS
Things got slightly better as Henry Nicholls came in and looked progressively better with each of his four games, culminating in his 55 against England in the final. Makes you wonder what might’ve happened if he’d been fit from the start given that he seemed to be the preferred opening option coming into things… but let’s not get into the madness of Blackcaps team selections over the home summer (and beyond). Following on from that Sri Lanka win, where we bowled them out for 136 and they seemed to know the game was gone before they ever delivered the first ball, our opening partnerships were as follows:
35/1 vs Bangladesh (Guptill/Munro)
0/1 vs Afghanistan (Guptill/Munro)
12/1 vs South Africa (Guptill/Munro)
0/1 vs West Indies (Guptill/Munro)
5/1 vs Pakistan (Guptill/Munro)
29/1 vs Australia (Guptill/Nicholls)
2/1 vs England (Guptill/Nicholls)
1/1 vs India (Guptill/Nicholls)
29/1 England (Guptill/Nicholls)
That’s clearly not very good. In fact it’s disastrous. And yet this team made the World Cup final! What’s annoying about this is that it was half bad preparation and half the opposite. Colin Munro we already knew struggled at this level. A career average of less than 25 is not gonna hack it against the best in the business and he’d already been dropped just a few months earlier… but Guptill had scored three ODI tons in the home summer and there was no real indication that he was in for the struggles that he had at the World Cup. Or… maybe there were indications. In ten innings during the kiwi summer he scored 464 runs in 10 innings at an average of 51.55… but aside from the three hundreds he was dismissed for 15 or less in six consecutive innings at one point.
Insanely the Blackcaps also got some huge trouble from Tom Latham at five… which puts Williamson and even Taylor’s runs in more context. Latham is another who occasionally has these extended dry spells but yeah six innings to start this bad boy and he hadn’t scored more than 14. Three scores of 1 or 0 in there. Basically with one game left before the semis he’d scored 41 runs at an average of 8.20 and sure the openers were a big drama but our number five was sneakily even worse. But then Latham found his touch with scores of 57 and 47 in the two games against England. That knock in the final was a real classy one too. Deserved fifty. Not enough to rescue his tournament stats but enough to restore the ol’ reputation.
Jimmy Neesham put together a pretty decent World Cup on both sides of the ball, his batting maybe a little more underrated because of his tendency not to fully cash in. We didn’t get to see the devastating closer that we saw against Sri Lanka in the summer, however he did bag his highest ODI score of 97 not out against Pakistan in what turned out to be a losing effort… but we’d have lost by a lot more had he not got us through to a half-decent total there. That turned out to be the only time he passed 30 as Neesh simply wasn’t able to turn his starts into big scores. There were some important little cameos in there, just needed a couple other knocks to really do it – throwing his wicket away against Bangladesh, for example, nearly got us in a right old mess in that run chase where he coulda got a sweet little not out instead. Can’t forget that he almost pulled off a miracle in the Super Over that ended it all too, another one of his clutch moments from CWC19 (most of them with the ball, tbf).
Similarly Colin de Grandhomme was a fella whose spot in the side was a tad too debatable coming into the tournament yet he also had some healthy contributions along the way. The less said about his attempts to get bat on ball against Jofra Archer in the final the better but those innings against South Africa (60) and Pakistan (64) were pretty excellent. Especially the South Africa one where he hit five fours and two sixes, batting at a strike rate of 127.65 in a run chase which we only got to with nine balls to spare. Coming in at 137/5 with 105 more runs at a shade under a run a ball to win, that innings was massive – remember we needed every win we got (and all the NRR) to make the semis in the end. Outside of those two fifties he didn’t score more than 16 in any of his other six innings (actually he was out for 16 on three separate occasions and 15 in another… plus a golden duck against Aussie and a 3 vs England the first time out). Probably about what you’d expect from CDG in the end: a 25% success rate.
Nothing much to say for Mitch Santner. With five not outs he was there at the end a fair few times, only facing more than 12 balls twice in eight innings… 12 off 29 against Aussie and 12 off 30 against England. His strike rate was pretty low for a guy who was batting in the last few overs more often than not and his ducking under the last ball of the fifty in the final looks rather silly about now… but mostly Santner just didn’t get the chance to do much. His 17 not out against Bangladesh was the best of them, getting us over the line by two wickets.
And that just leaves us with the lower order jokers and there’s honestly just nothing to say there. Between the lot of them, Boult, Sodhi, Henry, Ferguson, and Southee faced a combined 70 deliveries in ten games. Scoring a combined 41 runs with a top score of 7 not out (Tim Southee making the most of it).
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