Three reasonably big World Cup games and three losses for Aotearoa's Blackcaps after they were smoked by England overnight. Outside of a miracle, Aotearoa will wiggle their way into the semi-finals though and despite how much the Blackcaps woes smack you in the face, a couple good games could see the Blackcaps win the bloody World Cup.
Even one good game, putting the Blackcaps into the final would be lovely considering where we sit with this Blackcaps group. This is a super weird scenario where we still need to ponder the possibility of a World Cup win, while also understanding that all the issues that have been dissected by the Niche Cache with regards to a complete lack of planning and preparation, are on offer right now. Everything is being exposed.
Led by the repeated failures of the opening combo, whether it is Martin Guptill and Colin Munro, or Guppy and Henry Nicholls. The meatiest issue of the kiwi summer was the shambles of the opening combo and how neither Munro, Nicholls or any other contender was given the best opportunity for World Cup success. Munro was awkwardly cut for Nicholls to have a go, but Nicholls wasn't given a serious crack and then Munro ended up opening to start the World Cup any way.
Nicholls got a first-ball duck, lbw to Chris Woakes and his dismissal felt as though it reflected where this Blackcaps unit is at. Neither Nicholls nor Guptill had any slither of confidence in their loins, which was evident in their body language and actions, followed by Guptill finding yet another way to be dismissed. Nicholls was strangled down the leg-side vs Australia, Guptill strangled down the leg-side vs England and when you're stuck in a slump like that, you're kinda doomed.
So weird and even weirder is that my current vibe about the Blackcaps is that they are over-thinking everything, drifting further and further away from the 'go out, have some fun and play like your in the backyard' mentality that was prevalent under Brendon McCullum. T'was a shrewd move to open with Mitchell Santner, only for Santner to barely his stock delivery in his first over; the whole point is to spin the ball away from righties, instead Santner swung balls into the righties.
Lockie Ferguson was apparently injured and the mindset of the kiwis stood out for being exactly as expected; we need them medium pacers. A bowling attack of Trent Boult, Matt Henry, Tim Southee, Mitchell Santner, Colin de Grandhomme and Jimmy Neesham can take wickets and do a solid job, yet they probably won't stem-roll an opposition. Even the idea of Southee and Henry in the same attack seems a bit detrimental, Southee playing his first World Cup game and Henry searching for something.
Of the 10 England batsmen who scored runs, only two had strike-rates under 90.
Every single Blackcaps batsman had a strike-rate under 90. Tom Latham (Latham scored runs!) was the only Blackcaps batsman who had a strike-rate over 80 and while their are a few insights on offer there, the major difference probably sits in the confidence and eagerness of the two teams. The Blackcaps genuinely seem to have no clarity in how they want to play their cricket, let alone what their best team is who the best players are to do whatever Williamson actually wants.
Pakistan kinda upset the Blackcaps as they can do. Australia and England though, straight up bullied the kiwis and could do so because they feared nothing about the Blackcaps. There is plenty of time now to pause, reflect and look forward to the semi-final. More time to wonder how the Blackcaps can step up an play some better cricket, because right now it simply feels like all our concerns prior to the World Cup are being exposed.
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Peace and love 27.