World T20 news March 14, 2014

New Zealand target early momentum


Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand captain, has stressed on the importance of making a good start in the World T20. His side has enjoyed some good form across formats in the lead-up to the tournament and McCullum hopes to take full advantage of it.

New Zealand have relished home conditions and have been unbeaten against West Indies and India over the last three months. And individual performances have been rife as well: McCullum scored his country's first Test triple century against India a month after Corey Anderson broke the world record for fastest ODI century. However, McCullum will be wary of their poor tour of Bangladesh in October and November last year.

"We are quietly confident, but very respectful of the opposition," McCullum said. "We have just got to make sure that we adapt to the conditions really quickly, start the tournament well and try to build some momentum from there.

"That's going to be the key for us. If we do that, then I think we've got the personnel and the match-winners in our team to give it a good shake, but we're going to have to play consistently well throughout the tournament and probably get a little luck along the way too."

They have a lot to improve on their World T20 performances too, having won just nine out of 21 games in the four editions. In 2012, under similar conditions in Sri Lanka, they began by thumping Bangladesh, only to lose their next four games - two in one-over eliminators to the hosts and champions West Indies.

McCullum's priorities were on the 50-over World Cup, to be played in their backyard, and admitted to his team's difficulties while traveling. "I think the 2015 World Cup at home would certainly be a goal for us, but this one here, if we play well at the start then who knows where we can get to. Away from home, we've still got a lot of challenges and we've still got a lot of fences to climb to be a consistent touring team.

"This tournament is anyone's," he added. "I think every team in this competition has a good chance of being there at the business end of it. That's no different for us as well."

McCullum praised the all-round abilities of Anderson and Jimmy Neesham which have added depth to the side. Both players gave a glimpse of their talent in Bangladesh, and later Anderson unleashed himself on West Indies with that whirlwind century on New Year's day.

"Corey, in a very brief time in international cricket so far, has shown just how devastating he can be with bat in hand," McCullum said. "I think he has nailed it for us with the ball as well, in pressure situations He's an incredible talent, a huge part of our side. I think Jimmy Neesham is also a very dangerous player who brings a great skill set to this form of the game. These two guys certainly allow us to balance our team quite nicely as they are match-winners."

He was rather reserved when asked about his spin attack, which comprises the quickish off-breaks of Nathan McCullum, the left-arm spin of Ronnie Hira, with assistance from Kane Williamson and Anton Devcich.

"If he [Devcich] gets a start, he's been a very well-performed spinner for us back home. So we come in with four genuine spin-bowling options and they are going to be key here.

"Obviously it's a predominant skill set required in the subcontinent, especially in Chittagong, so we've got to make sure we give those guys every opportunity, and give them enough runs as well," McCullum said. "If we give them enough runs they'll come into their own and play a vital role for us."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Garry on March 19, 2014, 20:34 GMT

    Nikko Chunn you are going to leave our best bowler out? Mills should be one of the first picked. Guptill, McCullum, Devich, Taylor, Williamson, Anderson, Ronchi, Neessham, N McCullum, Southee, Mills.

  • henry on March 18, 2014, 3:43 GMT

    @Nicko....Totally agree...I have been saying for a long time McCullum needs to open with whoever in this 20/20 team, but with Taylor at 3 and then all the fire power following....don't mind Williamson coming in at 4 if we lose quick wickets and need the ship steadied...but Taylor needs to bat through with all the young power hitters going for it....Taylor then (if still around) can blast if necessary over the last two overs or so.

  • Dummy4 on March 18, 2014, 1:10 GMT

    @kiwicricketnut - It is only a tiny disagreement (and we have a meeting of the minds on most topics, so it's a small gripe) but I think Hira is a very good bowler and can bat, arguably, better than Southee. He seems quite unflustered, even arrogant, but that isn't always so bad in sport as long as it occurs internally (lolz). I am very curious, after one warm-up game what your number one team is (and I could be humiliated by a good knock by Williamson in the final warm-up versus Australia) but I think Williamson's quote of the week was telling. When asked if t20 was his favourite form of the game, he replied, "It's in my top three." Haha!! Very good Kane. I love the guy, but slow pitches require you to basically brutalize the ball half the time and give it a dirty heave! Then again, we could bat around him. But I believe this should be the First XI: 1. Guptill 2. B.Mac (c) 3. Taylor 4. Munro 5. Anderson 6. Neesham 7. Ronchi (wk) 8. N.Mac 9. Hira / Kane W. 10. Southee 11. McClenaghan

  • Dummy4 on March 18, 2014, 0:54 GMT

    @kiwicricketnut - For sure! Our chances of winning the World Cup, when we are hosting, and with Ryder likely back in the team by then, are certainly better for winning the 2015 World Cup than the t20 WC (and I consider the former to be far more important)..... But the t20 side is still very good. I have my concerns - and the loss to Pakistan in the warm-up highlighted a few of them. Namely, Taylor's slogging ability being somewhat diluted by sublime ODI and Test form (which is awesome 66% of the time); McClenaghan's ability if the ball hardly swings (which it did not versus Pakistan); Kane Williamson's ability to open when he should really float and BMac should open, BUT this really makes him just a bowler, and versus Pakistan they did not bowl him! Worrying. Corey and Neesham failed last night, but were due to. I was more disappointed in the top order and others to be honest. The two-pacedness of the pitches is horrific, but we must play straight or late and watch that ball.

  • jake on March 17, 2014, 3:18 GMT

    We are New Zealand. We will destroy. Any other argument is invalid.

  • jared on March 16, 2014, 5:37 GMT

    @ Gagg and SameOld, you guys sound a bit worried about anderson and neesham but these two have to play they are too good to leave out, while bowling is probably their weakest suit they are no mugs, as long as they mix it up with variations they'll be fine and they both have them, thing is even if they do take a bit of tap, with them in the team i think we can both post and chase big totals, so what they supposably lack with the ball, they make up with the bat but i honestly dont think they lack the skills to be very good international bowlers at all, this world cup will be a good test for both but im confident these two will be two of our best, they took some massive strides foward this summer and are getting better all the time.

  • john on March 16, 2014, 0:32 GMT

    I agree with ru4real.,get our best batsmen in early,mccullum/guptil would be a great start if all going well, then taylor to construct an innings with his experience. then if we are in trouble williamson can play his natural game at 4...

  • Beau on March 15, 2014, 22:26 GMT

    As McCullum says, NZ will need a bit of luck. Strong batting lineup, a bit boom or bust, but that is true of many countries. NZ need a bowler or two to pull something out of the bag if they are to go deep in the tournament. That's the key for them, I think. Devcich over Guptill, for his bowling. I reckon the tough question is: As good as they both are, can NZ justify Anderson AND Neesham in Bangladesh conditions?

  • Jacob on March 15, 2014, 12:21 GMT

    Anyone who's seen a fair bit of Williamson over the past season should know he's picked up his power game. He's now capable of scoring at strike rates around 140-150. And when you've got the likes of McCullum, Taylor, Anderson, Ronchi, Munro, Guptill and Neesham, is another massive 6 hitter really what is required? Guptill should open with either Devcich, McCullum or Ronchi. Devcich would be the likely choice unless the selectors want to somehow fit Munro or Williamson into the lineup. I'm not going to miss Ryder, he's been taking the mickey out of the players, coaching staff and the fans for far too long. No room for a guy who acts like he's 30 going on 13. No amount of natural talent compensates for the continued disregard he shows in all aspects of playing cricket for NZ.

  • Garry on March 15, 2014, 10:18 GMT

    Kiwicricketnut Williamson should of been in the squad anyway not just for his batting but offspin, seemed crazy leaving him out when playing on slow spinning decks. Ryder would also have been handy with the ball, we don't have enough slow bowlers, Neesham and Andersons medium fast bowling won't cut it.

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