Family first for New Zealand's IPL players before World Cup mission

Kane Williamson plays one off his hips BCCI

The first priority for New Zealand coach Gary Stead ahead of the World Cup is that his players returning from the IPL spend some quality time with their families before embarking on the trip to the UK, as they attempt to win the title for the first time after the near miss in 2015.

Only five of New Zealand's World Cup 15 were in Brisbane for the unofficial three-match series against Australia over the last week, which the home side took 2-1 with a DLS victory in the decider. However, the shadow New Zealand side fared very well, almost conjuring a victory in the opening match, which Australia squeaked by one wicket, then chasing 278 comfortably in the second. Will Young was the standout performer of the trip.

The nine IPL-based players are currently making their way home as their tournaments end (Ross Taylor, playing for Middlesex, will meet the squad in England) and they have been given a few days of downtime before the party departs Auckland later in the week. Stead believes this is a very important few days before the intensity and scrutiny of a World Cup, but is also eager to try and keep everything as normal as possible during the tournament.

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"Between now and then some of our players need four or five days at home just to freshen up and see their families, feeling good about their wellbeing," Stead said. "Going to the IPL for seven or eight weeks can be tough work so reconnection with some of the families is the first thing I want to see. Then when we get over it's as intense as we want to make it.

"There's no doubt the World Cup is a massive carrot but I'm sure every team goes in with the same goals so there's no point overplaying it. In my view, all we can do is prepare as consistently as we can against every team then just play well. If you get too worried about end results you can make mistakes. We try at all times not to get too wrapped up in the result."

New Zealand coaches have become used to dealing with the clash of the IPL with demands for tournament or series preparation, with the long-standing agreement their players can make the most of the opportunity in India if selected. Stead remains relaxed about the situation although he did acknowledge that there has been a lack of game time. The most matches played by a New Zealander has been Kane Williamson's nine, with Martin Guptill and Tim Southee getting just three outings and Ish Sodhi two.

"It's disappointing some haven't played a little more cricket but that's out of my control and it's out of their control at times as well," he said. "They are professionals and have played a lot of international cricket, they know how to get themselves up. It won't take them long.

"I have 100% trust in the players over there and the coaching staff. We've looked at programs for each of our players, so I don't have a problem with that at all. I don't complain about that, I just know that's the case and we move on."

ALSO READ: Shoulder surgery likely to rule Will Young out for rest of the year

In terms of the time in Brisbane, Stead marked it down as a "fantastic experience" for those trying to push their claims for higher honours. Young, who now faces an extended period on sidelines due to shoulder surgery, put his name up in lights with 301 runs in three innings including back-to-back centuries.

"There are some up-and-coming youngsters in the group who will really grow from this experience and understand more what international cricket is about," he said. "That's part of what we've really got out of the week, the ability for us to test and see players, in some cases who are around the A team, for them to get some experience against guys like this will be invaluable. If you talk about Will Young, I thought his composure against Starc and the like was outstanding. He showed the ability to play off both feet to pace and spin."

Henry Nicholls, one of the five players in the World Cup squad on trip, sat out the last two matches after picking up a minor hamstring injury in the opening outing. Stead confirmed the move was largely precautionary and the recovery time was expected to be around five days with no concern about him heading into the tournament.

When New Zealand arrive in the UK they have warm-up matches against India and West Indies before their first pool match against Sri Lanka on June 1 in Cardiff.