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News

Gary Stead insists ghosts of 2019 won't haunt New Zealand

"Haven't heard anything spoken about it, I'm not sure anything from that game will come into it."

Deivarayan Muthu
09-Nov-2021
Ish Sodhi celebrates after getting Gulbadin Naib, Afghanistan vs New Zealand, T20 World Cup, Group 2, Abu Dhabi, November 7, 2021

Gary Stead - "Personally, I'm very, very proud of the team - the way they keep finding ways to fight and to adapt on the biggest stage"  •  Getty Images

England vs New Zealand in a World Cup: here we go again. In 2019, nothing but boundary countback separated the two sides in the 50-over World Cup final at Lord's as England snatched the title. Two years on, they will face each other in the T20 World Cup semi-final in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
Eight players from that 2019 squad, including the injured Lockie Ferguson, are part of the 2021 group that has made the semis. However, New Zealand head coach Gary Stead has insisted that the dramatic result from 2019 will not impact Wednesday's fixture.
"I haven't heard anything spoken about it [2019 World Cup final here] here," Stead said. "I think the guys are looking forward to the prospect of facing England again. As I said, they're a quality side and yes, we just look forward to the challenge of playing the best side as well. So, I'm not sure there will be anything from the 2019 game that will come into it...maybe a Super Over it might."
England will be without Jason Roy for the rest of their campaign after the opener suffered a calf injury. Despite the enforced absence of the opening batter, Stead was wary of England's white-ball might, but said that New Zealand won't veer away from their original plans.
"He's obviously a quality player and first and foremost you don't want to see anyone go down injured like that," Stead said of Roy. "I mean we had the same with Lockie [Ferguson] and we know that we felt that as a big loss; I'm sure England are as well. I expect someone like Bairstow to probably go up to the top of the order and they've got a number of players that can do that.
"But they've also toyed with the idea of floating different players at different times, so maybe they've got match-ups they can do against us. But I don't think that will change the way that we approach the game. We're looking forward to playing England again and being I guess a one-off game, where anything can happen."
Stead hailed New Zealand's progress to the semi-finals, and they are now two steps away from holding two world titles in the same year, having already won the inaugural World Test Championship in June earlier this year.
"Personally, I'm very, very proud of the team - the way they keep finding ways to fight and to adapt on the biggest stage," he said. "I'm not sure when you line each player up - man for man - a lot of people that perhaps give us the credit that some of these guys deserve. It's a pretty experienced group of guys now who know each other's games very, very well and know the skills of each other. As a collective group, we do fight and fight hard. That's all I keep asking for. The results, at the end of the day, will look after themselves if we do those little things well."
One of the little things that made a big impact for New Zealand in a virtual quarter-final for them against Afghanistan was their fielding, according to Stead. It's often an over-rated aspect in modern T20 cricket, but New Zealand showed that it could still make a difference.
After Devon Conway set the tone with a fantastic catch behind the stumps, despite being wrong-footed, Jimmy Neesham and Kane Williamson pulled off tumbling catches. Daryl Mitchell and Glenn Phillips also aggressively patrolled the boundaries as New Zealand pinned down Afghanistan to 124 for 8.
"We held onto some very, very good catches, in particular, and I guess you start to see the skills of the modern-day cricketer as well," Stead said. "What Daryl Mitchell did [in] the first ball of the last over was incredible really. I think [he] not only saved four runs, but possibly saved another 10-12 runs in the context of what might've been in that over. So, that put us on the right foot, and I guess gave us that real high and lift leading into our batting innings as well that it was 125 and not 140 potentially.
"You never know with those little things, but they do make a big difference and I thought Kane took a great catch, Jimmy Neesham took a great catch, Devon what he did as a keeper there to get the first wicket as well with the one-handed grab. They were all really important things for us. So, we pride ourselves on that and hopefully it backs up the job the bowlers are doing as well."

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo