New Zealand's depth excites coach Gary Stead on long road to 2023 World Cup
Stead believes there could be up to 30 players pushing for selection in the coming years
New Zealand coach Gary Stead believes there could be up to 30 players vying for positions in the ODI side heading towards the 2023 World Cup in India.
New Zealand return to the ODI format for the first time in a year against Bangladesh on Saturday - they have only played four matches since the 2019 World Cup final - and while the focus is not yet firmly on the next edition, circumstance will bring some new faces in the side.
Kane Williamson will be missing the whole series with an elbow injury, Ross Taylor has been ruled out of at least the first game in Dunedin and Colin de Grandhomme is also unavailable as he has surgery on an ankle problem that has plagued his season.
"It is exciting as coach when you sit round the selection table and start looking at the names you expect to keep coming through the way they are developing," Stead said. "It's hard to write 15 names down when there could be up to 30 vying for those spots, that's a good place to be though.
"The strength of New Zealand cricket at the moment is seen in the Blackcaps but it's also driven from below that with our New Zealand A programmes, the domestic game as well is also in good heart because we are producing people who perform well when they come to international level."
There could be three debutants on Saturday with Devon Conway and Will Young set to replace Williamson and Taylor, while allrounder Daryl Mitchell is an option for the middle order depending on the balance of the side. New Zealand have used 26 players so far this season across the T20I and Test series against West Indies, Pakistan and Australia, with this era considered to be the greatest depth the game has had in the country. The match in Dunedin will be the first time since 2014 that neither Williamson nor Taylor have featured in an ODI for New Zealand. The captain is certain to be part of the 2023 campaign and Taylor has previously spoken as having the desire to push towards the tournament, but having a new combination at Nos. 3 and 4 - even if only for a short time - will have its value.
"They are two positions in the order that we have a lot of faith in and strength in New Zealand cricket," Stead said. "The opportunity for Devon and Will to come in is really exciting for them. They are both fine players which we've seen in our domestic formats and also international cricket to date."
Both have made their international debuts this season: Conway in the T20I side, where he has scored 366 runs at 52.28 and Young in the Test series against West Indies, where he first replaced the injured BJ Watling then the absent Williamson who was at the birth of his first child.