Trent Boult is unlikely to feature for New Zealand during their home summer, but head coach Gary Stead is hopeful of having the left-arm seamer back next year.
Boult had given up his New Zealand central contract in 2022 in order to become a freelancer, but reunited with the national team for the 2023 ODI World Cup in India, where New Zealand made the semi-finals. However, he has made himself unavailable for New Zealand's next assignment, a two-match Test series in Bangladesh, which marks the start of a new World Test Championship (WTC) cycle for both sides. Instead, Boult will be in action for Deccan Gladiators in the Abu Dhabi T10 league. It will be his first appearance in the T10 format.
Boult will then link up with MI Emirates, who had retained him ahead of the ILT20, the UAE T20 league, which will run from January 19 to February 18 next year. Boult is also with the Mumbai franchise in the MLC.
"At this stage, Trent and I still need to have a conversation," Stead said after New Zealand lost to India in the World Cup semi-finals in Mumbai. "He's unavailable for the Bangladesh Test series. He's got other commitments in a T10 league, and then the UAE T20 league as well. I think that eats right into the February time period.
"So, it looks unlikely that Trent will play too much in our home summer. He may be available for the T20s against Australia. I still need to have that conversation with him."
New Zealand are scheduled to play three T20Is against Australia in Wellington and Auckland in February 2024, which could precede IPL 2024, where Boult is among the most sought-after overseas seamers. The T20 World Cup will potentially follow the IPL and will run from June 4 to June 30 in the Caribbean and the USA. Stead hasn't ruled out the possibility of Boult returning to the New Zealand side in the near future.
"I think there's every chance [we will see him again] provided his desire is there to keep playing," Stead said. "I think he's still a world class bowler."
Boult - and Tim Southee - though might have played their last ODI World Cup. Both seamers are in their mid-30s, and former New Zealand coach Mike Hesson does not see them making it to the 2027 World Cup in South Africa.
"It's probably in the bowling we're going to see some changing," Hesson told Sky Sport NZ. "Boult and Southee; even [Matt] Henry [is] sort of in his mid-30s as well. You think Adam Milne. You think Lockie Ferguson. So, there are five seamers who probably won't be here in four years' time.
"They are all in slightly different stages [of their careers]. And there's not a huge amount [of seamers] just underneath at the moment. That's where someone like Kyle Jamieson has to absolutely pick that next group of bowlers and run with them. They've tried a lot of guys in recent tours - [Henry] Shipley, [Jacob] Duffy, [Blair] Ticker has come in and done a bit as well. They brought the left-armer from Auckland - [Ben] Lister. They've tried lots but no one has really grabbed it just yet and that's probably the area where I'm a little bit worried about the next group of Black Caps."
At 34, Boult and Southee are New Zealand's oldest members in their current World Cup squad, with allrounder Rachin Ravindra being the only player under 25 in the group. Captain Kane Williamson, though, had said that it's not the end of the road yet for New Zealand's golden generation.
"It's an ongoing effort as a side to keep trying to get better and push the boundaries of where we can get to as a team," Williamson said at his press conference after the semi-final. "You can only hope that, as we experienced from some of our leaders as young guys, that we can continue to bring players through - not just in the quality that [the senior players] bring, because we've seen that in spades throughout the last seven weeks, but also in how they're approaching their cricket in order to try and move this team forwards.
"I think we've seen that too - so some good signs, certainly, in this last period of time. It's not over just yet, but that's where the focus is. You come to these tournaments and they can be small margins [which determine] whether you get further or not, but ultimately, it's about growing as a group and becoming a better cricket team. I think the seven weeks were really valuable for us as a side: we wanted to go further, naturally, but we'll reflect on it and take a lot of good out of it."
Gary Stead: 'Proud of the way we played'
Despite being beset by injuries and KO'd by India in the semi-finals at the Wankhede, Stead was pleased with New Zealand's overall performance in the tournament. Their strike rate as a team in this World Cup is 103.24. Only Australia and South Africa in 2015 - when the batting powerplay was still in operation - and India - by a fraction - in 2023 have ever scored quicker in the history of this competition.
"Look, I'm very, very proud of the way we played," Stead said. "We stuck to our style of play and we fired some shots as well. That's what we keep talking about. Obviously disappointed that we didn't get over the line. You always go to world events and you want to make the final or you want to win the final. That's the disappointing part of it, but the way we went about our cricket, it was a pretty satisfying campaign still."
Shane Jurgensen ended his stint as New Zealand's bowling coach after the World Cup while Stead will take a break. In Stead's absence, Luke Ronchi will be in charge of the team for the two-match Test series in Bangladesh, which begins on November 28 in Sylhet.