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White: Will be 'surprised' if Boult is not in New Zealand's 2023 World Cup squad

Outgoing NZC chief says while the priority will be given to contracted players, conversations with Boult have been "very positive"

Trent Boult reacts after nearly bowling Alex Hales, England vs New Zealand, T20 World Cup, Brisbane, November 1, 2022

Trent Boult last played for New Zealand at the 2022 T20 World Cup  •  Getty Images

Days after Trent Boult expressed his desire to feature in the 2023 ODI World Cup, New Zealand Cricket's outgoing chief executive officer David White has said he will be "surprised" if the left-arm quick does not represent New Zealand in the tournament later this year.
Boult was released from his central contract last August at his own request in order to spend more time with his family and increase his availability for franchise leagues around the world. However, White, who had taken NZC's charge in 2012, said that centrally contracted players would be at the front of the selection queue.
"We have made it very clear that priority is given to centrally-contracted players," White told New Zealand radio station Newstalk ZB this week. "That was the case during the summer. It is very important for the integrity of the competition and of the contracting model that we give priority to our centrally-contracted players."
White revealed that NZC had kept the communication open with Boult, hinting the seamer was likely to be on the flight to India for the World Cup.
"In saying that, we've had a lot of conversations with Trent over the last few weeks and months," White said. "I'd be very surprised if he wasn't representing New Zealand in the World Cup, and we're having very positive conversations with him."
Boult has not played international cricket since New Zealand's T20 World Cup semi-final defeat to Pakistan in November 2022 and has not played a Test match in nearly a year
In February, New Zealand's coach Gary Stead said he had spoken to Boult ahead of the two-Test series at home against England and explained why he would not be in contention despite injuries to Matt Henry and Kyle Jamieson at the time. Even then, Stead had left Boult optimistic for future New Zealand assignments.
"It does not mean we have ruled Trent out from anything in the future," Stead had said. "There will be ongoing discussion and we're not sure what the landscape of the cricket world will look like in six months. It might change again."
"Players still say that Test cricket and representing their country is the pinnacle. It would be fair to say that a lot of the players who are going into leagues are former [internationals], or [are] towards the end of their career"
David White
Boult, who is currently playing in the IPL for Rajasthan Royals, told ESPNcricinfo in a recent chat that he remains hopeful about playing another ODI World Cup, a desire which took seed as soon as New Zealand lost the 2019 World Cup in a heart-breaking finish. "I remember after the 2019 final, I said to Kane [Williamson] that we've got to be there again, come 2023 in India. One hundred percent, I've got that desire to be out there."

'Representing country still the pinnacle'

T20 leagues like the IPL offer big money and a better work-life balance, which force players to reconsider their career paths. Along with Boult, New Zealand allrounder James Neeesham too had declined a central contract, while Colin de Grandhomme retired from international cricket.
But White felt a lot of present-day cricketers still preferred representing their country over playing in franchise cricket.
"I think that the players still say that Test cricket and representing their country is still the pinnacle," he said. "[With] the majority of the players, that is certainly the case. It would be fair to say that a lot of the players that are going into leagues are former [internationals], or [are] towards the end of their career. So I am not so concerned about that.
"The really positive thing about cricket compared to a lot of other sports is that it's being bankrolled primarily by India, which is now the most populated country in the world. There are huge resources and a lot of revenue, which is good for cricket. So it's just important that New Zealand Cricket ensures that we stay relevant. That way we influence the international game at the ICC level, and we can compete at the highest level.
"I think over the next year or two, there'll be a little bit more certainty about where that goes. But the international game is strong. I think we are very well-positioned, and I'm very proud of what we have achieved over my tenure."