Black Caps in 2023?
Still struggling big time with the injustice of it all. This has been infinity times harder to process than getting reamed by Australia in 2015. We could have - possibly should have - won this final and title.
In 2015 I was consoled by being able to look forward and confidently expect we’d still have a pretty good side in 2019. We were always likely to still have Guppy, Kane, Rosco, Anderson, Henry, Southee, Boult and Milne from that side, and knew we were heading to a tournament played in conditions nearer to our own than anywhere else it could be held. I was confident we’d give it another tilt and distinctly remember predicting that on TSF in the aftermath of the 2015 final.
But fast forward and we’ve come as close as a team can possibly, possibly get without quite pulling it off, and I have little confidence in our team being as strong in the next tournament, to be played in far less suitable conditions. This year our team had three of our top five all time ODI batsmen in it, either at or near the peak of their powers, possibly our best ever ODI pace bowler, and a quality supporting cast with some fast improvers and only a couple of duds. You could say much the same of the 2015 side but throw in our greatest ODI spinner as well, plus a much better performed Southee.
In 2023 we’ll still have Kane and I have no reason to believe he’ll be any less of a player than he is now. So we’ll always be a chance. But I’m not sure how many of the current guys will still be around. Guptill, out of form this tournament but still only 32 currently, will probably be past it at 36. It’s possible we’re seeing him waning now, but I tend to think he’ll come right again and we’ll get another year or three out of him. Rosco will be around 38 and a very unlikely starter based on the longevity of NZ batsmen historically but stranger things have happened and he seems very fit. On balance though, probably not. Boult will be 33 and fairly long in the tooth for a pace bowler. Still a possible starter but highly unlikely to be operating at the same level.
Nicholls, Latham, Neesham, Santner, Sodhi, Ferguson and Henry will all be 32 or younger which helps the core. Add to that Corey Anderson, Tom Blundell, Will Young, Tim Seifert and Adam Milne. Ok I’m cheering up a little, but still need to see at least a couple of these guys develop into truly world class players in order to have any confidence. The Colins will be gone. One should never play ODI cricket again and the other will drift out of the side due to age prior to the next WC. Southee will also be a goner.
So the team for 2023?
Well I’m assuming Guppy and Rosco will be gone, sadly. Boult may well be reduced to a Kyle Mills 2015 role as the experienced fourth seamer unlikely to play but in the squad. Kane will be there at first drop and I reckon Nicholls should have well and truly cemented a spot at 4 by then (same as in the test side) but may be needed at the top.
Young shapes as a likely contender at 5 unless we stack the middle order with power allrounders in which case I can see Neesham batting there. There’s a chance Nicholls stays at the top of the order and Young slots in at 4, I guess. Latham will also contend for 4. At this stage the opening spots look problematic and particularly by then if Guppy is in fact history. Maybe Blundell takes one of these spots, or Seifert who appeals as a guy who can get us away to a flyer, McCullum-esque.
I truly hope Anderson comes back as a true all rounder and reclaims a position. Santner will probably be there as a defensive spinner but hopefully not batting as high as 8 as he appears most unworthy of this spot in the ODI team at the moment. Team structure however may dictate that he stays there. Sodhi should play a lot more for NZ and should be in this squad.
Latham looks likely to enjoy an extended run in the middle order. There will be new guys come in but it’s not hard to imagine a lot of our current quality performers still holding their spots.
A possible 1st XI in India:
I’d love to see another hitter at 8. If Santners test batting develops and he starts not ducking under bouncers when we need runs then he may be more suited to 7, sandwiched between a couple of thugs.