Can we win the World Cup?

Kyle Mills writes for the Herald:

We have a real chance at this World Cup.

After all the training, preparation and talk, the World Cup is only seven days away and all the boys are fizzing at the prospect of playing on home soil. After a successful summer against Sri Lanka and Pakistan there is a quiet confidence in the group, but we are also very mindful that we are up against the world’s best teams and we need to be at our best. New Zealand have reached the semifinals on six occasions and we will be giving it our all to make the final in Melbourne on March 29. We are taking nothing for granted. It feels like we have the personnel to do it – from experienced, attacking and creative batsmen to a fine wicketkeeper, terrific spinners and a bowling group who have great variety – and that’s not something we could have said about previous teams.

I can’t remember going into a World Cup before with so much depth, particularly in the bowling department. Even outside the squad of 15, you can rattle off a few players who you would feel comfortable about being in the starting XI of a World Cup game.

One of the crucial things about our batsmen, apart from the fact Kane Williamson is developing into a truly world-class player, is that both Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor are in their 30s and have played hundreds of games and performed at that level. If you look at teams who have won World Cups in the past, they have had very experienced batsmen.

That’s all true. ?But you also need to be on form, and Brendan’s been making us all nervous. ?It doesn’t really stand out too much because the slack has been picked up down the order. ?A captain that isn’t firing is a bit of a problem. ?

Brendon and Mike Hesson have played big roles in creating the right environment.

Brendon has a leadership style that is very much team first. If you look at the way he puts himself up and down the order, it’s a clear message that you have to do everything you can for the team, no matter what type of player you are and that has filtered through the group.

Mike Hesson tries to create a very relaxed environment in which players are encouraged to play their natural games. In the past, there might have been restrictions on batsmen and bowlers around how they should play.

The message from Mike is that, “we back you and, if you make a mistake, you’re not going to be dragged over the hot coals”. That gives the guys confidence to go and play. It’s what you do when you play club cricket, then your natural ability gets you to the next level. You never want to take away a cricketer’s flair and that’s the environment we have.

We still have game plans and a blueprint but it’s up to the individual out in the middle to help us get to those points. They can do it by playing their style of cricket.

From a bowling perspective, it’s a matter of not being afraid to try something because, what’s the worst that can happen? Getting hit for six? Well, I have been hit for six plenty of times.

In many ways, this week’s practice games against Zimbabwe and the South Africans will be a challenge.

I’m ready. We’re ready. It’s time to play.

There is certainly a different feeling about the current Black Caps, and it isn’t just because they are winning more. ?I think the culture may finally be right for magic to happen.

Do we dare hope….?


– Pete