New Zealand will be the dark horses yet again

New Zealand will be the dark horses yet again

Another World Cup is round the corner and that status remains unchanged. They are still the dark horses going into the ICC World Twenty20 in India. And nestled in a group that consists of heavyweights India, Pakistan and Australia, it is easy to see why.



By James Jose

Published: Sun 13 Mar 2016, 12:00 PM

Last updated: Sun 13 Mar 2016, 2:04 PM

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.
That has been New Zealand's story when it comes to World Cups in both the 50-over and T20 formats. The Black Caps have been the perennial dark horses, flying under the radar and coming there or thereabouts to mix it with the fancied and the favourites, but never quite getting there.

Another World Cup is round the corner and that status remains unchanged. They are still the dark horses going into the ICC World Twenty20 in India. And nestled in a group that consists of heavyweights India, Pakistan and Australia, it is easy to see why.
But then, the Black Caps cannot be written off so easily. They can pull off a surprise like they have done previously, and they do have a team capable of doing that. The Kiwis are well stacked with all-rounders, hard-hitting batsmen who can smack it all around the park, bowlers who can bowl at express pace as well as spinners who can twirl it and get on the revs. They have Kane Williamson, Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Luke Ronchi, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee and Ross Taylor among others.
What would be interesting is how the Black Caps cope without Brendon McCullum. That inspirational man was a leader who the team really looked up to. McCullum was the one who led the way with his attacking batting and his astute captaincy.
Like his tattoos, McCullum always wore his heart on his sleeve whenever he wore the New Zealand shirt, be it the whites or their famed, pitch black jerseys.
He brought about the philosophy of play hard but also up hold the spirit of sportsmanship. McCullum was the ambassador on the cricketing stage for a country as tiny as New Zealand. His philosophy rubbed off on his teammates and the new captain Williamson will be looking to carry on that legacy.
McCullum bid adieu to the game against their trans-Tasman rivals Australia but the way he batted in his farewell Test, it begged the question, why was he retiring. New Zealand would have hoped to see him go full tilt at the ICC World Twenty20 on last time but that was not to be. They will have to do so without him and it will be a massive, massive void.
So, it will be now left to the new leader Williamson to inspire this team. After the building blocks were laid my McCullum, it should be an easy one for Williamson, for, he has a team which is ready to play for one another and selfless to the team's cause. New Zealand have always been that way with McCullum instilling such a philosophy.
The closest New Zealand have come in the World Twenty20 is the semifinal at the inaugural edition in South Africa in 2007.
But a brilliant showing in the 50-over World Cup in Australia and their backyard, where they finished runners-up, points towards a good ending here.
Like they say, good guys always finish last. Hopefully, the good guys can finish first this time.
james@khaleejtimes.com


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