Can Kane Williamson’s New Zealand shed bottler tag?
New Zealand have suffered their fair share of high-profile defeats in recent years. Can they shed their bottler tag in the 2020 World T20 in Australia?
It’s never boring being a fan of New Zealand’s cricket team. The Black Caps are specialists in providing entertainment, although the luck never seems to fall their way – especially in major finals.
Ben Stokes defied Kane Williamson and company aided by a huge slice of luck along the way to force the 2019 World Cup final into a Super Over. The Three Lions received the rub of the green as their eventual victory came through boundaries scored, despite New Zealand matching their total in the shootout contest.
The Black Caps once again suffered the agony of defeat on the grand stage, having lost the previous final at the hands of Australia in 2015 when Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson, and James Faulkner tore through their batting line-up in Melbourne.
Add a loss to South Africa in the final of the 2009 ICC Champions Trophy, along with several semi-final exits – there has not been a great deal of joy for New Zealand in major competitions. The outlier was their triumph over India in the ICC Knockout Final 20 years ago, but it’s time for Williamson’s and company to end their trophy drought as there is enough talent in their squad to triumph – notably in the upcoming ICC World T20.
Given the consistency of the Black Caps and given that all Kiwis do love a flutter on cricket there should be plenty of bets on backing New Zealand to win the competition in Australia at the end of the year. Williamson’s men have come close enough, but they will need to address their composure under pressure.
In the last World T20 under the captaincy of Brendon McCullum, New Zealand were outstanding in the group stage, winning all four of their matches. They defeated India, Australia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh to ease through to the semi-finals. However, an underwhelming performance against England resulted in their exit in the last four.
The Black Caps will return the majority of the same side that failed in India in 2016 in the tournament this time around. There are a lot of familiar faces that have enjoyed a great deal of personal success in international cricket, but the ultimate goal of titles for their nation has evaded them. Unfortunately, time is beginning to run out as Ross Taylor, Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Colin de Grandhomme, and perhaps even Tim Southee will not be competing again in the shortest format.
New Zealand have been blessed with talented players have been allowed to hone their crafts in the Indian Premier League. That experience should not be taken for granted, but it has not helped their key men deliver in key moments wearing a black shirt. Raising the standard of their displays against elite opposition has been troublesome in recent series, losing 5-0 against India at the beginning of the year. England also repeated their feat of the 50 over World Cup final by besting them in a Super Over in their T20 series decider in November last year.
Under Williamson, New Zealand have often punched above their weight, but have failed to produce a knockout blow when it was needed the most. They’re in danger of becoming like the great South Africa teams of the past – full of quality players throughout the line-up, but not tough enough when it matters the most. All eyes will be on the Black Caps to shed their bottler tag in Australia.