The naming of the 19 (yes 19) man squad to take on Ireland and Scotland would be the first indication of the make-up of next year’s World Cup squad. There is nothing to say that players from outside the 19 cannot make the final World Cup squad but, barring injury, it is pretty unlikely.
Without wanting to jinx things, this World Cup offers New Zealand its best chance of making a final ever, and the parallels are already being drawn between this campaign and that one back in 1992.
To recap, the 19 are:
Brendon McCullum (c)
With the possible exception of Munro, that would have to be the best available, and that is a pretty useful squad all-round. Think of who is missing. Rutherford, Devcich, Elliott, Franklin, and Wagner. There is depth alright.
Take Wagner for example. In 1992 Murphy Su’a was the unwanted 14th man. This time around, Wagner misses out on the 19. Who would you rather call into a side at the last minute?
The squad is built around the team that so methodically and consistently dismantled India at home earlier in the year. Ryder is gone, and it is pretty obvious he will not be part of the plans for the World Cup.
The additions are Munro, Watling, Latham, Brownlie, Boult and a guy called Daniel Vettori.
Munro has been covered above. Latham and Brownlie are there to cover the opening positions, which is the one area totally up for grabs. And so, arguably, is BJ Watling. Note that the talk of promoting Williamson to open seems far more likely for T20 cricket than for the World Cup. For a start, who would bat at number 3 if that happened?
Not unlike in his test career, Watling has been shoved all round the order; sometimes wearing the gloves, sometimes not. However, if was to make the final squad you would imagine it would be as an opener, and there will be the desire to see if he can continue to prove he can score a lot faster than people give him credit for.
Latham is now the incumbent test opener, and is also on a bit of a crash course to prove he can translate domestic form into this form of the game at a higher level. Much the same applies to Brownlie with the exception of the incumbent test opener bit. He is probably still an outsider to make the Final 15 at this stage, but it is good to see he is still in the thoughts.
Plan D will be to trial Jimmy Neesham out at the top of the order at some stage too.
Trent Boult has been traditionally ignored as an international short form cricketer. 25 tests and 8 ODIs is a pretty graphic way of highlighting that, and like Watling has not played an ODI since England was here at the start of last year. But his form for Northern Districts in T20s over the last year mean that he can no longer be fully pigeon holed. He is always dangerous with new ball; we are about to find out whether he has the variation to come back for that tricky second spell, or to bowl at The Death.
But the name that really sticks out is Vettori. Go to the New Zealand current players home page on Cricinfo and he’s not there amongst the 30. But he has played ODIs more recently than most of the players mentioned above, and to have the bonus of being able to slip through those middle over at around 4 RPO is rather appealing.
The risk, obviously, is his fitness. If he is to play in these games he needs to be treated with enormous care; including where he fields. That is itself adds another dimension to this phase of the build-ou.
Let it begin.