In modern-day cricket, where there’s always a discussion about the increase of franchise cricket and how the T20 format ruining cricket rather than ruling, the players are getting more inclined towards the amount of franchise cricket being played. 

While the sport is going through the transitional phase, which is unforced and rather to please the spectators, New Zealand seems to be going through a silent transition as well, which seems to be going unnoticed. 

Let’s shed some light and dwell on this transition and how it will impact the team and their performance. 

Despite the fact that New Zealand is a small country, they have managed to produce some great ambassadors of the game and have been among the top teams since the World Cup 2015. 

The Kiwis have been playing an exceptional brand of cricket for a while now.

They made it to the final of the World Cup 2015, the semifinal of the 2016 T20 World Cup, the final of the World Cup 2019, the World Test Championship 2021, the final of the T20 World Cup 2021, the semifinal of the T20 World Cup 2022 and World Cup 2023. But they could only take the Test mace home after winning the WTC 2021, defeating India in the final. 

In the recent tour of Bangladesh and the ongoing T20I series against Pakistan, we are seeing many new faces in the Kiwis camp, and it’s turning out to be like a coin, considering the pros and cons.

Why the BlackCaps are ‘OKAY’ with Trent Boult opting out of the central contract?

Trent Boult, who has been one of the key bowlers for the New Zealand team has opted out from the central contract so that he can play T20 leagues all around the world and rest whenever he wants. Undoubtedly, he will be part of crucial ICC tournaments, but what about those guys, who have been playing all year to replace him but will not be getting a chance whenever he makes a comeback in the team?

It’s only fair if the Kiwis will prioritise the centrally contracted players, but unfortunately, they will not, considering the abilities Boult possesses and how he has been a match-winner for them.

On the other hand, there’s Tim Southee, who has given his all to New Zealand cricket and still has been the premier bowler for the Kiwis in all three forms of the game without complaining. He recently became the first bowler to pick 150 T20I wickets and is reigning the bowling records.

The BlackCaps zone in around prominent anchors: Kane Williamson and Daryl Mitchell

Yes, there’s Devon Conway, Tom Latham, Mark Chapman, and Finn Allen, but a team that hopes to find the most consistent and all-format players are Kane Williamson and Daryl Mitchell. 

Undoubtedly, Devon Conway has been nothing short of an exceptional player in all formats, but he is still way too far from the point where Kane Williamson and Daryl Mitchell are currently for the New Zealand team. And who knows that Conway will be prioritising international cricket in the coming years as well?

When it comes to Tom Latham, he has been for the Kiwis, whenever they need him to keep the wickets, whenever they need him to lead the team, he’s always there. But has he been contributing up to his standards lately? Well, he has been miserable with the bat and might even lose his place in the ODIs considering his latest performances. 

His average in ODI’s in the year 2023, which was officially a year full of ODIs, was below 30, and a team like New Zealand, who have been among the top teams lately, cannot ignore the fact that one of their foremost batters has been playing below par level cricket. 

How are the youngsters stepping up?

There was a time when Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill used to open the innings for the Kiwis, and on their day, they could win games single-handedly.

With both of them being the best attackers of the ball, the Kiwis have transitioned into more of a steady approach with Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra. Although it has worked for them, and that too pretty well considering they defeated England, who were the defending champions by 9 wickets, chasing 283 in the World Cup 2023.

In Rachin Ravindra, they have found a gem and the Kiwi fans would hope that he continues to do the same for a long period of time. Playing his first ever World Cup, and that too in his debut year, he went on to hammer 578 runs and broke Sachin’s record as well. 

There have been a few more guys who got to make their debut in the recent series against Bangladesh, named- Josh Clarkson, Jacob Duffy, William ORourke, and Ben Sears.

What does the future seem to hold for the BlackCaps?

All that New Zealand cricket would hope for is that not everyone turns their backs on the national team like Trent Boult or even James Neesham, who was once a crucial member of the BlackCaps setup, but played around in a number of leagues and is not turning out the best one for the Blackcaps now. Who could have thought that the batter who was sent in the Super over of the World Cup 2019 final, the one who smacked a six against Jofra Archer, would become a bits-and-pieces cricketer?

The first project for this team appears to be the upcoming T20 World Cup 2024, and the BlackCaps have been good enough against the Pakistan team, which seems to suggest that these will be the men who will be making it to the squad for the big event, and of course, Trent Boult.

Henceforth, talents like Rachin Ravindra, Mark Chapman, Finn Allen and more shall be seen more often than not wearing the BlackCaps

Having said that, if the BlackCaps won’t do anything about players opting out of the central contracts, their cricket could well be in for some unwanted drama.

So for a team like the BlackCaps that believes in playing the quietly bold brand of Cricket, inching towards an uncanny situation wouldn’t suit their DNA- will it?

Considering the way teams like Afghanistan, The Netherlands and Zimbabwe are playing nowadays, New Zealand would definitely want to be head and shoulders above this rising lot and closer than ever to their normal operating procedure: one where they keep stunning world cricket never minding for a bit the tag of cricket’s perennial ”underdogs”.

Note- feature image source (BlackCaps official Twitter handle)


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