New Zealand, their opponents in the final, have proven that they too have a strong supply line when they beat England in a Test match without six of their first-choice players at Edgbaston last week. Here, we are talking about a cricketing nation with a population of 5.1 million taking on a team which selects a team from a population of 1.3 billion.
New Zealand coach Gary Stead offered an insight into how New Zealand cricket works. “We have just six teams playing domestic cricket and there are around 90 players to choose from. It actually works for us because we can work on them closely,” Stead said during a virtual media interaction from Southampton on Tuesday.
“We have the New Zealand ‘A’ tours much like India. Obviously, India’s population gives them more resources. But it works in our favour that we have these many cricketers. We work with them individually, give them their roles and groom them,” he added.
Ross Taylor put things in perspective. “When I started out, there were only three or four players in the New Zealand team who were top quality international players. Now we have a team full of them. The exposure in IPL has helped too,” Taylor reckoned.
New Zealand clear Williamson, Watling for WTC final against India
The New Zealand team has made it to three finals of ICC World events in the last six years. Rugby remains the most popular sport in the country but cricket has started to make a headway. “We have put smiles back on the faces of fans. There has been an upswing since the 2015 World Cup. Making it to two World Cup finals has certainly helped,” Stead said.
Browse through both the team sheets and you will find like-for-like replacements available for each player on both teams. In essence, two teams with the best bench strengths are playing.
Would have retired if we had won the 2019 World Cup: Taylor
The New Zealand team is back in England after the heartbreak of the 2019 World Cup final. Ross Taylor makes no bones about the fact that they are looking at redemption here.
“It was disappointing to have lost that match at Lord’s. When you lose and you’re at the age that I was, you think that might be the last time I ever get to play a World Cup final, so it’s nice for me to be here. If we had won that game, I might have retired after that, so I’m glad that I didn’t and that I’m here today,” Taylor said.