Sports, Cricket

Injuries hamper New Zealand challenge

By Reuters
Published : 02 Oct 2023 08:23 PM

New Zealand are banking on golden generation trio Kane Williamson, Tim Southee and Trent Boult having one last hurrah as they look to finally snare a limited-overs World Cup trophy after so many near misses.

None was closer than the final of the 50-over World Cup against England four years ago, when New Zealand missed out on boundary countback after two Super Overs failed to separate the teams.

The Black Caps accepted the Lord's defeat with admirable good grace, as they had far more emphatic losses to Australia in the 2015 title decider and the 2021 Twenty20 World Cup final.

Master batsman Williamson and strike bowlers Southee and Boult were key players in those three campaigns but, now approaching their mid-30s, their paths to India have been anything but smooth. Coach Gary Stead has spent as much time sweating on medical reports as batting and bowling analysis this year, especially after totem Williamson ruptured knee ligaments in the Indian Premier League in April.

The New Zealand captain made a quite remarkable recovery to take his spot in the World Cup squad but only returned to batting in a warm-up victory over Pakistan on Friday.

Williamson will not be available for the tournament opener, a rematch of the 2019 final against England in Ahmedabad next Thursday.

"It was great to see Kane out there, albeit only with the bat today. He didn't feel it at all," he said after the match in Hyderabad.

"Pretty warming from a team perspective that we know he's pretty close to getting back to full fitness."