When it comes to going into a global ICC event, New Zealand always like to maintain a low profile. Despite consistent performances over the years in multi-team tournaments, the Blackcaps do not tend to get the ‘favourite’ tag, like their counterparts from Australia or India often get from experts around the world.
The scenario is pretty much similar now as the Kiwis head towards the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. Having reached the semis of last World T20 and final of 50-over World Cup in 2015, they are one of the strong contenders for this tournament, irrespective of what the pundits say.
On Sunday, following their disappointing warm-up outing against India, Tim Southee, Jimmy Neesham and Luke Ronchi came out to attend cricket’s first ever ‘Mixed Media Zone’. During that candid interaction with a small group of media representatives, the trio talked about New Zealand’s preparations and chances.
Southee: It was nice to get together as a group
Of late, New Zealand have been gearing up for this tournament by playing a tri-series against Ireland and Bangladesh in Dublin. However, most of the members of their original 15-member squad for the Champions Trophy were in India featuring in the Indian Premier League.
For Southee, who was a part of the New Zealand contingent India, the warm-up fixture against India was an opportunity to get into the grooves in national colours.
“It was our first hit-out as a group. Some guys have been in Ireland playing the series and some guys have been in India, so it was nice to get together as a group after a couple of days’ training. It’s the conditions we’re going to face. Disappointing with the bat. With the ball, at times, we showed what we want to do.”
The experienced Kiwi cricketer also mentioned that his team has all the qualities to go all the way, but he also informed that they are thinking about one game at a time.
“We haven’t as a group thought of the semi-final yet. We take each game as it comes. I don’t think you can start thinking about the semi-final and the final at this stage before a game has even been played. Our full focus is on the game against Australia at the start of next month.”
Neesham: We want to put the best foot forward
Echoing Southee’s view, all-rounder Neesham also sounded quite confident about his team’s chances.
“This is a very important tournament for us,” said the all-rounder, who scored 46 while batting under pressure and took 1 for 11 in three overs of the match which was abandoned due to rain.
“The results haven’t been bad over the last six months of course; we’ve got the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy in the cabinet against Australia and took South Africa and India to deciders as well.
“The results have been promising, but whenever you come into these pinnacle world events, you want to put your best foot forward and we definitely are looking to win the whole tournament – that’s for sure.”
Ronchi: Need build the innings in the middle overs
Wicketkeeper-batsman Ronchi, who top scored with 66 on Sunday, during his team’s dismal batting outing at the Oval, feels his team’s batsmen should take time in the middle overs to build the innings.
“We just need to go back to our plans so that we know this is our blueprint and we don’t need to have to score what we want at 40 overs to be reached at the end of 30 overs. We can take our time and build it in the middle, we don’t need to treat it like a T20. Against a team like India, they obviously take wickets and jump on to you pretty quickly.“
He also expects the wickets to be batting friendly during the Champions Trophy. However, he believes that despite the expected flat tracks, team’s should not think about chasing every time.
New Zealand have one more practice game, against Sri Lanka in Birmingham on May 31, before they take on Australian their opening encounter at the same venue on June 2.