Move over rugby, it's cricket season now - Bidwell

2:07 pm on 30 October 2019

Opinion - As one world cup campaign ends, so another begins.

NZ players celebrate the wicket of Morgan.
ICC Cricket World Cup FINAL.

New Zealand's summer of cricket starts this week against England. Photo: © Photosport Ltd 2019

The final of the Twenty20 Cricket World Cup's due to be staged in Melbourne next November, with New Zealand among the obvious title favourites.

World 50-over champions England are in the Christchurch and, boy, wouldn't we love to see them meet the Black Caps in that format. Instead we're to be treated to five T20 internationals, starting at Hagley Oval on Friday.

It might only be Twenty20, but these games have come at a good time. New Zealand's Rugby World Cup exit was disappointing and unexpected, but at least they were beaten fair and square.

The Black Caps have been to Sri Lanka since July's Cricket World Cup final against England, but that trip didn't really register with the general public.

To all intents and purposes, this is the New Zealand cricket team's first outing since that final and how fitting that it be at home and against England.

People reckon the All Blacks are hurting, well they've got nothing to grieve about compared to the Black Caps.

Let's not beat around the bush here. New Zealand were shafted at the Cricket World Cup.

How you can tie a game and be declared the loser is beyond me. Yes, I'm aware of the fine print that saw England awarded the title on boundaries, but I'm yet to see an adequate explanation for why the hosts batted first in the Super Over and why 'dead ball' wasn't called following a ricochet off Ben Stokes' bat.

Ben Stokes dives to make his ground during the final.

The moment after the ball ricocheted off Ben Stokes' bat during the Cricket World Cup final against New Zealand. Photo: Photosport

The fact that amendments have since been made to the playing conditions just shows what a shafting the Black Caps took. The next team who ties a world cup knockout match might get more chance of a fair outcome, but it doesn't change how badly let down New Zealand were.

An injustice was done here and yet the Black Caps conducted themselves with absolute class. They hadn't even lost but there they were, making a bloody good show of being gracious in 'defeat'.

Had India or Australia been on the receiving end of that result, then we might have seen some rather different scenes on the outfield at Lord's. You don't imagine they would've played too nice afterwards.

Anyway, now New Zealand and England are set to reconvene. Not with quite the same personnel - notably Blacks Caps captain Kane Williamson, who's sitting out with a sore hip - but close enough.

Black Caps captain Kane Williamson talks to the media.

Black Caps captain Kane Williamson has been ruled out of the Twenty20s against England. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Williamson should be back for the two Test matches that follow a T20 series in which New Zealand really need to find one or two reliable opening batsmen.

Martin Guptill and Colin Munro didn't have great 50-over world cups, but look as if they'll open again in these games. Wicketkeeper Tim Seifert appears set to bat three in Williamson's absence, but there's no place for Auckland opener Glenn Phillips.

Just 22, Phillips keeps wickets like Seifert and was named in ESPNcricinfo's Team of the Caribbean Premier League earlier this month after some fine batting displays for the Jamaica Tallawahs. New Zealand's established openers aren't so good that Phillips can remain surplus to requirements indefinitely.

Overall it's a handy Black Caps' squad, with this series likely to provide a good indication of whether the team can become a world-beating one between now and November next year.

More than anything it's just nice to be thinking and writing about something other than where the All Blacks' world cup campaign went wrong and who should be the next head coach.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs

We have regular online commentary of local and international sport.