3 Dec 2020

Black Caps eye test championship final at Lord's

8:03 am on 3 December 2020

The Black Caps' sights are set on four wins from four as they arrive at the start of their test match schedule for the summer.

Kane Williamson and Black Caps at the MCG.


After New Zealand won both completed T20s against the visiting West Indies side, the two teams were set to begin the first of two tests on Thursday.

The hosts went into the match in Hamilton as healthy favourites - having won six straight test series at home, including a 2-0 sweep of the Windies three years ago.

Repeating that feat would keep them in contention to be the first winners of international cricket's newest prize at the sport's most famous venue.

Lord's wasn't kind to the Black Caps during their last visit but that didn't mean they weren't keen to return in June.

That's when the London ground hosted the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC) final - and New Zealand coach Gary Stead said their presence there came down to a flawless home summer.

"It's pretty simple for us - win all four tests and we give ourselves a good chance...

"We'd still need some things to go our way but I think when you look at the likelihood of things happening it would give us a pretty good chance of being in the top two."

While the Black Caps coach had done the maths, that wasn't a big focus for the captain.

Kane Williamson said they wouldn't alter their approach just because they needed to win all four of their tests this summer to be in contention for the WTC final.

"Actually it's being able to remove that to a certain extent and focus on what it is that gives you the best chance to play competitive and your best test cricket.

"Rather than getting ahead of yourself and worrying about where you might be on ladders.

NZ cricket captain Kane Williamson


"If you are able to take care of what's in front of you, perhaps the bits down the road can look after themselves."

One player who wouldn't be getting ahead of himself was Will Young.

A hamstring injury to wicketkeeper BJ Watling handed the prolific Central Districts batsman a long-awaited test debut at the top of the order.

Tom Blundell would take the gloves and move down from opener to the middle order.

Young missed on a maiden Black Caps appearance in March last year when the Christchurch mosque shootings caused the cancellation of a test against Bangladesh.

But perseverance had paid off, and Williamson said Young's extended time around the New Zealand squad wasn't the only reason he was confident he could step up.

"He's an experienced player who's played a lot of first-class cricket and to a very high standard and deserves that opportunity.

"He's pretty calm and relaxed and knows that he just wants to go out and contribute as much as he can to the team so that attitude is a great thing to have."

Along with Watling, all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme and spinner Ajaz Patel weren't available through injury.

But Stead said the squad still had a very settled look to it.

"We are confident in the build-up our guys have had, with quite a bit of first class cricket.

"I know some have come straight from IPL but that's the reason for resting some, Trent and Kane in particular, to ensure they got the red ball readiness under their belt."

West Indies captain Jason Holder.


The West Indies had taken a similar approach.

All bar two of their test squad sat out the T20 series, instead playing two red ball matches against New Zealand A in Queenstown.

With several players performing well, skipper Jason Holder was optimistic they would be much better than their comprehensive 2-0 defeat on Kiwi soil at the end of 2017.

"I think it's a perfect opportunity. Pretty much the nucleus of the squad is similar, a lot of familiar faces are still around.

"We've had some pretty good success between then and now, so it's a point for us to continue to build as a squad.

"I think if we execute our plans, our A game has to be as good as their A game."

But the Black Caps best at home lately - with six test series wins on the bounce - had been hard to match.

And new ball bowler Trent Boult was hoping the recipe behind that success continued to do the trick.

"Just that experience of guys that have played a lot of cricket in our own conditions.

"As a bowling unit, we're a group that's very clear with what are trying to do. Guys that have been able to take wickets at different stages of the match and we're very clear with how we want to take those 20 wickets."

Doing just that yet again should be made easier if Williamson could win the toss on a green looking Seddon Park pitch when the coin came down on Friday morning.