The New Zealand cricket team is the finest of all in the business in recent times. From losing two world cup finals in a row in 2015 and 2019 they got redemption by winning the first ICC World Test Championship by defeating India. After the era of Sir Richard Hadlee and Martin Crowe, experts are claiming this as the greatest New Zealand side ever played the game. Revolution in New Zealand cricket started after the 2000 ICC knockout trophy under Stephen Fleming, which is New Zealand’s only ICC trophy to date in the ODI format. But with time everything started to change for the New Zealand cricket team, be it their players, coaching management or mindset. Let’s have a look at what has changed in New Zealand cricket and has made them become the rising giants in cricket.
The name Brendon McCullum is a synonym of devastation, you can say that. Since his debut in 2002, he always maintained one approach and that’s attack. Whether it’s the test, ODI or T20, that attacking mindset helped New Zealand after he was named captain of the Black Caps in late 2012. A fiery opening batsman with an attacking mindset is a nightmare for the bowlers. McCullum is the former leading run-scorer in T20I cricket and is the first and so far only one of the two Kiwi players to have scored two T20I centuries and 2000 runs in T20 Internationals (apart from Martin Guptill). He represented Black Caps as a captain in the 2015 World Cup and got them through to the finals. He also recorded the fastest ODI world cup fifty in just 18 balls against England. He’s the 4th leading run-scorer for New Zealand in all formats combined.
Boult and Southee – The Swing Kings
New-ball partners at the 2008 ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup in Malaysia for New Zealand. They both impressed the cricket experts specially Southee as he made his debut in the test against England on 22nd March 2008, and later Boult joined him in 2011. In the 2015 ODI world cup, Boult was the leading wicket-taker for Black Caps. In November 2018, he became the third bowler for New Zealand to take a hat-trick in ODIs. In June 2019, Boult became the first bowler for New Zealand to take a hat-trick in the world cup. His partner in crime Tim Southee became the third New Zealand bowler to take 300 test wickets, he is also the current vice-captain of the International team. Their record as a new ball pair is behind only to the Anderson-Broad and Wasim-Waqar duo. They are in the top 4 list of most wickets by a New Zealand bowler combined of all formats. On song together they can make even the best batsmen, in set form, to dance to their tunes.
Batting predominantly at number four, he is the leading run-scorer for New Zealand in Test and ODI cricket. 37-year-old Taylor is the first cricketer to play in 100 matches in all formats of international cricket. On 26thDecember 2020, in the first test against Pakistan Taylor became the most-capped player for New Zealand in international cricket, playing in his 438th match across all three formats, surpassing Daniel Vettori. His consistency at number four has always helped the Black Caps in pressure situations.
Kane Williamson was the captain of the New Zealand U-19 team for the 2008 U-19 world cup. He made his international debut in 2010 against India. Williamson has represented New Zealand in 2011, 2015 and 2019 editions of the Cricket World Cup and 2012, 2014 and 2016 editions of the ICC T20 World Cups. He made his full-time captaincy debut for New Zealand in the 2016 ICC T20 World Cup. Williamson captained the Black Caps side in the 2019 World Cup, leading them to the final and winning the Player of the Tournament award. Legends of the game have ranked Williamson among the top 4 modern-day test cricket batsmen, along with Kohli, Root and Smith, the Fab 4. He is the 3rd top scorer for the Black Caps in all formats of international cricket just behind the great Stephen Fleming. In tune, he captained New Zealand to the inaugural World Test Championship in 2021 and won the first ICC Trophy under his reign.