T20 World Cup: Ian Smith calls NZ 'rusty', questions readiness for tournament

Tarouba (Trinidad), June 10 (IANS) Former New Zealand wicketkeeper-batter Ian Smith has called the side ‘rusty’ in their ongoing Men’s T20 World Cup campaign and has questioned their readiness for the mega event, citing not playing international cricket for three months and having no warm-up match in the Caribbean.

Last week, in their tournament opening game at Providence Stadium in Guyana, New Zealand were bowled out for just 75 in the 16th over after Afghanistan reached 159/6. The bowlers struggled for rhythm, the batters were just not there and the fielding wasn’t up to the mark in their massive 84-run defeat to Afghanistan, leading to questions being asked of the Blackcaps’ preparedness for the competition.

New Zealand now need to win against West Indies on June 13, Uganda on June 15, and Papua New Guinea on June 17 if they are to have a chance of qualifying for the Super Eight stage from Group C.

“They’ve got to beat the West Indies, and hope that they get beaten by Afghanistan, because New Zealand’s run rate situation is so poor – we’re going to be very behind the eight ball when it comes to that. I just don’t know they’re going to get up to speed from the flat performance they had the other day. What kind of team are they going to pick? Are they going to make any changes? The people they bring in haven’t played any cricket either.

“They missed opportunities to put pressure on Afghanistan early on, one partnership was all they needed to win the game. It was probably one of the worst performances I’ve seen, when you consider all aspects of the game, from a Blackcaps side that I can recall. It was underdone, it was rusty, it was disorganised – they were so far not ready it was not funny,” said Smith on SEN Radio.

What has also irked him is the drop in New Zealand’s fielding standards. “One thing New Zealand has always done over the years is field well as a unit. We’ve been able to answer (to that) pressure with some really good fielding performances, we aren’t doing it at the moment.

“Here again, we start with a poor performance, and I kept going back to Kane Williamson (in the post-match interview) and he said ‘we lost it in the first ten overs’ because that set the tone. The only way you get those things sorted is to play cricket.

“They demand respect from every team in the world now, Afghanistan, they were tailor made perfectly for those pitch conditions and they are playing such good cricket that they are now considered over here as one of the favourites.”

Smith also pointed out opener Devon Conway looked very rusty in the match against Afghanistan, after recovering from a thumb injury which ruled him out of IPL 2024. “He (Conway) looked decidedly rusty, in fact very average, he looked down on practice with the gloves on. And he’s been out of form with the bat for a little while.”

“Apart from the fact that he’s had injures, Conway played no cricket in the IPL even though he was contracted, and still they maintained they didn’t need to have anything like a specialist wicketkeeper in this tournament,” he said.

Smith also took aim at opener Finn Allen for not justifying his selection after New Zealand phased out Martin Guptill from the national set-up. “Finn Allen has got a bit to prove, I’ve been saying this for a while – they basically ended the career for Martin Guptill to make way for Allen. They couldn’t pick him in the 50-over World Cup because he wasn’t consistent enough at that point, and I don’t see much difference between then and now,” he concluded.



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