New Zealand have named a 12-man Open Men’s squad for the upcoming NZ-Asia Cup, scheduled to be held in India this upcoming May. The Cup will be the first major international indoor cricket tournament since last year’s World Cup in Australia, and will also mark the first tour of India by a New Zealand side.
The Kiwis will be hoping to repeat their performance from last time after securing the last NZ-Asia Cup title back in April 2019 in Singapore, when they defeated Sri Lanka in the final. Other sides expected to feature alongside the hosts are UAE, Sri Lanka, Singapore and UAE, as well as potentially an Indian Development (India A) side.
Recently reappointed Open Men’s coach Leigh Kelly has retained six players from the World Cup touring party, in which they lost to Australia in the final. Additionally, he has brought in some younger talent, with three players from the victorious Under-22 Men’s World Cup side set to make their Senior Men’s debuts. Some other experienced personnel from the wider playing group have been added and will bolster the core of the overall squad.
Kelly spoke to Emerging Cricket and outlined his intentions for the tour, including considerations made on squad selection.
“The tour is pretty close to the World Cup and is a different time of the year to usual tours, so there were some roadblocks to selection”, Kelly said. “The squad was selected on the basis of World Cup performances, our internal (three-match inter-squad) series last year as well as provincial performances”.
There is a mixture of established players and some guys who have performed well for the Under-22 side. We are blooding some up and coming young players into the fray”.
That team will once again be led by Victor Davies, who is in line to be just the third New Zealand Open Men’s player to play 50 test matches, behind Bryce Fellows and Kelly himself.
He is joined by his experienced Auckland compatriots Michael Barry, Matthew Latham, Darrin Crook and Stacy Hyndman, as well as Central Districts’ Todd Watson, who have retained their places from the World Cup.
The Under-22 players making their step to the Senior side include Under-22 captain Micah Conroy, Curtis Millard and Harlin Amaral. Tristan Van Ingen-Kal, a strong domestic performer who played in the inter-squad series last year, also gets a look in for the first time.
The squad is rounded out by recalls for Brendan Crook and Braden Gardner, which will be a big boost for the batting and bowling respectively of the touring side. Crook was vice-captain on the 2019 tour and will also get another chance to play alongside brother Darrin.
Following a hastening defeat in the World Cup final against Australia last October, and being run closely by the ever-improving Asian sides, especially UAE, Sri Lanka and India, who made their first-ever World Cup semi-final, Kelly has been reflecting about the tournament and his aspirations for the touring side this time round.
“It was very disappointing and it affected us a lot. We’ve had a lot of debriefs about it and reflected on what happened”, Kelly said. “The Asian teams competed very well at the World Cup – we had some very close games against Sri Lanka, India and UAE, so we are looking forward to renewing those rivalries in a country New Zealand team has not toured before. It’s great to be a part of growing the game in that part of the world and exciting to be taking a team there”.
“For this tour, my end goal is to defend our title, and my job to provide encouragement and support to our team, ensuring everyone receives an opportunity, especially to those guys normally don’t. We have another three years before the next World Cup and India will be our start point for working towards that”.
Kelly will be lighter on coaching staff this time around after his assistant Jon Routhan stepped down following the World Cup. Instead of sourcing a replacement, Kelly will be looking to utilise different coaches for different series’ going forward to provide guidance and experience to those who are up-and-coming. He will also look to call on specialist coaches for specific skill areas.
Indeed an international tournament in India will give the home side some much needed exposure, as their reputation around indoor cricket circles continues to grow after last year’s performance at the World Cup. India are also set to host the Master’s World Series in late 2024 as part of the three-year indoor cricket international tournament cycle.
The schedule for the tournament has not yet been finalised, whilst streaming and other details will be released in due course.
New Zealand Men’s squad for the 2023 NZ-Asia Cup:
*Brackets denotes number of matches played
Victor DAVIES (C) (44)
Harlin AMARAL (Debut)
Michael BARRY (22)
Micah CONROY (Debut)
Brendan CROOK (15)
Darrin CROOK (29)
Braden GARDNER (10)
Stacy HYNDMAN (41)
Matthew LATHAM (12)
Curtis MILLARD (Debut)
Tristan VAN INGEN-KAL (Debut)
Todd WATSON (10)