Cricket World Cup Team Preview: New Zealand pick strong squad

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Number of previous appearances: 10

Last appearance: 2011

Best finish: Semi-finals (1975, 1979, 1992, 1999, 2007, 2011)

2014 ODI record: Played 16, Won 9, Lost 5, 1 Tied, 1 No Result

Pool: A

First 3 fixtures: Sri Lanka, Scotland, England

Coach: Mike Hesson

Squad: Brendon McCullum (capt), Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Adam Milne, Luke Ronchi (wk), Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Daniel Vettori, Kane Williamson.

Top runscorer: Kane Williamson. The right-handed number three heads to the World Cup in a rich vein of form having compiled his best Test score of 242* against Sri Lanka recently, but is in good nick in the coloured kits too. He scored 770 ODI runs at an average 70.00 in 2014, which included seven fifties and a ton.

Kane-Williamson-14-1-15Top wicket taker: Mitch McClenaghan. Unlike some other nations, New Zealand’s bowling attack is like a cluster bomb, a collective threat, rather than a gaggle of potato guns backing up a rocket launcher. To that end any one of their number could lead the wicket-taking way, but the fire and hostility of McClenaghan could give him the edge in friendly conditions.

Mitch-McClenaghanMagic man: Trent Boult. Aside from being a swing bowler of supreme skill (Boult is ranked the sixth-best Test bowler in the world), the 25-year-old is perhaps the most eye-catching outfielder in world cricket, and that’s in a team full of dynamic athletes. Just watch the below video of Boult’s stunning catch to dismiss Kumar Sangakkara in the recent Test series as proof.

Pre-tournament storyline: It goes some way to explain the rude health that the Kiwi’s bowling stocks are in that Matt Henry, a surprise package of a seam bowler who took 19 wickets in his first six ODIs, was left out of the squad completely. Journeyman allrounder Grant Elliott was instead preferred despite being absent from the setup for two years.

Tournament odds: 7/1

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.