Kane Williamson refutes suggestions New Zealand cricket’s golden era is over, despite his side’s chances of reaching the next stage of the T20 World Cup being all but over.

After a history-making defeat to Afghanistan in their tournament opener, the Black Caps went 0-2 on Thursday as the West Indies sealed their own place in the Super Eight with a 13-run win in Trinidad.

The defeat leaves the Black Caps all but out of the tournament, barring two huge losses for Afghanistan. However, one of those will need to come against Papua New Guinea, who have never defeated a test-playing nation in their short cricketing history.

For the better part of the last 10 years, the Black Caps have enjoyed an unprecedented era of success.

Since 2015, New Zealand have reached at least the semifinal stage of six World Cup events, both 20 and 50-over, as well as winning the inaugural World Test Championship in 2021.

In One Day Internationals, New Zealand reached the final of the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, even if both ended without the trophy. In that time, the Black Caps have at one point held the world No 1 ranking in all three formats of the game.

However, since 2022, the side has changed significantly.

The likes of Ross Taylor, BJ Watling, Colin de Grandhomme, Neil Wagner and Martin Guptill have all seen their time in international cricket come to an end, by choice or otherwise.

And of the key players remaining, some of New Zealand’s greatest players’ careers do not have long to run at the highest level.

Trent Boult has also opted out of a central contract to become a freelance T20 player and limit his involvement in the national side, a move that others could soon follow.

Williamson himself is 33, while the likes of Tim Southee, Devon Conway, Tom Latham, Tom Blundell and Michael Bracewell are all also over 30.

At present, of New Zealand’s core squad members, only Kyle Jamieson (29), Rachin Ravindra (24) and Glenn Phillips (27) are under 30 as all-format regulars.

And as the game shifts further and further towards the “big three” of India, Australia and England, New Zealand does not have the resources to keep up.

At domestic level, in T20 cricket at least, New Zealand is the only major country not to have a franchise-based format, as countries move away from traditional formats.

And even if Aotearoa was to shift away from what’s always worked, the Kiwi summer clashes with Australia’s Big Bash League, and the Indian-bankrolled International League T20 in the UAE and SA20 of South Africa.

With those factors on board, it’s not hard to imagine a world where cricket falls into a second-tier sporting status, as has been the case in countries like the West Indies since their golden era of the 1980s.

For Williamson, though, the results of the past week are not a sign of what’s to come for the Black Caps, with the international cricket calendar packed with world events through to 2031 at the earliest.

Instead, the losses to Afghanistan and West Indies are a result of a Black Caps side outplayed by better opposition.

“I think there’s still guys that will be here for some time,” said Williamson.

“If we look at the two matches to start off, no doubt they’ve been disappointing. When you come to a world event, you want to start well.

“To be honest, we needed to be better in these conditions, specifically. We know it’s going to be a real scrap, and it’s not going to be easy.

“But if you win some small moments, [and] match-ups go your way, it can be a defining element to your tournament, really.

“That hasn’t happened for us, which is frustrating. But no doubt, after tournaments like this, you revisit what it is you do, and how you do it, the conditions you’ve experienced, and look at ways to get better.”

For now, the Black Caps will play on in the hopes of ending the tournament on a high.

Matches against Uganda (Saturday) and Papua New Guinea (Tuesday) will likely conclude New Zealand’s campaign.

Playing only for pride, though, New Zealand should be watchful against teams that will now be targeting a side on a low.

In the past 12 months, the Black Caps have fallen to a shock loss against the UAE and a home series loss to Bangladesh. Both of those instances came against a heavily depleted Black Caps unit, though.

But for this side currently in the Caribbean, the results of the last week will mean nothing if they can’t implement the lessons handed out by their opposition.

“To start with, it’s [about] putting some of the learning into practice,” added Williamson. “For the most part throughout the match, probably 85 per cent of it, it was very, very good.

“But the margins are small. It’s [about] trying to be a little bit more clinical, and close overs out as well as we can.

“It’s not easy. The teams are all strong and hit the ball well, and then with the bat, it’s about the opposite, trying to expose certain parts of the innings where you can gain an upper hand.

“But it’s a real struggle, a real wrestle in terms of the style of cricket. We need to move forward into the next match having been better for the experiences we’ve had.”

Alex Powell is an Online Sports Editor for the NZ Herald. He has been a sports journalist since 2016, and previously worked for both Newshub and 1News.

2024-06-13T17:22:15Z dg43tfdfdgfd