Cricket: Chances running out for New Zealand's veterans

New Zealand's James Franklin says this month's Twenty20 tournament could be some senior players' final chance. Photo / NZPA
New Zealand's James Franklin says this month's Twenty20 tournament could be some senior players' final chance. Photo / NZPA

New Zealand's window of opportunity to win a cricket World Cup with some of their senior players is closing by the season and James Franklin admits this month's Twenty20 tournament in Sri Lanka could be their final chance.

All-rounder Jacob Oram recently turned 34, paceman Kyle Mills is 33 and spinner Daniel Vettori recently came out of international Twenty20 retirement at 33 to play in the global tournament.

The next world Twenty20 isn't until 2014 in Bangladesh and it would be a stretch to see Oram involved given his injury history. Vettori and Mills may make it but this year's tournament would have to rate as a better chance for them to break their World Cup duck.

In the 50-over format the next World Cup isn't until 2015 and, despite New Zealand being scheduled to co-host, it's hard to see the veteran trio all being there, although Vettori would be the most likely given he has already begun managing his international workload during the past year.

So, essentially, the time is now.

"It's probably the last World Cup for this group of players playing together," Franklin said.

"So it's one game at a time, cliche as it is, but I think it's a pretty experienced Twenty20 team. There are a lot of guys who have played Twenty20 all over the world. So if we get in form and individuals get in form then I think we've got a right royal chance of going fairly deep in this tournament."

On top of the three veterans, New Zealand boast a handy outfit and the game's shortest format would have to be their best given the top-order batting power of Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor plus the side's dynamic fielding ability.

Tim Southee's death bowling will also come in handy, while spinning all-rounder Nathan McCullum is ranked the sixth-best Twenty20 international bowler in the world.

New Zealand are in Group D for this month's tournament, which gets underway in a week, alongside Bangladesh and 2009 world champions Pakistan.

The Black Caps' build-up for the event - in terms of match practice - was cut in half during the weekend when their first of two Twenty20 hit-outs against India was washed out.

They will get another shot at the Indians in Chennai tomorrow morning, and Franklin, who spent two months earlier this year playing Twenty20 cricket for Essex in England, said New Zealand were itching to get out for a game after being limited by the weather.

New Zealand's final game before the tournament in Sri Lanka will give rookie head coach Mike Hesson a good chance to give young paceman Adam Milne a run and determine how his spin bowling stable will look come the World Cup.

Hesson has Vettori, McCullum, Rob Nicol and Ronnie Hira at his disposal in the slow-bowling ranks and although Nicol bats at the top of the order it's unlikely all four will take the field at the same time.

- APNZ

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