In March of 2015, while I had my head in my hands after a disappointing display from the Black Caps against Australia in the final, I remember thinking it would be a good few years before I saw a Cricket World Cup which captured the hearts of the nation to such an extent.

There was so much anticipation and feeling leading up to and throughout the tournament for obvious reasons. In what would be Brendon McCullum's and Daniel Vettori's final world cup, fans of varying degrees and new cricket converts alike watched on as New Zealand came as close as you can to lifting the trophy and becoming champions.

The narrative of the games played by the men in black was befitting of a finals triumph. After the 'Southee and Boult' phenomenon and those two magical sixes against Australia and South Africa, it sent us on a collision course with our transtasman neighbours in the final in which we would inevitably fall.

The theatre of event permeated through much more than the normal cricketing spheres of society and reaffirmed the country's love for our main summer sport. A once-in-a-generation tournament. Or so I thought.


We are now less than 21 weeks away from the 2019 World Cup, hosted by England and Wales, and the stage is set for an absolute belter of a tournament. A number of teams, including our own, are coming into form while others such as Australia, which I am very sad to say, seem to be struggling to string two good performances together.

In reference to the Black Caps, the signs are good. We've been scoring a bucket-load of runs and while our bowling could do with some fine-tuning, the core qualities are there.

One of the key roles we seemed to have locked down is in our all-rounder, James Neesham. Spare a thought for Central Districts' Doug Bracewell who would have thought himself a shoo-in to get at least one game against Sri Lanka, but as he saw Neesham take 34 off an over in the first game, I'd say his heart would have sunk a notch lower each time a six went flying out of the park.

Neesham still remains one of the big questions for the world cup. His form at the top flight has been spotty and while he has impressed at a domestic level, he hasn't confirmed himself as a mainstay in the position by any means. Sri Lanka posed little threat on our pitches and have perhaps falsely inflated the prospects of the Blackcaps against a better attack on a bowler-friendly pitch.

Ross Taylor is the obvious reason for much of the hype for this tournament. The man has been hitting half-centuries for fun it seems and at 34 years of age, this will most likely be his final world cup wearing the silver fern.

If the New Zealand cricket machine can whip up enough fanfare and emotion around our brave stalwart, it may reawaken the feelings we had in 2015 for those bowing out in the game and entrance the public once again.

Our current place in time is a very interesting one when it comes to the form of our eventual opposition. Australia are set to face a tough time against a formidable Indian line-up. The sub-continent team is littered with talent and if you think Virat Kohli is a good test match batsman, the man owns the 50-over format and will look to stamp his authority away from home.

The hosts, England, have hit their straps of late. They come up against a struggling West Indian side at the end of February which, in all likelihood, will be big statement to the world saying that the hosts will be a tough side to topple.


South Africa also start their 50-over campaign against Pakistan in a matter of days. This will be a key indicator of how both teams are faring after a mixed review from the Pakistan side against New Zealand over a month ago.

One key difference for this year's rendition of the tournament is the format. The 10 teams who have qualified will compete in a round robin and play each other once with the top four sides progressing to the semifinals.

It's a significant change from the two pools format of 2015, which further confirms the importance of not taking teams for granted and concentrating on winning the first few games. New Zealand have a seemingly welcome start to the tournament with Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan as their first three opponents.

For what looks like the dream start to a competitive tournament, could turn disastrous should New Zealand start slow and wait to hit their stride mid-tournament. Losing early against teams makes it extremely hard to qualify for the knockout stages, so sufficient preparation must be taken to ensure we fire from ball one.

Our final games look a lot more grim than our first ones as we end with Pakistan, Australia and England. Teams like Pakistan, the West Indies and even Afghanistan are often ones to rise to the occasion and once on a roll, are hard to stop.

It would be folly to disregard Australia and England as anything other than title contenders simply because of their pedigree of players. It only takes one of Jos Buttler or Glenn Maxwell to fire and they have the game won.

All in all, it has the potential to be one of the most exciting world cups we have seen. The next few weeks will tell us more as to how our competitors are travelling and while we look towards a very telling series against India, New Zealand are in a strong position for when the umpires call play on May 30.