By Niall Anderson in Birmingham

The Black Caps are backing their struggling batsmen to find their form – but they might be running out of time.

Martin Guptill (five), Colin Munro (12) and Tom Latham (one) all failed to fire in the Black Caps' six-wicket defeat to Pakistan this morning, with all three continuing disappointing individual tournaments with bat in hand.

However, it may be too late for the Black Caps to make substantial changes, and – if they hold true to the team's ethos – only one of the trio is in any danger of being dropped anyway.


Latham has been in the worst slump, failing to pass 13 in five innings, but it would still be a shock if the Black Caps were to drop their vice-captain – who was trusted to set the field when Kane Williamson was bowling – for Tom Blundell, a player uncapped at ODI level.

Similarly, only one of Guptill and Munro would make way at the top of the order if a change was made, and Guptill's ODI average of 43 and 16 centuries is more than enough of a resume to be deserving of retention – especially considering how he went through a lean spell earlier this year, and responded with back-to-back centuries.

That leaves Munro's spot in jeopardy, having gone five innings without passing 25, and not having much of an ODI record to fall back on. His average of 24.9 is below-par, and while he's a luxury item in many ways, and an important part of the Black Caps' ideal ODI batting strategy, at some point the lack of runs has to outweigh the theoretical positives.

Colin Munro and Martin Guptill make their way out to bat. Photo / Getty
Colin Munro and Martin Guptill make their way out to bat. Photo / Getty

Black Caps all-rounder Jimmy Neesham is backing things to come right in the next two group games.

"It's only a matter of time when you've got players of that quality before they do score runs.

"We've potentially got a few guys like that in our lineup at the moment who externally have a lot of pressure on them, but internally in our team, we believe in their ability. The nature of the game is you're going to have lean trots here and there, but it's all about the quality of the player."

However, whether the Black Caps make a change at the top or not, they may have left it too late for it to make a meaningful impact. Promote Henry Nicholls to face the new ball in their final two group games against Australia and England, and the Cantabrian receives the dubious honour of having to face Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood - an immense task for any batsman, let alone one who hasn't played for a month.

That, if nothing else, could be what saves Munro's job – the Black Caps could be too far down the road to make such a major change against two of the title favourites.

Black Caps coach Gary Stead wasn't ready to commit to changing his XI after the Pakistan defeat.

"That's something we will address when the dust settles, Kane and I will have a discussion around that," he told Radio Sport Breakfast.

"There's no doubt about it - the openers have had a torrid time at this World Cup so far but you can argue and say they are due - and if they come off it's going to be great to watch as well."

Are the Black Caps batsmen due, running late, or simply never going to arrive? Stead will need to have an answer shortly if the Black Caps are to reach their ultimate destination.

The Alternative Commentary Collective are podcasting their way through the World Cup. Known for their unconventional sports analysis and off-kilter banter, the ACC have come to ask the tough questions. Here's the latest episode of 'The Agenda':