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Updated: Jul 1

New Zealand’s group stage exit from the T20 World Cup 2024 ended an impressive record of reaching the last six World Cup semi finals. A 13 run defeat to co-hosts West Indies at the electric Brian Lara Stadium confirmed their exit following been rolled for 75 by an impressive Afghanistan spin attack. Despite comfortable victories over Uganda and Papua New Guinea New Zealand did not do enough to qualify for the Super Eights.

Entering the tournament as potential front-runners, this golden generation of Kiwi players have remained consistent, but as a result have perhaps been guilty of not refreshing the core squad. Trent Boult’s retirement from T20 Internationals (and likely international cricket all together) may spark the Kiwis to blood some new talent and build on the foundations from this successful generation.

So where did it all go wrong?


Tournament Preparation

Preparations for the global event were abysmal from the start.

8 of the squad participated in the IPL yet only Boult, Daryl Mitchell and Rachin Ravindra were consistent starters but energetic and highly aggressive Glenn Phillps failed to play at all. Injuries affected several members, such as Devon Conway and Michael Bracewell which hindered their match preparation. These factors make the decision to not play any warmup matches more baffling.

Whilst player welfare is paramount, New Zealand management could have taken their players out early from the IPL like England did. Opportunities to win global tournaments are limited and the Kiwis rarely hold centrepiece Test series or competitions, making World Cups the main pinnacle for the current crop. A squad wide lack of game time clearly affected their early performances, detrimental in the rapid nature of T20 World Cups.


Uncertain team management

From the outside looking in, New Zealand have consistently risen above their weight and outperformed their status.

Internally critics of Gary Stead’s management have been rising, not helped by decisions to place an aging Tim Southee in as Test match captain. The knee jerk reaction to the Afghanistan loss saw Mark Chapman, Michael Bracewell and Matt Henry drop out and not feature in the remaining games.

Bearing in mind their haphazard preparation, these abrupt changes suggest a lack of strategy and vision. Chapman in particular heavily scored in sub-continent conditions and would have suited the slower nature of the wickets.

Conservative batting

Issues persist over their batting strategy too.

Explosive ball-strikers Mitchell and Phillips bat far too low at 5 and 6 to utilise their six hitting ability. Too often the top order start slowly and lift the run rate towards the back end of the innings, with Conway and Williamson both struggling to maximise the Powerplay. They have been prolific T20 scorers and deserve their spots but their similar styles and strike rates have hindered the Kiwis’ chance to chase totals down or score in excess of 200.

Opening with Mitchell, as was successful at the 2021 tournament, could enable Conway and Williamson to dictate terms from 3 and 4 allowing them more time to be aggressive.

Overall, the pace bowling was a rare highlight. Lockie Ferguson’s outstanding four wicket haul for no runs against Papua New Guinea topped off a decent bowling effort from the Kiwis who were let down by their batting. Boult and Tim Southee bowled with great control complimenting Ferguson’s relenting pace and accuracy.

Misuse of Spin

Spin was not as well managed.

Conservative captaincy and management of Mitchell Santner, meant part time Daryl Mitchell received maximum punishment in bowling consecutive 19th overs in the opening games. West Indies’ pair of left arm spinners combined for 4-48 across 8 overs whilst Santner only bowled the two overs including the last over. Across all formats, they have tended to prefer using seam over spin but this strategy excludes the quality of Santner.

Having taken 16 wickets at the 2023 World Cup and 24 in the T20 calendar year, his underuse shows another glaring error. Other leg spinner Ish Sodhi only played in the final group stage game. NZ’s recent reluctance to turn to spin certainly cost them.


What does the future hold?


As a New Zealand fan, it pains me to write that future opportunities for global success look unlikely.

This generation of players have been exceptional and developed into a world class team, despite lacking resources and a vast player pool. This perceived overachievement though may lead to years of decreased performance.

Significant changes should be expected to the pace bowling cartel. Trent Boult’s retirement breaks the incredible legacy with long serving new ball partner Tim Southee, who at 35 has seen his pace and skills increasingly tamed by batters across formats. His position as Test captain should also come under question – his home summer yielded just 6 wickets. Ferguson, at 33, has declined a central contract whilst Adam Milne and Kyle Jamieson continue to be hampered by injuries.

Looking into the future, young seamers Will O’Rourke and Ben Sears demonstrated their talent across the home summer and have the pace to become world class talents. Managing the transition period will be vital to minimising burnout and workload problems. Bowling spots appear open, a chance for bolters to impress during the domestic season. Wellington’s Nathan Smith has starred for Worcestershire in the English County summer so far whilst Otago’s Jacob Duffy is a consistent seamer.

The batting side is likely to be more consistent, at least up until the 2026 World Cup. Kane Williamson’s resignation as white ball captain presents an opportunity for Mitchell or Glenn Phillips to galvanise and assert more aggressive tactics. Rachin Ravindra’s meteoric rise means he can have the freedom to grow alongside Williamson into a formidable top order.

In the Pakistan series before the World Cup, young gun Tim Robinson starred with his impressive six hitting and could challenge some of the incumbents along with Dean Foxcroft. Should the Kiwis find their tempo again (which they executed superbly at the 50 over World Cup), T20 success may soon return as six hitting and totals increasingly rise and show little sign of slowing down.

Overall Reflections


Following group stage failures, it can be easy to overreact.

New Zealand suffered two difficult losses and had an unfavourable schedule that restricted chances to generate form and momentum. Their squad remains world class and have delivered many successful moments but is undeniably ageing.

Williamson’s resignation, Southee’s likely resignation and Gary Sears’ potential sacking offers the Kiwis a reset to shape their side around the talented Ravindra, O’Rourke and Sears. Fresh perspectives and more aggressive tactics from new coaching and captain structures can harness the potential across the domestic and international players.

Whilst the results were not ideal, this could prove a blessing to revitalising New Zealand’s all format teams and rejuvenate their spirit.


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