Nicknamed the Black Caps, New Zealand tends to have a team filled with decent but unspectacular professionals, with perhaps one or two highly talented talismans.
The list of odds stacked against New Zealand is long: A small talent pool, pitch and weather conditions unsuited to the development of world-class bowlers, and geographical distance from other cricket-playing countries (except Australia). New Zealand's pitches are largely unresponsive to spin bowling and offer little bounce for fast bowlers.
This means that when New Zealand plays on bouncier overseas tracks, which also offer better conditions for spin bowling, batsmen must make major technique adjustments. As a result, the most successful Black Caps batsmen have tended to be the ones who play county seasons in England alongside their domestic and international duties.
World Cup Record:
The New Zealand Black Caps have reached the World Cup semi-finals six times in 10 attempts, which sounds like an impressive record. However, the team has yet to reach the final.
The Black Caps' best performance came when they co-hosted the 1992 tournament with Australia. New Zealand won 10 of its 11 pool matches to top the table and easily reach the semi-finals, where victory was snatched from its grasp by rising Pakistan star Inzamam-ul-Haq.
- Sir Richard Hadlee: Hadlee was one of the best bowlers of his generation and was the biggest reason for New Zealand's success in the 1980s. An accurate seam bowler, he finished his career with the most Test wickets in history at the time.
- Glenn Turner: Arguably the finest batsman New Zealand has ever produced, Turner is the only New Zealander to score 100 first-class centuries due to his long career with Worcestershire in England. A former New Zealand coach, he has also had stints heading the Black Caps selection panel, most recently in 2011.
- Brendon McCullum: The current Black Caps captain, McCullum is also one of the most prized Twenty20 signings in world cricket, capable of destroying the best bowling attacks. McCullum has always been prone to unnecessary big shots, making him an occasionally frustrating enigma for many New Zealand fans, but a landmark triple century against India in 2014 -- the first in New Zealand's Test history -- suggested he had developed the maturity and mental toughness to lead his country into a new cricketing era.
- Ross Taylor: Taylor is currently New Zealand cricket's most accomplished batsman. His career has stalled numerous times due to injury but he remains an effective presence at the crease in all forms of the game, capable of digging in or scoring quickly where necessary. A demotion from the captaincy and fall-out with management in 2012 threaten to derail Taylor's career but he has come back better, stronger, and hungrier for runs.
- Tim Southee: From his emergence as an aggressive opening bowler and powerful lower-order hitter against England in 2008, Southee has developed into one of the world's most consistent swing bowlers. Southee is not as quick as some of his contemporaries, even in the New Zealand setup, but he is able to swing the ball both ways with accuracy and guile. For good measure, he's retained some of his youthful aggressiveness as his career has continued -- the difference being that now, he has the stats and the performances to back it up.
New Zealand Cricket Timeline:
- 1930: First test match against England.
- 1956: First test match win against West Indies at Auckland.
- 1969: Glenn Turner debuts against West Indies.
- 1969: First test series win against Pakistan.
- 1973: Sir Richard Hadlee debuts against Pakistan.
- 1973: First one day international match against Pakistan.
- 1975: First Cricket World Cup appearance in England. Eliminated in the semi-final.
- 1981: Infamous 'underarm incident' in which Australia's Trevor Chappell bowled underarm to New Zealand's Brian McKechnie. Underarm bowling was soon banned by the International Cricket Council.
- 1985: Hadlee takes 15-123 in a famous victory over Australia, which led to New Zealand's first test series win against their trans-Tasman rivals.
- 1992: Co-hosts World Cup with Australia, losing in the semi-final to Pakistan despite heroic batting by captain Martin Crowe.
- 2002: Brendon McCullum debuts, in a one day international against Australia.
- 2011: After an excellent quarter-final win over South Africa, New Zealand reaches sixth World Cup semi-final -- only to lose to Sri Lanka.