New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori said the squad felt his country’s hurt as they prepared for a World Cup match against Australia overshadowed by the devastating earthquake in Christchurch.
At least 98 people have been left dead by the disaster, with hundreds injured, and Vettori admitted trying to focus on Friday’s match against the world champions had been far from easy.
“It has been difficult but I suppose when we put it into perspective, it’s nothing compared to what the people back home in Christchurch and all over New Zealand are going through,” Vettori said Thursday.
“The whole country is hurting immensely and the team feels exactly the same way.
“Obviously it’s been an incredibly tough build up with what’s going on, but for a lot of guys I suppose coming to training has allowed them to take their minds off things so I think we’ve trained as well as we could and we’re really looking forward to this game.
“It’s a big game in terms of the World Cup and it’s also a Chappell-Hadlee game which means a lot to people back home, so I definitely think we’ll be up for it and looking forward to it.”
Vettori confirmed New Zealand would go into the game with the same 12 from which they selected the side that thrashed Kenya by 10 wickets in their tournament opener.
The only debate is over whether or not batsman Jamie How will be recalled.
That means fast bowler Hamish Bennett, who took four wickets for 16 runs against Kenya, is set to keep his place at the expense of experienced seamer Kyle Mills.
“He’ll play,” Vettori said of Bennett, “and we’ll pick the final XI tomorrow (Friday) morning.”
Vettori said Bennett and Tim Southee had gained from the presence of former South Africa express quick Allan Donald, now New Zealand’s bowling coach.
“He’s brought a wealth of experience but the biggest thing he has brought is confidence,” the captain explained.
“When a team hasn’t been winning, to have have him come into the side and instil the sort of confidence that he has and the knowledge that he has in some of our bowlers has been great.
“Tim Southee and Hamish Bennett particularly have worked really hard with him and enjoyed his expertise.
“Hopefully for a long time we get the fruits of that because he (Donald) has been a great fit and he’s well revered within world cricket so that brings a lot to the team.”
Asked how New Zealand would approach playing an Australia team bidding for a fourth straight World Cup title, Vettori replied: “Nothing really changes for any team you play in the subcontinent.
“You try and bowl straight and hit the wickets and you know you’re going to have to score a lot of runs.
“There’s no mystery to what you’re going to try and do.
“The key is when you come up against these big teams and these big players is having the presence of mind to execute time and time again and that’s the toughest thing when you’re coming up against these big players.
“When we do perform, we’re a very good team. For a while, we haven’t been able to live up to those expectations.
“But every game is a fresh challenge, so hopefully we can take the positives of a comprehensive victory against Kenya through to this game but we know it’s going to be a tougher challenge.”