New Zealand are struggling to piece their team together ahead of the first Test against England, with Cyclone Gabrielle impacting several players' travel plans.

Five players from New Zealand's 14-man squad, as well as three support staff, are yet to arrive at Mount Maunganui ahead of the start of the first Test on Thursday.

Cyclone Gabrielle's impact on New Zealand's North Island has led some areas to declare a state of emergency, with over 46,000 homes losing power and hundreds of flights being cancelled.

The Black Caps trained indoors at Bay Oval on Monday in a bid to avoid the worst of the weather conditions, with strong winds and heavy rain expected to continue in the build-up to the opener.

Henry Nicholls, Blair Tickner and Will Young are among those yet to meet up with their team-mates ahead of the two-match series, leaving head coach Gary Stead's plans in flux.

"We've got a number of players that are still arriving here at the moment, the cyclone that's happening at the top of the North Island has had a wee bit of an impact on travel for some people," Stead said.

"It's disappointing the weather is the way it is, but there's a lot of people up at the top of the North Island who are a lot worse off than us.

"Originally we were planning to have an evening training session but we managed to get in a touch earlier. 

"We were just worried that the winds might get up to such a point that we wouldn't be able to train later on."

England arrived in New Zealand having won nine of their 10 Tests under head coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes, and Stead has admiration for their aggressive style.

"I think it's great what Brendon and Ben have done with this English team," he said. "They've managed to take a team that was really struggling and turn it into something now that's probably the talking point of world cricket.

"But I think what each team has to do is work out is what becomes really unique to them and natural for the way that they play."

James Anderson hailed the depth of bowling talent available to England ahead of the first Test in New Zealand, saying the presence of Matthew Potts and Olly Stone is keeping him on his toes.

England will attempt to continue their outstanding form under head coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes across a two-match series in New Zealand this month, having won nine of their last 10 Tests.

England bolstered their seam attack by recalling Potts, Stone and Stuart Broad for the trip to McCullum's homeland, with Mark Wood and Rehan Ahmed rested after starring in last year's 3-0 whitewash of Pakistan.

With Jofra Archer also impressing on his long-awaited ODI return after an injury-ravaged few years, Anderson is in awe at the options available to England.

"To be able to bring these guys [Potts and Stone] back into the squad after having Mark Wood in Pakistan, and with Jofra getting back fit, it feels like we're building up a real good bank of fast bowlers that will be able to win games in any conditions anywhere in the world," Anderson told The Guardian.

"I think whether they're young or old, guys always keep you on your toes. Broady's keeping me on my toes, we're pushing each other in the nets all the time.

"At the minute, Ollie Robinson is probably one of the best bowlers in the world, for me. 

"He just doesn't miss, can swing it both ways, nips it, gets bounce – he's comfortably the one bowler that the guys don't want to face in the nets here. Everyone keeps you on your toes and it keeps those standards really high."

England have not won a Test series in New Zealand since 2007-08, when a 26-year-old Anderson tore through the hosts' top five in Wellington to kick-start their comeback in a 2-1 triumph.

Anderson was invited to play for Auckland against Wellington in the State Championship ahead of that impressive outing in the second Test, a decision criticised by several members of the New Zealand team – including McCullum – for enabling the England man to find form. 

"It was amazing for me. It turned out to be a very good decision. I bowled a lot of overs. I didn't set the world alight but it got me into a good rhythm to play the next Test," Anderson recalled.

"Baz brought that up the other day. He was fuming at the time! Apparently the whole New Zealand team were fuming with Auckland. It was huge for both of us.

"And not just the way we played, but with [Matthew] Hoggard and [Steve] Harmison having been such a massive part of England's success – the 2005 Ashes and Harmy being number one in the world at one point. 

"Them being the senior bowlers and us taking their places gave us so much confidence to go on and try and emulate them. We never looked back."

England seamer Ollie Robinson says Test cricket is entertaining enough without "gimmicky" day-night matches.

A two-match series between England and New Zealand is scheduled start at Bay Oval on Thursday, although the pink-ball match could be under threat due to Cyclone Gabrielle.

Robinson has enjoyed success under the lights in day-night encounters, but the 29-year-old would clearly rather be starting earlier in Mount Maunganui.

"It's a bit gimmicky," he said. "They're trying to get crowds and change the game a little bit. But the way England are playing Test cricket at the moment, I don't think that needs to happen.

"We could stick to how we're going and we're entertaining people as we are so I'm not sure if it's necessary really.

"Just traditional Test cricket – there's nothing wrong with it to start with. I don't think we need to play these pink-ball games."

Heavy rain and high winds is set to hamper England's preparation for the first Test, but Robinson says they will be ready to go regardless. 

"We are well aware it could be tricky to get out there [to practice[," he said/

"If we don't train before Thursday I feel we've had good preparation and we're ready to go."

Robinson is relishing the challenges to come in a year that will see Ben Stokes' in-form side attempt to regain the Ashes by beating Australia on home soil.

"I think it's probably the biggest year of my career now," he said. "It's an exciting year and I think with the group and the environment we've got it's going to be amazing.

"The memories that we're going to create and hopefully the Test match wins we're going to do. I'm really looking forward to it."

Ollie Pope is not thinking about captaining England after Stuart Broad suggested he could be a future Test skipper.

Pope has graduated to a regular presence within Ben Stokes' side over the past year, with the rich form to back up his place.

A haul of 138 runs across December's three-game series with Pakistan further underlined his presence under Brendon McCullum.

Pope captained England against a New Zealand XI in their tour warm-up earlier this week, leading Broad to praise his abilities as a potential successor.

"I think Pope is a great leader in the group, actually," Broad said. "He's grown so much in the last year, the way he operates, the confidence and responsibility he's been given.

"He speaks really well in the group, he's got a great cricket mind. There's no doubt you can see him as a future England captain."

The 25-year-old is keeping a lid on any such notions, though.

"I don't necessarily see that," he told reporters. "I'm going to keep developing my cricket brain. If that opportunity came up in the future, I'll make sure I can learn as much as possible before then.

"But at the same time, I realise I've got a big job at number three to keep doing. If I can keep impressing there who knows what the future holds.

"I'll keep learning and developing as an all-round cricketer as much as I can. If that happens [and I become England captain], great. If not, that's okay."

Mohammad Rizwan asked to be dropped for Pakistan's two-match Test series against New Zealand as he felt he "didn't deserve to play" on his form.

The wicket-keeper-batter was a surprise omission from the hosts' squad for their pair of games over the new year period with the Black Caps.

Rizwan was replaced by former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, who returned to the red-ball fold for the first time since 2019, and was named player of the series with 335 runs.

Reflecting on his absence, the 30-year-old has disclosed that it was at his own instigation he was left out, as he felt his performances had not been up to the level required.

"You can ask the head coach Saqlain Mushtaq what I told him after the end of the England Test series," Rizwan told Cricket Pakistan in an interview.

"I personally thought that since I wasn't able to perform, I didn't deserve to play in the next series."

Following a score of 104 not out against Australia in March last year, Rizwan failed to make a half-century in his following six Test appearances.

When that run culminated with a rough series against England shortly before Christmas, he acknowledged he was not matching his own standards, and was delighted to see his replacement flourish.

"I was happy to see Sarfaraz perform because that is what I wanted," he added.

"Sarfaraz has been performing in domestic cricket and deserves his chance now.

"I asked for his inclusion. Whoever performs best for Pakistan deserves to play. Some players said that every player goes through this phase, and you can't sit on the bench based on few failures.

"But I went to the coach and captain myself and told them that you can drop me because I haven't performed.

"Two players are witnesses to this conversation."

Brendon McCullum is "in awe" of the "pretty insane" talent in the England Test side as they prepare to face New Zealand.

England have been totally transformed under head coach McCullum and new captain Ben Stokes, winning nine of their 10 Tests with an aggressive brand of cricket.

They will attempt to continue riding on the crest of a wave in McCullum's homeland in a two-match series that starts in Mount Maunganui next Thursday.

The tourists warmed up for the opener against the Black Caps with a draw against a New Zealand XI, Harry Brook top scoring with a rapid 97 as they racked up 465 all out before Olly Stone took 3-54 as their opponents were all out for 310.

McCullum, such an explosive batter in his illustrious career, feels fortunate to be working with such a gifted group of players.

"The shots and some of the skills they possess is pretty insane," said the former New Zealand captain. 

"From a coaching point of view, it's pretty exciting to watch the talent some of these guys have got.

"We sit back in awe at times of how good these guys can be. Hopefully we're able to see them continue to develop."

This year England will also attempt to wrestle the urn back off Australia in the Ashes on home soil and McCullum sees no limit to what they can achieve under inspirational all-rounder Stokes.

He added: "With the skipper in charge, I'm not sure what's possible because he's a guy who writes his own scripts and achieves some pretty special things.

"I know the plans he has for this team are quite lofty.

"He'll try to do what he can to drag the boys along for the ride."

The weather could have big impact on the first Test against the Black Caps at Seddon Park, with Cyclone Gabrielle forecast to hit early next week.

The World Test Championship final will take place at The Oval between June 7 and 11, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has confirmed.

There will also be a reserve day on June 12 if necessary as the top two Test sides do battle to see who will lift the mace as world Test champions.

Those two teams are yet to be finalised, although Australia currently top the rankings while India, who they meet in a four-Test series starting on February 9, are second.

Sri Lanka and South Africa sit third and fourth respectively, with the latter set to take on reigning champions New Zealand in a two-Test series in February.

England are in hot pursuit in fifth after winning eight of their past nine Test matches, while West Indies also have a slim chance of making the final.

New Zealand's hopes of retaining the title they claimed by beating India by eight wickets in Southampton in 2021 are already over, having won just two Test matches since that famous victory.

Jack Leach feels he belongs in England's Test team as he returns to New Zealand for the first time since he was seriously ill on the 2019 tour.

The bowler, who suffers from Crohn's disease, contracted sepsis four years ago after a bout of food poisoning, and subsequently struggled to hold down a red-ball place.

But back at full fitness, Leach was the third-highest wicket-taker in Test cricket in 2022 with 46, behind only Australia's Nathan Lyon and South Africa's Kagiso Rabada.

Ahead of England's two-match series later this month, Leach acknowledged he had fears about returning to New Zealand, but that he feels secure now in his place with Ben Stokes' side, which has helped hugely.

"I was on a drip and had antibiotics in the other arm [last time I was here]," said Leach, who reached 100 Test wickets in Pakistan at the end of the year.

"It slowly got worse and worse. I was really struggling for a bit. It wasn't great, but that's all in the past now. I'm having too much fun to get ill now.

"It can be stress-related, so maybe being a little bit more relaxed is actually helping that side of my health as well. Fingers crossed it stays that way.

"I always felt like cricket was an individual sport within a team, but this feels like such a team.

"It's something I feel very lucky to have experienced because it's a lot more enjoyable.

"It's been probably the most important thing for me, that backing and feeling like I belong.

"I'm just trying to enjoy it as much as I can and do as much as I can for the team."

Chelsea have hired the All Blacks mind coach who introduced a "no d***heads" policy as Graham Potter looks to turn the Blues into winners.

Heavy investment in players since Todd Boehly came in as owner has not yet been followed by success on the pitch, with Chelsea a disappointing ninth in the Premier League.

Thomas Tuchel was sacked in September and his replacement, Potter, is battling to prove he can be the coach to deliver strong results and trophies to Stamford Bridge.

Now Gilbert Enoka is heading to the London club after making an impressive impact in rugby union with New Zealand over the past 20 years.

Enoka, who stepped up from being mental skills coach to become leadership manager with New Zealand, will join up with Chelsea on what New Zealand said was a "short-term consultancy basis".

The incoming expertise should be a boost to Potter, with the widely acclaimed Enoka having been part of an All Blacks set-up that won Rugby World Cup titles in 2011 and 2015.

Chelsea have spent around £600million on new players in the past two transfer windows, without their sprees having had any obviously positive effect on results, and installing a positive mindset appears to be what they are looking at achieving.

Enoka revealed in early 2017 how his famous policy functioned within the New Zealand ranks, saying: "A d***head makes everything about them.

"We look for early warning signs and wean the big egos out pretty quickly. Our motto is, 'If you can't change the people, change the people'."

West Indies Women lost their ICC Women’s World Cup warm-up match against New Zealand by 32 runs in Cape Town on Monday.

Chasing 123-5 made by the Kiwis, the West Indies limped to 91-7 in their 20 overs.

Maddy Green top scored for New Zealand with 47 from 37 balls after her team had slipped to 32-3 in the seventh over. Suzie Bates and Green added 26 for the fourth wicket before the former was dismissed for 30.

Green and Brooke Halliday then added 56 for the fifth that took the score to 114 when Halliday was run out for 24 in the 20th over.

Green added the remaining runs before the innings closed.

Captain Hayley Matthews was the best of the West Indies bowlers with 1-6 from her two overs. There was also a wicket each for Chinelle Henry, Karishman Ramharack and Shakera Selman.

As has become the norm in recent matches, the West Indies lost wickets early and were 25-3 in the eighth over.

Matthews had scored 15 of the West Indies’ 20 runs before she was dismissed.

Shemaine Campbelle top scored with 26 and Chinelle Henry with 23 were the only batters into double figures as they put on 51 for the fourth wicket.

Amelia Kerr who accounted for Henry’s wicket finished with figures of 3-20 from her four overs as the Caribbean women slumped to defeat.

This was the West Indies Women’s 13th loss in 14 matches since their last win which came against New Zealand in September 2022.

 

A devastating performance with bat and ball saw India seal a sensational series comeback with a record 168-run victory in their third and final T20I with New Zealand.

Shubman Gill's 126 not out powered the hosts to a freewheeling 234-4 in Ahmedabad on Wednesday, before they tore through their visitors at the crease for an emphatic win.

It is the biggest margin of victory India have ever recorded in the format, and marked something of an anticlimactic end to an otherwise close-fought series.

They are unlikely to care given the nature of their euphoric blowout, though the Black Caps will be concerned after failing to reach three figures in back-to-back games.

There were few signs at first glance Gill would turn in the sort of pyrotechnic performance that saw him star in the pair's ODI series last month.

After losing opening partner Ishan Kishan for just one, however, the opener carried the bat in a gangbuster turn, with a dozen fours and seven sixes off 63 balls.

Able support from Rahul Tripathi (44) and Hardik Pandya (30) helped him motor India to their fifth-best score in T20I history, and their highest against New Zealand. 

Hopes of mounting any serious pursuit felt slim for the Black Caps even before they crumpled, with Pandya (4-16) and Arshdeep Singh (2-16) combining for a brutal opening three overs to reduce them to 7-4.

Daryl Mitchell (35) stubbornly held his ground as a succession of partners came and went, helping to drag New Zealand from 21-5 to 53-6.

But further work from Shivam Mavi and Umran Malik curtailed any resistance as the tourists were bowled all out for 66.

Gill maintains 2023 hot streak

After matching the world record for the most runs in a three-game ODI series last month against New Zealand, the batter turned on the power again when it mattered.

A quiet few matches, with scores of just seven and 11, are faded memories now after his supremely assured performance this week.

Black Caps continue to stutter

After failing to hit the 100 mark last time out, a second successive game where they petered out in double figures is a major concern for New Zealand.

Their score of 66 is the third-lowest they have recorded in T20I history, behind the twin totals of 60 they posted against Sri Lanka in 2014 and Bangladesh in 2021.

Campbell Johnstone hopes that coming out as gay will help others within New Zealand's sporting community.

Johnstone, who played three times for the All Blacks, including in a Test series against the British and Irish Lions in 2005, confirmed he was gay on a current affairs television programme on Monday.

He is the first openly gay player to have been involved within the All Blacks set-up. 

"If I open up that door and magically make that closet disappear, then we're going to help a lot of people," said Johnstone.

"I pushed that side of me down deeper and deeper. I went to some interesting places."

In an interview credited to TVNZ, Johnstone expressed his hope that him becoming the first All Black to come out might help others feel more comfortable in their own skin.

"If I can be the first All Black that comes out as gay and take away the pressure and the stigma that comes with that issue then it can actually help other people.

"Yes, it is [a big thing], to be able to do that could possibly be one of the final pieces of the puzzle for New Zealand sports."

The ex-Crusaders player also said he had been "living a lie".

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson, who played alongside Johnstone at Canterbury, commended his old team-mate's strength and courage.

"On behalf of the New Zealand rugby community and as a former team-mate, I want to acknowledge and support Campbell for sharing his authentic story. Your strength and visibility will pave the way for the others in our game," said Robinson.

"Rugby is a sport that is welcoming to everyone and a place where people should feel safe to be who they are.

"We know that there are people who have not always been comfortable to be who they are in rugby. We want to be clear, no matter who you love, rugby has your back."

India's stand-in captain Hardik Pandya lamented a "shocker" of a pitch at Ekana Stadium and called for better surfaces after a slender T20I victory over New Zealand.

The hosts edged past the Black Caps with one ball remaining in Lucknow, winning by six wickets in a low-scoring thriller to level the three-match T20I series.

New Zealand only managed 99-8 from their 20-over allocation on a difficult wicket but made India wait until the final over for victory as Suryakumar Yadav saw his side over the line with a vital 26 not out.

Pandya, captaining in the absence of white-ball veteran Rohit Sharma, was alongside Suryakumar at the end unbeaten on 15 but expressed his disappointment with the surface at home.

"I always believed we will finish the game," Pandya said. "It went quite deep, but that is how it is. In these kinds of games, it is important to not panic.

"Rather than taking risks, we rotated the strike. Having said that, this is a shocker of a pitch. We need to make sure we have better pitches. Even 120 would have been a winning total here.

"We kept to our plans, we made sure they did not rotate the strike, and the wickets kept falling. Dew didn't play much of a role because if you see they were able to spin the ball more than us.

"It was a shocker of a wicket. The ball was flying for even the fast bowlers."

The in-form Suryakumar continues to rise his stock within white-ball cricket, though his 31-ball 26 was a far cry from his usual flamboyance and aggressive shot-making.

Having blasted 112 and 51 in his two previous T20I appearances against Sri Lanka earlier in January, Suryakumar acknowledged an alternate approach was required on Sunday.

"A different version of [Suryakumar] today," he said after receiving the Player of the Match award. "Adapting to the situation was very important. After losing [Washington Sundar], I had to make sure I batted until the end.

"[Sundar's run out] was my mistake, I didn't see where the ball went. Of course, it was a challenging wicket, but you have to be able to adapt.

"We just needed one hit in the end, and it was very important to calm ourselves down.

"Before I got the winning runs, Hardik came up to me and told me you will hit the winning runs this ball. That gave me a lot of confidence."

With an ODI series victory already secured, India will look for a white-ball double over New Zealand in Wednesday's T20I decider in Ahmedabad.

India thrillingly came out on top with one ball remaining to level their three-match T20I series with New Zealand after a remarkably tight second match on Sunday.

The hosts won by six wickets at Ekana Stadium but only just managed to reach the low target set by New Zealand during what seemed a poor innings that saw them finish on 99-8.

It was the first time the Black Caps had failed to reach 100 runs in a T20I against India, though it was not as bad as it first seemed on a difficult pitch.

Finn Allen's (11) reverse sweep attempt from Yuzvendra Chahal's (1-4) delivery saw him knock the ball on to himself and then the stumps for India's breakthrough, and Devon Conway (11) soon followed when caught behind by Ishan Kishan off Washington Sundar (1-17).

Glenn Phillips (5) was the third to fall victim to a botched reverse sweep, and Daryl Mitchell (8) also failed to reach double digits, with that pair removed either side of Mark Chapman (14) being run out.

Michael Bracewell (14) and Mitchell Santner (19 not out) formed one of only two stands to yield 20 runs, before New Zealand's innings petered out with only five in the final over.

India's response was not emphatic – they also failed to register a single six.

Shubman Gill (11) gave Allen an easy catch with a top edge off Bracewell (1-13) for an early boost, before Kishan (19) was run out and Rahul Tripathi (13) was caught at deep midwicket.

Suryakumar Yadav (26 not out) – aided ably by captain Hardik Pandya (15 not out) – ultimately dragged India over the line, getting just enough power on the penultimate ball to reach the boundary and take India to 101-4.

Suryakumar decisive when it counts

Having managed at least 47 runs in each of his previous three T20Is, Suryakumar is not used to struggling to amass significant totals.

Much like everyone else on Sunday, he could not quite find momentum with his 26 coming off 31 balls, but the fact he had the nous to be the only batter to break the 20-runs barrier should not be overlooked.

New Zealand bowlers give them a fighting chance

The batsmen should not take too much blame – pretty much all of them from both sides struggled on a wicket that Hardik criticised afterwards – but the Black Caps bowlers had plenty of work to do here.

The wickets did not tumble with quite the same regularity as when they were in bat, but with the ball they ensured the match remained tight – the fact they took it to the final over is commendable in itself.

Daryl Mitchell bludgeoned a rapid unbeaten half-century before New Zealand's brilliant spinners consigned India to a 21-run defeat in the first T20I of a three-match series.

India condemned the Black Caps to a 3-0 ODI whitewash this week, but the tourists claimed their first victory of the tour in impressive fashion at JSCA International Stadium Complex on Friday.

Conway (52 from 35 balls) and Finn Allen (35 from 23) got New Zealand off to a flying start after they were put in by Hardik Pandya in Ranchi.

Washington Sundar (2-22) and Kuldeep Yadav (1-20) contained the Black Caps, but Mitchell provided the fireworks to get them up to 176-6 by scoring 59 not out from only 30 deliveries.

He took 27 off a nightmare final over from Arshdeep Singh, hitting three consecutive sixes to silence an expectant crowd.

India were in deep trouble on 15-3 in the fourth over of the run chase, Ishan Kishan bowled by a peach of a delivery from Michael Bracewell before Rahul Tripathi and the in-form Shubman Gill fell cheaply.

Newly crowned ICC T20I player of the year Suryakumar Yadav gave India hope with a classy 47, but he was on his way after holing out to Allen when trying to launch Ish Sodhi into the stands.

Stand-in captain Mitchell Santner (2-11) and Bracewell (2-31) bowled beautifully, while Lockie Ferguson (2-33) and Jacob Duffy (1-27) also made their mark as a maiden T20I half-century from Sundar (50no off 28) was in vain with India restricted to 155-9.

It was just a second win in 12 matches against India in the shortest format, giving New Zealand – without the likes of Kane Williamson, Tim Southee and Trent Boult – a 1-0 lead in the series.

 

Consistent Conway and Mitchell give Black Caps upper hand

Conway has been a revelation in all formats for the Blacks Caps since making his debut in 2020, and he continues to churn out the runs.

He laid the foundations for an imposing total with a ninth T20I half-century, finding the rope seven times and clearing it once before being dismissed by Arshdeep in the 18th over.

Mitchell then took centre stage, taking Arshdeep's bowling apart with final-over fireworks as he hit five sixes in all to register a fourth T20I half-century and give New Zealand the momentum.

New Zealand spin in to win it

The New Zealand spinners were outstanding, generating sharp turn and giving little away.

Bracewell set the standard, cleaning up Kishan with a brilliant delivery that pitched around middle and struck the left-hander's off stump.

Skipper Santner bowled 18 dot balls, while he saw the back of Gill – superb in the ODI series – and had Deepak Hooda stumped before running out Shivam Mavi with a direct hit.

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