Cricket World Cup 2019: Jimmy Neesham puts off retirement for Blackcaps dream

Eighteen months ago, Jimmy Neesham was talked out of retiring - now he's off to his first Cricket World Cup.

After missing out on selection four years ago, Neesham wanted to quit the game completely, unable to find the love he once had for it.

That omission was that start of a downward spiral. Falling out of favour with selectors was followed by ongoing back injuries.

His passion was gone.

But a change in team and seeking professional help now has the all-rounder in the best form of his career.

"I called [players association boss] Heath Mills and told him I was going to retire 18 months ago," says Neesham. "I owe a lot to him for convincing me just to take a little break and then come back 3-4 months later."

It wasn't just Neesham's body that was in need of drastic overhaul.

"I saw a psychologist in Auckland," he says. "Waking up in the morning, opening the windows and hoping it was raining is not the ideal way to start a day of cricket."

As Neesham's mindset improved, so too did his form.

He left Otago for Wellington, where he rediscovered his love for cricket.

"Once I paid less attention to the runs and the wickets, and less attention on hitting balls for two-and-a-half hours before a game, and more attention on just going out there, and enjoying being out there with your mates and playing a game, that's when the results started to come."

Neesham averaged 68 runs in the Blackcaps' home one-day summer and his inclusion in coach Gary Stead's World Cup 15 started to become a certainty.

"Once I got back to scoring runs and taking wickets, I knew you're never too far away, if you put a good couple of months together," he says.

And after a difficult three years, Neesham's now just a couple months away from finally realising his World Cup dream.


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