Cricket: Will Young edges ahead in race for World Cup spot, to open batting in England ODI series

Will Young reaches a half-century against the UAE.
Will Young reaches a half-century against the UAE. Photo credit: Photosport

Will Young has been given the inside running to seal his Blackcaps spot for the upcoming Cricket World Cup, named to open the batting in the opening One Day International against England in Cardiff on Friday (NZ time).  

Since the exit of Martin Guptill late last year, the Blackcaps have struggled to find a regular partner for Devon Conway at the top of the order in 50 over cricket.  

As a staple in Twenty20 cricket, Finn Allen has struggled to find the same success in ODIs - averaging just over 31 with the bat after 18 games, with a best score of 96 and five half-centuries.  

But while Young has traditionally been seen as a middle order player, a move to the top of the order against Pakistan earlier this year yielded impressive results.  

In five innings, 30-year-old Young scored two half-centuries, making 240 runs at an average of 48 in difficult conditions – ones the Blackcaps are likely to encounter against at the World Cup in India.

In his career, Young has played 15 ODIs, averaging a touch under 50, with two centuries - albeit against the Netherlands. 

Kane Williamson's incredible return from a knee injury only congests the race for spots in the batting order, with the likes of Young, Allen, Mark Chapman and Henry Nicholls contending for a place in the 15-man World Cup squad.  

Speaking ahead of the England ODI series opener, captain Tom Latham confirmed Young will have the first attempt to make the opening spot his own, with four games before a tour of Bangladesh left for players to make their cases.

"Obviously, Young's a quality player," said Latham. "He's been in the mix for us for a long period of time.

"[He] hasn't had a lot of opportunities but I think [during] the opportunities taken in recent time, he's played really well.  

"[It's] another great opportunity for him to come in and put some performances on the board."  

However, that doesn't shut the door on Allen by any means, Latham said.  

Few players in the world can match Allen's destructive capabilities with bat in hand but consistency will be the mark held against the aggressive 24-year-old.  

However, with an unconventional four match series against England being used for both teams to finalise their places for the World Cup, Allen is running out of time before the World Cup squad is named next week.   

"Finn's a quality player, we've seen that in the games he's played for New Zealand. He's very destructive at the top of the order," Latham said.

"He might get some opportunities throughout the series at some point. Guys are going to get opportunities throughout the series.  

"Hopefully they can take their opportunities where they can."