Key players for both New Zealand and England are expected to miss the World Cup opener.

Key players for both New Zealand and England are expected to miss the World Cup opener.

The news that key players from both sides will miss the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup opener between England and New Zealand has disrupted preparations.

New Zealand will be missing pacer Tim Southee and regular captain Kane Williamson. England, on the other hand, is concerned about the availability of their star all-rounder, Ben Stokes.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the World Cup opener against the reigning champions in Ahmedabad, New Zealand stand-in captain Tom Latham confirmed the composition of his likely XI.

“Yeah I guess any team that doesn’t have Kane in it is obviously…we’d certainly be better off having him,” said Latham. “But I think from our point of view for him to be here, to be at the World Cup is a testament to, I think the work that he’s put on over the last four to five months to be where he is.”

Latham hoped that Williamson’s participation in the two World Cup warm-up games was a positive sign.

“So for him it’s a day-by-day process in terms of where his recovery is at,” Latham said.

“He obviously played a small part in the last two warm-up games.” He’s been batting beautifully, which is fantastic to see, and he was out in the field a couple of days ago, so he’s progressing nicely, and fingers crossed he’ll be on the field sooner rather than later.”

Southee was still recovering from his injury against England last month, according to Latham.

“He (Southee) is unavailable for selection just in terms of what happened to his thumb a couple of weeks ago, but he’s recovering nicely,” Latham stated.

“I believe he’s nearly two weeks post-surgery, so fingers crossed he can continue to recover.” In terms of what that looks like with him, it’s a bit of a day-to-day process as well. But I’m hoping he’ll be available sooner rather than later.”

The England camp is also dealing with issues of its own. Stokes is battling a hip injury, according to captain Jos Buttler, and is unlikely to face the Kiwis.

“Over the last month or so, we’ve been nursing a few guys.” We’re hoping for a clean bill of health to choose from. He (Stokes) has a minor hip niggle, but fingers crossed that it will be good news for us. “He’s working hard with the physios, and we’ll find out more when the players arrive for training today,” Buttler said.

Buttler stated that the team would try to play safe in the early stages of the tournament before being willing to take more risks later in the tournament.

“Whether he (Stokes) is fit to play or not, he is not fit to play.” If he is, we can make that choice. However, at the start of the tournament, it is not a good time to take big risks on someone. Near the end, perhaps take more chances with people’s injuries. Buttler added, “It’s going to be a long tournament.”

England and New Zealand will play in the first match of the Cricket World Cup tomorrow, October 5, in Ahmedabad, in a rematch of the epic final from the most recent tournament in 2019.

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