Elliott: Kiwi success down to youth focus

New Zealand

New Zealand batsman Grant Elliott has lauded his team's success over the past year, and thinks it's down to new players being given a chance to impress in the gaps left by retiring players.

While Elliott is 36, he's not been an established player until recently, and he is grateful for the long run in the side. The success of other players too led to their first World Cup final, and a host of Test series wins in the past 18 months.

Elliott told pakpassion.net: "We have gone through a really good past year.

"Even more exciting is the fact that the likes of Daniel Vettori and Kyle Mills have retired from cricket which has given an opportunity to the younger guys to come through and for the team to develop after the success of the 2015 World Cup."

The Kiwis didn't win the World Cup though, losing to Australia, and feels that the Black Caps won't be considered a truly great side until they win the ICC event, and keep up their form for a long time.

The former South African added: "It is true that the truly great teams do well for a number of years. If you look at the Australian team, they were on top for a good decade.

"As for New Zealand, this is the start of something special and I am just fortunate to be part of it and hopefully this will culminate in something big such as winning the World T20 which is coming up.

"This is something we will need to focus on. We have been to quarter-finals and semi-finals before and then the final in the 2015 World Cup, which is great, but good teams go and win these tournaments. This is something which we also wish to achieve.

Elliott was also asked why he thought the Kiwis were doing so well, given their 'dark horse' status for much of their cricket history, as well as the small number of players in the rugby-mad country.

He explained: "Obviously our pool of players is a lot smaller than other countries. We are putting some quality work with a smaller group of players and the way we are bringing them into international cricket is working really well.

"If you look at the likes of Trent Boult and Tim Southee who are now rated as two of the best bowlers in the world, and that is not just only in Test cricket. You then have someone like Corey Anderson and it would appear that New Zealand are definitely doing something right.

"I suppose, I can't really isolate one reason for it but we have a hard working group of players who want to be part of the team for all the right reasons.

"The reasons being simply to do well for your country and your teammates and that is reason enough for anyone to want to work harder, with the results for all to see."

Speaking of team-mates, the Black Caps have been praised for their feel-good team spirit and positive play in the middle, and Elliot credited skipper Brendon McCullum for that mindset.

He said: "The whole approach is led by Brendon McCullum where through his style of play he sets the tone for the rest of the team to follow. On top of that the selectors are choosing people based not only upon talent but their character as well.

"So, we have a good mix of guys who are in it for the team and that makes it a fantastic environment to be part of."