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June 7, 2019

Gary Stead

Taunton, England, UK

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by coach Gary Stead.

Q. Gary, couple of questions. What is the team for this game? And what lessons have you learned from the last game that you want to pick up on this game?
GARY STEAD: First question, we haven't had a good chance to have a look at the wicket yet, so we're not going to finalise our team until tomorrow.

In terms of our team, Henry Nicholls comes back into selection consideration. Tim Southee is not quite at that stage. He's probably one game away still from being at that stage.

In terms of lessons from the last game, I think Bangladesh put us under a lot of pressure. They're a really improved cricket team as well and played with the attitude, I think, of there's nothing to lose here.

And I guess from my perspective it's always nice to come out on the right side of those matches. And there's sometimes ones when it gets tight like that that you can panic, but there was enough calmness still shining there at the end. And I hope the lessons that we can take from it is we took probably some poor options at times, and that hopefully the experience we'll be better for it next time.

I thought our bowling, bowling and fielding was exceptional against Bangladesh. And that's something we're really, really pleased with and hopefully we can continue that.

Q. I read that the last OTA played on this wicket was in 1999. What did you make of that? And you had a very strong start to the tournament. Do you have any specific plans for Afghanistan tomorrow based on the performance in the two games?
GARY STEAD: The 1999 result is pretty irrelevant now. It's 20 years later and I'm sure that blocks have been dug up a few times since then. But the intel that we have around the wicket is we expect a wicket with good pace in it.

It does spin a little bit for their four-day games, but I imagine this is going to be pretty well grassed. And being one of the wickets that's in the middle of the blocks, it's likely to have the largest of the boundaries that we can. So we're hoping for a wicket with good pace in it. Our plans won't differ too much from what you've seen in the first two games.

Q. There's been some mild criticism by former coach and captain about running between the wickets, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor. Is the criticism fair and how do you deal with it?
GARY STEAD: Ross and Kane have played a lot of cricket together, and I know they've been talking about how they deal with it. I'm not sure me sticking my nose in there or doing anything different is actually going to help the situation. I think it's just them communicating well when they're in the middle.

And hopefully what we saw last game is the only time we see it in the World Cup. They've played a lot of cricket together, so run-outs are one form that you can't go out. I hope I don't see that again.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
GARY STEAD: Yeah, they do. They play a lot of cricket together and they talk about it. Hopefully it's not an issue.

Q. Gary, any consideration that the top six all dismissed to spin in the match against Bangladesh, given what we're going to see from the Afghanistan side or the top quality spin line?
GARY STEAD: Yeah, Afghanistan, I mean, they're definitely a force and one of their strength areas as well. It's hard, I think, to put too much focus on it because out of the 45 overs we face, 30 with spins. So, a lot more will spin anyway. And we expect that when we face some of these Asian sides, in particular.

We've played spin well in the past. And I think maybe the pressure of the moment a wee bit the other night made for some poor decisions, as I said before. But we've certainly done the homework on the likes of Rashid and Mujeeb and Nabi, the likes of those guys who are definitely going to be a force for Afghanistan.

Q. Just along the same lines, in the Bangladesh game, obviously you've got a great top four with Kane, Ross and Guptill. In a high pressure World Cup, is there a little bit of worry about what comes after especially if there's -- especially in a chasing situation?
GARY STEAD: No, I don't worry about it. If Tom Latham had got 30 or 40 not out the other night we probably wouldn't be having this conversation. And he's done that a lot for us in the past as well.

We think the balance that we've had in our team provides some solidarity with three, four, five -- with Williamson, Taylor, Latham. And then actually we have a little bit of power, peps coming in after that with the likes of Neesham, De Grandhomme, Santner, who can provide the icing to the cake as such.

I think, if we're honest with ourselves, if you look back at the Bangladesh game, the position we're in, we probably should have been walking off with a six-wicket win or something like that. But strange things can happen in cricket. And I'm just thankful we were on the right side of it and got the two points.

Q. Is Henry Nicholls an option to bat in the middle of the order at some point during this tournament now that he's back?
GARY STEAD: Yeah, he's an option. We've got part of the squad that was selected is making sure that we've got people that we can pull in and out at different positions. And Henry's one guy that we think can cover different bases for us. And that will again depend on what we think is the right balance, against different opposition on the grounds and what the opposition -- what we think they may throw at us as well.

Q. You talked about the bowling and the success of the bowlers in the first two games. How vital then is it that somebody like Tim Southee gets a game as soon as possible, bear in mind you could face injury issues along the line?
GARY STEAD: Tim's not far away now. As we said, he's unavailable for selection tomorrow. But we're really hopeful, the way he's progressing, there for the Indian series he should be right.

He's played a lot of cricket in his career so far. So it's not like he hasn't been to World Cups or anything like that. And I'm sure when Tim's back at his best, then he's going to be putting the pressure on us around selection to be selecting him as well.

Again, we believe we've got a team that we can pull people in and out and really hopeful we don't get more injuries or injury crisis at all. But it's good to have the options of being able to able to pull people in of what we think is the right team given the conditions.

Q. Are there any plans during the tournament maybe to rest and rotate players like Trent Boult, or is the format stretched out enough that everyone should be able to play every game if they're fit and ready to go?
GARY STEAD: Our planning is for all players to be able to play every game. It's part of I guess the conditioning programme and working things out. If we feel that players may need a rest or would do best from freshening up over perhaps a week period or something like that, we would consider it. But that will be something we -- I think when you get to the World Cup you want to play what team you think is the best right throughout.

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