With rain soaking muddy sports fields, it’s easy to forget about cricket until the warmer months. But for Wakefield’s Connor Neynens cricket is all he has been thinking about, as the Stoke/Nayland all-rounder pushes for ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup glory in Queensland this week.
New Zealand has been drawn in a favourable pool alongside Pakistan, Scotland and Afghanistan. Connor says the side is quite confident following some impressive performances in a recent quad-series in Townsville, which saw New Zealand beat India and come close against heavyweights Australia and England. Pakistan has just beaten Australia 2-0 in a pre-tournament series so Connor sees them as the biggest threat in pool play but would not be taking the other sides lightly. The top two sides will qualify through to the top eight. “Our goal is to win, I have no personal goals I’d just like to contribute as much as I can to as many areas of each game as I can,” says the former Waimea College student. “People will be looking at the tournament with interest but I shouldn’t worry about that, opportunities come from performing so that’s where my focus is.”
Connor is likely to bat at number six and has been used as the first change bowler in recent warm up matches. He was unsure whether he had cemented a starting spot for the opening game against Scotland as his role often depends on the make-up of the bowling attack and how many spinners are used.
Connor has been impressed by the standard of the opposition and the pitches the side has been playing on. “Cricket on good wickets is quite different. Things tend to rely less on luck, bad balls get hit and good balls take wickets where on worse wickets good balls can go unrewarded and bad balls often take wickets.”
New Zealand’s first match against Scotland will begin on August 12.