New Zealand became the first team to name their 15-man squad for the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 – but it wasn't at a staid press conference.
The squad was named on Wednesday, 3 April, morning at the Tai Tapu School on the outskirts of Christchurch. That school is the alma mater of Henry Nicholls, the left-hander, who is set to make his World Cup debut. It was a proud moment for him, and offered an inspiring lesson for the students.
Schoolchildren welcomed their special guests with a traditional 'haka'. Two students then led the press conference, opening a "special school assembly" before David White, the New Zealand CEO, took over.
"Four years ago, NZC co-hosted the Cricket World Cup with Cricket Australia and it was a fantastic tournament for New Zealand both on and off the field," White said. "Four years on now, we are off to play the World Cup in England and Wales.
"It is going to be a particularly demanding tournament but I can assure you, our team is very well prepared. We have got an outstanding group."
Four members of the squad, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls and Ross Taylor, were present at the "assembly", and the former pupil got the loudest applause. When asked if he had ever imagined as a schoolboy that he might be playing cricket for New Zealand some day, Nicholls admitted that he had certainly dreamt of it, and that being a part of the World Cup squad now was a "pretty humbling experience".
"I haven't been here for 15 years and it is pretty cool that today is the day I do return. It's great to see some of my old teachers here. They had a big influence on not only my cricket career but also on me as a person. I'm really proud," he added.
Taylor, who will be the seventh New Zealand player to play at four Cricket World Cups, remembered his own school and pointed out that regardless of one's background, anything can be achieved through sheer grit and determination.
"It is a pretty exciting time to be going to my fourth [World Cup] and going to Henry's [Nicholls] first. Just goes to show what could happen with a bit of hard work and determination. Exciting times for the whole team and also the country. Couldn't think of a better place to come to a nice country school here [for the announcement]," he said.
"Coming from a small country school, you do get opportunities, but at the same time you have to step up. [It shows] if you come from a small place, you can succeed like myself and Henry and the other boys, that you can achieve what you want regardless of where you come from."
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