Craig McMillan
Craig McMillan (PTI Photo)

Former New Zealand batsman Craig McMillan feels the ICC World Cup 2019 in England is going to be an open tournament and six to seven teams have a real chance of lifting the trophy.

The quadrennial tournament gets underway from May 30 with host England taking on South Africa. New Zealand start their campaign against Sri Lanka on June 1 in Cardiff.

While other teams have either fine-tuned their preparations or are undergoing the process by playing limited-overs cricket, New Zealand are set to host Bangladesh for the third and final Test of a three-match series which they lead 2-0.

McMillan, who is the current New Zealand batting coach, said that they have already played much cricket over the summer and have identified the areas which need immediate attention ahead of the World Cup.

“We have known this schedule for some time. We have played a ton of ODI cricket over the summer just not at the end of the summer. We have learnt a lot about our side over the summer – India showed as a couple of areas where we need to get better but I think this is the most open World Cup in history,” he said.

He continued, “There are six or seven teams with a real chance of winning. You have Afghanistan making serious strides with a couple of very talented young players – they will be a tricky opponent for any side. It’s going to be an open and exciting tournament because so many sides are capable of winning it.”

McMillan retired in 2007, at the age of 31, after having played 55 Tests, 197 ODIs and 8 T20Is. Since 2014, he has been involved with the New Zealand team in his current role which runs till the end of the World Cup.

This means, the third Test against Bangladesh, which starts from Friday, will be his final red-ball assignment for the Black Caps.

While McMillan hasn’t given that a thought yet, he says interacting with and witnessing the development of players are the two things that he’ll miss the most.

“I haven’t really reflected at this point. Kind of in the now at the moment preparing for a Test match so it’s something I’ll have a think about as the Test winds down. I’ll miss that day-to-day banter with the boys and seeing their development and success over the last few years has been awesome. People don’t really get to see all the stuff that goes on behind the scenes to get guys to a point where they can perform at the international stage,” he said.

During his stint as the batting coach, New Zealand have risen to become the second-ranked Test team in the world.

“As a coach, you see that development from the time they came into the setup to where they are now in terms of world cricket and as a coach, that’s really satisfying. I am very proud at where the guys are at. As a team, to reach number two in the Test rankings is huge. Just look at some of the calibre of teams below us and you realise just how good that achievement is,” the 42-year-old said.