Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Cricket: Time to look ahead for NZ selectors

Auckland Aces batsman Anaru. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Auckland Aces batsman Anaru. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Early tomorrow afternoon New Zealand's squads for next month's Twenty20 and one-day fixtures against Zimbabwe will be revealed, and the mix should provide a glimpse into the future.

At the conclusion of the ongoing one-off test in Napier, the Black Caps meet the lowly-ranked Zimbabweans in three one-day internationals and two Twenty20s from February 3.

There's a heavy diet of 20-over cricket to be played this year, starting with the two hit-and-giggle encounters against Zimbabwe on February 11 and 14, and culminating in the world Twenty20 championships in Sri Lanka in September.

With South Africa coming here later next month for a lengthy tour, playing Zimbabwe is the ideal time to test the waters on a few players who have shown promise at domestic level this summer.

We haven't seen a lot of domestic one-day cricket this season due to rain and scheduling; but on the batting front, if they wanted to crystal-ball gaze, they could do a lot worse than look at Auckland's Anaru Kitchen and Cantabrian Tom Latham in their 14-strong outfit.

Kitchen burst on the scene three summers ago with plenty of runs in the Plunket Shield and after suffering some second-season blues is averaging 44.25 in the Ford Trophy with 177 runs from five innings this summer.

Latham, a former New Zealand under-19 wicketkeeper batsman, smashed 130 during the week against Wellington and aside from him being a long-term option with the gloves, he has 310 runs from five innings at 62.

He is only 19, but with Ross Taylor out due to a calf tear, the kiwis look thin on the ground in consistent middle-order batsmen outside of their established playing XI - especially with Jesse Ryder also unavailable through a calf problem.

Test wicketkeeper BJ Watling offers cover for most of the batting order, so he could also find his name on the team sheet, while Brendon McCullum will likely captain the side in Taylor's absence.

On the bowling side of the coin, Central Districts' leg-spinner Tarun Nethula needs to be given a chance.

He has five wickets at 18.4 in the Ford Trophy and with Daniel Vettori not playing limited overs cricket, Nethula would provide nice assistance alongside Nathan McCullum, and has shown more this summer than incumbent Luke Woodcock.

Trent Boult is yet to play a one-day international, but that should also change in the next few weeks, with his left-armers offering good variety and a better long-term investment than Andy McKay.

Usual suspects, Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill will figure at the top of the order, with Kane Williamson, Dean Brownlie, Jacob Oram, Nathan McCullum, Doug Bracewell, Kyle Mills and Tim Southee all likely to be in the one-day frame.

There was plenty of talk surrounding Roneel Hira's exploits with the ball during the HRV Cup campaign for Auckland, and the impressive left-arm orthodox spinner must be given a chance against Zimbabwe in the Twenty20 series.

The 24-year-old claimed 14 wickets at 14.85, but most importantly went at only 5.85 runs per over.

Canterbury allrounder Rob Nicol was the form player of the domestic Twenty20 competition with bat and ball and must warrant inclusion at the top of the order and as a spin-bowling option.

Again, the middle-order batting looks thin without Taylor and Ryder, which should see Brownlie elevated back into the mix.

The Cantabrian averaged only 22.11 during the HRV Cup but has a career Twenty20 strike rate of 143, which is highly impressive.

Depending on how they want to complete their 14-man Twenty20 squad, New Zealand might add an extra seamer or a middle-order batsman.

Central Districts' paceman Adam Milne took 11 wickets at 16 in the HRV Cup and although Auckland's Michael Bates claimed 14 wickets at 20.85, his economy rate of 8.98 is a concern.

On the batting front, Auckland's Colin de Grandhomme is a massive hitter and averaged 22.28 in the competition. He has a career strike rate in Twenty20 of 170.

Possible ODI squad: Brendon McCullum (captain), Martin Guptill, Rob Nicol, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson, Dean Brownlie, Nathan McCullum, Jacob Oram, Doug Bracewell, Kyle Mills, Tim Southee, Tom Latham, Trent Boult, Tarun Nethula

Possible T20 squad: Brendon McCullum (captain), Martin Guptill, Rob Nicol, Colin de Grandhomme, Dean Brownlie, James Franklin, Jacob Oram, Nathan McCullum, Doug Bracewell, Tim Southee, Kyle Mills, Kane Williamson, Roneel Hira, Adam Milne


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