Injured batsman Kane Williamson has confound pre-test expectations this morning to be named in a New Zealand 13 for the opening home test of the summer against the West Indies.
When Williamson fractured a thumb fielding in Bangladesh last month, the timeframe for recovery meant it was highly unlikely the No3 specialist would have time to heal, let alone get in any match practice.
Williamson will be given as much time as possible to prove his readiness for the test, starting at Dunedin's University Oval next Tuesday.
"Kane has been in the nets batting and bowling and getting his intensity levels up," general manager national selection Bruce Edgar said.
"We're confident he should be right come Tuesday."
That's no guarantee he will play but even including him in the 13 says two things: the selectors recognise his importance to the team, with his batting and increasingly useful offspin; and they don't have full confidence in any of the short-term options to fill the role.
Aaron Redmond has been selected as injury cover for Williamson based on the sheer volume of runs he has scored. Redmond hit 67 for the West Indies' makeshift side against the New Zealand selection at Lincoln yesterday, albeit a low-key attack, but has been in fine form since the start of last season and carried that on for Otago this summer.
The squad also sees the return of the Tim Southee after he had ankle surgery in July. Southee was eased back into international cricket during the limited overs section of the tour to Bangladesh and was in top form this week taking 6-79 for the Northern Knights.
Southee's Northern Districts team-mates leg spinner Ish Sodhi and all-rounder Corey Anderson are in line to play their first tests at home next week.
The pair who debuted on the recent tour of Bangladesh were both named in the 13-man squad despite Anderson suffering a rib injury while in Sri Lanka.
Black Caps squad
Brendon McCullum (c) - Otago Volts
Corey Anderson - Northern Knights
Trent Boult - Northern Knights
Doug Bracewell - Central Stags
Peter Fulton - Canterbury Wizards
Aaron Redmond - Otago Volts
Hamish Rutherford - Otago Volts
Ish Sodhi - Northern Knights
Tim Southee - Northern Knights
Ross Taylor - Central Stags
Neil Wagner - Otago Volts
BJ Watling - Northern Knights
Kane Williamson - Northern Knights