The Black Caps return to the test arena late next month for two tests at home against world No 1-ranked India. After their dismal displays in Australia, Niall Anderson analyses who is likely to be named in the expected 13-man squad to battle the world's best.
Despite the undoubted failure of the Black Caps batsmen in Australia, there shouldn't be much debate about the make-up of the batsmen taking on India, with the incumbents having weight of runs firmly on their side. Tom Blundell will get a full series in partnership with Tom Latham at the top of the order, with Jeet Raval jettisoned, while Glenn Phillips should have a chance to integrate further with the squad as a back-up batsman.
That back-up role – formerly Blundell's – is probably Will Young's in the near future, but with Young yet to play domestic cricket after shoulder surgery, and no Plunket Shield games available until after the Indian series starts, the Bangladesh tour might be a more realistic point to return to the squad.
Henry Nicholls' spot may be the only one in slight jeopardy after nine test innings without a 50, but he's banked enough capital to easily get at least two more tests at No 5.
Colin de Grandhomme is an automatic selection, averaging 48 with the bat and 31 with the ball in New Zealand conditions, and nobody else coming close to being able to fill the vast array of roles he plugs in tests.
The spinning debate is much closer, but after Todd Astle produced more wickets and runs in Sydney than Mitchell Santner managed in Perth and Melbourne combined, he deserves to be the first choice at the Basin Reserve in Wellington.
Ajaz Patel would be the other contender, but he played in Wellington and Christchurch against Sri Lanka, and went wicketless in conditions not offering much for spin.
If similar tracks are produced this year, the selectors may again prefer the more accomplished batsman in Astle, or simply pick an all-seam attack.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
All automatic selections assuming health, with Tim Southee and Neil Wagner's workload set to be managed to have them ready for the two tests, while Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson should have recovered from their injuries in time for the first test on February 21.
Boult will make his return from a broken hand this month, while Ferguson is set to have recovered from his calf injury to make a return in domestic cricket early next month. The foursome should be the Black Caps' test seamers for the foreseeable future, but if one isn't fit, it would be hard to pick Matt Henry and his test bowling average of 50, especially with the Canterbury seamer having also broken his thumb. Two New Zealand A warm-up games against India could provide a look at the pecking order for the fifth seam option.
Probable squad: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Latham, Tom Blundell, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Glenn Phillips, BJ Watling, Colin de Grandhomme, Todd Astle, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson.