Cricket: Mostly familiar faces likely in squads to England

Martin Guptill. Photo by Getty
Martin Guptill. Photo by Getty
Time was when you wondered if New Zealand touring teams were actually picked out of a hat, such were the head-scratching choices of the selectors.

Times have significantly changed so expect consistency in selection when New Zealand's test and Champions Trophy squads to travel to England are named next week.

Down the years there have been occasions when, such has been the modest form of the national side, all sorts of players could be plucked out of the provinces, almost on a "here son, have a crack, the other bloke isn't much chop" basis.

Now now. Having been roasted in the tests in South Africa, New Zealand won the subsequent ODI series in the Republic, were competitive in both short forms against England and came within a wicket of winning the test series against all odds.

So continuity will underpin the choices of national coach Mike Hesson and national selection manager Kim Littlejohn.

Both men are big on giving players every chance, avoiding the chopping and changing of old.

It seems the three players coming back from injury - Martin Guptill (thumb ligaments), Mitchell McClenaghan (side muscles) and Dan Vettori (Achilles) - are all on track for selection in one or other form.

Vettori is almost certainly out of the frame for the two tests in England. He's played just two Ford Trophy games for Northern Districts, is off to the Indian Premier League, and would be short of intensive, lengthy spells. He is likely to be back for the three ODIs and subsequent Champions Trophy.

Guptill should be ready from the start of the tour, which begins with a three-day game against Derbyshire on May 4. He'll need to fight his way back into the test team, but won't get a look in at the top of the order, where Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford are ensconced.

Left arm quick McClenaghan made a big impact in a short time against South Africa and England before breaking down in Hamilton last month.

"We're working on building up his loads and strength and he's progressing really well," Littlejohn said.

The likelihood is only one spinner in the test squad, and that should be Bruce Martin, despite a disappointing final day at Eden Park against England when he couldn't find a way through their defences.

The XI who played all three tests will be supplemented by Guptill, two other seamers, probably Doug Bracewell and Ian Butler, who was on the fringe through the series, and one other.

Canterbury's Tom Latham is a rapid riser, was included in the enlarged test squad for the England series so is firmly in the selectors' thinking, has toured and tasted the international game. He can keep wicket, too.

As for the one-day squad, the usual suspects will be there. Look at the South African and England series for guides. Bracewell was omitted from the ODI squads on both trips, and took three wickets at 62 apiece for CD in the Ford Trophy. Consistency in thinking means no Champions Trophy for him.

There's also a case for leaving out Rutherford, whose 50-over record isn't flash, and he struggled against England. The test game should be his priority.

Possible New Zealand squads for England

Tests: Brendon McCullum (c), Peter Fulton, Hamish Rutherford, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Dean Brownlie, Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, BJ Watling, Tim Southee, Doug Bracewell, Bruce Martin, Neil Wagner, Ian Butler, Trent Boult.

ODI/Champions Trophy: McCullum (c), Guptill, Watling, Williamson, Taylor, Grant Elliott, Colin Munro, James Franklin, Andrew Ellis, Dan Vettori, Nathan McCullum, Tim Southee, Kyle Mills, Trent Boult, Mitchell McClenaghan.

- By David Leggat of The New Zealand Herald

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