Ronchi to captain NZ XI against England
Wellington wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi will captain a New Zealand XI featuring nine internationals in the four-day warmup match against England in Queenstown, starting on February 27.
The former Australian gloveman, who is unlikely to unseat BJ Watling from the test wicketkeeper's role for the England series, now qualifies for New Zealand selection and has pushed hard for a callup in the Plunket Shield this season.
Batsman Dean Brownlie is the only guaranteed test selection among the 11 names released today, while one spot has been left open.
It could be filled by Ross Taylor if national coach Mike Hesson believes his key batsman needs more work as he tries to break out of a form slump ahead of the first test in Dunedin on March 6. The squad also appears one pace bowler short.
Other internationals in the New Zealand XI are Tom Latham, Hamish Rutherford, Neil Wagner, Jimmy Neesham, Neil Broom, Corey Anderson and Mark Gillespie.
Latham and Rutherford are among several contenders for a test opener's slot, a race that has intensified now that incumbent Martin Guptill is battling a hamstring strain.
Wagner and Gillespie are contenders for the final pace bowling slot in the test squad, behind Tim Southee, Doug Bracewell and Trent Boult. The test squad of 13 is scheduled to be named on Sunday.
"The New Zealand XI reflects the next generation of New Zealand internationals", national selection manager Kim Littlejohn said.
"This game gives us a great opportunity to see how these youngsters cope with playing a test side ranked at two in the world."
Northern Knights' legspinner Ish Sodhi is one with a promising future. The 20-year-old was one of the top bowlers at last year's under-19 World Cup and he has been in solid Plunket Shield form.
"This game will give Ish an opportunity to gain some valuable experience and see what's needed for his game to go to the next level," Littlejohn said.
Central Stags batsman Carl Cachopa, one of the form players for the Plunket Shield leaders, also gets his chance to step up to the next level.
New Zealand XI: Hamish Rutherford, Tom Latham, Carl Cachopa, Dean Brownlie, Neil Broom, Luke Ronchi (captain), Corey Anderson, Jimmy Neesham, Neil Wagner, Mark Gillespie, Ish Sodhi, one to be added.