Canterbury's Henry Nicholls makes step up to Black Caps ODI squad
Canterbury batsman Henry Nicholls is in line for the ideal belated Christmas present, a Black Caps debut on Boxing Day on the familiar surroundings of Hagley Oval.
The 24-year-old left hander is the only uncapped player included in a 14-man squad for selected for the first three matches of a five-match ODI series against the touring Sri Lankans.
Nicholls, who averages 44.09 from 34 list A matches, has already experienced success against Sri Lanka this year when scoring 210 runs at 84.50 when New Zealand A swept a four-match series staged in Christchurch and Lincoln in October.
In other features of the squad that also plays in Christchurch on December 28 and the first leg of a double header in Nelson on New Year's Eve, Trent Boult has been rested and fellow pace bowling spearhead Tim Southee is only available from game three.
A revised team will be named for the January 2 match at Nelson's Saxon Oval, the series finale on Bay Oval at Mt Maunganui on January 5 and the T20 internationals at Mt Maunganui on January 7 and Auckland's Eden Park three days later.
Black Caps coach Mike Hesson said Nicholls had warranted promotion on the strength of his performances over the past 12 months, particularly against Sri Lanka A - where he made two hundreds and a fifty in two first class games.
"He was exceptional through the 'A' campaign, certainly the outstanding player in all forms of the game.
"He's a class player and a player who we want to expose to the international scene sooner rather than later."
Hesson said Nicholls' NZA teammate Will Young from Central Districts was also among a group of talented strokemakers pushing their claims for higher honours.
With Boult set to recharge after playing five straight tests and Southee a late starter, Adam Milne, Matt Henry, Mitchell McClenaghan and Doug Bracewell lead the pace attack.
Hesson was pleased Milne had made an encouraging comeback from a heel injury suffered against Sri Lanka A for the Central Stags in the Super Smash.
"He's bowling fast which is good, he's feeling good. We also see his batting developing nicely for us and hopefully he'll get further opportunities there."
Two-test spinner Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi are the spinning options given limited overs specialist Nathan McCullum is only an option for the T20 format as he manages back issues
"We have number of promising spinners and looking to the tournaments ahead (including the World T20 in India in March), Mitch and Ish are going to need some opportunities," Hesson said.
Meanwhile, World Cup hero Grant Elliott is still unavailable after fracturing his wrist while training with Wellington last month though might return when the squad is reselected.
Allrounders Corey Anderson and Jimmy Neesham are also also working through rehabilitation plans from injury so are still playing a waiting game.
New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (captain), Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, George Worker, Luke Ronchi, Doug Bracewell, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne, Ish Sodhi, Matt Henry (first two ODIs), Tim Southee (3rd ODI).
BLACK CAPS v SRI LANKA
1st ODI, Dec 26 at Hagley Oval, Christchurch
2nd ODI, Dec 28 at Hagley Oval, Christchurch
3rd ODI, Dec 31, at Saxon Oval, Nelson
4th ODI, Jan 2 at Saxon Oval, Nelson
5th ODI, Jan 5 at Bay Oval, Mt Maunganui
1st T20, Jan 7 at Bay Oval, Mt Maunganui
2nd T20, Jan 10 at Eden Park, Auckland