WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Uncapped Canterbury batsman Henry Nicholls has been called into New Zealand’s one-day squad for the first three games of their five-match series against Sri Lanka, while pace spearheads Trent Boult and Tim Southee have been rested.
The 24-year-old left-handed batsman has impressed coach Mike Hesson and fellow selector Gavin Larsen with his performances over the last 12 months.
He was the second top run-scorer in last season’s domestic one-day competition, while topping the averages at 75.66 and scored 144 in the unofficial ‘test’ match for New Zealand ‘A’ against Sri Lanka ‘A’ in Christchurch in October.
Nicholls continued that strong form in New Zealand’s recently completed domestic Twenty20 competition.
“Henry has earned his spot after consistent performances over the last 12 months and during the New Zealand A campaign he was superb across all forms,” Hesson told reporters.
“He is a player who has got class and he’s someone we want to expose to the international scene sooner rather than later so we’re excited to see how he goes.”
Hesson added that opening bowlers Boult and Southee, who formed a deadly tandem during the World Cup earlier this year as New Zealand made their first final, would be rested.
Boult would miss the first three games in Christchurch on Dec. 26 and 28 and in Nelson on Dec. 31. Southee would be available for the Nelson game, with Matt Henry selected for the first two games in Christchurch.
“Both Trent and Tim by the time we get to the next test would have played five tests in a row,” Hesson said.
“It’s a long season and we need some fresh legs steaming in at the first ODI.”
Injured all-rounders Corey Anderson, Jimmy Neesham and Grant Elliott were also not considered as they work their way back to fitness.
Elliott, who broke his arm in a domestic match, could be back playing during the Christmas period, Hesson said.
Anderson and Neesham have been struggling with back injuries and their bowling has been limited, though Anderson’s progress was further advanced than Neesham, he added.
“Corey is running in a bit harder than he has and is starting to increase his loads but is likely he could be considered for the T20 as a batsman,” Hesson said. “We hope by the back end of the season he will play a role with the ball.
“In terms of James, he’s a long way off from bowling at the moment but it’s nice to see him back playing cricket again.”
The final two games of the series are on Jan. 2 in Nelson and Jan. 5 in Mount Maunganui before Sri Lanka end the tour with two Twenty20 internationals.
Squad: Brendon McCullum (captain), Doug Bracewell, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry (first two matches), Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne, Henry Nicholls, Luke Ronchi, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson, George Worker, Tim Southee (will join squad for third ODI).
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury)