CLEAR Black Caps squad for VB tri-series
The 14-man squad to compete against Australia and South Africa in the VB tri-series in Australia starting on Friday 11 January is:
Stephen Fleming (captain)
Chairman of selectors Sir Richard Hadlee said it was a tough assignment selecting the team.
"It's great for New Zealand Cricket that there were eight or nine players in close competition for four or five positions," said Hadlee.
"It forced us to make some very difficult choices."
According to Hadlee, successful opening Test batsman Mark Richardson had pushed his way into the one-day side on the back of some positive displays at the top of the order against Australia and Bangladesh.
"Mark has been very consistent and he has shown us that he has increased his range of scoring shots.
"He really wants to play one-day cricket and he now has the opportunity to prove his worth," said Hadlee.
Brendon McCullum, a young player who Hadlee views as a very promising 2003 World Cup prospect, will also get his chance.
"Brendon has been scoring prolifically for the State Otago Volts and at a strike rate of over 90.
"He's young and talented and it's his challenge now to take the step up to the highest level," he said.
Hadlee commented that State Auckland Aces player Andre Adams had headed off a group of all-rounders competing for the same spot.
"As well as being an aggressive middle to lower order batsman, we believe Andre will have an important role to play bowling at the death.
"It's our belief in his ability to bowl with control in that situation that gave him the edge over some other contenders."
Hadlee also said the selectors have left the gate open for the injured Nathan Astle and would increase the squad to 15 if he proved his fitness.
"Nathan had his cast off today and all indications are the break is healing nicely.
"He's an integral part of our side and the goal now is for Nathan to play for the State Canterbury Wizards on 20 and 22 January.
"All going well he will then rejoin the squad in Australia and could be available for selection for the match against Australia at the Adelaide Oval on January 26.
"He could potentially then play another three pool games and, if all goes to plan, the finals," said Hadlee.
The CLEAR Black Caps first match in Australia is against Australia A at the Gabba on Tuesday 8 January.
They then play the first match of the VB tri-series against Australia at the MCG on Friday 11 January.
The CLEAR Black Caps squad will assemble in Australia on 6 January.