Henry Nicholls gets maiden Test call-up
Batsman Ross Taylor has been ruled out of New Zealand's team for the first Test against Australia in Wellington due to a slow recovery from the side strain that scratched him from the Chappell-Hadlee ODI series and the preceding ODIs against Pakistan, with the left-hander Henry Nicholls set to come in for his debut.
A back problem also meant that the wicketkeeper BJ Watling is under something of a cloud for the match at Basin Reserve, forcing New Zealand to retain Luke Ronchi as cover in the event of the first-choice gloveman being ruled unfit to play.
Tim Southee is fit and ready for Test duty - he has not played a game in the new year due to a foot injury picked up during the home series against Sri Lanka in December.
Apart from Taylor, the one man missing out from New Zealand's previous Test assignment - the home Tests against Sri Lanka, which New Zealand won 2-0 - is offspinner Mark Craig.
Nicholls has been a consistent performer for the New Zealand ODI team this summer, most recently compiling 61 against Australia in the opening match of the limited-overs series at Eden Park. New Zealand's coach Mike Hesson said Nicholl's selection was part of a squad put together in the expectation of seaming pitches in Wellington and Christchurch.
"Henry has been very impressive the way he has made the step up to international cricket and we're confident of the job he can do for us in the top order," Hesson said. "We've gone for just the one spinner in Mitch [Santner] and that's based around what we expect the pitches to play like at Hagley and the Basin.
"Tim's a leader within our group and our most experienced bowler, so we're excited to have him fit and a part of our pace bowling attack. Matt [Henry] also comes back into the squad after some really strong performances throughout the summer and with Corey's [Anderson] return we now have a number of seam-bowling options to consider.
"It's well documented how good a Test side Australia are and we know it will take some exceptional cricket for us to have a chance of taking out the series. It doesn't get much bigger for all New Zealand fans than a Test Series against Australia."