Sri Lanka in New Zealand 2015-16 December 14, 2015

Boult rested; Nicholls earns maiden call-up

ESPNcricinfo staff
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File photo: Trent Boult and Tim Southee are inseperable. They even get rested from the squad together © Getty Images

In an effort to manage workloads, New Zealand fast bowler Trent Boult has been rested for the first three matches of the five-ODI series against Sri Lanka starting on Boxing Day. Tim Southee will also have a couple of matches off, before joining the squad for the Nelson ODI on New Year's Eve.

Neither player was part of New Zealand's tours to Zimbabwe and South Africa earlier in the year: Boult was injured and Southee was rested. But they have played four back-to-back Tests since the start of November.

"He will have played five Tests in a row [including the next one in Hamilton]," coach Mike Hesson said of Boult. "It's a long season and we need some fresh legs steaming in come the first ODI at Hagley." Matt Henry comes into the squad for Southee in the first two matches, and he will have Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne and Doug Bracewell for company in the fast-bowling department.

The only new face among the 13 players picked was Henry Nicholls and Hesson was effusive in his praise of the 24-year-old batsman. "Henry has earned his spot through consistent performances over the last 12 months. Through the A campaign he was exceptional, certainly an outstanding player in all forms of the game. He's a player we see has class and a player who we want to expose to the international scene sooner rather than later."

It is Nicholls' first call-up to the New Zealand squad. He averages 44.07 after 34 List A matches, with eight fifties and a big hundred - 178 against Wellington in January. In fact, his 50-over career peaked in the 2014-15 season when he became the second-highest scorer in the Ford Trophy with 454 runs in eight matches at an average of 75.66 and a strike-rate of 105.82.

Nicholls has been a middle-order batsman for most of his domestic career and might get his New Zealand cap sooner rather than later considering allrounders Corey Anderson, James Neesham and Grant Elliott are still recovering from injuries.

Anderson has been playing in the Georgie Pie Super Smash for Northern Knights despite his bad back preventing him from bowling. "We are starting to increase his loads and he is likely to be considered for T20 cricket as a batsman, but we are hopeful that towards the back end of season he can play a role with the ball," Hesson said. "We are taking a cautious approach with his return to bowling crease. So far he's ticking the initial boxes."

Elliott had broken his hand recently, but stands a chance to make the team for the final two ODIs, according to Hesson. Neesham is still "a long way off from bowling," after hurting his back during the Brisbane Test against Australia.

"Elliott's cast is off and he batted a couple of times in the nets. He will likely return for [Wellington] Firebirds in Ford Trophy on December 27 and if he proves his fitness, we hope he can come into consideration for the latter part of the series."

New Zealand have a newish spin attack as well with left-arm allrounder Mitchell Santner and legspinner Ish Sodhi the only two frontline options picked. Nathan McCullum, who had announced he would retire from international cricket at the end of the season, was not picked for the ODIs.

"Nathan's unlikely to be considered for one-day cricket with his body," Hesson said "We see T20 about where his limit is. He's had a lot of back issues but we have a number of promising spinners, looking to tournaments ahead, Mitch Santner and Ish Sodhi are going to need some opportunities."

Sri Lanka have won only one ODI series since the start of 2015 - their last one against West Indies - and that run began with a defeat in New Zealand in January. Hesson is hopeful of a repeat.

"At home, we've been pretty hard to beat in last couple of years," he said. "Winning both one-day series [ODIs and T20Is] is an expectation we have of ourselves. We know Sri Lanka have talented batsmen and pretty wily campaigners with the ball. But we certainly rate our own skills in New Zealand conditions. We've got a few new faces so nice to expose them around some older heads. Hopefully they can prove they ready to go."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mohsin on December 18, 2015, 14:27 GMT

    Didn't think I would ever agree on anything TheRisingTeam says. But, hav to agree about Milne tho. Was really excited to see an out-and-out quick coming up from NZ. But, seems dat it takes a lot out of his body to bowl 150kph. Really wanted him to make the step-up to Tests by now. I know he's got time on his side. But, I think NZ wud be better served if he learns to swing d ball both ways at 140-45kph regularly dan to see darts at 150kph & get taken for runs. It wud not only reduce d workload on his body but also allow him to play more games for NZ now as dey need a good 1st change bowler. Bracewell is good but a few rungs below Southee & Boult. Maybe good as a workhorse/4th seamer like Wagner. Wud also like to see Brownlie given more opportunities in seaming conditions dan Guptill & a spinner who can control d flow of runs to play Tests for NZ. That wud be formidable NZ team for all surfaces

  •   Michael Dickson on December 18, 2015, 7:32 GMT

    @TheRisingteam, not excuses at all. NZ had a couple of off games during the group play stage of the world cup. We collapsed against Scotland too. As for NZers in the IPL, less than half of the team has participated in it, and almost half the current players that do only joined this year (Williamson, Boult and Milne - and Milne never took part as he was injured!). So in actuality, at the time we last toured Bangladesh, only Taylor, McCullum and Southee had been in the IPL, and you can't honestly compare a T20 tournament in India to a proper series in Bangladesh. We beat you in the T20 there, the first test was drawn when we were the only ones that looked likely to win, the second test went nowhere. Out of the 3 ODI's, one had a farcical D/L target set for us, one was VERY close and the other was the only time you really dealt to us.

  • Beau on December 18, 2015, 4:23 GMT

    @KIWICRICKETNUT: Yep, I was thinking of Chapman. I didn't mean to say there'd be no room for either allrounder, just that hopefully one or two of those young guys would step up and force NZ to choose between JN and CA. I'd be as stoked as anyone should Neesham and/or Santner (or, for that matter, Anderson) prove to be a real long term number five, but I have my doubts either should be higher than six in a Test side. Like you say, time will tell.

  • Shipu on December 17, 2015, 9:49 GMT

    No excuses. These New Zealand players already play in IPL. I forgot about that South Africa bit which is fair, but still, South Africa have played in New Zealand recently unlike Bangladesh. Milne is overrated as he hasn't done anything special as of yet. The fact remains - Bangladesh don't get chances to play that many away games unlike New Zealand who play countless of times away, so no wonder you will have more away wins. Rare failure, off-day, players injured etc. all excuses if you ask anybody :)

  • jared on December 17, 2015, 5:39 GMT

    @ Choppa13, Brendon's body has been packing in on him for a while, its All speculation mate, not sure when he'll call it a day but I thought if he could beat Aussie here at the end of the summer that he might want to go out on a high like that but then you make a good point about south African redemption, even the commentators during the Dunedin test were calling it his last test in his home town, maybe they know something we don't but his back is on borrowed time. @ Same old, think the young fella from Hong Kong is mark chapman, will young is pretty promising too but nicholls has the inside running and I love seeing young batters coming through because we don't get many good ones, got high hopes for worker too but I'm always a bit bias towards central districts players, are they better than Neesham though? I guess time will tell.

  •   Michael Dickson on December 16, 2015, 23:31 GMT

    @Therisingteam, your team have never won an ODI in NZ. Ever. Let that sink in for a while. Yes, we got "Banglawashed" twice in our last two tours there, and we deserved to be, as we were at a low ebb at the time, and we last won an ODI in your country back in 2008, which is more than what can be said about your team in NZ. Your team didn't give us enough of a run in the WC, you played at your best and we had a bit of an off day (SteadyTheShip had a rare failure, as did McCullum, and Milne didn't play), but your claim that "Apart from Australia, Bangladesh were the only other team that gave New Zealand a scare at the world cup," is demonstrably false, as you forgot the best game of the entire world cup - the semi final between NZ and South Africa. You also need to remember that there is less of an excuse for Bangladesh losing in NZ - Tamim Iqbal, for one, played a lot of cricket for Wellington, and is very familiar with NZ conditions now. We still aren't familiar with conditions in BD.

  • Beau on December 16, 2015, 22:48 GMT

    @KIWICRICKETNUT: Im hoping the young batsmen coming through will make it very tough for selectors to find room for both seaming all-rounders. Nicholls, Worker, Bracewell, the young fella playing in Hong Kong (Carter, I think?), and more I'm no doubt forgetting. With everyone except Baz (retirement) and maybe Guptill (form) looking permanent right now, and Milne and Sodhi looming, the team sheet is getting crowded.

  • joe on December 16, 2015, 22:17 GMT

    Just wondering where all this talk of Brendon retiring has come from? Have I missed something or is it just because he's getting on a bit? Wouldn't it be a fairy tale finish if he was to go to south Africa at the end of the year and win the test series. Since his captaincy career started horrifically there all those years ago. It would be ultimate redemption. Cheers

  • Eric on December 16, 2015, 17:10 GMT

    Agree with the comments below on Anderson/Neesham/Santner. All three need time to properly develop their skillsets. Anderson looks to be the most explosive of the three with bat/ball while Neesham technically looks a better bat but a more plodding bowler (despite his cracking Twitter feed!) Santner is very promising and offers something a bit different but as a spinner hardly looks like he'll run through teams. A post-Baz configuration that offers opportunities for both Milne and Sodhi (to back up Southee/Boult) would be an exciting prospect. It's obviously a long way out to be crystal ball-gazing but here goes: what about this XV for the South Africa tour post-T20WC (assuming the McCullums and Ronchi retire by then) : 1. Guptill 2. Latham 3. Kane Train (c) 4. Rosco 5. Watling (vc/wk) 6. Anderson 7. Santner 8. Milne 9. Southee 10. Wagner 11. Boult // 12. Henry 13. D. Bracewell 14. Sodhi 15. Neesham/reserve bat, with Latham to take the gloves in an emergency (there are only 2 tests)

  • Shipu on December 16, 2015, 15:49 GMT

    Please follow Cricket. Bangladesh do not get the chance to play away. Apart from Australia, Bangladesh were the only other team that gave New Zealand a scare at the world cup, and there was no Mustafizur in that match. Also, New Zealand have lost the last 2 ODI series to Bangladesh - all being whitewashes. Obviously England won't tour. They know they'll lose to Bangladesh after what Bangladesh did to the #2 and #3 ranked sides. Sorry.

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