Henry learns to work with uncertainty
Only twice has Matt Henry played every match of a series - the two Tests against England in May 2015 and a couple of T20s against Pakistan in December 2014, when New Zealand were trying to hammer down their top 15 players for the World Cup. He didn't make the cut until Adam Milne got injured and needed to be replaced. Even now, as he is about to complete a year in international cricket, Henry has been included for the first two ODIs against Sri Lanka as a stand-in for Tim Southee.
Henry's wait to become a permanent member of the side continues partly because of New Zealand's rich bounty of specialist seam bowlers. Besides Southee and Trent Boult, the selectors have the pace of Mitchell McClenaghan and Milne to choose from. Not to mention the stability of Doug Bracewell and the wholeheartedness of Neil Wagner.
So Henry decided to shut out the peripherals and concentrate on his own skills. The result: a four-wicket haul that reduced Sri Lanka to 29 for 5 and gave New Zealand an emphatic seven-wicket victory on Boxing Day.
"The main thing is focusing on doing your job," Henry told stuff.co.nz. "We've put our preparation in and you hope when get out there you express yourself and make sure you do the best with plans you can."
Another good show in the second ODI could well give him a chance to stay in the team, and Henry needs to prove himself after a dismal Test tour of Australia. He went wicketless in the Sydney tour game, and when he was picked for the Perth Test, he conceded nearly five runs an over in the first innings.
"Australia was a great learning curve, obviously it didn't go as well as personally I would have liked. I came back with plenty of things to work on so hopefully I can keep progressing."
Henry has ample time on his hand for that, he is 24-years old and formed a threatening combination with Milne on a decent batting track at Hagley Oval. "We had to make sure we created pressure from both ends and bowled well in partnerships. As a bowling unit we did well, Milney up front, he was very tight and bowled with good pace. It was a good performance."
The batsmen backed that up, with Brendon McCullum hammering 55 off only 25 balls and Martin Guptill keeping pace with 79 off 56 balls to secure victory in 21 overs. "It was a great day to be involved," Henry said.