Zimbabwe in New Zealand 2011-12 January 28, 2012

Numbers justify the selections - Wright

ESPNcricinfo staff

John Wright has said New Zealand will be "in a better position to pick a side to play South Africa" after trying out several uncapped players during the ODI and Twenty20 matches against Zimbabwe. However Wright, who is both New Zealand coach and selector, said the emphasis while playing Zimbabwe was "on winning the series, and always will be".

New Zealand named four uncapped players - left-arm seamer Michael Bates, legspinner Tarun Nethula, allrounder Andrew Ellis and wicketkeeper-batsman Tom Latham - in the ODI squad against Zimbabwe. They also picked Bates for the T20s, along with allrounder Colin de Grandhomme and left-arm spinner Ronnie Hira on the on the basis of their HRV Cup performances.

"We've got Ross [Taylor] out, Jesse's [Ryder] out. We had to find replacements. and tried to pick a side that has produced form this year," Wright said. "I go through numbers really rigorously, I think that's really important."

"Plus, you look at someone like Latham and you think, 'well, he's had outstanding form, but it's very early for him,' then again, 'against Zimbabwe, it's probably not a bad time to have a look.' There are some match-ups in both the teams [ODI and T20s] that we are interested to see how they fit into the team, how they conduct themselves and the quality of their cricket."

Latham is presently the top scorer in the Ford Trophy, New Zealand's domestic one-day tournament, with 310 runs in five innings at a strike-rate of 94. He also made 61 runs in two innings at a strike-rate of 156 in the HRV Cup.

While Latham and Ellis play for Canterbury, Bates and de Grandhomme represent for Auckland, the top two limited-overs sides in New Zealand. Wright said those players had contributed to the success of their teams.

"The reason they were part of the two best teams was that individually they were some of the best-performed players. That's how good teams get results, the individuals perform. The guys that have been selected, if you look at the numbers, they all justify the selections.

"Someone like Luke Woodcock has been unlucky, but we have given the opportunity to Ronnie Hira and we also want to see how Nethula goes in the longer form of the game. That will give us a line on those two players as well. Then you match-up Ellis, who we feel could have been picked in either form of the game, we'll get a line on him and Colin de Grandhomme.

When asked if he was pleased with a specific selection, like Latham who is 19, Wright said: "Not really … but I'm pleased, I looked at perhaps Bates. He's been around and he hasn't had the opportunity at the international level. But he's been a very good domestic performer for a couple of years now. We don't know how he's going to go at the top level, but he did bowl very well in the Champions League when he went to India, and he bowled well in the [HRV] final, which is a pressure situation. Let's see how Michael takes that opportunity."