New Zealand cover all bases for World Twenty20
New Zealand are sweating on the fitness of a batch of experienced players for the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean next month. Kyle Mills (shoulder), Jacob Oram (knee), Aaron Redmond and Ian Butler have all been named in the 15-man squad, but their final selection depends on their rehabilitation over the next three weeks.
Daryl Tuffey, the fast bowler, and Neil Broom have missed out because of fitness problems while Rob Nicol, the Canterbury allrounder, has been picked for his first tour. With so many players on the comeback trail, the coach Mark Greatbatch has seven men on standby to cover all possibilities.
Mills worked with the Test squad before the match in Hamilton but Greatbatch said he has some "checkpoints" to pass before getting the all-clear. Oram, who hurt his knee in the one-day series, will visit Greatbatch over the next three weeks to do skills sessions. "He's going to have to show us he's up to speed, along with two or three others," Greatbatch said.
The squad will have a warm-up camp in Brisbane before heading to the Caribbean and each man has been handed a fitness programme for the next three weeks. "A number of our players - Mills, Oram, Redmond and Butler - are coming back from injury, so the training schedule will put all of our players through their paces to ensure that they are fully fit before we depart," Greatbatch said.
Butler, Redmond, the wicketkeeper Gareth Hopkins and Scott Styris will gain some match practice by turning out in the National Club Championship in Auckland between April 6 and 11. Greatbatch said the players on standby were Jeetan Patel, Peter Ingram, Shanan Stewart, Andy McKay, Brent Arnel, James Franklin and Peter McGlashan.
Despite the injury concerns, Greatbatch was confident of a strong showing. "We think we have some very dynamic batters, who can be lethal in this form of the game," Greatbatch said. "Our bowlers are also very effective Twenty20 performers."
New Zealand will be based in Guyana for the opening stage and face Sri Lanka in the first game of the tournament on April 30 before playing Zimbabwe on May 4. Only the top two teams go through to the next stage of the event.
New Zealand squad Brendon McCullum, Jesse Ryder, Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Scott Styris, Aaron Redmond, Jacob Oram, Gareth Hopkins (wk), Daniel Vettori (capt), Rob Nicol, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Tim Southee, Shane Bond, Ian Butler.