Batsman Jesse Ryder has been thrown a lifeline toward a possible recall for the World Cup after being included in a 13-man New Zealand A squad for a four-match 50-over tour to the UAE beginning November 23.
Ryder hasn't played international cricket for New Zealand since the home ODI series against India last January but New Zealand general manager national selection Bruce Edgar said selectors wanted to leave "no questions unanswered" when it came to players in contention for a spot in New Zealand's final World Cup squad due to be announced on January 8.
"I'd remind people that, at this point, Jesse has been selected for NZ A, nothing more, nothing less," said Edgar. "It's an important step for Jesse but it is only a first step and we're anxious not to get ahead of ourselves. Like everyone else in the squad, his future prospects will depend on his performance, on and off the field in Dubai."
In one of his most recent outings, Ryder racked up 136 off just 57 balls for Otago against an Ireland XI on October 23, once again reminding selectors and fans of his explosive talent at the top of the order. Speaking after the squad announcement, Ryder said he was looking forward to getting another chance to show what he can do on the international stage.
"It's just a stepping stone and hopefully it's a good one for me and I'll go over there and just do what I need to do to show them I'm still keen to be a part of it," Ryder said, adding that he wouldn't be going on the A team tour if he wasn't trying to get into New Zealand's World Cup squad. "It's definitely something I want so I have to put the hard work in first and see what happens. The A tour is the first step of it."
Aside from Ryder, the squad also features several other key names in the New Zealand limited overs setup, including Martin Guptill and Daniel Vettori, who continues to build up his workload while on the comeback trail from injury ahead of the World Cup. Vettori made his first New Zealand appearance since the 2013 Champions Trophy earlier this month against South Africa, going wicketless in two ODIs.
Other players on the fringes of the New Zealand squad looking to further their cases for a World Cup spot are fast bowlers Adam Milne and Matt Henry and batsman Colin Munro. The only player in the squad yet to have a New Zealand cap is wicketkeeper Derek de Boorder while the team will be captained by fast bowler Kyle Mills.
The New Zealand A squad will play four 50-over games at the ICC Global Cricket Academy in Dubai against three of the four Associate teams who will be participating in the World Cup. The first match on November 16 will be against United Arab Emirates followed by a game against Afghanistan three days later. The tour will be rounded off with two games against Ireland on November 29 and December 1.
Players who are not involved in the second and third Tests of New Zealand's series against Pakistan in the UAE will also be used for the four New Zealand A matches. New Zealand's limited overs squad for two Twenty20 matches and five ODIs against Pakistan in the UAE will be named on December 1 ahead of the first Twenty20 in Dubai on December 4.
New Zealand A squad: Kyle Mills (capt.), Dean Brownlie, Derek de Boorder, Colin de Grandhomme, Anton Devcich, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Mitchell, McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Jesse Ryder, Daniel Vettori