New Zealand have named uncapped allrounder Luke Woodcock in their 15-man squad for the World Cup that begins in the subcontinent on February 19. Jacob Oram, who has been battling to recover from surgery in time for the tournament, has also been included in the mix.
Woodcock, 28, made his international debut in the recent Twenty20 series against Pakistan and was rewarded for his good form for Wellington in New Zealand's domestic one-day tournament, where he is averaging 26.00 with the bat and 20.00 with his left-arm spin. He was the one unfamiliar name in a squad that included six players who competed in the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies.
Mark Greatbatch, New Zealand's head selector, backed Woodock's temperament and floated the possibility of playing three spinners - Woodcock, Daniel Vettori and Nathan McCullum.
"Luke Woodcock has worked hard for his chance after forging an impressive record with Wellington over a number of years," Greatbatch said. "He has a good head on his shoulders and his selection provides the option of playing three spinners, which could be useful in the subcontinent."
Oram has been ravaged by injury throughout his career and after a recurrence of a patella-tendon problem during the tri-series in Sri Lanka in August 2010, he opted for surgery with the sole aim of being fit for the World Cup. His big hitting and nagging medium pace made his an ever-present when fit in the New Zealand team and his inclusion was a boost ahead the World Cup.
Hamish Bennett, the 23-year-old fast bowler, was also returning from injury, having picked up a groin strain during his debut Test in India last November. He impressed by bowling around 140kph and adds pace to an attack packed with steady bowlers.
Greatbatch was relieved to have both Oram and Bennett available and felt the squad can continue New Zealand's good record in World Cups. They made the semi-finals in two of the last three tournaments.
"It's great to see the bowling attack bolstered by the return of Jacob Oram and Hamish Bennett, who have both been sidelined with injury," he said. "Jacob has been a key performer over a number of years and his experience will be invaluable at the World Cup. Hamish made a good start to his one-day career and deserves the opportunity now that he is fully fit.
"We have kept faith with the bulk of the team which played the five-match ODI series in India and believe that, despite recent one-day form, the squad is very capable and owe it to themselves and the New Zealand fans to put in a huge performance at the World Cup."
New Zealand are presently playing Pakistan at home and will play six ODIs at the conclusion of the ongoing Test series. Their coaching staff was bolstered by the arrival of Allan Donald, the former South African fast-bowler, as bowling coach.
Squad: Daniel Vettori, Hamish Bennett, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Jamie How, Brendon McCullum, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Jacob Oram, Jesse Ryder, Tim Southee, Scott Styris, Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson, Luke Woodcock.