Facing criticism for the non-selection of promising Central Districts' batsman Ross Taylor in the squad for the five-match ODI series against West Indies, John Bracewell, the New Zealand coach, came out in defence of the conservative selection policy. Taylor is among the top performers in the State Shield, aggregating 553 runs in 10 matches with three centuries, and in the process, guiding his team to the finals.
Following the success of Peter Fulton and Jamie How in the recent ODI series against Sri Lanka, Bracewell felt that there was no immediate need to incorporate more new faces in the side, but offered words of encouragement to Taylor. Bracewell made a trip to the Central Districts dressing room to personally congratulate Taylor for scoring a century in the State Shield semi-final against Otago.
In an interview to The New Zealand Herald, Bracewell said, "It all came down to numbers. We're not the Junior Black Caps; wholesale change wouldn't have made sense, and to keep changing just because you've already made some changes doesn't make sense either. Strength and depth and competition within the ranks are critical for us. But it's fair to say that I had a word with Ross after his semi-final innings because, as selectors we agreed that he deserved that sort of acknowledgement."
The other notable omissions from the squad are Chris Harris and Craig McMillan. Harris underwent a shoulder operation in December 2004 and has slowly worked his way back to fitness. In nine State Shield matches this season, he has averaged 34.20 with the bat. Bracewell said, "Chris is performing in Canterbury cricket and domestic cricket and was discussed along with a number of others in relation to that middle-order role. In the end we probably felt that some of our bowlers who can bat could do a similar job that he was offering. But certainly, his throwing and fielding isn't keeping him out of the team."
McMillan was dropped after the Chappell-Hadlee series and has scored two half-centuries in the State Shield, his runs coming at a strike rate close to 90. Bracewell added, "Craig has started to address some of the issues in terms of getting back to his belligerent best but has probably been slightly late in producing some form. He probably hasn't shown the same degree of consistency as Taylor, or James Marshall for that matter, so I think he's still got a bit of work to do yet."
Bracewell was uncertain about the return of Jacob Oram and Kyle Mills, both of whom are nursing injuries.