Blackcaps vs India: Henry Nicholls an option to as World Cup wicketkeeper

Blackcaps batsman Henry Nicholls.
Blackcaps batsman Henry Nicholls. Photo credit: Photosport

Blackcaps batsman Henry Nicholls looms as an option to don the wicketkeeping gloves for New Zealand, as preparations for the Cricket World Cup start to ramp up.

Tom Latham was the only wicketkeeper named in the Blackcaps' 14-man squad for the upcoming five-match ODI series against India, with Tim Seifert dropped, after playing the last four limited-over games against Sri Lanka.

Keeping wicket is nothing new for Nicholls, who has played the role in the past for Canterbury - under now-NZ coach Gary Stead - and served as back-up to Luke Ronchi at the world T20 tournament in 2016.

Even though he hasn't worn the gloves recently, he still practices his keeping occasionally.

Stead said he was open to the idea of Nicholls as a back-up, as he mulls his options, with eight ODIs remaining before the showpiece event that starts in May.

"That is a possibility," he said. "Henry has some keeping experience in the past, but that is a question, when we sit down to finalise the squad of 15 and work out the balance we need.

"We'll work out if we go that way or have a genuine keeper as back-up."

Having two players to can stand behind the wickets would be essential for the World Cup, as the Blackcaps have at least nine games to play before the semi-finals.

Tim Seifert playing for Northern Districts.
Tim Seifert playing for Northern Districts. Photo credit: Photosport

Stead was unsure if there would be a chance for Seifert to feature again before the World Cup, but he'd been given a list of things to work on.

"We got some information we wanted, which is good, and what we learnt is that we have no question marks about him with the bat and to change the game quickly.

"We've given him some things we want to him to go work on, like being tidier. He is definitely on the upwards in terms of his keeping.

"We had Luke Ronchi in camp, and he did lots of work with Tim and provided him with some groundwork. Lots of it will come down to Tim doing some work away from the game."

If the Blackcaps do name one specialist keeper and opt to use Nicholls as the back-up, they could take an extra all-rounder to the UK, with the likes of Colin de Grandhomme, Jimmy Neesham, Doug Bracewell, Corey Anderson and Mitchell Santner all fighting for spots.

De Grandhomme, Bracewell and Santner were both named in the 14-man squad, but Nesham, who injured his hamstring in the third Sri Lankan ODI, has to prove his fitness, before being considered for the fourth and fifth matches against India.

"There are a number of guys who are sticking their hand up and that is a great problem to have," Stead added.

"I would say the position of the team and the players we have is the healthiest it's been for a long time, and that is a testament to the work the guys are putting in.

"Anytime you play for New Zealand, it is a great opportunity to go out there and cement your name for a long period. We want our guys to make it tough as they can for the selectors, when it comes to World Cup time, even though that is a while down the track."

Although Stead has one eye on the World Cup, he doesn't want to look too far ahead, with the Indian ODI series getting underway on January 23.

"India are a very good side. They don't have the ranking in the world of one or two consistently and not be a good team, so it is going to be a big challenge for us.

"I don't want to take anything away from Sri Lanka - they scored nearly 300 on three occasions against us, so we need to be at our best,

"I'm confident that with the players we've got and the form we're in, that it'll be a fantastic series and it is exciting to see these guys on our shores."