John Day: Still doubts over Blackcaps World Cup squad

OPINION: A couple of question marks still remain over which 15 cricketers will represent New Zealand at the World Cup in England from May-July.

Henry Nicholls secured his place with his brilliant maiden ODI century in Nelson, while all-rounder Jimmy Neesham can also get his passport ready, after three fantastic performances against Sri Lanka.

Coach Gary Stead is yet to reveal the balance of his squad, but is likely to take five specialist batsmen, four pace bowlers, two spinners, two all-rounders and two wicketkeepers to the showpiece event.

The batsmen pick themselves with Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and Nicholls all in fine form.

Pace bowling isn't so straightforward, with Lockie Ferguson the only one to come through the Sri Lankan series with his reputation intact, while Trent Boult's class cannot be questioned.

Lockie Ferguson.
Lockie Ferguson. Photo credit: Photosport

But there must be concerns over Matt Henry and Tim Southee.

The latter was a World Cup hero in 2015, with an unforgettable seven-wicket haul against England, but his economy rate of 7.6 in two games against Sri Lanka and his hammering at the death as he served up full-tosses to Thisara Perera will make Stead wonder if the 30-year-old is a viable option.

There were plenty of expectations around Henry, given his English county cricket form, but he could only manage three wickets at an average of 67 against the Sri Lankans.

Doug Bracewell looms as a strong contender to earn a spot ahead of Southee or Henry, with his faster bowling speed and superior batting ability, while Adam Milne’s extra pace would also be tempting, if he can regain fitness in time.

The all-rounder spots are essentially sewn up, with Neesham and Colin De Grandhomme the only contenders, unless Corey Anderson can somehow prove he's up to bowling consistently without getting injured.

Mitchell Santner's the first-choice spinner, while Ish Sodhi showed enough during the recent series to suggest he's ahead of Todd Astle in the leg-spinning pecking order.

Tom Latham will slot back into the number five spot as New Zealand's best one-day wicketkeeper, while Tim Seifert's explosive batting should be enough to keep the ever-reliable BJ Watling out of the reckoning.

Likely Black Caps World Cup squad:

Kane Williamson(c), Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Jimmy Neesham, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult, Ish Sodhi, Colin De Grandhomme, Tim Seifert, two of Matt Henry/Adam Milne/Tim Southee/Doug Bracewell.

John Day is a Newshub and RadioLIVE sports reporter

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