World Test Championship: Happy selection headache for Blackcaps coach Gary Stead

Gary Stead admits he has a selection headache, but it's a happy one.

Fresh out of managed isolation in Southampton, the Blackcaps coach is preparing his side for a bumper month, with two tests against England and the World Test Championship final against India.

And with the suspension of the Indian Premier League, due to COVID-19, Stead has a few unexpected recruits that weren't due to arrive until this week, putting their involvement in the Lord's test next month in doubt.

Kane Williamson, Kyle Jamieson and Mitchell Santner are all out of isolation and training with the squad, while Trent Boult returned to New Zealand for some family time, before joining them.

Stead now faces a welcome dilemma when it comes to selecting his XI for the first test.

"Originally, we were thinking those four IPL guys wouldn't be part of the first test and now three of them are back in calculation for selection, with Trent back at home.

"It's a tough decision, as a selector, as to who we leave out, but that's a good problem to have in that we are bringing back quality players.

"Everyone wants to play test cricket for their country and that's exciting, when you look at some of these younger guys and how they mix with the team as well."

New Zealand's test record in the last five years has been excellent, bar a fateful three-match series in Australia.

The good results have been based around consistency in selection and a formula that includes a batting all-rounder, who slots in at No.7 behind wicketkeeper BJ Watling.

Colin de Grandhomme, Daryl Mitchell and Mitchell Santner have all filled that role with great success, while current tourist Doug Bracewell would also be an option.

But with runscoring machine Devon Conway, promising rookie Will Young and two-time centurion Tom Blundell seemingly competing for one spot, playing six batsmen is an option.

As it stands, the three are all in the running to open the innings with Tom Latham, but two could play, if the all-rounder was dropped for an extra batter.

Stead has pondered the change, but unless they are faced with a bowling paradise, the selectors are unlikely to shift from what earned them a spot in the inaugural test final.

"It's definitely a consideration, given we have all those players here, but it will depend on what the pitch looks like when we get to London and whether we feel the need to play an extra batsman.

"If that was the case, you'd imagine it would be a really green seamer, where an extra bat would come into consideration. 

"But we have had a really settled line-up with that all-rounder coming in at No.7 and then the four bowlers, and I think the more likely outcome is we stick with the status quo."

One concern for Stead is his players pressing too hard too soon. Several sports have dealt with massive injury tolls on athletes returning from isolation stints.

Stead says they have a management plan around the squad's workloads - especially the bowling unit - to limit the injury risk.

"We have tried to map out and manage the loads of the bowlers, in particular, right through the whole tour and work out when guys might be ready to play, and if they aren't playing, how many overs are we bowling them, so they can be ready for the next test match.

"That will change a little bit on a day-by-day basis, but at the moment, we are pretty happy with where the guys are at."

The Blackcaps will play a two-day intrasquad match, beginning Friday, as they prepare for the first test against England on June 2.

Join us for live updates of the World Test Championship final between the Blackcaps and India starting June 18