Cricket: Blackcaps struggling to replace Colin de Grandhomme after retirement, concedes coach Gary Stead

Amid the exits of senior players from the Blackcaps' ranks, all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme's retirement has given New Zealand selectors the biggest headaches, coach Gary Stead concedes.

After a surprise appearance in the first Australian Big Bash League draft, where he was picked up by Adelaide Strikers, de Grandhomme called time on his international career to ply his trade as a Twenty20 freelancer.

Coupled with the retirements of BJ Watling and Ross Taylor, and the likes of Trent Boult, Jimmy Neesham and Martin Guptill opting out of central contracts to play elsewhere, the Blackcaps have lost a large chunk of their settled senior players in a short time.

Colin de Grandhomme celebrates his century against South Africa.
Colin de Grandhomme celebrates his century against South Africa. Photo credit: Photosport

But while there have been able replacements ready to step up into the Blackcaps' ranks, finding another all-rounder of de Grandhomme's quality has been a struggle.

Averaging just over 38 with the bat in test cricket, de Grandhomme was a key if not unheralded part of the New Zealand side that won the World Test Championship in 2021. 

Meanwhile his bowling - which yielded 49 career wickets at an average of just under 33 - was a more than handy option for former captain Kane Williamson to allow frontline bowlers a rest.

In de Grandhomme's absences, Daryl Mitchell, Rachin Ravindra and Michael Bracewell have been utilised as New Zealand's test No.7, although none have had the same all-round success - yet.

And with Bracewell given the nod to likely slot in at No.7 for the Blackcaps' upcoming two-test series against England, Stead detailed the difficulty in moving on from de Grandhomme. 

"I think one of the hardest things for us has been replacing Colin de Grandhomme," Stead said.

"Colin in that No.7 position has been someone that adds with the bat, and the ball - and can be your fourth seamer.

"For a while now, we've been grappling a little bit now with how we fill that role.

"It's something we'll continue to keep getting our heads around."

Meanwhile, the selection of the 14-man squad to face England, starting at Mt Maunganui's Bay Oval in a day-night test on February 16, does leave the Blackcaps with intriguing selections to make.

The continued absence of Boult, currently playing for Mumbai Indians Emirates in the UAE's International League T20, fitness concerns over seamer Kyle Jamieson, and recall of spinner Ish Sodhi could alter the make-up of New Zealand's bowling unit.

"We've selected, I guess, some options we think can look at different options through the squad," said Stead.

"With two spinners there if it's dry - Mt Maunganui has been the pitch that has tended to deteriorate faster than other wickets in New Zealand. That's something that we have there.

"We also have Daryl Mitchell, that I guess in some way might have been under-bowled at times as an option for us to consider for us as a fourth seamer.

"That might change the structure of the playing XI a little bit."