BLACKCAPS coach John Bracewell expressed his delight at the range of batting options at his disposal after naming his latest squad.
Bracewell named a 13-man squad for the first two One-Day Internationals against the West Indies, in Wellington and Queenstown.
Before that, Chris Cairns makes his international swansong in the Twenty20 match between the sides at Eden Park on February 16.
Bracewell said there was plenty of choice for the selectors when calling up Michael Mason, who he felt was ‘one of the country’s better line-and-length bowlers’.
He also explained choosing from the many in-form batsmen available was ‘pleasing’.
Mason comes in to replace the injured Kyle Mills but Bracewell said the 31-year-old is in the top tier of Kiwi bowlers.
After Mason’s contribution to the State Central Stags 18-run State Shield semi-final win over State Otago Volts, he said: “I think that Michael, probably domestically, apart from obviously Mills and (Andre) Adams, is one of the better line-and-length bowlers.
“And to compliment Shane Bond, we think that that discipline at the start has been a good combination for us, that of Mills and Bond, and we want that to continue.
“That out-swing or the in-swing to the left hander, he bowls consistent line and if there’s consistent line he’ll get that swing away, very similar to what (Kyle) Mills does.
“Mills obviously has a couple more dimensions in terms of his catching and batting which gives him that long term edge.
“It’s the tight start we were looking for and there’s a few guys doing that around the country, in terms of (Graeme) Aldridge and (Warren) McSkimming in particular.
“But we just felt that Michael had the edge consistently, reaching an average of three-point-something over the last two seasons.”
The questions raised at the squad announcement over who was left out of the batting order, rather than who was in, also augured well, said the coach.
“There’s a list of in form batters at the minute. James Marshall, Ross Taylor in particular are fighting for a place in what is a congested middle order.
“It’s a case of trying to squeeze numbers into the wrong equation. When the ICC stars shifting it to six or seven substitutes, we might be able to get them all in!
“It’s pleasing to have that deliberation in our selection, that we’re not recruiting or selecting players but in certain positions, we’ve got to squeeze in a lot of them.
“A return to form in Nathan Astle’s case and a continuation in form, which was the most pleasing thing about (Jamie) How and (Peter) Fulton: that their experience at international level continued back into the domestic season. They’ve both been leading scorers in taking there teams into the final.
“It’s a delight to see those young players given the opportunity and then continue along domestically as well.”
for BLACKCAPS v West Indies: The National Bank Series ticket information.