New-look New Zealand team for SA series

New Zealand on Tuesday recalled all-rounder James Franklin and named wicketkeeper Gareth Hopkins as a batsman in a new-look one-day squad for next month’s trip to South Africa.

Opener Jamie How was also recalled for the first time since early 2006 in the 14-man squad as New Zealand rebuild after a series of retirements.

New Zealand’s batting stocks have been hard hit after Stephen Fleming, Nathan Astle and Craig McMillan, who boasted 699 one-day caps between them, all called it quits.

Hopkins is back in the side to play three one-day matches and one Twenty20 for the first time since 2004 when he kept wicket in five ODIs against England without batting once.

Selection panel manager Richard Hadlee said the 30-year-old Hopkins was now seen as a specialist batting option at six or seven in what he termed a new era for the side.

“He deserves a spot as a specialist batsman on merit,” Hadlee said.

“He is innovative, he can hit the ball to the boundary, he has some deft touches and is very quick between the wickets.”

The inclusion of How gives the selectors another option at the top of the order, with Lou Vincent and Brendon McCullum expected to be the preferred opening partnership.

Franklin and seam bowler Kyle Mills both need to prove their fitness before joining the team after injuries kept them out of the Test squad currently in South Africa.

Hadlee said the selectors could have named 15 players for the one-day series, but instead picked 14 and left a spot available.

That will possibly be filled by top-order batsman Peter Fulton, who is recovering from knee surgery. - Sapa-AP

Team: Daniel Vettori (captain), Shane Bond, James Franklin, Mark Gillespie, Gareth Hopkins, Jamie How, Michael Mason, Kyle Mills, Brendon McCullum, Jacob Oram, Jeetan Patel, Scott Styris, Ross Taylor, Lou Vincent. - Sapa-AFP


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