McCullum back to skipper Kiwis against Oz

New Zealand

New Zealand will have skipper Brendon McCullum back at the helm when they face Australia in New Zealand in February, as they named a strong 13-man squad for the echo of the World Cup final.

McCullum has been out of action with a back injury since December, and if he does not, in fact, clear the fitness Tests, he will be replaced by Tom Latham with the bat and Kane Williamson as skipper.

The Kiwis are also without paceman Tim Southee, who is expected to be fit for the Test series that follows, while Ross Taylor has been ruled out with a side injury. Mitchell McClenaghan is out of action after being struck on the eye socket by a bouncer, and needs surgery.

Coach Mike Hesson said of his squad's situation: "Ross is making progress. It's a little bit hard to put a time-frame on it. He's still seeing a specialist and making some good progress. We're hopeful for the first Test, but it's certainly not guaranteed at this stage.

"This is a pinnacle event for us and we'll look to get our best side out on the park each time we play. We've been lucky enough to use a big squad over the summer and although we're missing a few key players, we have guys who can step in and we know are up to the task.

"The Chappell Hadlee Trophy is something we want to hold on to. The rivalry between these two sides is huge and it's going to be three intense games in front of some big crowds."

McCullum said of Williamson's captaincy in his absence: "I thought Kane did an outstanding job as captain. You're pretty proud when you step back and see that the team still has the same strong values that you tried to instill within the group over the period of time."

New Zealand ODI squad: Brendon McCullum (capt), Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Henry Nicholls, Grant Elliott, Corey Anderson, Colin Munro, Luke Ronchi (wk), Mitchell Santner, Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Adam Milne, Matt Henry

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