Wellington Firebirds rising star Finn Allen has been called up to the BLACKCAPS for the first time as part of a 13-strong T20 squad to take on Bangladesh in the three-game Alesha Mart T20 series, starting this Sunday at Seddon Park in Hamilton.
The 21-year-old opener was the stand-out player of this season’s Dream11 Super Smash, amassing a league-leading 512 runs at an average of 56 and an incredible strike-rate of 193 - featuring a table-topping 56 fours and 25 sixes.
The former New Zealand Under-19 representative is one of four fresh faces in the T20 side, with Central Stags batsman Will Young also called up for the first time and speedsters Lockie Ferguson and Adam Milne returning after injury lay-offs.
Ferguson was the star of the early part of the home summer, claiming five for 21 in the season-opening T20 against the West Indies at Eden Park, before succumbing to a partial-stress fracture in his back.
Milne has appeared 61 times for the BLACKCAPS since debuting in 2010, but has not played for the side since November 2018 and has worked his way back most recently through a stint with the Sydney Thunder in the Australian BBL and has been training with Central Districts since exiting MIQ last month.
Ferguson, Milne and Allen will depart for the IPL immediately after the Bangladesh T20 series, where they will join Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Mitchell Santner, Kyle Jamieson, Jimmy Neesham and Tim Seifert, none of whom have been selected for this series.
Tim Southee will captain the BLACKCAPS T20 side after fulfilling the role on 15 previous occasions, while Devon Conway has been selected as the frontline wicket-keeper.
All-rounder Daryl Mitchell and spinner Todd Astle also return to the T20 team after featuring in squads before Christmas.
Selector Gavin Larsen said compiling this squad, like many this summer, had been complex.
“It’s certainly been a season like no other and once again we’ve had to be pragmatic in our approach,” Larsen said.
“The six guys who will miss this series are incumbents in our T20 side and the decision to give them some time at home with family before they embark on a long stint in India, was principally made with their welfare in mind.
“We’re also very aware of the need to give others opportunities in a World Cup year and it’s great to be able to introduce Finn and Will to the set-up, as well as welcome back Lockie and Adam.
“It’s especially an exciting time for Finn, who will be getting his first taste of the BLACKCAPS environment.
“His Super Smash campaign with the Firebirds was nothing short of outstanding and we believe he has the skills to succeed at the next level.
“We’re delighted to see Lockie and Adam return after working really hard to get back to this point. They are two of the premier fast bowlers in world cricket and it’s fantastic to be able to call on their services, in what is shaping as a big year of T20 cricket.
“Tim’s a great leader in any BLACKCAPS side, we’ve seen how well he’s slipped into the T20 captain’s position in the past and we look forward to him continuing to grow in the role.
“Devon’s wicket-keeping skills are a real asset to have in a squad and we’re keen to ensure he has some international experience in this role to provide us with another option going forward.”
BLACKCAPS T20 SQUAD
Tim Southee (c)
Devon Conway (wk)
All three T20s will be played as double-headers alongside the WHITE FERNS v Australia G.J. Gardner Homes T20 series.
1st Alesha Mart T20: Sunday March 28, Seddon Park, Hamilton, 2pm
2nd Alesha Mart T20: Tuesday March 30, McLean Park, Napier, 7pm
3rd Alesha Mart T20: Thursday April 1, Eden Park, Auckland, 7pm