There were no surprises in the New Zealand squad for the first Test of their summer, against Windies from December 1 at Basin Reserve, but doubts remained over the availability of BJ Watling, the first-choice wicketkeeper.
A squad of 12, including Watling, who has been recovering from a hip injury, was named by the New Zealand Cricket (NZC) selectors on Tuesday (November 14), with the board saying that one more player would be added from the ‘A’ squad that will take on the visiting side in a three-day tour game prior to the first of two Tests.
In a statement, NZC said that Watling’s participation in the first Test was “in question” and that he would be “monitored and evaluated over the coming week”. In case he doesn’t get fit on time, Tom Latham could well don the big gloves come December 1.
“Aside from a question mark over BJ, we have a fully fit squad who have all shown they have what it takes to perform at Test level,” said Gavin Larsen, the New Zealand selector. “We want to hit the ground running for that first match at the Basin Reserve. It’s a special place to play cricket and we’re determined to start the summer on a positive note.”
The ones missing from the New Zealand squad that took on South Africa at home in March this year are Neil Broom, who found a place in the ‘A’ side, James Neesham and Jeetan Patel.
A strong 11-man ‘A’ team has been named for the tour game, with Martin Guptill, Broom, Colin Munro, George Worker and Jeet Raval, who is also in the Test squad, headlining the batting, and Lockie Ferguson, Adam Milne and Scott Kuggeleijn the main pacers in an attack that NZC called “one of the fastest the country has ever produced”.
“This NZ ‘A’ team certainly shows that we have depth and quality players who are pushing for higher honours,” said Larsen. “Watching the three quickest bowlers in NZ operating together will certainly be exciting, and all three have plenty to play for.”
Seth Rance, the right-arm medium pacer, and Dean Brownlie, the 14-Test-old middle-order batsman, were not considered for selection because of injuries.
Windies play the tour game at Bert Sutcliffe Oval in Lincoln from November 25 to 27, even as the New Zealand players assemble in Wellington on December 28 for a training camp. The second Test between New Zealand, No. 4 in the ICC rankings, and Windies, the No. 8 side, will take place at Hamilton’s Seddon Park before the teams play three One-Day Internationals and three Twenty20 Internationals.
Test squad: Kane Williamson (capt), Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Jeet Raval, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling (subject to fitness). [One more player to be added.]
‘A’ squad for tour game: Martin Guptill (capt), Todd Astle, Tom Blundell, Neil Broom, Tom Bruce, Lockie Ferguson, Scott Kuggeleijn, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Jeet Raval, George Worker.