On Tuesday, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) announced the 15-member Black Caps squad for the upcoming first Test against South Africa. The two-match series between the two nations starts on February 17. Both Tests will be hosted by Hagley Oval in Christchurch.
Consistent performers in Domestic cricket, Cam Fletcher and Blair Tickner have earned their maiden Test call-ups. Both the pace bowlers have shown tremendous performances in the Plunket Shield tournament.
“Cam has been excellent across the three formats for Canterbury over the past couple of seasons, producing consistent and often match-winning performances for his team. Blair’s been a consistent performer in the Plunket Shield over the past few seasons, and we felt his pace, bounce and aggression covered our bases should we lose a pace bowler to injury,” said New Zealand head coach Gary Stead in a statement.
All-rounder Colin de Grandhomme and batter Hamish Rutherford have been recalled in the whites on the basis of their recent performance in the domestic circle. Rutherford, who last played a Test in 2015 against Sri Lanka, has scored 371 runs in four matches for Otago this season.
“It’s pleasing to see Colin back in the Test side, having proved such an influential member before his foot injury last season. His form of late shows he’s clearly benefited from simply getting back on the park consistently, and it’s great to have his all-round skills and experience to call on. It’s a really exciting time for Hamish to be back in the Blackcaps after a long time away, and I know he’s absolutely buzzing at the opportunity ahead,” added Stead.
As reported earlier, Kane Williamson has been ruled out of the Test series as he hasn’t yet recovered from his elbow injury. Tom Latham will lead the Black Caps in the absence of Williamson.
Further, fast bowler, Trent Boult won’t be available for the Test series opener as he awaits the birth of his third child. Similarly, spinner Ajaz Patel, who scripted history during the India tour, might return for the second Test provided the conditions are in favour of including a spinner,
Here is the New Zealand squad for the first Test against Proteas:
Tom Latham (captain), Will Young, Devon Conway, Henry Nicholls, Daryl Mitchell, Tom Blundell, Colin de Grandhomme, Rachin Ravindra, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Matt Henry, Neil Wagner, Hamish Rutherford, Blair Tickner, Cam Fletcher.