New Zealand have made a raft of changes to their squad for their upcoming two-match Test series against South Africa that commences later this month.
With skipper Kane Williamson still sidelined with an elbow injury and the recent retirement of the experienced Ross Taylor, left-handed batter Tom Latham has been named as captain.
Veteran quick Trent Boult will miss the first test for the impending birth of his third child, while experienced duo Colin de Grandhomme and Hamish Rutherford have won recalls to the 15-player squad.
Uncapped pair Cam Fletcher and Blair Tickner are in line to win a Test debut after winning a call-up, while left-arm orthodox spinner Ajaz Patel is a chance to play in the second Test should he recover quickly from a calf complaint.
New Zealand coach Gary Stead is happy with the mix of players chosen in the squad and believes he has enough talent at his disposal to cover the absence of Williamson.
“Injuries and COVID have forced us to be flexible and I’m really excited with the squad picked,” Stead said.
“I’d like to congratulate Cam and Blair on making the squad and also acknowledge Hamish and Colin for fighting their way back into the Test set-up.
“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.
“This will be a great opportunity for him to come into the Black Caps environment and soak up the experience as much as he can.”
Defending champions New Zealand currently sit in sixth place on the ICC World Test Championship table with 16 points, while South Africa are two spots higher in fourth with 24 points.
New Zealand test squad:
Tom Latham (c), Tom Blundell, Devon Conway, Colin de Grandhomme, Cam Fletcher, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Rachin Ravindra, Hamish Rutherford, Tim Southee, Blair Tickner, Neil Wagner, Will Young
First test: Hagley Oval, Christchurch (Feb 17 – 21)
second test: Hagley Oval, Christchurch (Feb 25 – Mar 1)
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