Seven wickets on his test debut wasn’t enough for Will Somerville to keep his place in the Black Caps squad.
The Black Caps take on Sri Lanka in two tests, starting at the Basin Reserve on Saturday. With only one spinner set to play in the home tests, the Black Caps selectors have opted to retain Ajaz Patel ahead of Somerville, with both players having performed well in the series victory over Pakistan.
Patel is the specialist spinner in the 13 player squad, with Somerville and Ish Sodhi released to play in the fourth round of the Plunket Shield, along with Tom Blundell, who also drops out from the victorious United Arab Emirates touring party, with Will Young taking his place.
Colin de Grandhomme retains his place in the squad, despite the all-rounder averaging just 10.5 in six innings with the bat in the UAE. However, a handy cameo in the third test, a lack of like-for-like replacements, and contributions with the ball (five wickets at 25.6), was enough for the 32-year-old to keep his spot.
Patel (3-42) and Somerville (3-52) both had a strong case for retention as well, having ripped through Pakistan in the fourth innings of the third test. Somerville also claimed four first-innings wickets to finish with match figures of 7-127, on debut.
However, it behooves the Black Caps to play on green wickets for the upcoming series, with their stellar seam attack set to be far superior to Sri Lanka’s seamers.
Additionally, the last time New Zealand used two recognised spinners in Wellington was 2000 against Zimbabwe, when Brooke Walker and Paul Wiseman made the starting XI. The pair bowled a total of 76 wicketless overs in Zimbabwe’s first innings – another pointer as to why only one of Patel and Somerville were ever going to be selected at the Basin.
Selector Gavin Larsen said Patel got the nod based on his proven performances in New Zealand conditions.
“Ajaz certainly grabbed his opportunity on the UAE tour,” Larsen added.
“Will Somerville was an obvious standout on debut in the Abu Dhabi decider and it’s great to know we’ve got quality spin bowlers who can create competition for places.
Central Districts batsman Young has earned his maiden international call-up as batting cover, following strong form on the domestic scene and for New Zealand A.
The 26-year-old averages 41.38 in first-class cricket, and has notched three centuries for New Zealand A on recent tours, including 134 against India A in a four-day clash, and yesterday scored 102 in a one-dayer, also against India A.
“It’s an exciting time for Will Young who has been pushing for higher honours for a while now. He scored hundreds against Pakistan A and India A in recent months and fully deserves his call-up,” said Larsen.
“The first international of the home summer is always an exciting time and the revamped Basin Reserve should be a fitting setting to launch the Sri Lankan tour.”
Black Caps Test Squad
Kane Williamson (c)
Colin de Grandhomme