New Zealand Selector and Coach Gavin Larsen and Mike Hesson have named their 12 man squad for the two test series against England starting Thursday week at Eden Park in Auckland.
The match will be the first ever day-night test match to be held on New Zealand soil. Both sides have played a Day Night test before, with England playing one just recently in the Ashes series while New Zealand took part in the very first against Australia in late 2015 both at the Adelaide Oval.
BJ Watling returns to the side after sitting out New Zealand’s most recent test match series against West Indies due to a hip injury. He was replaced by Tom Blundell who notched up a century on test debut and has done the same in a warm-up match against England with 131 not out in the first innings. Watling has been easing his way back into cricket through the New Zealand domestic cricket competitions.
Ross Taylor will be raring to go after a stop-start One Day series against England. He was left out of the final and deciding ODI to make sure he remains fit for the first test match in Auckland starting a week on Thursday. Despite missing out on two of the five One Dayers, Taylor still finished New Zealand’s top run scorer over the series which included notching up two match-winning centuries.
Taylor will be keen to pass his mentor Martin Crowe in terms of Test Match Centuries for the Blackcaps. Currently, he and skipper Kane Williamson sit jointly with Crowe on 17 test match hundreds. If either of them were to do it in Auckland, they would become the first Kiwi and just the fourth international batsmen to notch one up in a day-night test match.
Pressure will be on Jeet Raval who has missed out on runs in New Zealand Domestic Four Day Cricket the Plunket Shield. With an average of just over 24 and only one century with his top score being 73.
Expectation will also be on Todd Astle who has come in to replace the injured Mitch Santner who recently underwent surgery on a knee injury which will rule him out for six to nine months. Leading Plunket Shield Wicket Keeper Ajaz Patel has been called up into the previously mentioned warm-up game in Tauranga.
Can New Zealand break a streak which has seen them not beat England in a home test series since England toured here in 1983/84? My prediction is England 1-0, with them winning the day night at Auckland. Then the second match being a draw.
The Squad for the first test match is as follows: Test Caps in Brackets
Kane Williamson (63) – Captain – Todd Astle (2) – Trent Boult (52) – Colin de Grandhomme (8) – Matt Henry (9) – Tom Latham (34) – Henry Nicholls (16) – Jeet Raval (9)Tim Southee (58) – Ross Taylor (83) – Neil Wagner (34) – BJ Watling (52) – Wicket Keeper