Astle will be the only debutant in the squad during the series
Uncapped leg-spinner Todd Astle has been included in the New Zealand Test squad for the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka.
Astle is expected to make a big impact since conditions in Sri Lanka are suited for spin bowlers to thrive on, and also, other than Astle, Jeetan Patel is the only other spinner in the side after Tarun Nethula was axed and Daniel Vettori was ruled out of the series after sustaining an Achilles injury during the recent International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20.
New Zealand have named two separate 15-man squads for the tour, one for the two-Test series in the latter half of November, and one of the Twenty20 and ODI series that will take place before the Test matches.
New Zealand have also decided to leave out pace bowler Doug Bracewell and opening batsman Martin Guptill, who has been given a rest from playing in the ODI and Twenty20 series due to the immense amount of cricket he has played in the last couple of months.
Guptill’s opening partner Rob Nicol has made a return to the Test squad after being dropped at the end of the South Africa series in March and labelled as a limited overs specialist.
Astle, who has picked up 127 wickets at an average of 34.79 for domestic side Canterbury, is the only debutant in the squad.
Last summer, Astle was the second-highest wicket-taking spinner in the Plunket Shield, snapping up 31 wickets at an average of 38.35.
National selection manager Kim Littlejohn stated that Astle’s all-round abilities gave him an edge over the other bowlers the selectors had in mind.
“He has the ability to contribute in all three facets of the game and deserves his opportunity after a putting in consistent performances over a number of seasons, Tarun Nethula has missed out on selection this time. We think he would benefit from a return to regular first-class cricket where he can get some overs under his belt and stake his claim for reselection,” Littlejohn said.
Wicketkeeper Ben Watling also missed out on the Test series since Littlejohn believes he still needs to improve his skills.
“BJ Watling will return to New Zealand after the one-day matches, he has spent a lot of time touring but has had limited opportunities to play and we believe it is best for his development if he’s made available for the upcoming Plunket Shield fixtures,” Littlejohn added.
Trent Boult, Andrew Ellis and Tom Latham were also included in the Twenty20 and ODI squads.
However, Littlejohn noted that Bracewell had failed to make the cut for the Twenty20 and ODI series since he was working on perfecting a minor tweak in his bowling action.
“Doug Bracewell will miss the short-form matches so he can spend some time working on a few minor technical issues with his action, the best approach is to spend time getting things right in domestic four-day cricket ahead of the Test series. Ronnie Hira and Adam Milne have been included in the ODI squad having previously being selected in T20 sides. We have been impressed by the development of both players and they offer the side something a bit different. It has been a demanding period for the Black Caps, especially for the players who compete in all three forms. As part of the on-going management of player workload we have decided to rest Martin Guptill for the T20 and ODI matches so he can refresh for the upcoming international commitments,” Littlejohn said.
The New Zealand Test squad for the Sri Lanka series is as follows: Martin Guptill, Rob Nicol, Daniel Flynn, Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor (capt), Kane Williamson, James Franklin, Kruger van Wyk, Doug Bracewell, Tim Southee, Todd Astle, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult, Jeetan Patel, Chris Martin.
The New Zealand ODI and Twenty20 squad for the series is as follows: Rob Nicol, Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor (capt), Kane Williamson, BJ Watling, James Franklin, Jacob Oram, Tom Latham, Nathan McCullum, Andrew Ellis, Kyle Mills, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Ronnie Hira, Adam Milne.