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New Zealand have opted against chopping and changing their squad after losing to South Africa by eight wickets in the second Test in Wellington.
Veteran middle order batsman Ross Taylor will remain sidelined as he continues to recover from a low grade tear in his calf, which he sustained in the first Test in Dunedin, while left-arm seamer Trent Boult is still not fully fit after suffering an upper leg injury in the same match.
“We’ve got 100% faith in the fact that we’ve got what we think are the best group of Test cricketers in the country,” New Zealand selector Gavin Larsen said. “It’s about getting into Hamilton, getting the covers off, having a look at the pitch, having a look at some balance, thinking about what transpired down here in Wellington and about the best way to beat a very good South African team. I am very confident the coach and captain will come up with the right XI on the day.”
Larsen also made it clear that he is backing opener Tom Latham to bounce back in the third Test in Hamilton after having a poor showing in the first two Tests, where he has scored just 24 runs at an average of eight.
“He is a classy player, a great individual and part of our leadership team. He is in a rut and he is battling a bit with his form but we believe he has got the character and the work ethic to work himself out of this rut,” Larsen said. “If there were a number of candidates around the country who were absolutely shooting the lights out and putting in front of the selectors really compelling reasons that we needed to consider them and pick them, we would have had that conversation. But as you know, there aren’t a lot of openers out there shooting the lights out.”
Neil Broom, who was called up as a replacement for Taylor, will also get another shot to showcase his abilities after having a forgettable debut in Wellington, where he made a duck in the first innings and 20 in the second.
“In the first innings, he was really unlucky. He got a real peach of a delivery, a jaffa, and that can happen,” Larsen said. “In the second innings, I thought he got his innings underway really well. It was testing against the ball that was moving around. Vernon Philander bowled extremely well to him and he navigated that successfully so it was disappointing when he nicked off for 20. Again, it was to a good one so we have faith that Neil will do the job at No. 4.”
However, it is likely that Broom will lose his place in the Test side no matter how he performs in Hamilton as once Taylor is fit, he will regain his spot in the playing XI.
“His (Taylor’s) experience and his class is just so evident and he would have been straight back into the unit,” Larsen said.
With New Zealand’s next Test assignment coming against the West Indies in December, Larsen admitted that it is crucial the Black Caps put up a strong performance in the final Test against the Proteas before their lengthy break from the longest format.
“We need more runs, the bowling needs to be tidied up and I just want to see a greater fight which I think is a hallmark of the good Black Cap teams,” Larsen added.