Neesham returns for Tests in Australia
New Zealand have made only one change to their Test squad for this summer's tour of Australia, with James Neesham included at the expense of Neil Wagner. The rest of the 15-man squad that will play three Tests in Australia - including the inaugural day-night Test in Adelaide - is the same as the touring party that drew 1-1 with England earlier this year.
Fast bowler Trent Boult and allrounder Corey Anderson have been included after missing the recent limited-overs tour of Africa with back-related stress problems. Ross Taylor has also been named in the Test squad after suffering a groin injury during the Africa tour that required minor surgery.
Neesham had missed the England tour with a stress fracture in his back, but had showed in his first year of Test cricket the value that he offered as a No. 6 batsman and seamer. Neesham scored centuries in each of his first two Test matches last year, against India in Wellington and West Indies in Kingston.
His inclusion has encouraged the selectors to take only four frontline fast bowlers to Australia. The New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said it would be more valuable to have the remainder of the fast bowlers in contention bowling on domestic cricket back home.
"A lot of our recent success has been based on the value of our No.6 batsman bowling some overs, and we're comfortable continuing in that vein," Hesson said. "Rather than having an extra fast bowler not playing in Australia, we thought it more prudent for those in contention to remain in New Zealand and be playing domestic cricket."
Mark Craig is the only spinner in the squad, but a back-up wicketkeeper has been included, with Luke Ronchi remaining the second in line behind BJ Watling. Ronchi scored 88 on Test debut in Leeds this year.
"This is a tour in which we spend quite a lot of time on the west coast of Australia and, given what happened to BJ's knee in England, it seems wise to have options close at hand," Hesson said.
The tour of Australia begins with a Test at the Gabba starting on November 5, followed by a Test at the WACA and then the historic day-night Test at Adelaide Oval beginning on November 27.
Hesson and selector Gavin Larsen have also named a New Zealand A squad to play four-day and one-day games against Sri Lanka A in New Zealand next month. The one-day series includes four matches from October 5 to 13, and the four-day squad then plays two games from October 17 to 27. Hamish Rutherford will play in the first two one-dayers before joining the Test squad for a pink-ball trial match in Hamilton on October 8-9.
"It makes sense to have our fringe Test players included in these matches," Hesson said. "It's good to keep them involved in high level cricket, especially on the cusp of the tour to Australia. We know at some stage someone will be required - that's the attritional nature of a three-match Test series."
New Zealand Test squad Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Hamish Rutherford, Kane Williamson, Brendon McCullum (capt), Ross Taylor, James Neesham, BJ Watling, Luke Ronchi, Corey Anderson, Tim Southee, Doug Bracewell, Mark Craig, Matt Henry, Trent Boult.
New Zealand A one-day squad Tom Blundell, Michael Bracewell, Jacob Duffy, Andrew Mathieson, Henry Nicholls, Ed Nuttall, Michael Pollard, Hamish Rutherford, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Ben Wheeler, George Worker, Will Young
New Zealand A four-day squad Todd Astle, Michael Bracewell, Dean Brownlie, Derek de Boorder, Jacob Duffy, Colin Munro, Henry Nicholls, Ed Nuttall, Jeet Raval, Mitchell Santner, Neil Wagner, Ben Wheeler, Will Young