Squad named for England tour April 8, 2004

New Zealand sweat on Bond, Astle and Tuffey

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Shane Bond: faces fitness test on April 24 © Getty Images
John Bracewell, the New Zealand coach, has announced the 14-man squad for the tour of England which begins next month. Although Daryl Tuffey, Nathan Astle and Shane Bond have been included in the squad, they will have to pass a final fitness test on April 24.

Bracewell said that the selectors had found it extremely tough to narrow the squad down to 14. "There are a number of players who have performed with distinction at international level or New Zealand A level, and some who have performed very well at domestic level, who can justifiably consider themselves unlucky not to be selected for this tour. However, we have picked what we consider is the best-balanced side for the conditions and opposition we are expecting to encounter."

There were several players who might consdier themselves unfortunate to miss out, most notably Ian Butler, who took six wickets in an innings against Pakistan during the summer. Mathew Sinclair, who was called up for the third Test when Craig McMillan was unavailable, was also omitted.

Bracewell justified the decision to go in with only one spinner. "Traditionally at this time of year in England the wickets are fresh, grass covered, and conducive to seam and swing bowling. For this reason we have opted for one specialist spin bowler only." That decision gave Kyle Mills a chance to come into the squad. "We believe this attribute compliments and broadens the options within our pace bowling unit."

Bond has been recovering from a stress fracture in his back suffered in Sri Lanka last May, and was injured again early in November. Bracewell voiced concerns about Bond's fitness and admitted that this was a crucial period in his recovery. "Shane is very happy with where he is technically. It's probably the danger time in terms of his body feels so good and he is bowling with such ease that he is finding it difficult to judge what is 80%, 95% and 110% and he's almost busting out of his skin wanting to let it go and measure it."

The squad will leave for England on April 27. The one-day squad will be named around the third week of May.

New Zealand squad 1 Stephen Fleming (capt), 2 Mark Richardson, 3 Nathan Astle, 4 Michael Papps, 5 Craig McMillan, 6 Scott Styris, 7 Chris Cairns, 8 Brendon McCullum (wk), 9 Jacob Oram, 10 Daniel Vettori, 11 Kyle Mills, 12 Daryl Tuffey, 13 Shane Bond, 14 Chris Martin.