Sri Lanka in New Zealand 2015-16 December 1, 2015

New Zealand keep faith in Guptill, Craig

ESPNcricinfo staff
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New Zealand kept faith in Mark Craig despite the offspinner averaging 64.12 with the ball and conceding more than five runs an over during the three-Test series in Australia © Getty Images

New Zealand retained the out-of-form duo of Martin Guptill and Mark Craig as they pruned their Test squad from 16 to 12 for the two-match home series against Sri Lanka that begins on December 10. Opening the batting on their just-concluded tour of Australia, Guptill made a highest score of 23 in his six Test innings, while the offspinner Craig picked up eight wickets at an average of 64.12 while conceding more than five runs an over.

Out of the squad that toured Australia, New Zealand left out fast bowlers Matt Henry and Mitchell McClenaghan, back-up wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi and back-up opener Hamish Rutherford. Allrounders Corey Anderson and James Neesham, who are both nursing back injuries, were not available for selection.

"Mark and Martin didn't perform to the level they would have liked over in Australia, but both have shown in the past what they're capable of and we're confident they'll make valuable contributions in the upcoming series," New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said.

Left-arm seamer Neil Wagner and allrounder Mitchell Santner, who made his debut during the day-night Test in Adelaide, also kept their places in the squad. Wagner didn't play any of the Tests in Australia, but picked-up a five-wicket haul in a tour game against a Western Australia XI.

"The level of composure Mitchell showed on debut was very impressive and he certainly displayed how exciting a player he is with both the bat and ball," Hesson said. "His ability to bat in the top six and bowl good overs gives us options and assists the team balance. We're looking forward to watching Mitchell's continued development. Neil impressed in Australia and not only showed that he'll run in hard all day, but was swinging the ball again."

Wagner has also been included in the New Zealand Board President's XI, which will take on the Sri Lankans in a three-day warm-up match that begins on December 3.

Test squad Brendon McCullum (capt), Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Mark Craig, Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson

President's XI: Ryan McCone (capt), James Baker, Joe Carter, Joel Harden, Shawn Hicks, Tim Johnston, Ken McClure, Matt McEwan, Glenn Phillips, Bharat Popli, Ben Smith, Blair Tickner, Neil Wagner

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  • Mohsin on December 8, 2015, 1:55 GMT

    I think Guptill just isn't good enough for Tests. Opening in NZ is a tough job. But, 36 Tests & still no meaningful contribution is enough opportunities is guess. Failure in Gabba & Perth where most batsmen made merry shd hav d final nail. Add to that, he is regular LOI player. So, has enough experience as well. Sadly, not enough skills for Test cricket. Dean Brownlie has done really well on difficult tracks like Hobart 2011. Why hasn't he been given as many chances to cement his place as Guptill?

  • Darrell on December 7, 2015, 22:36 GMT

    I never knew that Craig had been an opener, so with that new found knowledge this is my post McCullum test team[6 months time?] 1 M. Craig, 2 D. Brownlee, 3 K. Williamson, 4 R .Taylor, 5 ,T Latham 6 M. Santner, 7 B. J Watling, 8 D. Bracewell, 9 T. Nethula, 10 T. Southee, 11 T. Boult. you will have left/right combo at the start, both can play pace really well, Williamson/Taylor pick themselves {PERIOD}, Latham grafter at five, Santner a perfect 6,a Batter first bowler 2nd, who only needs time to flourish,B J picks himself as well, Bracewell developing his batting at the mo, Nethula is the most consistent leggie at the present[Georgie pie Super smash] and the last two 'bat' where their talent allows, lol.

  • Jon on December 5, 2015, 6:27 GMT

    This Sri Lankan series would have been the perfect time to roll out Milne. Two tests, home conditions, the workloads aren't likely to be massive and the experience would have made him a viable option for the future series', maybe even the Aussies.

  • john on December 5, 2015, 4:11 GMT

    @Kiwicricket,I too found there batting disgusting at the tail.. If you were a cynic,probably why baz is repaying the faith in Craig..

  • John on December 4, 2015, 15:52 GMT

    Contextually this makes sense I guess. Guptill should be able to score against SL and clearly NZ want his confidence up for the T20 WC. Oz likely won't risk Starc if it were even possible for him to play for the two tests in NZ so MG won't have to worry about that. Injured or not I don't think either Anderson or Neesham jump out at me as auto-selects for the test side so you may as well stick with Craig. Besides, as the current series in IND shows you only have to have a pulse and a semblance of accuracy to look all world as a spinner and with trips to ZIM, SA (less so) and IND coming up in the second half of 2016 it is important that he gets some overs in. The 'Milne Thing' continues to frustrate the heck out of me and a lot of other cricket fans. Perhaps the absence of a seaming all-rounder makes the risk of him as a 3rd seamer unpalatable? The same XI that started in Adelaide will be rolled out next week. Boring and predictable but likely a winning unit against a rebuilding SL.

  • Neranjan on December 3, 2015, 2:52 GMT

    @H-uk ; It is unfair to come to wrong conclusions on just looking at the result. If you look closely the other than the first test match, (second was rained but NZ was on top) the third was a very closely contested match, and if not for wrong decision on Lyon who was on 2 at that time, match would have turned on its head.

  • Ranil on December 2, 2015, 16:21 GMT

    @GOLDENEYE075,you may know when you are up & awake we are in deep dreamless slumber here. It looks trod on some NZ sensitivities but really what ever your mitigating reasons, a 2-0 loss to a team that went with very high expectation is not short of a hiding in my opinion though you may differ. WI may lose in a worse way but their goals are completely different from that was expected from NZ.

  • Neranjan on December 2, 2015, 5:32 GMT

    Ha ha , now @Hearth-UK goes for a hiding !!!! LOL

  • stefan on December 2, 2015, 5:16 GMT

    I was hoping that they would drop them both Guptill only averages 28.5 and only has 2 hundreds (against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe) in 69 innings. Craig's inability to get balls landing in a good area shows in his stats an average of 44 and going at almost 4 runs and over throughout his career is awful consider most of his wickets are tail enders getting out going for huge slogs to get quick runs. Santner/Sodhi should be NZ's spinner, Jeet Ravel should replace Guptill.

  • David on December 2, 2015, 5:14 GMT

    I still like Guptill in the side. Scored a couple of big scores in the practice matches (I know, I know) and batted time in 4 of his 6 test innings. Not ideal of course, but he has so much potential, and he is still a relatively young man.

    There is a famous quote from Greg Chappell when he went through a lean patch and was asked why he was batting so badly. He said, "I'm not batting badly, I just keep getting out". I don't think Guptill is batting badly, on this tour he just seemed to nick the first one he didn't leave or middle. Another day he'd play and miss. Cricket is a funny game.

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