New Zealand keep faith in Guptill, Craig
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