West Indies in New Zealand 2013-14 November 19, 2013

NZ delay Test squad to asses fitness

ESPNcricinfo staff

New Zealand have delayed naming their squad for the first Test against West Indies in order to assess the fitness of key players, with a suggestion that Daniel Vettori may be in line for a quicker than expected comeback.

Vettori has impressed since returning to action after recovering from the Achilles surgery he underwent following the Champions Trophy in England.

In his one first-class match this season he took six wickets in the game and, more importantly from a fitness perspective, sent down 49 overs. He has since played four Twenty20s and is due another Plunket Shield outing next week.

Initially, Vettori had targeted a return against India in January but there is now a chance he could play his first Test since July 2012 next month although there will be understandable caution.

"It's over to Dan when he's ready," Bruce Edgar, the national selector, told Fairfax NZ. "He knows his body but we would welcome his availability sooner rather than later, of course. It depends entirely on his recovery."

But Kane Williamson's chances of recovering from his broken thumb in time to take his place at No. 3 are slim with Dean Brownlie shaping as the favourite to fill that position. There is more promising news on Ross Taylor (knee) and Corey Anderson (rib) who are both expected to play domestic cricket next week. Williamson's likely absence, at least for the first Test, also hits New Zealand's spin bowling as his offspin has become an increasingly important tool for Brendon McCullum.

The Test squad was due to be named on November 25, but that has now been pushed to November 29 so the selectors can watch the performances in the Plunket Shield match between Northern Districts and Central Districts - where Vettori, Taylor and Anderson will be playing - plus the New Zealand XI taking on the West Indians in Christchurch, although only seven of the visitors will be in country for the warm-up match and the team will be bolstered by locals.

With only two of the domestic sides in action next week, the New Zealand XI includes a number of Test players searching for form ahead of the series, not least the captain McCullum who returned home early from the Bangladesh tour with a back problem. Hamish Rutherford and Peter Fulton, the opening batsmen, are also in the line-up alongside Tom Latham and Brownlie.

Although Rutherford has not passed fifty since making 171 on debut against England, in Dunedin, he is expected to keep his place at the top of the order alongside Fulton. But there could be pressure from Latham, who made his maiden international fifty in the one-day series in Sri Lanka, or Aaron Redmond, the 34-year-old, who will open the batting as a guest of the depleted West Indian side.

If Vettori was to be recalled against West Indies it would mean a demotion for Ish Sodhi, the legspinner, who made his debut in Bangladesh and became the sole frontline spinner in the second Test when Bruce Martin was dropped.

The seam-bowling positions are likely to be filled by three out of Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner and Doug Bracewell, although the latter has recently been suspended for a domestic match following a late night out. Anderson's emergence in Bangladesh, where he scored a maiden Test hundred, provides an all-round option in the middle order although he still needs to prove he is over his injury if he is to be given the ball.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • joe on November 24, 2013, 7:41 GMT

    What would be interesting is if brownlie or whoever for that matter plays at no.3 In the absence of Williamson and the replacement player performs out of his skin it would make it hard to drop them when Williamson is fit but Williamson has to play so this first match I feel is very important for mccullum coz if he has a couple of failure's and others are performing, some very hard decisions are going to have to be made. I would like to see Carl cachopa given a shot for the first match at no.3 and our openers need to perform better I like the look of Rutherford but he hasn't done much since his debut and Fulton can only perform on absolute dead tracks anything with a hint of life and he's found wanting. NZ fans your thoughts?

  • Dummy4 on November 23, 2013, 9:59 GMT

    as long as there are T Southee, N Wagner and T Boult in the team, New Zealands 3 best bowlers,

  • Ivan on November 21, 2013, 17:48 GMT

    hey id like to say that we have a good team now but still there are atleast two good players that realy need to be included into the test team now they are Ish Sodi and central districts batsman Carl Cachopra he deserves his place in the side made a lot of runs over seas

  • Shane on November 20, 2013, 12:10 GMT

    @Lermy - you probably need to go and check the rankings assuming facts are important to you in debate. You then need to haul that boulder sized chip off your shoulder.

    Great news that Vettori is close to a comeback, even if he doesn't make it for the first test. The leadership and experience, as well as bonus runs, that he brings are worth their weight in gold for this young and inexperienced team. I definitely think using 2 spinners is worth thinking about as well, provided we have the cover in part time seamers, although if Williamson is ready then he is the perfect solution really so Sodhi should miss out - his time will come, the right thing to do is introduce him over time when we play 2 spinners or one is missing.

    The best possible test team NZ can put out currently: 1. Rutherford 2. Fulton 3. Williamson(c) 4. Taylor 5. Guptill 6. Ryder 7. Watling (wk) 8. Vettori 9. Southee 10. Boult 11. Wagner. Light on experience, but there's only one way to change that!

  • john on November 20, 2013, 7:34 GMT

    So much depends on Brendon mccullum..He must start scoring runs, with out williamson the batting looks thin..we need players to bat around Taylor who is worldclass..oh and we need to start winning tests, honeymoon period is over for all concerned. .

  • jared on November 20, 2013, 3:52 GMT

    I hope they don't drop sohdi, i'd like to see him bowl in tandem in the tests with vettori, our wickets are pretty flat these days, there isn't much in them for the seamers anymore, not like the good old days so unless you can swing the ball your not going to be all that effective, lucky for us we have two very good swing bowlers in southee and boult but once the ball is old i think the best options are vettori and sohdi to bowl wicket taking deliveries with anderson dotting up an end covering the third seamer. Sohdi is young and needs to bowl alot of overs to top opposition, he can't do it from the sideline, only thing wrong with it is wagner misses out who was pretty good in bangladesh but im ok with that, we have a classy leg spinner that can't be wasted.

  • Dummy4 on November 20, 2013, 2:33 GMT

    I feel that Jimmy Neesham is a genuine possibility for selection if not in the windies test matches but in the India series. He has shown good batting technique and the ability the ability to hurry up batsman on quick bouncy pitches. He has a mature head on his shoulders and has the form. It will be interesting to see how he goes for Otago in the Plunket shield - please keep a close eye out Mr. Edgar!!!

  • Android on November 19, 2013, 22:57 GMT

    all players fit my predicted lineup would be: fulton rutherford williamson taylor mccullum anderson watling southee sodhi boult wagner. brownlie bracewell as injury replacements. i see no need for vettori to be rushed back in, and if his bowling isnt any better than before he was injured, then i would only use him in limited overs

  • Brendan on November 19, 2013, 22:56 GMT

    Looks like the side will be; 1.H Rutherford 2.P Fulton 3.D Brownlie 4.R Taylor 5.B McCullum (c) 6.C Anderson 7.BJ Watling (wk) 8.D Vettori 9.T Southee 10.N Wagner 11.T Boult

  • Dummy4 on November 19, 2013, 21:01 GMT

    i would much rather have latham open and send fulton down to 3 then have brownlie there who despite being a good batsman is not consistent enough to secure a place let alone first drop.

  • No featured comments at the moment.