Zimbabwe in New Zealand 2011-12 January 23, 2012

Sam Wells added to New Zealand Test squad

ESPNcricinfo staff

Sam Wells, the 27-year-old Otago allrounder, has been added to the New Zealand squad for the one-off Test against Zimbabwe after impressing in the warm-up match in Gisborne. Wells, a left-hand batsman and right-arm medium-pace bowler, made his first-class debut in 2007 and has played 21 first-class games, in which he averages 38.10 with the bat, with two centuries.

So far*, in this season's Plunket Shield, he is the leading run-getter for Otago. He is not even in the top 15 in the overall list, though. He has taken just two wickets in the season, and has a first-class bowling average of 34.27. He was given an opportunity to play for a New Zealand XI against the touring Zimbabweans, and scored 65 in the first innings, helping to take the team out of a sticky situation. He also took a wicket.

Wells' selection has taken many by surprise, including himself. "I guess I never knew I was as close as I was," he told Radio Sport. "I went to a pre-season camp at the start of the year and Wrighty [coach John Wright] had a few words and said they were looking for someone to fill that allrounder's role but I imagined to myself that I would have to put together a couple of pretty substantial seasons to be in this position."

The low-profile Wells said even his girlfriend didn't believe he was called up. "I'm not very well known and I think my mum might have been the only one picking me in the side. It took a while to convince my girlfriend that I was telling the truth."

Wells' inclusion takes the squad up to 13 members, with seven batsmen available. John Wright said Wells had been added to give the squad some balance.

"Sam is a talented allrounder and we are confident, if the opportunity arises, he will perform well at international level for New Zealand," Wright said. "He has impressed during the three-day match in Gisborne with the bat and his skills with the ball will give good balance to the side."

The Test against Zimbabwe begins January 26 in Napier.

*07:34 GMT, Jan 24: The article has been modified to reflect that the 2011-12 season of the Plunket Shield is ongoing

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 25, 2012, 11:08 GMT

    do they want to make room for 4-5 allrounders in the team..my xi for christchurch would be: Guptill, Mccullum, Taylor,Williamson,Brownlie,Vanwyk,Vettori,Bracewell,Southee,Boult & Martin

  • Mark on January 25, 2012, 3:13 GMT

    I can understand what Wright is trying to do here. All rounders are vital to the balance of the team in all formats. He sees the need for a quality all rounder who bowls medium/fast and in the mould of Oram/Cairns. He also favours hard working intelligent types - and this is why Wells is getting a look. However, Bracewell has the potential to fill this role, still a ways to go on his batting technique but undoubted promise and youth on his side. Franklin is really a batsman who bowls slow half volleys. He is a battling with Brownlie for number 5 really.

  • Matthew on January 25, 2012, 0:34 GMT

    I think James Franklin must be the forgotten man of NZ cricket and he must be wondering what to do to get into the side. Ok, his test career has been patchy but he's never been given a fair run in the side. But obviously the selectors see something in Wells so lets see what happens. It seems as if NZ want somebody who's decent with the bat but can bowl a few overs as they'll probably go with three pacemen and Dan Vettori in terms of bowling options. On the wicket-keeping front I'm a little confused also - why hasn't De Boorder got a look in?

  • ILANKO on January 24, 2012, 17:14 GMT

    Just like your name Mr " Dr_Van_Nostrand " ... Seinfeld fan I assume? Or Kramer fan to be more specific.

  • Nick on January 24, 2012, 11:45 GMT

    Two first class centuries? Doesn't exactly spell out 'all rounder' really. Why are we always looking for half-arssed players who bat and bowl a bit and labeling them all-rounders? A true all-rounder should be able to be selected on both his batting or his bowling like Vettori, Oram or Cairns could. Sounds like this guy is another Grant Elliot- bats alright, but bowls 120k line a length rubbish that quality batsmen will never struggle with. if we want to win tests we need to stick with strike bowlers like Bolt, Bracewell and Southee to take wickets.

  • David on January 24, 2012, 10:42 GMT

    Franklin has not taken wickets in Tests for ages ... but Wells is not a bowler! And Franklin has been scoring runs very heavily. The selectors obviously see something in Wells. Not sure how they can, as there is a complete lack of first class play for NZ cricketers. It really is ridiculous how little first class and Test cricket they get compared with other nations. Did the NZ II v. Zimbabwe match even qualify (I saw it was 13 a side)? The breaks between games are way too long also.

  • Ryan on January 24, 2012, 9:40 GMT

    Wells is certainly a good all-round prospect for NZ anyway and is definitely the next best option next to Franklin for the All-rounder spot.

  • Ryan on January 24, 2012, 8:59 GMT

    Obviously the selectors have given up on Franklin all of a sudden. He has only come back into form during the last 12 months and during that time I think he only played 1 Test. As soon as it was known that Ryder wasn't going to be fit, Franklin should have been an automatic selection because he would have got a decent enough run with the match against Zimbabwe and then the series vs South Africa. I know he has had his fair share of chances but [as we have seen in ODI's over the last 15 months] he looks more comfortable at this level and this could easily translate into form for Tests. He is too good of a talent not to give a fair crack to.

  • Chris on January 24, 2012, 7:56 GMT

    I think if they were going to go for a selection like this you got to pick James Franklin... ave 90 this year with the bat and a lot more wickets than Wells too... does not make sense to me

  • Jacob on January 24, 2012, 0:57 GMT

    Looks like a similar player to Grant Elliot stats-wise. A good edition to the Nez Zealand Blap Clacks.

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