Three new caps and two recalls for NZ team to Pakistan
Chris Cairns: taking greenhorns to Pakistan
Three new caps, Tama Canning, Matthew Walker and Craig Cumming, have been named in the New Zealand team to tour Pakistan. Hamish Marshall and Kerry Walmsley have also been recalled after long spells in the wilderness.
Canning was the subject of a New Zealand query to the International Cricket Council for eligibility dispensation two summers ago when it appeared he was on the verge of making the one-day side. However, despite approval for the Australian-born Canning being given, he did not get the call-up. His parents are from New Zealand, of Maori origin, though he was brought up in Western Australia.
Canning had an outstanding season for Auckland last year, taking 46 wickets, the most by any bowler in first-class play last year. He also scored 465 runs at 38.75, including one century. The second-highest wicket-taker, Matthew Walker with 45 wickets at 18, has also been included. Both players have been solid performers on the New Zealand scene for the last few summers and have also made their mark in the one-day game.
The selectors, John Bracewell, Sir Richard Hadlee, Ross Dykes and Brian McKechnie have also included Cumming, the Otago captain, who scored 751 runs at 46.93 in domestic cricket last summer, including three centuries. The 28-year-old Cumming headed off the country's highest domestic runscorer last year, Tim McIntosh, a 23-year-old who had been in good early season form for Auckland in matches with the New Zealand Academy this week.
Marshall's recall is probably the biggest selection surprise given that he is still without a century in first-class cricket, while his one-day average is only 23.56. He made his solitary Test appearance when called as a replacement on New Zealand's 2000 tour of South Africa. While on the tour he impressed with his attitude but has so far been unable to convert that into consistent run scoring.
Walmsley is another interesting choice. A big, strong fast-medium bowler, he showed some signs of regaining his form last summer for Otago when he took 37 wickets on the domestic circuit.
Chris Cairns will captain the side and it may be that the unlucky Richard Jones, who has been on two Test tours with the New Zealand side, will get to make his first appearance on this tour. Michael Mason has also been included, as expected, while Mathew Sinclair has been recalled. Daniel Vettori has been named vice-captain of the side.
The following players were not considered for selection: Stephen Fleming, Nathan Astle and Kyle Mills, who has a viral infection. Andre Adams and Matt Horne made themselves unavailable for selection.
Hadlee, the selection manager, said: "The absence of several established players has paved the way for some others and they will now get their opportunity. For the selectors this is exciting, as we will now get to learn something about the new players' capabilities at international level.
"We are confident that several players will step up to the level required which will broaden our player base and create further competition for places in the Black Caps moving forward."
Hadlee said there was also an opportunity to look at specific areas that had been difficult for the Black Caps in recent times. "It will be interesting to see how a new opening combination performs and how the new bowling combination performs, particularly at the end of the innings."
However, Hadlee was also realistic about the challenges in front of what is a relatively inexperienced squad. "Playing Pakistan in Pakistan always presents unique pressures. However, this squad has the added challenges of having to come together at relatively short notice to then play five one-day internationals in nine days. It's going to be a real test of their focus and professionalism."
The team: Chris Cairns (capt), Tama Canning, Craig Cumming, Chris Harris, Paul Hitchcock, Richard Jones, Hamish Marshall, Brendon McCullum (wk), Jacob Oram, Mathew Sinclair, Daryl Tuffey, Daniel Vettori, Matthew Walker, Kerry Walmsley.