Franklin included in new-look Test squad
New Zealand's selectors have made sweeping changes to the squad that lost to Australia 2-0. Apart from fast bowler Chris Martin and batsman Aaron Redmond, those who have been dropped for the two-match series against West Indies include Tim Southee, Gareth Hopkins, Peter Fulton and Grant Elliott.
The allrounder James Franklin has been recalled after recovering from a career-threatening knee injury, while Tim McIntosh, the left-handed Auckland opener, has earned a maiden call-up. The 12-man squad also welcomes back Jacob Oram, who missed the Australia tour due to a back injury, and fast bowler Mark Gillespie.
Glenn Turner, head of New Zealand's selection panel, said the selectors felt Martin - who managed six wickets in Australia - would benefit from more cricket at the domestic level while rebuilding his fitness after injury. "We didn't feel we could play both Mark Gillespie and Chris Martin, particularly in Dunedin because in recent times it's gone from being a seamers' paradise into one that's very low and slow," he said. "Gillespie has shown good recent form, bowling a lot of overs and taking eight wickets in his last match - he becomes our strike bowler in this series."
He also said that Franklin was included for his impressive form on his return to domestic cricket. Franklin made his first-class comeback last month for Wellington, scoring 69 and taking 4 for 56 in his team's innings victory over Canterbury. Already this season he has made 448 runs in three matches with two centuries and a fifty, including a career-best 219 against Auckland at Eden Park. Franklin last played a Test in December 2006 and has not appeared in ODIs since the 2007 World Cup.
"James Franklin's return to form as an allrounder has also been good news. With Oram able to bat and returning after injury we're in the fortunate position of having both our leading allrounders available." Oram declared himself fit this week and his next assignment is a four-day match against Otago in Napier starting on Saturday.
McIntosh, 29, scored 78 on day one of Auckland's match against the West Indians to take his tally to 418 runs at 69.00 this summer. He replaces Redmond, who scored 115 runs at 28.75 in Australia, at the top of the order.
Jeetan Patel has been retained as the second specialist spin bowler. "His inclusion gives us the option of a stronger spin attack, depending on pitch conditions at University Oval," said Turner.
The first Test in Dunedin begins on December 11, with the second in Napier starting on December 19.
New Zealand squad: Daniel Vettori (capt), Jamie How, Tim McIntosh, Daniel Flynn, Ross Taylor, Jesse Ryder, Jacob Oram, Brendon McCullum (wk), James Franklin, Mark Gillespie, Iain O'Brien, Jeetan Patel.