Wagner named in New Zealand Test squad
The South Africa-born fast bowler Neil Wagner has been named in New Zealand's Test squad for the tour of the West Indies, while Brendon McCullum has been rested from the one-day and Twenty20 squads. New Zealand have named their touring groups for the trip, which begins with a pair of Twenty20s in Florida starting on June 30 and finishes with two Tests in Antigua and Jamaica in late July and early August.
Wagner and the legspinner Tarun Nethula are the two uncapped members of the 15-man Test squad, which featured no major surprises and included all 11 men who played New Zealand's most recent Test. The selectors chose two wicketkeepers, Kruger van Wyk and BJ Watling, who will also serve as the backup batsmen for the two Tests.
The inclusion of Wagner, 26, will create some competition for places in the attack after he comfortably topped the Plunket Shield wickets tally with 46 victims at 26.32. Wagner was born in Pretoria and started his first-class career in South Africa before moving to New Zealand and making his Otago debut in 2008-09.
He was also the leading Plunket Shield wicket-taker in 2010-11, and it was no surprise that he was rushed in to the squad immediately after the ICC confirmed last month that Wagner had qualified to play for New Zealand.
Less expected was the decision to rest McCullum for the ODIs and Twenty20s, with BJ Watling to take the gloves in both formats having recovered from a hip injury. The national selection manager Kim Littlejohn said with such a busy period coming up for New Zealand it was important to manage player workloads.
"We asked Brendon McCullum to take a break during the short-form component of the tour," Littlejohn said. "The team is about to embark on a heavy programme of international cricket and we will need to sensibly manage the workload of our players.
"This also allows other very talented cricketers to get an opportunity and for us to continue to build depth across our squads. Going forward we are looking to identify opportunities for other players, such as Doug Bracewell, Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson, to take a bit of time out and freshen up.
"James Franklin will also miss the tour. We see James as a key part of our Twenty20 squad going forward and have worked with him to organise a stint playing for Essex in the county Twenty20 competition. With the ICC World Tweny20 coming up we felt the best preparation for James would be to play a large number of Twenty20 matches in that competition rather than two matches in this tour."
Jacob Oram has returned to the limited-overs squads after recovering from a calf injury and the batsman Tom Latham has been given an opportunity in both the ODI and Twenty20 outfits. The tour consists of two Twenty20s, five ODIs and two Tests.
Thanks a lot for all the msges!! much appreciated! DREAM COMING TRUE! very blessed and honored!— Neil Wagner (@NeilWagner13) May 3, 2012
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here