Bruce, Bracewell, Ajaz in NZ A squad for four-day matches against Australia A
Australia A are touring New Zealand for the first time and will play two first-class matches in Lincoln
New Zealand A have named a strong squad for the upcoming four-day matches against Australia A next month, including six players with international experience, as well as five who will have the chance to represent the A team for the first time.
Tom Bruce will lead the side in both games, having last captained the team during the tour of India last year. Left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel and bowling allrounders Doug Bracewell and Scott Kuggeleijn are also in the squad. Kuggeleijn, however, will be available for only the second match as a replacement for Jacob Duffy, who is getting married. Allrounder Cole McConchie returns to the side after missing out on the India tour, while there were also places for opener Henry Cooper and wicketkeeper Cam Fletcher.
The new names in the squad include Dean Foxcroft (Otago), Adithya Ashok (Auckland), Will O'Rourke (Canterbury), Mitch Hay (Canterbury) and Brett Randell (Central Stags).
Ashok, the former New Zealand Under-19 legspinner, impressed in his first season of domestic red-ball cricket, having taken 15 wickets from three first-class matches so far. O'Rourke has been one of Canterbury's standout bowlers in their Plunket Shield campaign, taking 19 first-class wickets.
The South African-born Foxcroft is currently not eligible to represent New Zealand, but can play for the A team as national 'A' cricket is not subject to the ICC Eligibility Regulations. Foxcroft topped the run charts in the recent Super Smash, scoring 424 runs. He also recently scored his maiden hundred in first-class cricket, making 159 against Wellington.
"This will be a big challenge against a very good Australia A team, and we look forward to a couple of really tough matches against quality opponents," New Zealand selector Gavin Larsen said. "This is a well-balanced squad and I'm sure that they'll enjoy the experience. We certainly look forward to seeing who puts their hand up across the two matches."
NZC high-performance coaches Graeme Aldridge, Paul Wiseman and Bob Carter will be part of the team management for the games. Australia A arrive in New Zealand on March 29 ahead of the first match on April 1. Both matches will be held at Bert Sutcliffe Oval in Lincoln, marking the first tour of New Zealand by an Australia A side.
New Zealand A squad: Tom Bruce (c), Adithya Ashok, Doug Bracewell, Henry Cooper, Jacob Duffy (Game 1 only), Dean Foxcroft, Cam Fletcher, Mitch Hay, Scott Kuggeleijn (Game 2 only), Cole McConchie, Robbie O'Donnell, Will O'Rourke, Ajaz Patel, Brett Randell, Sean Solia