Apr 152014

New Zealand have included uncapped off-spinner Mark Craig in their squad for their three-Test tour of West Indies in June.

The 27-year-old, who has taken 43 first-class wickets at 42.88, was a surprise inclusion in the 15-man party even after his fellow off-spinner Jeetan Patel withdrew for personal reasons.

Leg-spinner Ish Sodhi has also been named in the squad with spin-friendly conditions expected in the Caribbean, but there is no place for veteran all-rounder Daniel Vettori, who is still working his way back to peak condition after Achilles surgery last year.

Craig is one of two uncapped players in the squad along with wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi, who has previously represented New Zealand in limited overs matches.

“Mark has had a strong Plunket Shield taking 22 wickets and his right-arm off-spinners will be valuable against their left-handed heavy top order batting line-up,” said New Zealand coach Mike Hesson.


“Luke also provides us with middle-order batting cover as he’s a good player of spin bowling.”

Left-handed batsman Jesse Ryder and seam-bowling all-rounder Doug Bracewell have been omitted after being dropped from the squad for the second Test against India in February after a late-night drinking session.

The series against West Indies starts with the first Test in Kingston, Jamaica on June 8 before further matches in Trinidad and Guyana.

“While we gained a convincing 2-0 Test series victory against the West Indies in December they’ll be a totally different kettle of fish in their conditions,” Hesson added.

“And they’ll be driven to perform well in the first match which will be Chris Gayle’s 100th Test.”

Squad: B McCullum (captain), Anderson, Boult, Craig, Fulton, Latham, Neesham, Ronchi, Rutherford, Sodhi, Southee, Taylor, Wagner, Watling, Williamson.

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