Published: 5:40PM Tuesday April 15, 2014 Source: ONE Sport
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No one is more shocked at Otago off-spinner Mark Craig’s inclusion in the Black Caps Test squad than the man himself.
The uncapped 27-year-old was today named in the 16-strong squad to tour the West Indies later next month, with another spinner, Jeetan Patel, pulling out of the tour to focus on county cricket in England.
“I probably can’t say a couple of the words I said, on TV,” Craig told ONE Sport of his own reaction to his Test selection.
“But dad asked who that was on the phone and I said, ‘aww that was Bruce and I’m going to the West Indies’.”
“I think he nearly fell out of his chair, and mum, she welled up a little bit. But, it was awesome.”
Craig’s selection follows a patch of strong one-day form, his 22 first class wickets ranking him among the best spinners this season.
“He’s a true off-spinner, I guess one of the old traditional ones, beats guys in the air, he spins the ball hard,” explained Black Caps coach Mike Hesson.
“He’s a capable batsman. He was probably initially 12-months away in terms of involving him in New Zealand A – but it could be the making of him.”
Patel’s unavailability has thrust the spotlight on Craig, who’s international selection is made even more staggering, after serious illness almost curtailed his career.
“Basically I had what’s called chronic fatigue syndrome,” Craig explained.
“And I had to come back to Auckland for 10 or 11 months, where I went through various different methods of treatment and finally got it sorted and back down to Dunedin I went.”
In fact, Craig was out of all cricket for almost two years, making his comeback to the the highest level even more remarkable.
Meanwhile, the selectors have also issued a call-up for one-day wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi, while opener Peter Fulton also earns a reprieve, although his opening spot is no longer guaranteed.
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