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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Dec 312013
West Indies chase unassailable series lead

Match facts

Wednesday, January 1, 2014
1100 (2200 GMT previous day)

Tim Southee picked up three wickets, Bangladesh v New Zealand, 1st ODI, Mirpur, October 29, 2013

Tim Southee is likely to return earlier than expected © Associated Press

Big Picture

The washout at Napier has effectively consigned this to a four-match series. A win for West Indies will give them an unassailable 2-0 lead so the pressure increases on New Zealand to win the next three games to seal the series. New Zealand may not have made rapid strides as a Test side in 2013 but, as a one-day unit, surprised the likes of South Africa and England in their own backyard. They were comfortable in conditions replicating home, like the two previously stated countries, but fell woefully short in Bangladesh. After dominating the Tests against West Indies, they took their eye off the ball at Eden Park. Though their bowlers made West Indies huff and puff, their batsmen know they can’t get complacent.

West Indies endured a woeful 2013 in comparison, having won only nine ODIs out of 24, losing 13. The jury’s still out on the split-captaincy policy with Dwayne Bravo not delivering the results expected, even at home. Their opening bowlers finally hit their straps at Eden Park but the batsmen have continued to blow hot and cold. They are without Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Darren Bravo (who flew back home for personal reasons), which makes their job harder. It might also leave them depending more on their bowling attack to win them matches. Their batsmen will hope for more batting friendly conditions in Queenstown, preferably a pitch as flat as the airport runway at one end of the ground, to get some confidence back. A good start in probably the most picturesque holiday destination in the country is not a bad way to usher in the new year.

Form guide

New Zealand LLWLL(last five completed matches)
West Indies WLWLL

In the spotlight

It has been a modest start for Luke Ronchi in his second coming as an international cricketer, this time for New Zealand. He is yet to score a fifty and averages under 16 in 11 games. With Brendon McCullum not keeping wicket, Ronchi’s main competitor in one-dayers is BJ Watling. Ronchi had a chance to play a rescue-effort type knock after New Zealand were wobbling at 57 for 5 at Eden Park but failed, falling for 7. Ronchi, however, isn’t worrying yet about retaining his place in the World Cup squad next year. “I haven’t played enough international cricket to think if I look a year in advance where I could be,” Ronchi was quoted in New Zealand Herald. “I want to make the most of every opportunity and if I think too far ahead it’s all going to go horrendously wrong.”

Kieran Powell scored two half-centuries in the ODI series in India, but he hasn’t carried his form into New Zealand. His Test series was nothing short of a disappointment, with a highest score of 36. Starting out as a Test opener, Gayle’s absence has given him an opportunity in the shorter formats too. He failed in Auckland, scoring 4. The next three games will be a chance for Powell to make a bid to retain his place even when West Indies return to a full strength line-up.

Team news

Tim Southee is back in the squad after recovering from a toe surgery, and though the coach Mike Hesson initially marked him to return for the fourth ODI in Nelson, he didn’t rule out a comeback for Queenstown. Hesson was impressed with Southee’s progress at the nets, leaving the door open for selection. Should Southee return, Adam Milne might have to wait longer for his first appearance in an ODI on home soil, having been denied by the weather in Napier.

New Zealand (probable) 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Jesse Ryder, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Brendon McCullum (capt), 6 Corey Anderson, 7 Luke Ronchi, (wk), 8 James Neesham/Tim Southee/Adam Milne, 9 Nathan McCullum, 10 Mitchell McClenaghan, 11 Kyle Mills

West Indies will have one forced change, with Darren Bravo returning home. Kirk Edwards, who was in fine form with the A side in India, could get an opportunity.

West Indies (probable) 1 Johnson Charles, 2 Kieran Powell, 3 Kirk Edwards, 4 Lendl Simmons, 5 Dwayne Bravo (capt), 6 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 7 Narsingh Deonarine, 8 Darren Sammy, 9 Sunil Narine, 10 Jason Holder 11 Ravi Rampaul

Stats and trivia

  • Rain had the final say in the last two games in Queenstown, one of which was a New Zealand-West Indies clash
  • Of the six completed games at the venue, New Zealand won five. In their most recent win, they bundled out Bangladesh for 93 and chased it down in just six overs
  • Kyle Mills is the leading wicket-taker for New Zealand in this squad with 230 wickets. The next highest is Nathan McCullum with 43


“We’ll see what the wicket’s like in Queenstown, and if it looks like it’s got a bit of pace and bounce in it, then he’s a really good option of us.”
Mike Hesson on the chances of Adam Milne playing

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