Auckland opener Jeet Raval Canterbury’s legspinning allrounder Todd Astle and Auckland allrounder Colin de Grandhomme are the new faces in the New Zealand test squad to face Pakistan in Christchurch next week.
While Raval, in for the out of sorts Martin Guptill, and Astle – a swap for the injured Mitchell Santner – had been predicted, the big hitting de Grandhomme is a surprise. Guptill’s form in Tests this year has been a worry for the side. In nine matches, the batsman scored 393 runs at an average of 24.56 with two fifties, struggling for runs in the home series against Australia and on the tours of South Africa and India. Four other players who were part of the India tour – Doug Bracewell, Jeetan Patel, Luke Ronchi and Ish Sodhi – missed out. Among the excluded players who toured India, Ronchi had the best performance, ending as the highest run-getter for New Zealand with 200 runs in six Test innings. Patel and Sodhi picked up six and three wickets respectively, while Bracewell did not get a game.
Six players were not considered due to injury: Santner, Mark Craig, Adam Milne, Mitchell McClenaghan, Colin Munro and George Worker. Corey Anderson, too, was not considered, as he continues to work on building up his bowling workload, after recovering from a back injury. Anderson had been picked as a specialist batsman in the ODI series against India, but bowled four overs in the fifth match.
The first Test will be played in Christchurch from November 17, while the second Test starts from November 25. Astle and de Grandhomme have been withdrawn from the New Zealand A squad for the tour match against the Pakistanis, with Kyle Jamieson and Luke Woodcock taking their place.