Wellington: Leg-spinning all-rounder Todd Astle is a surprise call-up to New Zealand’s Test squad for their November tour of Sri Lanka, while former captain Daniel Vettori has not been considered as he battles an ankle injury.
The loss of New Zealand’s most capped Test player is a major blow as the team prepares to tour a country renowned for spin-friendly wickets, leaving journeyman Jeetan Patel as their most experienced slow bowler with 15 Tests.
The 26-year-old Astle is the only new face in the New Zealand squads named for the tour that includes a T20 international, five one-day Internationals and two Test matches.
“We have kept faith with the bulk of the players who took part in the recent winter tours and World T20,” national selection manager Kim Littlejohn said in a statement.
“The one new face is Todd Astle. He has the ability to contribute in all three facets of the game and deserves his opportunity after a putting in consistent performances over a number of seasons.”
Astle replaces Tarun Nethula from the Test squad that toured India in August, with Littlejohn expecting the Central Districts’ leg-spinner to come back into contention for their tour to South Africa later this year via first-class cricket.
Nethula toured with the team to the West Indies and India but did not play in any of the four Tests on those tours.
Vettori sustained a recurrence of a chronic ankle injury during the recent T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka and had said at the conclusion of the tournament he doubted if he would be ready for a return to the country for the tour.
Pace bowler Doug Bracewell has also been left out of the limited overs squads “to work on a few minor technical issues with his action”, Littlejohn said.
He will join the team for the two Test matches.
Test: Ross Taylor (captain), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Daniel Flynn, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Chris Martin, Brendon McCullum, Rob Nicol, Jeetan Patel, Tim Southee, Kruger van Wyk, Neil Wagner, Kane Williamson.
ODI & T20: Ross Taylor (captain), Trent Boult, Andrew Ellis, James Franklin, Ronnie Hira, Rob Nicol, Tom Latham, Brendon McCullum, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Adam Milne, Jacob Oram, Tim Southee, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson.