New Zealand name Test squad

New Zealand have named their side for their first Test match against Sri Lanka at Jade Stadium in Christchurch on December 7.

The side features the inclusion of two specialist openers in Central District’s Jamie How and Otago’s Craig Cumming.

Central’s Mathew Sinclair has also made another return to the New Zealand side. If he is selected, it will be his first appearance since 2004.

New Zealand coach John Bracewell said that domestic performances were the key to his decisions:

“Form and continuity of selection are the key reasons behind the selection of our three top batsmen for the Sri Lankan tes…in Sinclair’s case it is a continuation of the runs he scored last season and Cumming has test experience.”

Cumming, has scored 208 runs in seven tests at an average of 28, and Mathew Sinclair has scored two test double centuries. Jamie How has played four test matches and his top score is only 37, but Bracewell implied that he was an easy selection and was the incumbent for the opening position.

Sinclair comes into the team for Hamish Marshall, who was dropped after his string of poor performances in New Zealand’s one day side. Marshall may consider himself unlucky after he scored 1218 runs in county cricket for Gloucestershire last summer. At the time of writing he was also excelling in New Zealand’s domestic competition, scoring 33 not out and 153 for Northern Districts.

The selection panel also included medium pace bowlers Michael Mason and Iain O’Brien, both of whom who have played test cricket, with little success.

Bracewell commented that “O’Brien has been the form bowler especially his performances on very good batting strips, and Mason’s efforts have been very encouraging”.

Neither are likely to play however, as fast bowler Shane Bond was also included in the test squad having recovered from his back injury that plagued him during the Champion’s Trophy.

Several players have been ruled out of the squad for Christchurch due to injury. Scott Styris continues to struggle with ongoing back problems, which have affected him since his stint with English county team Middlesex. Michael Papps has also been ruled out with a broken finger. Finally seam bowler Kyle Mills was left out of the squad after he suffered a patella tendon injury.

New Zealand Squad:
Stephen Fleming, Nathan Astle, Shane Bond, Craig Cumming, Jamie How, Chris Martin, Michael Mason, Brendon McCullum, Iain O’Brien, Jacob Oram, Mathew Sinclair, Daniel Vettori

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