Bangalore: New Zealand’s selectors rang in the changes as they named the squad for the first Test against England starting on March 6 in Dunedin, picking three new players and dropping James Franklin, the allrounder, and Jeetan Patel, the offspinner, from the 12-man squad.
Hamish Rutherford and Tom Latham, both opening batsmen, and Bruce Martin, 32, the left-arm spinner, were included, while Ross Taylor and Tim Southee also returned to the Test squad. Taylor sat out of the series against South Africa, while Southee was injured.
Rutherford, the son of Ken Rutherford, the former New Zealand captain, is likely to partner Peter Fulton at the top of the order. New Zealand have struggled to establish a productive opening pair for a while, with Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum averaging only 16.5 in eight innings during recent series against Sri Lanka and South Africa.
Guptill has now been sidelined by injury and McCullum, the captain, has dropped down the order, opening the way for Fulton to be recalled three years after he played the last of his 10 Tests. Fulton has been in good form in the domestic Plunket Shield, scoring 902 runs at 56.38.
“We picked Peter to tour South Africa and he would have played there if he hadn’t been injured,” said Mike Hesson, the New Zealand coach. “That leaves young Hamish and Tom to battle for the other opening spot. They’ve been in good form and are both products of our successful New Zealand A programme.”
Rutherford, 23, played against England in the One-Day International and Twenty20 International series while Latham, 20, last played for New Zealand in an ODI against Sri Lanka in November 2012.
Hesson said another fast bowler would be added to the squad following England’s four-day match against a New Zealand XI starting on Wednesday (February 27) where Mark Gillespie and Neil Wagner are the leading contenders.
Along with Guptill, players not considered because of injury were Daniel Vettori, Chris Martin and Mitchell McClenaghan.
Squad for first Test (one member to be added): Peter Fulton, Hamish Rutherford, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum (capt), Dean Brownlie, BJ Watling (wk), Doug Bracewell, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Bruce Martin, Tom Latham.