WELLINGTON: New Zealand captain Kane Williamson has been declared fit for the first Test against England while white-ball speedster Lockie Ferguson earned his maiden Test call-up on Friday.
The talismanic Williamson, the world’s third-ranked Test batsman, sat out the recent Twenty20 International series — which England won 3-2 — because of a nagging hip injury.
New Zealand selector Gavin Larsen said the two-week break had Williamson primed to return for what will be a historic inaugural Test at his home ground of Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui.
“Kane’s made good progress over the past fortnight and we’re delighted to welcome back a player of his class and experience,” Larsen said when naming a 15-man squad to face England and Australia over the next two months.
The call-up for Ferguson and the return of leg-spinner Todd Astle in place of spinners Will Somerville and Ajaz Patel are the only changes to the New Zealand squad from the recent away series against Sri Lanka.
The inclusion of Ferguson after an impressive domestic season caps a rapid rise for the quick bowler who has been a mainstay of New Zealand white-ball sides in recent years and was the second leading wicket-taker at the World Cup in England and Wales earlier this year.
Ferguson joins Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner and Matt Henry in a strong fast-bowling unit.
“There’s no doubt Lockie has been knocking on the door for a while now and we’re delighted to finally bring him into the Test fold,” Larsen said. “It’s well documented he has raw pace, but he also possesses a quality bowling skill set and has proved his durability.
“Our pace bowling stocks are strong at the moment and we feel Lockie will add another dimension to the picture, and will create some great competition.”
The 28-year-old Ferguson has played 36 One-day Internationals and eight Twenty20s for the Black Caps while he has also shown strong domestic form with 153 wickets from 42 first-class games at an average of 24.30.
After hosting England for a two-Test series, starting on Nov 21 at Mount Maunganui, New Zealand travel to Australia to play three Tests.
Squad: Kane Williamson (captain), Tom Latham, Todd Astle, Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Henry Nicholls, Jeet Raval, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, B.J. Watling.
Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2019