Tom Latham has been named BLACKCAPS captain for the Walton Test Series against Bangladesh, starting at Bay Oval on New Year’s Day.
With regular captain Kane Williamson ruled out with an elbow injury, Latham will lead the side for an entire series for the first time, having stepped in to fill the role on four previous occasions.
A return to home conditions means the BLACKCAPS first home squad of 2021-22 has a seam bowling focus, with Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner, Kyle Jamieson and Matt Henry all included.
Following an impressive start to his Test career in England, Devon Conway returns to the squad after breaking his hand in the ICC T20 World Cup semi-final against England in November.
There’s no space for a specialist spinner in the 13-man squad, meaning left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel misses out despite his heroics in India, with Rachin Ravindra and Daryl Mitchell covering the spin and seam all-rounder spots, respectively.
BLACKCAPS coach Gary Stead is confident he has all bases covered for both Bay Oval and Hagley Oval.
“It’s great to be back home and at venues we know well, and where we’ve had success in recent times” said Stead.
“It’s obviously disappointing not to have Kane available for this series but, as we noted in India, he is undergoing a sustained period of rest followed by rehabilitation, strengthening and gradual batting loading.
“We have every confidence in Tom leading the side - he’s done an excellent job in the past when called upon.
“You do feel for Ajaz after his record-breaking display in India. However, we’ve always applied a horses-for-courses selection policy and believe the players selected best fit the way we want to take on Bangladesh here at home.”
Stead also noted the inclusion of both Ravindra and Mitchell.
“We feel having both Rachin and Daryl in the squad gives us a nice balance and the ability to pick a side best suited to the conditions we expect.”
It’s a slightly later than usual start for the BLACKCAPS home summer, with the Test at Bay Oval their first in Aotearoa since winning the ICC World Test Championship last season.
“We all remember the epic finish against Pakistan at Bay Oval last season and it’s great to be playing Test cricket there again this summer,” said Stead.
“The Hagley Oval Test in the New Year is becoming a staple of the home summer and I know the players and staff love coming to Christchurch to play at a venue where we’ve previously enjoyed plenty of success.”
This season NZC is giving fans another reason to head along to the Test with themed days for each of the five days of a Test Match.
The DAY FOR IT campaign is centred around a ‘dress-up day’ (Day Two at Bay Oval, Day One at Hagley Oval) in which fans are encouraged to get creative in their support of Test cricket, with prizes and a ‘Walk The Wicket’ show for best dressed on offer.
“Seeing the crowd enjoying their cricket really lifts the guys and we know from grounds like Edgbaston in England how much the dressing-up can add to the atmosphere.” said Stead.
“While you may not see me in fancy dress, I’m sure the Kiwi summer crowds will get into it.”
The Walton Test series against Bangladesh starts on January 1 2022 at Bay Oval.
BLACKCAPS Test Squad
Tom Latham (c) - Canterbury
Tom Blundell (wk) - Wellington Firebirds
Trent Boult - Northern Districts
Devon Conway - Wellington Firebirds
Matt Henry - Canterbury
Kyle Jamieson - Auckland Aces
Daryl Mitchell - Canterbury
Henry Nicholls - Canterbury
Rachin Ravindra - Wellington Firebirds
Tim Southee - Northern Districts
Ross Taylor - Central Stags
Neil Wagner - Northern Districts
Will Young - Central Stags