A Sri Lankan squad with ICC World Test Championship (WTC) title ambitions will come up against a youthful New Zealand XI in a two-day warm-up match, starting at Bert Sutcliffe Oval on Saturday.
The visitors sit third in the WTC 2021-23 standings and are pushing for a spot in June’s final after drawing their home series against Australia and Pakistan last year.
The tour of New Zealand comprises two Tests, three ODIs and three T20s against the BLACKCAPS and gets underway in earnest next Thursday at Hagley Oval, with game one of the Dulux Test series.
Sri Lanka coach Chris Silverwood said the team would be playing for more than just themselves on this tour.
“The country has been through a bit recently and we know the spirits are really lifted when the cricket team is doing well.
Hear from @Angelo69Mathews at @OfficialSLC's first training of their New Zealand Tour on Sri Lanka's push to make the WTC Final. The first Test of the series starts next Thursday at Hagley Oval. Follow play LIVE in NZ with @sparknzsport and @TodayFM_nz. #NZvSL pic.twitter.com/C8New7htLo— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) March 2, 2023
“The guys are very aware of that and take that responsibility very seriously, so they’ll be desperate to give them something to smile about back at home.
“To get to the WTC Final would be unbelievable, but at the same time we know we’ve got a very good New Zealand team in front of us as well and we have to respect that, work hard, and try and earn that right,” said Silverwood.
Of the two-day warm-up match, Silverwood said the focus would be getting his side Test-ready.
“We want to hit the ground running in the Test series and to do that we have to make sure that we prep well here.
“We want to make sure the batsmen get a good hit and get used to conditions and that bowlers get overs under their belts as well.”
The NZC selectors have named a NZ XI squad including eight players between the ages of 19 and 25, the youngest of whom is 19-year-old Jacob Cumming, fresh from the recent pink-ball warm-up against England.
BLACKCAPS selector Gavin Larsen said the NZ XI matches continue to be an exciting opportunity for emerging talent.
“Having the opportunity to play against quality international sides is not an experience that comes along every day and our players really look forward to it,” said Larsen.
“With the second half of the Plunket Shield competition starting this week, it opens up the space for promising youngsters to test themselves and develop their game.”
The NZ XI squad will be captained by Central Stags’ Jack Boyle, who is joined in the squad by his younger brother Matt.
On the ground in Aotearoa! First training of the tour today for @OfficialSLC at Bert Sutcliffe Oval in Lincoln ahead of the start of the Test series on Thursday at Hagley Oval. Follow the team against Sri Lanka LIVE in NZ with @sparknzsport and @TodayFM_nz. #NZvSL pic.twitter.com/XIDMYKkMo8— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) March 2, 2023
New Zealand XI squad
Jack Boyle (c) (Central Stags)
Ma’ara Ave (Central Stags)
Matt Bacon (Otago Volts)
Jakob Bhula (Wellington Firebirds)
Matt Boyle (Canterbury)
Blake Coburn (Canterbury)
Jacob Cumming (Otago Volts)
Sean Davey (Canterbury)
James Hartshorn (Wellington Firebirds)
Tim Robinson (Wellington Firebirds)
Ross ter Braak (Auckland Aces)
Bayley Wiggins (Central Stags)
Theo van Woerkom (Canterbury)
The squad assembled in Lincoln on Thursday with head coaches Paul Wiseman and Bob Carter, and will train at Bert Sutcliffe Oval this morning.
Both days of the warm-up match will be live-streamed on NZC YouTube, with live scoring available on nzc.nz and the NZC App.
The Sri Lanka Test series begins next week with the first match at Hagley Oval in Christchurch, from March 9-13.
Following the success of the recent England Test series, NZC will continue to theme the weekend days of Test matches, with Saturday remaining as ‘Dress Up’ day with prizes on offer.
The Sri Lanka series will be streamed live in New Zealand on Spark Sport, and broadcast on TodayFm, and via the Rova radio app.