New Zealand have announced their squad for first Test against South Africa and Cam Fletcher along with Blair Tickner are part of the New Zealand Test squad for the first time. Also, Colin de Grandhomme and Hamish Rutherford have been recalled to the squad for their performances in domestic season.
New Zealand are scheduled to host South Africa for two Tests and the opening Test is scheduled to be played from February 17. New Zealand have announced the squad for the first Test and two players have earned maiden call-ups to the team. Cam Fletcher and Blair Tickner are included in the Test squad for the first time. Tickner has been in the list of top five wicket-takers in the last two seasons of Plunket Shield. He also has experience of eight T20Is and has scalped 162 wickets in 56 first class matches.
Cam Fletcher scored 473 runs in the last season with an average of 78.83 while he has scored 344 runs in the current season of Plunket Shield and averages 86. Colin de Grandhomme and Hamish Rutherford have returned to the squad Rutherford has scored 370 runs in four matches so far in the ongoing season of Plunket Shield and was second highest run-scorer last season. Tom Latham will lead the side as Kane Williamson is yet to recover from elbow injury.
New Zealand head coach Gary Stead congratulated Fletcher and Blair for earning the maiden call-up.
"Injuries and COVID have forced us to be flexible and I'm really excited with the squad picked," said head coach Gary Stead. "I'd like to congratulate Cam and Blair on making the squad and also acknowledge Hamish and Colin for fighting their way back into the Test set-up. Cam has been excellent across the three formats for Canterbury over the past couple of seasons, producing consistent and often match-winning performances for his team. This will be a great opportunity for him to come into the BLACKCAPS environment and soak up the experience as much as he can,” Stead said, reported Cricbuzz.
"Blair's been a consistent performer in the Plunket Shield over the past few seasons and we felt his pace, bounce and aggression covered our bases should we lose a pace bowler to injury. It's pleasing to see Colin back in the Test side, having proved such an influential member before his foot injury last season. His form of late shows he's clearly benefited from simply getting back on the park consistently, and it's great to have his all-round skills and experience to call on. It's a really exciting time for Hamish to be back in the BLACKCAPS after a long time away, and I know he's absolutely buzzing at the opportunity ahead.”
The first Test will be played from February 17 while the second will start from February 25 with both games to be played in Christchurch.
New Zealand squad for first Test: Tom Latham (c), Tom Blundell (wk), Devon Conway, Colin de Grandhomme, Cam Fletcher (wk), Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Rachin Ravindra, Hamish Rutherford, Tim Southee, Blair Tickner, Neil Wagner, Will Young.