WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand fast bowler Lockie Ferguson’s long wait for a test debut continues after he was overlooked on Wednesday for the side to face England in the first game of the two-match series at Mt. Maunganui.
Captain Kane Williamson told reporters at Bay Oval that they had decided to stick with the tried and tested pace trio of Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner for the match, which begins on Thursday, with Mitchell Santner named as the sole spinner.
Ferguson could still make his debut in the second game at Seddon Park in Hamilton next week. A limited overs specialist, the 28-year-old was brought into the squad for the test series after a strong performance at the World Cup in England.
After inspecting the wicket with coach Gary Stead, Williamson said they had decided to stick with Southee, Boult and Wagner for the first test match at the venue, with Ferguson being released to play for Auckland.
“You always consider those options and, as we know, he’s an extremely exciting talent but he’ll be released to go and play a bit more cricket then join back up with us in Hamilton,” Williamson said.
“It’s great to have so many guys in the environment who are raring to go and offer different things.
“The three we’ve gone with are guys that have been in the group for a long period of time and performed really well for us.”
Southee, who had reportedly been most under pressure to hold his place ahead of Ferguson’s express pace of 150kph-plus, Boult and Wagner have helped New Zealand win six of their eight tests at home over the last two years.
The 31-year-old Southee has 36 wickets at 23.38 in home tests over the last two years, while new ball partner Boult has led the attack with 49 at 21.42.
Wagner’s short-pitched tactics have led to 41 wickets at 22.19 in the same time period.
Santner has returned as the first choice slow bowler, with legspinner Todd Astle also released to play domestic cricket. Wicketkeeper-batsman Tom Blundell has also been released.
New Zealand: Tom Latham, Jeet Raval, Kane Williamson (captain), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford)