WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Spinner Ajaz Patel, who is one of only three players to have taken 10 wickets in a test innings, will return to the New Zealand cricket squad for its three-test tour to England next month.
Patel joined Jim Laker of England and Anil Kumble of India in an elite club when he took 10-119 in New Zealand’s second test against India in Mumbai last December.
The left-armer hasn’t played a test since. He was left out of home series against Bangladesh and South Africa when New Zealand opted for all-pace attacks. Patel returns as New Zealand’s front-line spinner for the England series.
New Zealand on Wednesday announced an extended 20-man squad for the tour, designed to cover the early absence of players involved in the Indian Premier League. Those players will miss New Zealand’s warm-up matches and the squad will be trimmed to 15 before the first test against England starting June 2 at Lord’s.
New Zealand beat England when the teams last met in a test series in England last year, prior to New Zealand’s win over India in the final of the inaugural World Test Championship. The current squad includes 13 of the 15 players who took part in that series. Veteran batter Ross Taylor and wicketkeeper B.J. Watling have both since retired.
The squad includes offspin allrounder Michael Bracewell, wicketkeeper-batsman Cam Fletcher and pace bowler Blair Tickner, who will be touring with New Zealand for the first time.
Captain Kane Williamson will rejoin the side at the end of the IPL. He played the series-opener against India last year but hasn’t played a test match since because of an elbow injury.
Opener Will Young and allrounder Colin de Grandhomme are playing county cricket in England and their availability might force additional changes before the final squad is named.
Head coach Gary Stead noted that New Zealand has to carefully manage its player resources at the start of a busy run of test and limited-overs cricket.
“The red ball tour of England first up is clearly high on our priority list and we’re looking forward to hitting the ground running over there,” Stead said. “Touring England is always a special occasion with the people, the grounds and the history all making for a wonderful experience. The English are always tough in their own conditions and have many talented players they can call on.”
New Zealand will face an England team with a new coach and captain. Rob Key has taken over as managing director of the England men's team and New Zealand-born allrounder Ben Stokes has replaced Joe Root as captain.
New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (captain), Will Young, Tom Latham, Hamish Rutherford, Devon Conway, Henry Nicholls, Daryl Mitchell, Michael Bracewell, Tom Blundell, Colin de Grandhomme, Rachin Ravindra, Cam Fletcher, Kyle Jamieson, Matt Henry, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Ajaz Patel, Blair Tickner, Jacob Duffy, Trent Boult.
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