AUCKLAND – South Africa-born left-hander Devon Conway is the only uncapped player named by New Zealand in Twenty20 International and Test squads on Monday, for their home series against West Indies, starting later this month in New Zealand.
Conway and Kyle Jamieson are the two new faces in the T20 side, which will be captained by Tim Southee, with Kane Williamson and left-arm pacer Trent Boult rested to focus on the Test series.
“We’ve had to make a decision on Kane and Trent to prioritise the Test matches, given how important they are to our red-ball team and the fact they both played such big roles in the recent IPL while also managing injuries,” New Zealand head coach Gary Stead said.
“There’s no secret we’re right in the hunt for the World Test Championship final following our 2-0 win over India and having Trent and Kane fully fit and focussed for the upcoming series will be crucial.”
Conway, 29, became eligible to play for the Blackcaps in August and was the highest run scorer across all three domestic formats for Wellington Firebirds last season.
“We’re looking forward to welcoming Devon into our environment for the first time and I’m sure he’ll soak up the experience,” Stead said.
Jamieson, 25, has appeared for the Blackcaps in two Tests and two One-day Internationals, but he has been in a rich vein of form during the Plunket Shield, the New Zealand first-class competition and now has a chance to earn a maiden T20I cap.
Southee, Jamieson and veteran batsman Ross Taylor are only available for the first two T20Is – at Eden Park on Friday, November 27, and the Bay Oval on November 29 – before heading to Hamilton to join an unchanged 13-member Test squad on Monday, November 30.
With the third and final T20I also at Bay Oval on that Monday, Mark Chapman, Doug Bracewell and Scott Kuggeleijn will join the T20 squad as cover for the three Test players.
Stead said Colin Munro was omitted from the T20 squad because of his deal to play for the Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League in Australia.
“With Colin heading to the Big Bash and, therefore, unavailable for the Pakistan T20 series pre-Christmas, the selectors are keen to look at other batting options at the top of the order,” he said.
Stead said managing the players against the backdrop of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will be important.
“I think we’re all very aware and appreciative of how much work has gone in to make this home summer possible – in what is clearly unprecedented times,” he said.
“The season schedule is complex and for the first time we’re going to have a Blackcaps Test squad assembling on the same day we’re playing a T20 International in another city.”
He added: “We’ve got players at quite different stages with some having played almost a month of domestic cricket, some in managed isolation following the IPL and others battling injuries.
“First, we have a challenging T20 series against an opposition full of stars with plenty of big game experience. The three-game series is over just four days, so we’ll need to hit the ground running to build some momentum for the summer.”
The Blackcaps will sweat a bit, however, over the fitness of Test incumbents Colin de Grandhomme (right-foot) and Ajaz Patel (left-calf).
Stead said he would give the two players every chance of being available for the first Test, starting on December 3 at Seddon Park in Hamilton.
“Colin and Ajaz have quite different injuries, which are requiring different return to play protocols,” he said.
“It’s too early at this stage to definitively say what their chances are, but we’re hopeful the next two weeks will make that clearer.”
T20Is: Tim Southee (captain), Hamish Bennett, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Kyle Jamieson, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Seifert, Ross Taylor.
Tests: Kane Williamson (captain), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling, Will Young.