29 Jul 2019

Black Caps go heavy on spinners for Sri Lanka

2:05 pm on 29 July 2019

Coach Gary Stead has named four front line spinners in the New Zealand squad for next month's two test tour of Sri Lanka which also marks the start of the Black Caps World Test Championship campaign.

Black caps spinner Ajaz Patel.

Ajaz Patel. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

There are recalls for left-arm orthodox Ajaz Patel and off-spinner Will Somerville, who will join Mitchell Santner and Todd Astle in a Test squad well-equipped for expected conditions at Galle and Colombo.

Patel's last test was against Sri Lanka in Christchurch in December while Somerville last played for the Black Caps eight months ago in the United Arab Emirates.

Santner who has played some limited overs cricket in recent times hasn't been on the test scene since late 2017 due to a knee injury.

Missing out with Santner's return is leg spinner Ish Sodhi who was part of the Black Caps world cup squad and last played a test against Pakistan in Dubai in November.

Coach Gary Stead says the composition of the squad is a "horses-for courses" strategy and takes into account the recent history of touring teams visiting Sri Lanka - particularly England and South Africa.

"Playing three spinners is an option in Sri Lankan conditions and we believe this group provides the best variations and skill mix on offer.

"England were playing three spinners against Sri Lanka on their successful visit there last year and the slow bowlers also dominated the previous series against South Africa."

The concentration of spin bowling reserves leaves Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner and Colin de Grandhomme as the pace bowling options.

Tom Blundell will act as wicket-keeping and batting cover.

Test squad for Sri Lanka:

Kane Williamson (c), Todd Astle, Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Jeet Raval, Will Somerville

Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling (wk).