New Zealand recall de Grandhomme, Hamish Rutherford for 1st Test vs South Africa

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New Zealand recalled seasoned Colin de Grandhomme and Hamish Rutherford and called up wicketkeeper Cam Fletcher and pacer Blair Tickner as cover for regulars in an extended squad for the first Test against South Africa, starting February 17 at Christchurchs Hagley Oval.

With the Covid-19 pandemic still raging, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) decided to pick a larger than the normal 15-strong squad, which will allow the selectors to better cover their options while mitigating the health risk associated with bringing players into the team environment at short notice, should there be any injuries.

That opened up a spot for in-form Canterbury keeper Fletcher, who will be the back-up gloveman to incumbent Tom Blundell, while Central Stags paceman Tickner will provide cover for the quick bowlers.

Tickner has appeared for the Black Caps in eight T20 internationals since debuting in 2019, while it’s Fletcher’s first call-up to the national side after impressing for his province and for New Zealand A in recent seasons, the NZC said in a story on its official website.

Seven years on from his last appearance for the Black Caps, Otago Volts batsman Hamish Rutherford has earned a recall, as has all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme, who missed much of last season with a foot injury, the report said.

With regular skipper, Kane Williamson unavailable as his injured ‘lbow hasn’t mended in time, and the retirement of veteran Ross Taylor, Rutherford has been included as batting cover in the extended squad, which will again be captained by Tom Latham.

Trent Boult will miss the first Test as he awaits the birth of his third child, while Ajaz Patel is a chance to be added for the second Test should conditions suit and provided he overcomes his left-calf injury.

There was no place in the squad for ‘perfect-10 spinner’ Ajaz Patel, who claimed all 10 wickets in an innings against India at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai in December, and Rachin Ravindra remains the lone spinner.

Squad for 1st 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.

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