17 Apr 2014

Otago spinner Mark Craig surprise inclusion in Black Caps

1:13 pm on 17 April 2014

The Otago off-spinner Mark Craig and the Wellington wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi are the two new caps named in the 15 strong New Zealand test cricket squad for the upcoming tour of the West Indies.

The selectors have opted for two spinners two all-rounders and only three pace bowlers in what are likely to be spin-friendly conditions in the Caribbean.

Coach Mike Hesson says the 27-year-old Craig provides a nice balance with leg spinner Ish Sodhi.

Craig took 22 wickets for Otago in the Plunket Shield and Hesson says he'll be valuable against the West Indies top order which is predominantly left handed.

Hesson confirmed that Daniel Vettori wasn't available for the tour saying he felt his bowling loads were not yet up to the intensity of Test cricket while Wellington off spinner Jeetan Patel, who's playing for English county side Warwickshire, was also unavailable for personal reasons.

Jesse Ryder and Doug Bracewell were not considered for either squads as they are yet to satisfy the selectors that they have their off-field issues under control.

Hesson is expecting a far more formidable challenge from the West Indies team compared with the injury-hit side that toured here this summer.

The Black Caps won that series 2-nil but Hesson says they'll be a different proposition in their home conditions and will have the added motivation to perform well in the first test which will be Chris Gayle's 100th Test.

New Zealand will play three tests in the Carribean with two warm up matches, the first warm up match is in Jamaica starting on May 29th.

New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (captain), Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Mark Craig, Peter Fulton, Tom Latham, James Neesham, Luke Ronchi, Hamish Rutherford, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson