Cricket: Wagner expected to tour Windies

By David Leggat

Neil Wagner should appear on at least one of the NZ squads. Photo / Paul Estcourt
Neil Wagner should appear on at least one of the NZ squads. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Neil Wagner's name should appear on at least one of the two New Zealand squads due to be named today to tour the West Indies from late June.

The Pretoria-born Otago left armer has been the form bowler on the domestic scene for the past couple of seasons and is now eligible to play for New Zealand.

He has taken 226 first-class wickets at 27.73 in 53 games; 137 at 27.2 in his four seasons at Otago. On that basis it makes sense to get the 26-year-old into the setup and see how he copes with the international game. His ability to reverse swing the red ball, combined with his less impressive limited-overs figures, mean he may not figure in both squads of 15.

The sooner Wagner's talents can be seen at the highest level the better. He may not necessarily make a test bowling squad which should include Chris Martin, the resurgent Mark Gillespie and Doug Bracewell as the first-choice seam options, but having him in the environment will help.

Keep an eye out, also, for both leading wicketkeepers, Kruger van Wyk and BJ Watling to make the test 15.

Watling lost his test place because of a hip injury on the eve of the first test against South Africa at Dunedin in early March, having made a good fist of his recall against Zimbabwe with a century in Napier at the end of January.

Van Wyk deserves to stay after a series of gritty innings against the South Africans and some smart glovework, while Watling doubles as a capable seventh batsman in the group.

Leg spinner Tarun Nethula appeals as a second spin option and there are other selections worth watching on what will be coach John Wright's last tour.

Rob Nicol was good value in the shorter forms of the game last season but was out of his class in the two tests he played against South Africa. Will his short-form results keep him in the frame?

Tim Southee was dropped after the first South African test and has been recovering from a shin injury. However, he is an integral figure in the two limited-overs versions. And what of his Northern Districts teammate Trent Boult, who impressed at times before losing his spot later in the season, or Auckland spinner Roneel Hira, who made a decent fist of his T20 chances?

Two squads of 15 players are tipped for today.

New Zealand will play two T20 internationals against the West Indies in Lauderhill, Florida, five ODIs split between Jamaica and St Kitts, and two tests, at Antigua and Jamaica.

- NZ Herald

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