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Anderson v Neesham: Let the contest begin

The Black Caps squad for the test tour of Australia has been named. Photo / Getty Images.
The Black Caps squad for the test tour of Australia has been named. Photo / Getty Images.

Let the contest for the No.6 test all-rounder spot between Corey Anderson and Jimmy Neesham begin, ahead of the New Zealand cricket team's three-test series against Austalia in November.

Both have been selected in the 15-man squad named this morning.

The key question lies with how many overs Anderson or Neesham can muster as the fifth bowler behind Trent Boult, Tim Southee, spinner Mark Craig and Matt Henry or Doug Bracewell.

Anderson and Neesham have battled recent back stress injuries but need to prove a fitness level where they could be called upon to deliver 10-12 overs per innings. Neesham was rested as a precaution from the final two one-day internationals in South Africa.

Tellingly, neither player has had the opportunity to enjoy the pace and carry of Australian test pitches with bat or ball. Anderson's solitary one-day international in Australia was the World Cup final in Melbourne where he toiled without reward.

Statistically, Neesham has the edge. In eight tests his batting average is 43.28 with two centuries and he has 11 wickets at 32.81 with the ball.

Anderson averages 31.35 in 11 tests, combined with 13 wickets at 38.46.

Hesson said the pair's ability to offer bowling value persuaded the selectors to carry four, rather than five, front line pace bowlers after seven consecutive series without defeat.

"A lot of our recent success has been based on the value of our No.6 batsman bowling some overs, and we're comfortable continuing in that vein," Hesson said.

"Rather than having an extra fast bowler not playing in Australia, we thought it more prudent for those in contention to remain in New Zealand playing domestic cricket."

Injuries to Anderson and Neesham meant New Zealand went into their last test, the victory against England at Headingley, without a specialist all-rounder. They opted to bring in Luke Ronchi as a wicketkeeper and use the injured B-J Watling as a specialist batsman. On that occasion the gambit worked, but they would be reluctant to try it regularly.

The impact of two all-rounders on the rest of the 15-man squad was that Neil Wagner missed selection after going in the squad to England. The last of his 16 tests was the Boxing Day match against Sri Lanka, when he took three for 176 from 41 overs. The 29-year-old has 58 wickets at 34.48.

Hamish Rutherford retained his place as top order batting cover with Ronchi the option to bolster the middle order and work as back-up wicketkeeper to Watling.

Rutherford demonstrated recent first-class and limited overs form for Derbyshire after getting few opportunities on the England tour. In 29 test innings he has also never played a test on Australian pitches which could suit his attacking game with the ball coming on.

In contrast, converted opener Dean Brownlie can be considered unlucky, having succeeded in the Australian tests in 2011, scoring 196 runs at 65.33.

Black Caps test squad to Australia 2015
Brendon McCullum (captain)
Corey Anderson
Trent Boult
Doug Bracewell
Mark Craig
Martin Guptill
Matt Henry
Tom Latham
James Neesham
Luke Ronchi
Hamish Rutherford
Tim Southee
Ross Taylor
BJ Watling
Kane Williamson

- NZ Herald

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