Cricket: Players on fringe set to get NZ A team nod

By David Leggat

Hamish Rutherford.
Hamish Rutherford.

Expect a raft of players on the fringe of national selection to be named today in the New Zealand A cricket team to face Pakistan in Nelson next week.

Northern Districts' in-form allrounder Scott Kuggeleijn won't be there because of non-cricket related matters. Kuggeleijn is facing a retrial in February on a rape charge after his first trial ended in a hung jury this year.

The 24-year-old, who is in rousing Plunket Shield form, has asked to be excused from any potential New Zealand representative playing obligations for the meantime.

Kuggeleijn, a fast-medium bowler and assertive lower middle order batsman, is averaging 77 with the bat in the Plunket Shield after two rounds - including hitting 112 against Wellington - and has 12 wickets at 24.08, including nine for 190 against Canterbury in the opening round. He is equal second on most wickets in the shield.

In a statement issued by New Zealand Cricket, Kuggeleijn believes any selection in a New Zealand team at any level before the re-trial would "likely be a significant distraction for him and the game itself ... which is not a situation he desires".

New Zealand's first test against Pakistan starts in Christchurch on November 17.

But coming off a gruelling trip to India, a few more days respite might be appreciated by the test core.

The old way with tour matches was to hold back the likely test bowlers but give the batsmen a chance to view the visiting bowlers ahead of the test series. This time, the likes of a Corey Anderson or Jimmy Neesham, both allrounders and short of a first-class gallop, could be picked, but not many others.

So it should be a chance for the likes of opener Jeet Raval, middle order men Henry Nicholls (Canterbury), Dean Brownlie and Bharat Popli (ND) and Central Districts' captain Will Young to figure.

Otago's former test opener Hamish Rutherford might have got a phone call last night. Look for one of Northern Districts' Tim Seifert, Wellington's Tom Blundell or Canterbury's Cam Fletcher to get the wicketkeeping gloves,.

Legspinning allrounder Todd Astle deserves another chance. He has taken 11 wickets at 21, third most behind rival spinners Ajaz Patel (13 at 28.6) and Tarun Nethula (12 at 20.91), Kuggeleijn and veteran seamer Brent Arnel (12 and 11 respectively), and clouted 195 off 189 balls batting at No6 against ND.

Auckland quick Lockie Ferguson warrants a chance, while seamers such as Jacob Duffy, of Otago, and Canterbury's Ed Nuttall are in the mix.

If there is a firm view among the selectors that players must prove themselves at A level, as a form of stepping stone between Plunket Shield and test cricket, this is the chance for that to happen.

- NZ Herald

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