• England in New Zealand 2012-13

NZ ponder opening options for England Test

Andrew McGlashan
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Hamish Rutherford could be in line for a Test debut © Getty Images
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Hamish Rutherford and Tom Latham, both sons of former New Zealand Test players, will vie for one of the opening slots in the first Test against England in Dunedin. Bruce Martin, the 32-year-old left-arm spinner, could also make his debut although there remains a chance New Zealand will field an all-pace attack.

Martin Guptill's injuries - hamstring followed by thumb surgery - and Brendon McCullum's decision to drop down to No. 5 have created two opening vacancies. Peter Fulton, 34, will take one of the slots following an impressive Plunket Shield tournament in which he made 902 runs at 56.37 to leave him as the second-highest scorer. He last played a Test in 2009 but was due to open against South Africa before the recurrence of a knee injury forced him home. Either of the uncapped left-handers will join him.

Rutherford, 23, made his international debut in the Twenty20s against England and then replaced Guptill in the one-day squad. He has an overall first-class average of 42.42 and his previous three four-day innings for Otago, back in late January before he faced England, brought 90, 162 and 28.

Latham, 20, the son of Rod who played four Tests, is a wicketkeeper-batsman - which means New Zealand could field three glovemen in their XI including McCullum and BJ Watling - who has played eight ODIs and three T20s. He has been selected despite an uninspiring Plunket Shield where he made 480 runs in eight matches at 33.07.

Mike Hesson, the New Zealand coach, said: "We picked Peter to tour South Africa and he would have played there if he hadn't been injured. That leaves young Hamish and Tom to battle for the other opening spot. They've been in good form and are both products of our successful New Zealand A programme."

Rutherford and Latham will get the chance to face England for the New Zealand XI in Queenstown from February 27 and there is one place remaining in the Test squad which will go to a fast bowler playing in that match which means a likely call-up for either Mark Gillespie or Neil Wagner.

Tim Southee, who returned to action in the one-day series following a thumb injury, Doug Bracewell and Trent Boult are the established members of the bowling attack. Martin has been preferred over Jeetan Patel, the offspinner, for the slow-bowling place in the squad in the continued absence of Daniel Vettori. He sat on the bench during the South Africa Test series and although his 32 Plunket Shield wickets this season cost over 40 he is highly regarded on the domestic circuit.

Meanwhile, Luke Ronchi, the Wellington wicketkeeper, who had made a strong claim for a Test call-up by averaging 62.07 this season after qualifying for New Zealand, has been ruled out of the tour match in Queenstown with a hamstring injury he picked up in the final round of four-day matches. Watling, the Test wicketkeeper, takes his place which will provide him the chance to recover some form after a lean one-day series.

Squad (one more name to be added) Brendon McCullum (capt), Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Dean Brownlie, Peter Fulton, Tom Latham, Bruce Martin, Hamish Rutherford, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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