2014-04-15 09:01 AM
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- Former Australia wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi and offspinner Mark Craig are the only new caps included in the New Zealand cricket team named Tuesday to play three tests in the West Indies in June.
New Zealand-born Ronchi played four one-day internationals and three Twenty20 internationals for Australia in 2008 and 2009 and has gone on to play 19 ODIs and eight T20 internationals since meeting the residential qualification to play for New Zealand in 2013.
He will act as understudy to incumbent wicketkeeper B.J. Watling during the test matches at Kingston, Jamaica from June 8, Port of Spain, Trinidad from June 16 and Georgetown, Guyana from June 26.
The 27-year-old Craig is the latest in a long succession of players to be tried as New Zealand's specialist off-pinner.
Craig, who joins legspinner Ish Sodhi in the test squad, earns his call-up in the absence of veteran left-armer Daniel Vettori, who is recovering from Achilles tendon surgery, and offspinner Jeetan Patel, who declined a test recall.
Patel played the last of his 19 tests against South Africa in January last year and was asked by selectors to return to the test lineup. But the 33-year-old has chosen to remain with his English county side Warwickshire while stressing he has not retired from international cricket.
"Mark (Craig) has had a strong Plunket Shield, taking 22 wickets and his right-arm off-spinners will be valuable against their left-handed heavy top order batting line-up," New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said.
"He's been in our sights for some time and was also chosen for our winter training squad."
Hesson said Ronchi "provides us with middle order batting cover as he's a good player of spin bowling."
"While we gained a convincing 2-0 test series victory against the West Indies in December they'll be a totally different kettle of fish in their conditions," he said. "And they'll be driven to perform well in the first match which will be Chris Gayle's 100th test."
Opener Peter Fulton has been retained, although he made only 75 runs in his last seven test innings with an average of only 26.83.
Batsman Jesse Ryder and fast bowler Doug Bracewell were not considered for selection because of unresolved disciplinary issues.
New Zealand squad: 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.