WELLINGTON - New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future under a cloud. Otago slow bowler Mark Craig was plucked from obscurity in anticipation of spin-friendly wickets on the three-Test tour, alongside fellow rookie Luke Ronchi, a wicketkeeper batsman with one-day experience for the Black Caps but who had never made the Test side.
Craig, 27, who has not played international cricket at any level, will potentially form a spin partnership with Ish Sodhi after his surprise call up to replace the unavailable Jeetan Patel. New Zealand Cricket (NZC) said Patel was sitting out the June tour "for personal reasons", although media reported that he ruled himself out in order to concentrate on playing English county cricket for Warwickshire, rather than try to revive a faltering international career.
Coach Mike Hesson said New Zealand's most potent spin weapon, Vettori, was unavailable because "he felt his bowling loads were not yet up to the intensity of Test cricket". The 35-year-old all-rounder has been plagued by Achilles and back injuries and last played Test cricket almost two years ago. Vettori said in February that he was targeting the West Indies tour as the series that would determine if he could continue in the international arena.
"I want to commit to that tour otherwise it will be too hard to keep trying to come back," Vettori said at the time. Vettori is one of only three players -- behind Ian Botham and Kapil Dev -- to score more than 4,000 runs and take more than 300 wickets in Tests.”
With 4,516 runs and 360 wickets in his 112 Tests, the former Black Caps skipper has set himself the career goal of becoming only the second Test player after Dev to take 400 wickets and score 4,000 runs.
That dream is now in doubt although Vettori has recently said nothing about his intentions. NZC said batsman Jesse Ryder and fast bowler Doug Bracewell were not considered after being dropped earlier this year for embarking on a late-night drinking spree ahead of the first Test against India in Auckland. "They are yet to satisfy the selectors that they have their off-field issues under control," NZC said in a statement.
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.