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Gary Stead excited by New Zealand’s depth ahead of Lord’s opener

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Head coach believes they’re in a “luxurious position” going into the two-Test series

Head coach Gary Stead believes New Zealand are in something of a “luxurious position”, with competition for places and just a couple of question marks around their preferred XI to take on England at Lord’s this week. The identity of Tom Latham’s opening partner and how New Zealand choose to balance the side in the absence of Trent Boult are two major selection issues that will be determined between now and Wednesday.

Stead also confirmed that Boult, New Zealand’s regular new-ball partner for Tim Southee, was unlikely to feature in the series against England. The left-armer will fly to England this week, after being allowed home to spend time with family after the curtailment of the IPL, but New Zealand hope he will be in contention for the World Test Championship final against India, which follows the England Tests.

“I don’t think you’ll see Trent in the two Test matches here,” Stead said. “He arrives on Friday, our planning and what we’re looking at doing with Trent is having him ready for the WTC final. He’s been home, he has had a week of bowling over there which has been great after the fair amount of isolation time at the end of the IPL. But our view with Trent right now is it’s unlikely that he will play the Test at Edgbaston. He’s more likely to be just available for the one-off Test.”

New Zealand have several pace options available to deputise for Boult in their 19-man squad, and Stead said that the surface rolled out for the first Lord’s Test since August 2019 would influence their thinking.

“Within our squad here, Matt Henry, Doug Bracewell, and Jacob Duffy are the other seam-bowling options, so they’re the ones that I think are in contention to come in there,” he said. “Or we look at a rebalancing of the team. The conditions we face here in England are slightly different to New Zealand and looking at the pitch at Lord’s today, you see a pitch that has a green tinge definitely.

“We’re still two days out. But it’s cut to about 6mm – we’re used to a lot more grass on wickets than that. So we have to make that decision around that final balance of our team before we go into the match.”

With Southee, Neil Wagner and Kyle Jamieson all pencilled on to the team sheet, Colin de Grandhomme, who is returning from ankle surgery and likely to be limited as a bowling option, and Daryl Mitchell are the candidates to provide more all-round depth to the side.

New Zealand could also have a decision to make over spinner Mitchell Santner, who has only played one Test since the 2019-20 tour of Australia. Santner can provide runs at No. 7 or 8 – he scored a maiden Test hundred against England at Mount Maunganui in 2019 – but suffered a cut to his spinning finger during the intra-squad warm-up last week. Lord’s has not been a spin-friendly venue in first-class cricket so far this season, although the weather is set to warm up this week.

“Mitchell Santner’s come from the IPL, he’s had I guess a reasonably quiet time there. He actually cut the top of his finger the other day in the warm-up game [while] fielding, which was a bit of a blow to him and he’s only had his first bowl back today. But he came through it really well, and what Mitch does is he provides a little bit of a different balance to our team in that he provides you batting opportunity as well.

“So the decision we will have to make is will we go with four frontline seamers, as we have in the past year, when Colin was injured and Kyle came into the team and put that different sort of balance on our team; or do you go with three seniors and then you play the allrounder in De Grandhomme and the allrounder in Santner as well. So they’re the different options that we look at when we are balancing our team, the pitch will ultimately I think determine which way we go.”

On the question of who will get the nod at opener, Stead was keeping his cards close to his chest, although he did say “we’ve been pretty consistent around the way that we select our Test teams, and I don’t think that’s going to change too much at this stage”. Tom Blundell has opened in seven of New Zealand’s last eight Tests, while Will Young, who debuted against West Indies in December, comes into the series in good form, having scored two hundreds during his stint in county cricket with Durham.

Devon Conway, meanwhile, scored an unbeaten half-century after opening with Latham in the game in Southampton. South Africa-born Conway is yet to be capped in Tests, but has piled on the runs in domestic cricket during his qualification period for New Zealand and comes on tour with averages of 75.00 in ODIs and 59.12 in T20Is after a prolific start to his international career.

“We will disclose that when we get to the morning of the game but yeah he [Conway] has been one guy we’ve looked at who is certainly an option at the top for us,” Stead said. “But we’ve also got other guys who have done a great job for us in Tom Blundell and Will Young, as well. So it’s a luxurious position to be in a little bit when you’ve got some of the resources that we’ve got at the moment. But yeah, we’ll hold off naming that till match morning.”

Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick



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SL vs Ind 2021 – Shikhar Dhawan to captain India on limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka

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Bhuvneshwar Kumar named vice-captain, Chetan Sakariya and Nitish Rana among new faces in the mix

Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Nitish Rana, K Gowtham and Chetan Sakariya have all received maiden call-ups to the national team, figuring in the 20-man India squad for the white-ball series in Sri Lanka, scheduled for July. The second-string squad – the main team will be in England at the time – will be captained by opening batter Shikhar Dhawan, who has never led India previously, and will also see the international comeback of fast bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has been appointed vice-captain.
India’s Sri Lanka tour comprises six matches: three ODIs (on July 13, 16 and 18), followed by three T20Is (July 21, 23, 25). Former India captain Rahul Dravid has been confirmed as the head coach, although the BCCI did not announce the coaching staff for the side on Thursday when it announced the squad, which will have five reserve bowlers.

Squad: Shikhar Dhawan (capt), Bhuvneshwar Kumar (vice-capt), Prithvi Shaw, Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Suryakumar Yadav, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Nitish Rana, Ishan Kishan (wk), Sanju Samson (wk), Yuzvendra Chahal, Rahul Chahar, K Gowtham, Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Varun Chakravarthy, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini, Chetan Sakariya

Net bowlers: Ishan Porel, Sandeep Warrier, Arshdeep Singh, R Sai Kishore, Simarjeet Singh

More to follow…



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County cricket 2021 – Kyle Jamieson signs for Surrey on short-term deal

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Fast bowler will head to Kia Oval at conclusion of the World Test Championship final

Kyle Jamieson, the New Zealand fast bowler, has signed a short-term deal for Surrey across formats, and will link up with the club at the conclusion of the World Test Championship final against India later this month.

Jamieson, who has been rested from the ongoing second Test against England after claiming three wickets in the opening match at Lord’s, will be available for the Vitality Blast London Derby against Middlesex at The Kia Oval on June 25, and will remain with the squad until their final group game in mid-July.

In that period, he will also be available for Surrey’s final two group games in the LV= Insurance County Championship, against Hampshire at The Ageas Bowl from July 4-7 and against Somerset at The Oval from July 11-14. This will be his first time playing in English domestic cricket.

“I’m really excited to get the chance to play some county cricket after the Black Caps tour,” Jamieson said. “Originally I didn’t think this opportunity would be possible with the schedule this year, but with how things have unfolded it’s great to be able to join Surrey and experience both T20 and first-class cricket.

“Playing county cricket is something I’ve always wanted to do in my career, so to have the chance to do so now is awesome. I’ve heard a lot of great things about county cricket, particularly T20 Blast nights at The Kia Oval, and can’t wait to take up the opportunity with Surrey to continue to learn and grow whilst trying my best to contribute to the teams’ success.”



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The Hundred 2021 – David Warner, Marcus Stoinis and Sophie Devine pull out of the Hundred

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ECB bracing for further withdrawals amid clashes with international tours and restrictions on overseas travel

David Warner, Marcus Stoinis and Sophie Devine have pulled out of the inaugural season of the Hundred, with the ECB bracing for further withdrawals amid clashes with international tours and restrictions on overseas travel.

Warner and Stoinis were both contracted by the Southern Brave on deals worth £100,000 and £80,000 respectively, but have opted to withdraw from the competition. Both players have been named in Australia’s preliminary squad for white-ball tours to the Caribbean and Bangladesh, which overlap with the Hundred’s window from July 21-August 21, but are expected to withdraw in order to spend time with their families.

Trevor Hohns, Australia’s national selector, added six players to the preliminary squad for those tours following discussions with those initially named. “During the course of those discussions, it has become clear that recent experiences abroad, including but not limited to extended periods in bio-secure hubs and hard quarantine, have had an impact on the health and wellbeing of some players and their families,” he said.

“CA has maintained that the wellbeing of players, staff and officials is a top priority, and never more so than during the Covid-19 pandemic given the extraordinary challenges it has placed upon international athletes and sporting teams.”

“It is obviously disappointing to lose players with the ability of David and Marcus, but the realities of Covid mean there are practicalities that are difficult for some overseas players to overcome,” the ECB said in a statement to ESPNcricinfo. “Replacement overseas players will be signed by Southern Brave, and we look forward to the Hundred showcasing world-class cricket this summer.”



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