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Wellington rain forces New Zealand to wait for the fourth bowler to be selected.

Wellington rain forces New Zealand to wait for the fourth bowler to be selected.

After Wednesday’s rain caused the pitch to remain under cover all day, New Zealand will decide just before the toss whether to select Mitchell Santner, a specialist spinner, or Scott Kuggeleijn, a fourth seamer, for the opening Test match against Australia at the Basin Reserve.

Due to a thumb injury, opener Devon Conway was ruled out on Wednesday morning. Will Young, who was already in the Test XI, took his spot at the top of the order to begin with Tom Latham. Following his absence from the second Test against South Africa due to a foot injury, Daryl Mitchell returns to the No. 5 spot.

Following their victory over South Africa, captain Tim Southee, Matt Henry, and William O’Rourke will be the three seamers; the fourth bowler is still up for grabs. Due to the heavy rain in Wellington, Southee was unable to view the pitch on Wednesday and stated that a decision regarding the starting lineup would not be made until Thursday morning.

“The majority of the team is settled,” he stated. “Obviously, given the current conditions, we’ll have one more look before deciding whether to play an additional seamer or a spinner. However, given Devon Conway’s tragic injury, Will Young will bat first.

“One aspect of cricket is injuries. However, it also offers other people opportunities. Will Young is leading the Hamilton Test against South Africa by almost sixty points without a loss.”

After learning he wouldn’t be selected for this series against Australia, Neil Wagner, the fourth seamer in that XI, declared his retirement. New Zealand used four fast bowlers in their last Test match at Hamilton.

In spite of O’Rourke taking nine wickets on his debut to be named Player of the Match, South Africa’s Dane Piedt took eight wickets for the match, while Rachin Ravindra took four and Glenn Phillips two. On Tuesday, New Zealand coach Gary Stead acknowledged that his decision to select a specialist spinner in Hamilton was a mistake.

At the Basin, pace bowlers have averaged 31.93 since 2000, while spin bowlers have averaged 40.84. If they were to select four seamers, Southee said he is somewhat certain that they have choices for spin bowling because Ravindra and Phillips are in the top six.

“Yeah [it does], and I think you throw in Daryl Mitchell as well as another bowling option,” Southee replied. “Having such individuals is fantastic; the Australian team has players like Mitch Marsh and Cam Green. When you have players in the top seven who can assist with the ball as well, it helps to balance the side.”

After a fantastic performance on his Test debut against South Africa, Southee expressed his excitement at seeing O’Rourke unleashed at Australia’s top order.

“I think what we saw in Hamilton was something special from a young guy,” Southee stated. “He’s given off hints, and there’s something distinct about him. It’s great to watch those guys make the move from domestic cricket to international cricket, and I’m sure he’ll have a long future at the top level. We’ve obviously watched him closely over the last couple of years, and he’s got a lot of attributes that we liked and we saw that in his Test debut.”

Given his success against Australia’s new opener Steven Smith, there was some surprise in the Australian camp when Wagner announced his retirement. With a flurry of short-pitched bowling and a strong placed leg-side field, Wagner claimed Smith five times in Test cricket at a cost of just 16 runs each. This included four occasions in the most recent series between the two teams in 2019–20.

O’Rourke possesses the quickness and sharp bounce to give Smith and other opponents comparable problems when they bat second, but Southee stated that none of his freshly assembled attack players will be need to adopt Wagner’s strategies when facing Australia’s top batsman.

“He’s an excellent player,” stated Southee. “It is clear that he has an incredible record and has risen to the top.

“However, I believe it all boils down to the people we choose. It’s clear that Neil excelled in the part he played. A few years ago, he had an amazing tour to Australia and achieved remarkable success in his matches against Steve. You could assume that based on the kind of bowlers we would choose and how they prefer to play, each of the three or four bowlers will have a unique style of play.”

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