New Zealand call-up uncapped Rachin Ravindra and Jacob Duffy for England Test tour

Written by Vipin Darwade

Wellington Firebirds 21-year-old all-rounder Rachin Ravindra and Otago Volts swing-bowler Jacob Duffy have earned their maiden call-ups to the New Zealand Test squad for the upcoming tour of England.

The pair, alongside the in-form Devon Conway, are the only uncapped players in a 20-strong touring party named to face England in two Tests, with the first at Lord’s in London starting on June 2, and the second at Edgbaston in Birmingham from June 10th.

The BlackCaps will hold two training camps in early May before departing for England in two groups on May 16 and 17. Players involved in the IPL will be managed on a case-by-case basis depending on when their team exits the tournament.

The squad will then be trimmed to 15 for the ICC World Test Championship final against India at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton starting on June 18, as per ICC regulations.

If selected to play, Ravindra would be the youngest Kiwi Test player since Ish Sodhi, who debuted at 20 against Bangladesh in Chattogram in 2013.

In this his third and most successful professional season, the left-hander notched twin hundreds for New Zealand A against the touring West Indies and recently returned from a dislocated shoulder to record his first Plunket Shield century, followed by six wickets a week later in the Firebirds final round clash against the Auckland Aces.

Duffy burst on to the international stage in December when he claimed 4-33 and the player of the match award on debut for the BLACKCAPS T20 side against Pakistan at Eden Park. The 26-year-old has long been the Volts red-ball bowling spearhead with 197 first-class wickets to his name and first toured England in 2015 where he played for the New Zealand XI against Somerset and Worcester, before flying home ahead of the New Zealand Test tour.

He was the fifth-equal wicket-taker with 22 in this season’s Plunket Shield despite missing two rounds, and finished tied at the top with Neil Wagner on the same number in last year’s COVID-19 shortened competition.

South African-born batsman Devon Conway, who was cleared to play for the Black Caps on residential grounds last August, has forced his way into the international reckoning with a torrent of runs since moving to New Zealand in 2017 and notched up his maiden one-day international century against Bangladesh in Wellington last month.

The 29-year-old left-handed batsman was only assured of a place in the squad last week after securing his permanent residency, without which he would not have been able to return to New Zealand after the tour.

Paceman Doug Bracewell has been recalled almost five years after his last test but will have to prove he has recovered from a hip injury before he gets on the plane.

“Doug is a match winner and we’re confident he’ll enjoy bowling on English pitches in June,” said coach Gary Stead.

“We’re absolutely delighted for Rachin and Jacob. I’ve seen first-hand how hard these guys have worked in our NZC winter training squads and with New Zealand A, and so for them to earn their maiden Test call-ups for such a special tour will be really satisfying. Rachin’s been earmarked as a star of the future since his Under-19 days and we’ve been really encouraged by the advancement in his game this season, with both bat and ball. He’s obviously an opening option, but also has the ability to bat in the middle order which combined with his left-arm finger spin make him a great asset to our squad,” Stead said.

The rest of the squad has a familiar look with 14 of the 20 having featured in the home summer Test wins over the West Indies and Pakistan. Conway was first called into the BLACKCAPS Test squad in December, as cover for expectant dad Kane Williamson, so his selection for the England tour represents his first full squad inclusion.

Colin de Grandhomme and Ajaz Patel return to the Test side after injuries inhibited their selection in the home summer, while Central Stags all-rounder Doug Bracewell returns after last playing a Test in August 2016 against South Africa at Centurion. De Grandhomme had surgery on his right ankle in March and will need to pass a fitness test at the final pre-tour camp in early May, while Bracewell (hip) and Ross Taylor (hamstring) must also prove their fitness before boarding the flight.

Auckland Aces speedster Lockie Ferguson was not considered for this Test squad as he continues his return from a partial-stress fracture in his back. Henry Nicholls, Will Young, Daryl Mitchell and Kyle Jamieson have all been selected for their first Test tour of England after strong form in the home summer.

New Zealand Test squad: Kane Williamson (captain), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Devon Conway, Colin de Grandhomme, Jacob Duffy, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling, Will Young.

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Vipin Darwade