Surprise callup for Somerville
The Black Caps have sprung a major surprise, calling in veteran spinner Will Somerville into their test squad to play Pakistan later this month.
Somerville only this year returned to New Zealand, after spending a decade in Australia.
Remarkably, six of those years came without him playing top-level cricket, with the Wellington-born 34-year-old playing grade cricket in Sydney from 2008-2014, before being picked for New South Wales.
There, the late bloomer shone in the 2016-2017 Sheffield Shield, taking 35 wickets at 23.14, but he found his opportunities limited behind Australian test spinners Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe.
So, back to New Zealand he came, linking up with Auckland with the intention of pushing for a Black Caps spot, but it is a big surprise – and a definite reflection on New Zealand’s weak spinning stocks – that his opportunity has come this early.
Injury to Todd Astle – plus the ongoing absence of Mitchell Santner – opened a door for Somerville to join Ish Sodhi and Ajaz Patel as the third spinner in the test squad.
Somerville, who took seven wickets in his two Plunket Shield games before bowling adequately in the one-day Ford Trophy, replaces Astle, with the unlucky leg-spinner being ruled out of the remainder of the tour.
The 32-year-old picked up the injury during the recent New Zealand A oneday series and selector Gavin Larsen said he wouldn’t be able to cope with the work load expected in the ODI and test series' against Pakistan.
“Despite a period of rest, Todd’s knee has, unfortunately, not responded as well as we had hoped,” said Larsen.
“The best course of action for Todd is to get home and get it looked at, with an eye to returning in the home summer.”
Larsen said Somerville had impressed the selectors since his return.