Sur­prise callup for Somerville

The New Zealand Herald - - Supersport - Niall Anderson

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.

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