Monday, May 29, 2023

NZC: Strong New Zealand A squad selected for visit of Australia

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Photo Credit: New Zealand Cricket

A New Zealand A squad featuring a host of international talent and a handful of new faces has been selected for two four-day matches against Australia A next month.

The matches, both taking place at Bert Sutcliffe Oval in Lincoln, will be the first time an Australia A side has ever visited New Zealand, and the first time New Zealand A have been in action since touring India last September.

The squad features six players who have represented the BLACKCAPS, alongside five players with a chance to represent New Zealand A for the first time: Dean Foxcroft (Otago Volts), Adi Ashok (Auckland Aces), Will O’Rourke (Canterbury), Mitch Hay (Canterbury) and Brett Randell (Central Stags).

Ashok, is selected alongside fellow Auckland Aces teammates Robbie O’Donnell and Sean Solia.

The former New Zealand Under 19 leg-spinner has impressed in his first season of domestic red-ball cricket, snaring a five-wicket bag (5-106) on first-class debut against the Central Stags and has taken 15 wickets in his three first-class matches to date.

O’Rourke has been one of Canterbury’s standout bowlers in a strong Plunket Shield campaign, taking 19 first-class wickets in his second contracted summer, alongside Hay who has been a key member of Canterbury’s batting line-up, averaging over 40 in the Plunket Shield.

Foxcroft has enjoyed a breakout summer for the Otago Volts since returning from two years away from New Zealand domestic cricket.

The South-African born all-rounder is not currently eligible to represent New Zealand but is available for New Zealand A as national ‘A’ cricket is not subject to the ICC Eligibility Regulations.

Foxcroft topped the men’s Dream11 Super Smash run-scoring charts with 424 runs, while also playing a key role in the Volts bowling attack, and recently registered his maiden first-class century (159) against the Wellington Firebirds.

Randell has become a key component of the Central Stags side since shifting from Northern Districts taking 18 first-class wickets in the Plunket Shield at an average of just over 24.

Tom Bruce continues as captain for both matches, after leading the side for the India tour.

Left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel will bring his wealth of experience from the BLACKCAPS Test environment, while Cole McConchie returns to the side after missing out on the India tour.

Bowling all-rounders Doug Bracewell and Scott Kuggeleijn return to the New Zealand A set-up following recent spells with the BLACKCAPS Test squad.

Kuggeleijn will take part in the second match only, as a replacement for Jacob Duffy, who is unavailable for the second match as he gets married.

Northern Districts opener Henry Cooper adds depth at the top of the order, while Canterbury wicketkeeper Cam Fletcher rounds out the squad.

New Zealand A squad
Tom Bruce (c) (Central Stags)
Adi Ashok* (Auckland Aces)
Doug Bracewell (Central Stags)
Henry Cooper (Northern Districts)
Jacob Duffy (Otago Volts) (Game 1 only)
Dean Foxcroft* (Otago Volts)
Cam Fletcher (Canterbury)
Mitch Hay* (Canterbury)
Scott Kuggeleijn (Northern Districts) (Game 2 only)
Cole McConchie (Canterbury)
Robbie O’Donnell (Auckland Aces)
Will O’Rourke* (Canterbury)
Ajaz Patel (Central Stags)
Brett Randell* (Central Stags)
Sean Solia (Auckland Aces)

*Uncapped for New Zealand A

New Zealand A v Australia A
1st four-day match – 1-4 April – Bert Sutcliffe Oval, Lincoln
2nd four-day match – 8-11 April – Bert Sutcliffe Oval, Lincoln

BLACKCAPS selector Gavin Larsen said the new faces were fully deserving of their selection following strong summers for their domestic teams.

“Adi is very promising leg spinner who we believe has a bright future,” said Larsen.

“This will be a great opportunity for him to test his skillset against top drawer opposition and we’re looking forward to seeing how he continues to develop in the New Zealand A environment.

“The likes of Brett and Will have had very good domestic seasons and as developing pace bowlers this presents a great opportunity for them.

“Dean and Mitch have made every post a winning one for Otago and Canterbury this summer and fully deserve their elevation.”

Larsen said the Australia A side would pose a good test for developing players and noted the value the experienced international players would add.

“This will be a big challenge against a very good Australia A team, and we look forward to a couple of really tough matches against quality opponents.

“All players have plenty to play for, and obviously the older more experienced players will also impart their playing experience on the group.

“This is a well-balanced squad and I’m sure that they’ll enjoy the experience. We certainly look forward to seeing who puts their hand up across the two matches.” 

The squad will be led by NZC high-performance coaches Graeme Aldridge, Paul Wiseman and Bob Carter.

Australia A arrive in New Zealand on March 29 ahead of the first match on April 1. Matches will be live-scored and live-streamed at nzc.nz.

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