NZC: Ravindra set for new Test role | O’Rourke earns maiden Test squad selection

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Photo Credit: BCCI

Rachin Ravindra is set to play his first Test at home since 2022 after being selected in the BLACKCAPS Test squad to face South Africa.

Hard on the heels of winning the ICC’s Emerging Player of the Year award, Ravindra has been named in the BLACKCAPS squad for the two match Tegel Test series against the Proteas, starting next week at Tauranga’s Bay Oval.

The 24 year-old had previously made his Test debut in 2021-22 against India at Kanpur, adding another cap at Mumbai before returning to New Zealand to play in that summer’s opening Test against Bangladesh.

Having been brought into the line-up for Henry Nicholls, he is set to bat in the middle order for the first time in his Test career, with Will Young providing batting cover.

Ravindra will be joined in the BLACKCAPS squad by Glenn Phillips, who is line to play his first Test on home soil after making his debut against Australia in 2019-20 and playing in both Tests on the early season tour to Bangladesh.

He was Player of the Match in the BLACKCAPS’ most recent Test – the four-wicket win at Mirpur.

A squad of 13 will assemble for each Test, with pace bowler Will O’Rourke joining the squad for the second match at Hamilton’s Seddon Park, and one player coming out of the squad from Tauranga.

O’Rourke’s elevation follows his selection in the New Zealand A side for the four-day “Tests” against Australia A, and his recent ODI debut.

Allrounder Mitch Santner also retains his place in the squad following on from strong contributions with ball and bat in Bangladesh.

If selected in the eleven, it will be his first Test at home since 2020.

Ajaz Patel and Ish Sodhi are the other members of the Bangladesh touring squad not included, with the selection group seeking a different balance for the conditions expected.

BLACKCAPS head coach Gary Stead said naming the first Test squad of the season was always an exciting time.

“It’s an honour to be involved in any Test match and I know the players are looking forward to the start of a big Test summer – in what is a big year of Test cricket home and away.

“The Proteas are a highly competitive team across formats and, having never won a Test series against them home or away, we expect two stern challenges.”

Stead said the squad was a challenging one to pick, with a number of players putting their hands up, and conditions to consider.

“It was pleasing as a selector to see different players making contributions during the recent series in Bangladesh.

“Glenn and Mitch both earned selection on the back of their recent work in red ball cricket.

“They continue to work on their games to contribute across formats and situations.”

He said it was exciting to have such a range of experience and options in the group.

“Will O’Rourke has impressed us in stepping up from domestic cricket to New Zealand A and then international level.

“Rachin Ravindra is another player who has really impressed us with his contributions to the team over the past 12 months in international cricket.

“We’ve been particularly pleased with his ability to adapt and learn in different roles.”

Stead acknowledged that some tough calls had to be made, including leaving out Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel and Ish Sodhi.

“All three players have made strong contributions to Test-winning performances over the past 14 months.

“But we believe we’ve struck a good balance between experience, and providing opportunities for newer players.”

He noted that, while several players in the squad had missed cricket recently due to injury, all were tracking positively for the series opener.

“Tom Blundell, Kyle Jamieson and Kane Williamson are all at slightly different points in their rehabilitation plans.

But we’re confident they’ll be good to go at Bay Oval.”

BLACKCAPS Tegel Test Series Squad

Tim Southee (C, Northern Districts)
Tom Blundell (WK, Wellington Firebirds)
Devon Conway (Wellington Firebirds)
Matt Henry (Canterbury)
Kyle Jamieson (Canterbury)
Tom Latham (Canterbury)
Daryl Mitchell (Canterbury)
Will O’Rourke* (Canterbury, Squad for second Test only)
Glenn Phillips (Otago Volts)
Rachin Ravindra (Wellington Firebirds)
Mitch Santner (Northern Districts)
Neil Wagner (Northern Districts)
Kane Williamson (Northern Districts)
Will Young (Central Stags)
*Potential debut

BLACKCAPS head coach Gary Stead will be joined for the series by batting coach Luke Ronchi, bowling coach Kyle Mills – with support from NZC high-performance network coach, Dean Brownlie.

The squad assembles in Tauranga on Thursday February 1 ahead of the first Test at Bay Oval starting on Sunday, February 4.

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