WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand will head into their first test against England on March 6 with an new opening partnership after the recall of Peter Fulton and inclusion of the uncapped Hamish Rutherford and Tom Latham in their squad on Sunday.
New Zealand’s opening batsmen have struggled against the England new ball attack of James Anderson and Steve Finn in the lost limited over series and the selection panel were forced to look elsewhere after a thumb injury to Martin Guptill.
Fulton, who has played 10 tests as a top or middle order batsmen but averaged just 20.93 with one half century, went to South Africa last year before a knee injury forced him home, though a strong first class season where he has averaged more than 50 had prompted his recall.
“We picked Peter to tour South Africa and he would have played there if he hadn’t been injured,” New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said.
Rutherford, the son of former New Zealand captain Ken, is expected to join Fulton for his debut on his home ground at Dunedin’s University Oval, though Latham is also in contention for the spot, Hesson said.
Rutherford and Latham have both played limited overs cricket for New Zealand but never played a test match.
Left arm spinner Bruce Martin is also expected to make his debut after the 32-year-old toured South Africa late last year but did not play in the test series.
Martin, who replaces the dropped Jeetan Patel in the squad, is likely to play due to an Achilles’ injury to Daniel Vettori that is expected to keep him out of action until the tour of England in May.
Tim Southee, who missed the South African tour due to a thumb injury but was recalled to play the final two one-day internationals against England after a side strain to Mitchell McClenaghan, will again link up with Trent Boult and Doug Bracewell in a young pace attack.
Captain Brendon McCullum, who suffered a side strain in the final one-day match in Auckland on Saturday, will bat at number five with BJ Watling to resume the wicketkeeping role in the longer form of the game and bat at seven.
A fast bowler will be added to the squad after the match in Queenstown between a New Zealand XI and England, which starts on Wednesday.
Squad: Brendon McCullum (captain), Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Dean Brownlie, Peter Fulton, Tom Latham, Bruce Martin, Hamish Rutherford, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Mark Meadows