WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand fast bowler Lockie Ferguson’s long wait for a test debut continues after he was overlooked on Wednesday for the side to face England in the first game of the two-match series at Mt. Maunganui.
England opening batsman Dom Sibley, however, will make his debut at Bay Oval on Thursday as the tourists stuck with the same side that played a three-day warm up game against New Zealand ‘A’ in Whangarei.
Top order batsman Joe Denly has also been included after he played in the three-day match to prove his fitness following an ankle injury that kept him out of the Twenty20 series, which England won 3-2.
England also picked Jofra Archer, but the decision not to include Ferguson has meant that fans will not see a showdown between the two express bowlers.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson told reporters they had decided to stick with the tested pace trio of Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner for the match, with Mitchell Santner named as the sole spinner.
Ferguson, who has played 36 one day internationals and eight T20 internationals, could still make his debut in the second game at Seddon Park in Hamilton next week.
After inspecting the wicket with coach Gary Stead, Williamson said they had decided to stick with the established trio for the first test match at the venue, with Ferguson being released to play for Auckland.
“You always consider those options and, as we know, he’s an extremely exciting talent but he’ll be released to go and play a bit more cricket then join back up with us in Hamilton,” Williamson said.
“The three we’ve gone with are guys that have been in the group for a long period of time and performed really well for us.”
Southee, who had reportedly been most under pressure to hold his place ahead of Ferguson’s express pace of 150kph-plus (95mph-plus), Boult and Wagner have helped New Zealand win six of their eight tests at home over the last two years.
England captain Joe Root said he was looking forward to Archer playing his first test overseas after he proved a handful for Australia’s batsmen during the Ashes in England.
“He makes it look ridiculously easy with his action and the way he approaches the crease,” Root told reporters.
“But to be able to bowl at that pace for a period of time is a skill in itself, and he needs to understand that.
“One thing I have learned is that he has a huge hunger for wickets. He wants to be in the game, and once you get the ball in his hand, it can be very hard to get it off him.
“It’s a great trait.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Lincoln Feast.