Sports, Cricket

Tom Latham to lead, Ajaz Patel dropped

Williamson unavailable as he recovers from long-standing elbow problem

Published : 23 Dec 2021 09:44 PM

In the injury-enforced absence of Kane Williamson, Tom Latham will stand in as New Zealand’s captain for the forthcoming two-Test series against Bangladesh, which begins with the first match in Mount Maunganui on New Year’s Day.

After Williamson was sidelined from the Mumbai Test earlier this month with a long-standing elbow injury, head coach Gary Stead indicated that he could be out of action for a sustained period although he is unlikely to undergo surgery. Williamson’s elbow problem had flared up in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup in the UAE, where he cut short his stints at the nets to manage the injury, and troubled him in India as well.

“It’s obviously disappointing not to have Kane available for this series but, as we noted in India, he is undergoing a sustained period of rest followed by rehabilitation, strengthening and gradual batting loading,” Stead said.

“We have every confidence in Tom leading the side - he's done an excellent job in the past when called upon.”

Devon Conway, who had been ruled out of the T20 World Cup final against Australia in the UAE and the subsequent India tour with a bizarre self-inflicted hand injury, returned to the squad. However, there was no place for Ajaz Patel, who made history by bagging all ten wickets in the first innings of the Mumbai Test.

Wellington allrounder Rachin Ravindra, who made a strong first impression in India, was the only spin-bowling option in the 13-man squad.

“You do feel for Ajaz after his record-breaking display in India,” Stead said. “However, we’ve always applied a horses-for-courses selection policy and believe the players selected best fit the way we want to take on Bangladesh here at home.”

Trent Boult, who had opted out of the India tour because of bubble fatigue, was also back in the side as New Zealand ponder unleashing their four-pronged pace pack on Bangladesh. The left-arm seamer had recently returned to action in the 20-over Super Smash competition where he came away with 0 for 19 in four overs for Northern Brave against Auckland Aces in Hamilton.