BJ Watling © Getty Images (File Photo)
BJ Watling © Getty Images (File Photo)

New Zealand wicketkeeper BJ Watling suffered a hip injury during Northern Districts’  match against Central Districts in the 2017-18 Plunket Shield. He was then rested for the next two games. Watling had made his Test debut in 2009-10 and has been New Zealand’s first-choice wicketkeeper once Brendon McCullum decided to quit wicketkeeping.

Watling’s batting down the order has often come handy as well. He has been involved in three of the six 200-run partnerships for the sixth wicket for New Zealand. Unfortunately, there is now a possibility of Watling missing the first game against West Indies starting December 1.

Selector Gavin Larsen has made it clear that he does not want to take a chance on Watling: “He’s going well but he’s still a bit problematic with his hip. He’s been through the normal testing and is still feeling it just a bit.” Watling will be participating against Auckland in a domestic game played today (November 15) as a specialist batsman.

“It’s precautionary at this stage; he’ll bat in this game [this week] and we’re very hopeful he can wear the gloves in the round five Plunket Shield game. He’ll need to keep, most importantly for his own peace of mind and confidence,” Larsen added. It is going to be a tough test for Watling in the next round of Plunket Shield starting next week against Otago.

The 27-year-old Tom Blundell, who made his T20I debut against Bangladesh earlier this year, will probably make his Test debut in his home ground. Larsen said they will be having “a really good look” at Blundell when he keeps wicket for Northern Districts against Canterbury this week and the three-day warm-up game against the tourists West Indies starting November 25. Tom Latham will also be in the reckoning.

New Zealand are happy with the same squad that played South Africa earlier this year despite the 0-1 defeat. Colin de Grandhomme will retain his place as a seam-bowling all-rounder along with the pace trio of Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner. With a good county season behind him Matt Henry is set to be the backup pace bowler. He will get a fair chance to prove his worth in the warm-up game.

With a 12-man New Zealand squad there is place for one more who would be added after the warm up game at Lincoln.

New Zealand Test squad: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Latham, Jeet Raval, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (wk — till a replacement is named), Mitchell Santner, Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult, Matt Henry.

New Zealand A squad: Martin Guptill (c), Jeet Raval, George Worker, Neil Broom, Colin Munro, Tom Bruce, Tom Blundell (wk), Todd Astle, Scott Kuggeleijn, Adam Milne, Lockie Ferguson.