Blackcaps Announce Surprising Africa Tour Team

New Zealand Cricket recently announced their Africa touring squad who are set to face both Zimbabwe and South Africa next month. What immediately jumped out to most people was the absence of three extremely big names in the line-up.

In total, the tour will consist of six ODIs and three T20 matches, which will be broken up into a Zimbabwe tour of three ODIs and one T20 match and the South African tour of three ODIs and two T20 matches.

Blackcaps Announce Surprising Africa Tour Team

Captain Brendon McCullum will not be travelling with his squad, leaving star batsman Kane Williamson to take the  captaincy. McCullum recently revealed in an interview that he frequently relies on painkillers to make it through a game after years of being behind the wickets has lead to chronic back pain. He will use this tour as a time to rest and recover in order to be at his fittest for the Australia tour later in the year: a tour which will see the first day/night test match happen.

Williamson has never been labelled as an aggressive player with most likening his character to that of South African test captain Hashim Amla. Therefore, the aggressive approach that has become synonymous with the Blackcaps may be lacking somewhat in the games to come.

Swing twins Tim Southee and Trent Boult will also be missing from action. Southee will be rested after their recent tour to England which saw him take on the bulk of the work as the senior bowler after Boult fell victim to injury and returned home. Southee struggled to take on the responsibility and the lack of depth in the Blackcaps bowling line-up reared its ugly head, depth that has been further depleted with Corey Anderson remaining on the bench due to his injury.

Not all is lost though for New Zealand. While Boult and Anderson are major injury blows, the team has received a much needed boost with the return of all-rounder Jimmy Neesham and fast bowler Adam Milne. Both have been absent after very lengthy injury layoffs

Bowling all-rounder Doug Bracewell will travel with his squad for the South African leg only while leg spinner Ish Sodhi will replace him in the bowling attack for the Zimbabwe tour.

Coach Mike Hesson has stated that Sodhi will be far more effective on the slower pitches that offer turn, pitches likely to be encountered in Zimbabwe while the extra seam bowler will fit South African conditions.

New Zealand’s team announcement has been met with some criticism and backlash with many South African cricket fans in particular disappointed in being robbed of the opportunity to watch the big names in the New Zealand set-up that have helped revitalised the squad.

It is important to remember, however, that while the captain may be different, the overall approach of the Blackcaps remains the same. They will continue their attacking approach with both the bat and the ball, an approach that typically sees them race to victory or crumble under pressure.

What can be certain though is the Kiwis now have a chance to right the wrongs of their previous African tour and emerge victorious.

Full Squad:

Kane Williamson (captain), Doug Bracewell (South Africa series), Grant Elliott, Matt Henry, Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, James Neesham, Luke Ronchi, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi (Zimbabwe series), Ross Taylor, Ben Wheeler.

Full Schedule:

2 August – v Zimbabwe, Harare, 1st ODI

4 August – v Zimbabwe, Harare, 2nd ODI

7 August – v Zimbabwe, Harare, 3rd ODI

9 August – v Zimbabwe, Harare, T20

14 August – v South Africa, Durban, 1st T20

16 August – v South Africa, Centurion, 2nd T20

19 August – v South Africa, Centurion, 1st ODI

23 August – v South Africa, Potchefstroom, 2nd ODI

26 August – v South Africa, Durban, 3rd ODI